April 19 is the most significant date on the antigovernment “Patriot” movement’s calendar. It marks the day that the first shots were fired against the British in 1775 at Lexington and Concord, but it’s also the anniversary of the end of the 1993 FBI siege at Waco, Texas, as well as the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
This year, the day will be marked by feverish activity from the fast-growing Patriot movement, whose ranks swelled from 149 groups in 2008 to 512 in 2009. Militias, which are the paramilitary arm of the Patriot movement, also grew quickly, rising from 42 in 2008 to 127 in 2009.
Here is what the Patriots have planned for April 19:
• Longtime Georgia militia organizer Jim Stachowiak reportedly has called on his fellow militiamen to discharge their weapons at midnight, thereby causing a flood of citizens to call 911 and overload emergency services. Stachowiak’s plans prompted the Alabama Fusion Center, which focuses on the prevention of terrorism, to issue an April 9 bulletin warning law enforcement agencies that “an individual with militia ties in Georgia” is “coordinating a plan” with the intent to “disrupt emergency services.”
• Patriot leaders, for whom the specter of gun restrictions is a recurring theme, will join gun rights advocates for a “Second Amendment March” in Washington, D.C. Speakers will include: Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers, a conspiracy-minded, antigovernment organization composed mostly of active-duty police and military officers and veterans; Richard Mack, a former Arizona sheriff who travels the country preaching about the evils of the federal government; Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, who advocated the formation of citizen militias in the United States in the early 1990s; and U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, a Georgia Republican who has questioned President Obama’s citizenship and suggested the administration might use a pandemic or natural disaster as an excuse to declare martial law.
• An open-carry rally to “Restore the Constitution” will be held at Ft. Hunt National Park near Mount Vernon, Va. Designated a “call to muster,” those rallying want the federal government to know that they “will not be ignored anymore.” Daniel Almond, who believes the federal government is “bringing totalitarian socialism to America” and is a member of the Georgia chapter of the Oath Keepers, organized the event. Speakers will include Richard Mack and Larry Pratt, who will also speak to the D.C. rally, as well as Bob Wright, who ran the New Mexico militia in the 1990s and has more recently participated in border vigilante operations with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, and Mike Vanderboegh, a longtime Alabama militiaman who recently called for his supporters to throw bricks through the offices of representatives who voted for health care reform. This past Tuesday, the head of the Oath Keepers withdrew as a speaker due to “published statements by a few outspoken participants.” The group did not ask its members to stay away from the event.
• Members of the Patriot group We the People (WTP) plan to visit elected officials across the country as part of their 2010 “Plan to Restore our Constitution.” Led by radical tax protestor Bob Schulz, the group helped launch the militia movement in May when it held an organizing meeting in Jekyll Island, Ga., that included many leaders of the 1990s militia movement as well as several new recruits. The group is demanding that elected officials enact its radical “Articles of Freedom.” They call for the repeal of all social service spending, denounce “a cartel of private banks,” demand a currency alternative to the dollar, and insist on the end of taxation. Taking a page from the “sovereign citizens” movement, the document calls for an end to driver’s licenses, auto registration and insurance. And rejecting the existing legal system, it demands the creation of “randomly empanelled citizens’ common law grand juries” to determine when a trial will take place. Like the anti-Semitic hard-liners of Posse Comitatus in the 1980s, it also asks that Americans treat county sheriffs as the highest legitimate police authority.