It wasn’t quite the shot heard around the world, but the sound of glass shattering at Democratic Party offices around the country has put the spotlight on former militiaman Mike Vanderboegh, who furiously called on followers last Friday to protest health care reform by breaking Democratic windows.
Vanderboegh posted his message on his blog, Sipsey Street Irregulars, calling for “all modern Sons of Liberty” to break the windows of local Democratic Party offices. Since that time, Democratic offices across the country have reported windows smashed in an apparent response to health care reform. Vanderboegh called health care reform backers “collectivists” and added that they “certainly do not hear the soft ‘snik-snik’ of cleaning rods being used on millions of rifle barrels in this country by people who have decided their backs are to the wall.”
“[I]f you wish to send a message that [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and her party cannot fail to hear, break their windows,” the Pinson, Ala., blogger wrote. “Break them NOW. Break them and run to break again. Break them under cover of night. Break them in broad daylight. Break them and await arrest in willful, principled civil disobedience. Break them with rocks. Break them with slingshots. Break them with baseball bats. But BREAK them.”
Vanderboegh seemed to take credit for instigating at least some of the attacks in interviews. He told the Kansas City Star that his call was meant “to get everyone’s attention.” To the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle, he said: “If it takes a few bricks and broken windows for people to understand how close we are to widespread violence in this country then the bricks in the windows will have been worth it.”
Vanderboegh’s blog has been used to promote the Three Percenters, an antigovernment “Patriot” group that claims to represent 3% of U.S. gun owners. The name is inspired by the 3% of American colonists believed to have actively opposed England. Vanderboegh describes himself as “the alleged leader of a merry band of Three Percenters.” In the 1990s, he was associated with radical groups including the Alabama Constitutional Militia, the Tri-States Militia and the 1st Alabama Cavalry Regiment, Constitutional Militia.
Vanderboegh has been keeping tabs on the “Window War” by posting news reports of the incidents on his blog. And there’s been a fair amount to keep track of.
Windows have been smashed at Democratic Party headquarters in Monroe County, N.Y., and Sedgwick County, Kan. The brick hurled at the New York headquarters had a note attached that said, “Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,” according to a news report. The quote comes from Barry Goldwater, the 1964 Republican presidential candidate and conservative champion. The brick thrown in Kansas had anti-Obama and anti-healthcare messages, CNN reported.
A window also was broken at the Niagara Falls office of Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter of New York. (Vanderboegh told a reporter that incident occurred before he posted his message Friday.) Slaughter was an outspoken proponent of health care reform. A glass panel was shattered at the Tucson, Ariz., office of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. But Vanderboegh told CNN he’s only encouraged acts at Democratic Party offices, not congressional offices because he “didn’t want to be responsible for anybody breaking a federal law.”
Vanderboegh’s post describes health care reform as “Nancy Pelosi’s Intolerable Act.” Proponents have touted the legislation as covering tens of millions of currently uninsured Americans. As for Vanderboegh, his health care is already covered. He’s got private health insurance through his wife’s employer and he’s also receiving Social Security disability payments from the federal government, according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.