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Alaska militia leader Francis Schaeffer Cox discussed “overthrowing the federal government by violent means” after establishing a common law court system and recruiting a 3,500-member militia, new court documents disclose.
“It is not a rag-tag deal,” Cox boasted of his Alaska Peacemakers Militia, claiming it has a medical unit, with doctors and surgeons, and engineers “that make GPS jammers, cell phone jammers, bombs and all sorts of nifty stuff.”
“We’ve got airplanes with laser-acquisition stuff and we’ve got rocket … and grenade launchers and claymores and machine guns and cavalry and we’ve got boats,” Cox said in a speech secretly recorded by the FBI. “It’s all set.”
Cox, who calls himself a sovereign citizen, gave the speech in 2009 in Montana, a state that continues as a hotbed of antigovernment extremist activity.
What’s not known is how much of Cox’s speech was fantasy and how much was fact.
What is known is that he left Montana for Alaska, where he was arrested in March on charges of being at the center of a militia plot to kill Alaska state troopers and a federal judge, along with amassing an arsenal of legal and illegal firearms.
The 27-year-old antigovernment activist remains in jail in Alaska, facing trial on federal charges for possessing inert hand grenades, a fully automatic machine gun and riot-control gear including tears gas and rubber-bullet grenades.
As his attorneys prepare his defense, the U.S. Attorney’s Office is turning over various FBI reports and documents detailing how agents were monitoring Cox’s activities, beginning as early as 2009, when he was organizing anti-government activities in western Montana. Those documents, filed under seal, include transcripts of various speeches Cox delivered.
The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office are “aware of the line between First Amendment protected speech and conduct which is actionable,” according to a public court document filed last week in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.
In a speech delivered in Montana in 2009, Cox claims he and his followers
have developed their own court system — a “common law court” designed to replace the existing court system.
The location where Cox made the speech isn’t provided in the court document, but it’s thought to have occurred in either Flathead, Lincoln or Ravalli counties in western Montana, where Cox spent much of his time.
During that speech, Cox was asked what the common law court system would do in the case of capital crime, including murder.
It would be up to the victim or the victim’s family, Cox responded, to decide if they wanted to kill the offender or use him or her as a slave. “That person is owned by the person they violated, and they can sell him or they can kill him,” Cox said, “and these concepts are right out of the Old Testament.”
Earlier, the court document says, Cox explained that his common law court system was up and running, “dealing with a lot of contract disputes, petty crimes, uh, that kind of thing.”
Cox claimed the local, elected prosecutor “is just letting us deal with that, just letting us have it, and not messing with us. He comes to our meetings sometimes. Sometimes he’s a heckler, but he’s giving us our space.”
Flathead County Prosecutor Ed Corrigan, reached for comment by Hatewatch, said he had never heard of Cox.
“I can assure you, even if he was here in Flathead County, I can’t recall hearing about him and I certainly didn’t have any dealings with him,” Corrigan said. “It sounds to me like he’s just lying right out his ass.”
Likewise, Bernard Cassidy, the prosecuting attorney in neighboring Lincoln County, Mont., said he, too, wasn’t familiar with Cox.
“I doubt the truth of that,” Cassidy said when asked about Cox’s claim that a prosecutor in Montana attended common law court sessions.
Bill Fulbright, the prosecutor in Ravalli County, couldn’t be reached for comment.