Polk County Oath Keepers Group To Educate Public On Constitutional Rights
This article comes from NewsChief.com
By Lance Ferguson
WINTER HAVEN | The goal of the newly formed Polk County chapter of Oath Keepers is to educate members of the public about their constitutional rights, according to the Polk group leader.
Oath Keepers is a national, non-partisan, organization founded in March 2009 by Yale Law School graduate Stewart Rhodes.
Mike Austell, president of the state chapter, said Rhodes formed the group after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and he believed residents had their rights taken away when police officers and members of the National Guard disarmed the community and would not let those in the Super Dome leave.
“What we saw as a lot of our rights being abridged,” Austell said.
Co-leader for the Polk County chapter, Jeffrey Sanow, said the mission of Oath Keepers is to protect and defend the U.S. Constitution.
Austell said one way they defend the Constitution is by supporting county sheriffs. Austell said sheriffs are the only elected law enforcement officers and, as such, are the absolute authority in their county.
The group is made up of former and current police officers, firefighters and members of the military. No currently serving military or police officers are members of the Polk chapter.
“We set the political matters aside and focus on the Constitution,” said Doc Woodard, Polk’s chapter leader.
Sanow said the local group, which was formed in October, has about 20 members who want to serve their community. Austell said there are about 2,000 paying members in the state and 30,000 nationally.
But, Austell said, “for every paid member there are probably five who believe in what we do.”
The group recently got a World War II veteran’s air conditioning repaired at no cost and are helping to pay their electric bill.
Woodard said they are also collecting books to donate to Florida Sheriff’s Youth Villa in Bartow, located off State Road 60.
“We do some disaster preparedness as well,” Sanow said. He is planning to teach CPR sometime in March.
Oath Keepers will have a booth at the gun show on March 8 and 9 at The Lakeland Center. They will be selling shirts and other Oath Keepers merchandise while educating people about the Constitution and their rights.
Anyone can join the group, not just service members. A $40 minimum yearly donation or a one-time fee of $1,000 is required to become a member. The group uses that money for advertising, to cover travel costs and to attend events
Polk County Oath Keepers meet monthly at Perkins Restaurant & Bakery located at 6005 Cypress Gardens Blvd. in Winter Haven near Legoland.