The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
So much for a repeat of the Bundy Ranch standoff.
A collection of antigovernment “Patriots” gathered Thursday in the parking lot of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) office in Medford, OR, to protest what they believe was the federal government’s “tyrannical” treatment of miners in the region.
But the organizers of the affair were adamant they were uninterested in a standoff with federal authorities similar to the confrontation between BLM agents and hundreds of heavily armed “Patriots” a year ago at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada. All they wanted, organizers claimed, was to defend ordinary citizens from federal abuses.
“You have untrained people, uneducated people, throwing around their weight, abusing people who are trying to earn a living, and they think it’s OK,” Joseph Rice, coordinator for the Josephine County chapter of Oath Keepers, told about 50 people gathered. “I took an oath to uphold the Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic, and a domestic enemy is anyone who will abuse someone’s rights within that Constitution.”
Rice added, “Today it is the BLM, because they did not allow the due process to occur. They need to seriously look at their administrative process and procedures and address that. It’s a cultural issue. We saw it a year ago. Here we are again today. It doesn’t seem to be willing to change or improve that.”
At issue is a dispute between the BLM and the owners of the Sugar Pine Mine near Merlin, Ore., who were given a “letter of noncompliance” last spring telling them they either needed to clear out of the mine within 60 days or file an appeal of the ruling that they were not in compliance with BLM mining regulations.
What followed was a nationwide call to help defend a couple of Oregon miners in imminent danger of having their constitutional right to due process destroyed by the BLM, according to the local chapter of the Oath Keepers that made the plea. And they called it a “security operation” because owner Rick Barclay insisted that the BLM was notorious for burning down miners’ cabins in the backwoods, and he believes they would have destroyed his mine if he had not called for help.
BLM spokesman Jim Whittington told Hatewatch that these were absurdly groundless fears. “The idea that we would go in on Friday and wipe everything off the claim is just not true,” he said. “It has no basis in reality.”
There were few guns on display, and no threats or intimidation. A large group of black-clad “III Percent” movement followers from Idaho made their presence known, but the crowd and the speakers remained relatively sedate. Even with such sedate activists, the BLM and the U.S. Forest Service closed their joint offices as a precautionary measure. Only five people spoke, including both of the mine owners and two local Oath Keepers. Within an hour, everyone was gone.
The issue persists, however. The miners and the “Patriots” insist the BLM’s issuance of a letter of non-compliance amounts to a denial of due process, and the Oath Keepers have insisted their presence is about “defending the Fifth Amendment rights” of the miners.
Rick Barclay, one of the mine owners, told Hatewatch that the BLM had violated his due process in the letter. “They short-circuited the due process by telling me I have to remove my equipment before I ever even get a hearing,” he said.
However, the letter of noncompliance is clear that removal of the cabin and equipment are only among the mine owners’ three options, and says at the end: “If you do not agree and are adversely affected by this decision you may ask for a review by the State Director … or you may appeal to the Interior Board of Land Appeals.”
Barclay filed paperwork in his appeals process on Wednesday, but indicated that he hoped the Oath Keepers would stay on site until he actually has a hearing. “After I get my day in court and get a stay, then they will go home,” he said. “Just because I turned in my paperwork doesn’t mean the BLM won’t come up there tomorrow and set everything on fire.”
An arson charge is pending against a 33-year-old antigovernment “sovereign citizen” accused of starting a fire outside a home occupied by his relatives last weekend in suburban Phoenix.
Court records show Ismael Roman Mota’s antigovernment “sovereign citizen” views likely go back to 2007, when he was arrested in Maricopa County on a charge of failure to register as a sex offender. Mota was arrested again on Saturday when his young niece called to report that her uncle was trying to start a fire to burn down the residence.
When police and fire crews arrived, one side of the house was “engulfed in flames and several people were attempting to put out the fire with garden hoses,” KPHO-TV in Phoenix reported. No one was injured in the fire.
Police have said neighbors saw Mota start the fire and yelled at him to put it out. Mota responded that he didn’t care because the house belonged to him before fleeing the scene. He was arrested when he returned several hours later.
Firefighters determined the fire was started in a large bucket containing charcoal and gasoline, ignited about a foot from the house before spreading to the exterior wall of the residence.
Mota, who self-identified as a sovereign citizen, refused to acknowledge that officers had read him his Miranda rights, and he refused to cooperate with routine fingerprint and mug shot processes during the jail booking, police said.
Court records show Mota, who was arrested in 2000 on a felony charge of sexual (contact) with a minor, has used various combinations of his first, middle and last names, sometimes spelling his middle name as Ramon – all of which are common practices for sovereign citizens, who believe they are the sole arbiters of the law.
In 2007, when he was arrested in Maricopa County for failing to register as a sex offender, Mota submitted an affidavit to the court that resembles sometimes nonsensical, paper terrorism submitted to the judicial system by sovereign citizens. He said he was filing the paperwork as a “full recanting of any and all statements and pleas made by ‘Ismail Roman Mota.’”
That name, he contended, “is a fictitious entity and my real name is Ismael Mota Roman. Both names are prohibited for use in any type of communication whatsoever,” he told the court.
Mota also has displayed sovereign citizen views by refusing to comply with motor vehicle and driver’s licensing laws, court records show. He has been involved in 31 traffic court cases since 1999.
What began as a paper dispute over the language in a claim for an old gold mine in the hills of southwestern Oregon has lurched into what the antigovernment “Patriots” arriving on scene seemingly hope will be an armed confrontation with federal authorities.
Most of those arriving at the scene of the dispute over the Sugar Pine Mine near tiny Merlin, Ore., and nearby towns such as Grants Pass and Medford, believe they are engaging in a stand against a tyrannical federal government and the Bureau of Land Management – the second chapter in a fight that began a year ago with the Bundy Ranch standoff.
But as the mine owners now are stressing to the militia members and antigovernment activists pouring into the valley after heeding the call: “This is NOT a standoff with BLM. We are NOT promoting any confrontation with BLM. This is a security operation for the protection of Constitutional Rights.”
“If you are on a fringe element, and you’re here to protest, or provoke a reaction with the federal government, I don’t want you here,” said Joseph Rice, the “security coordinator” for the Josephine County chapter of the Oath Keepers, in a YouTube video on the Oath Keepers site. “Let me repeat that: If you’re here to protest and to provoke a reaction with the federal government, I do not need you.”
The bombing by antigovernment zealot Timothy McVeigh and several co-conspirators shocked the nation, awakening it to the threat of terrorism from far-right extremists. It remains the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history.
Today, the threat from extremists like McVeigh remains very real.
The SPLC has documented a powerful resurgence of the extremist movement that motivated McVeigh. In fact, the movement has spawned numerous acts of terror and violence in recent years.
The SPLC today offers both a look at the movement’s history and an assessment of the current threat:
- MSNBC: “20 years after Oklahoma City bombing, domestic terror threat remains,” by SPLC President Richard Cohen.
- POLITICO: “Don’t Ignore the Homegrown Terror Threat,” by SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok.
- An SPLC timeline of the militia movement.
- Terror from the Right, a list of more than 100 domestic terrorist attacks, plots and racist rampages since Oklahoma City.
Also, here’s SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok discussing his personal experience as a reporter on the scene in Oklahoma City, as well as the current state of the militia movement:
Editor’s Note: This essay by SPLC Senior Fellow Mark Potok was written for, and originally posted at, Politico.
Less than six hours after a 7,000-pound truck bomb ripped through the Oklahoma City federal building 20 years ago this Sunday, self-described terrorism “expert” Steve Emerson already was on CBS News, speculating.
“Oklahoma City, I can tell you, is probably considered one of the largest centers of Islamic radical activity outside the Middle East,” Emerson claimed, speaking while the building’s rubble still smoldered over the corpses of 168 men, women and children. The bombing, he declared, “was done with the intent to inflict as many casualties as possible. That is a Middle Eastern trait.” Emerson went on to instruct CBS’s audience not to believe Islamic groups’ denials of involvement.
The next day—still before any suspect was identified—an Iraqi refugee named Suhair Al Mosawi was at home a few miles from the city with her two-year-old daughter when a hail of bricks smashed her windows. Seven months pregnant, the terrified Muslim woman fled with her child to a bathroom, where she began to miscarry. Racing to the hospital a short while later, according to an account in The Boston Globe, her husband asked her to take off her veil, hoping to avoid still more abuse.
It was an ugly lesson that Americans would do well to remember. ( continue to full post… )
A Pennsylvania supporter of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy has pleaded guilty in federal court to threatening a Bureau of Land Management enforcement official during Bundy’s armed standoff last year with federal officials.
Will Michael, 24, pleaded guilty this week to threatening a federal law enforcement official as well as making interstate communication threats, the Los Angeles Times reported on Thursday. He will be sentenced in July.
While Michael did not travel to Nevada during the April 12, 2014, standoff, he did leave a profanity-strewn telephone message with Mike Roop, the chief Bureau of Land Management (BLM) ranger for Washington and Oregon, in which he said, “We’re going to kill you,” according to federal court documents cited by The Times.
Bundy, who last weekend celebrated the anniversary of his standoff with BLM agents, seemed concerned that this would send a troubling message to his supporters. Michael is the first person arrested or charged in connection with the Bundy case, despite widespread calls across the nation for justice.
“I’m concerned,” Bundy told the Times. “It looks to me like they’re looking for someone easy to pick on. This guy was back in Pennsylvania. He wasn’t even out here in Nevada. I don’t even know what he said.” He added, “It sort of seems like this could be the government’s first move – I hope not.”
After the standoff, the Southern Poverty Law Center released a special report that, based on interviews with militia commanders on scene that day, documented a plan to coordinate the dozens of militias that responded to Bundy’s call for help, the Bundy family and other supporters to face off with the BLM.
A right-wing extremist group is believed to have leaked the home addresses of dozens of former and current employees of the CIA, FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CBS is reporting.
The list, which was uploaded to QuickLeak, a website designed for content to be leaked anonymously, also included the addresses of political figures such as former DHS head Janet Napolitano, Arizona Gov. Douglas Ducey and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The group, which has not yet been identified, also published addresses it claims the CIA uses for field operations in the United States.
While the identity of the group is unknown, the language on the site is filled with conspiracy theories and rhetoric often employed by members of the antigovernment movement.
“LET THESE EVIL NOW SATANISTS KNOW THAT THERE WILL BE HELL TO PAY FOR THEIR 911 TREASON, AND THEIR FUTURE FEMA CAMP PLANNED PUBLIC CRACKDOWN TREASON,” the first several lines of the document read. “ALSO JESUS IS LORD, AND THE PUBLIC IS IN CHARGE, NOT THESE SATANIC NWO [New World Order] STOOGES.”
References to the “New World Order” and a secret government plan to intern American citizens in domestic prison camps are central tenants of the antigovernment movement, which believes that the federal government has become the enemy of the people. Several names, including Giuliani’s and an alleged CIA official named Richard Blee are labeled as “9-11 Traitors.”
According to CBS, the DHS has responded with concern.
“The safety of our workforce is always a primary concern,” the agency said in a written statement. “DHS has notified employees who were identified in the posting and encouraged them to be vigilant. DHS will adjust security measures, as appropriate, to protect our employees.”
They gathered on a sandy wash not far from the site of where an angry standoff took place one year ago when the radical right came to the aid of Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight with the federal government. Bundy’s supporters, militiamen and antigovernment “Patriots,” spent this past weekend near his ranch celebrating, as their T-shirts printed for the occasion proclaimed, “Victory Over Oppression.”
Designed to be a “Liberty Celebration,” cowboy poets, musicians and speakers from as far away as Florida spent the weekend playing in the Virgin River, eating hamburgers made with Bundy beef and camping on public lands once heavily patrolled by Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents.
But not anymore.
One year after hundreds of heavily armed antigovernment “Patriots” swarmed the Nevada desert to help rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight with the federal government – an event that nearly ended in bloodshed – the Bundy family is ready again.
Beginning on Friday, the family plans to hold a three-day celebration to mark the anniversary of the April 12, 2014, standoff with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents, and the subsequent decision by the federal government to abandon efforts to confiscate Bundy’s cattle as payment for more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.
Dubbed “the Battle of Bunkerville” by the antigovernment movement, the standoff led to widespread animus toward the federal government in a movement already fixated on conspiracy theories that covered everything from the secret introduction of endangered desert tortoises to push Bundy of public lands, to the idea that the federal government had secret plans with the Chinese government to turn large swaths of Nevada into solar farms.
In the months after the standoff, patriot paranoia spread across the American West, too – a trend that was documented in a Southern Poverty Law Center special investigative report, War in the West, that tracked the spread of Bundy’s ideas and revealed that the April 12 standoff was part of an orchestrated, planned militia effort, not an organic uprising of populist fury.
The Bundy’s have said the weekend celebration will include camping, hiking, shooting, cowboy poetry and a barbecue. Speakers at the weekend celebration include former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, Nye County (Nevada) Sheriff Sharon Wehrly and Nevada Councilwoman Michelle Fiore, who has taken on Bundy’s fight with the feds in the state legislature. Bundy will deliver remarks about the last year on Saturday evening.
The anniversary of the Bundy standoff is more than a moment of celebration for the antigovernment movement, though. It is also a reminder that a year has passed during which the federal government has done nothing to hold Bundy accountable for those who committed crimes that day, and has let Bundy stand in bold defiance of a federal court order.
The BLM has yet to respond to dozens of requests in the last year for comment.
A group of self-described “Patriots” showed up at the Washington state Capitol building last weekend, demanding the removal of the “communist” flag of China from the flagpoles in front of the rotunda. When a state employee arrived and took the flag down, with assistance from a state trooper, they then claimed victory.
However, according to a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol (WSP), the flag – being flown to honor a visit from China’s U.S. ambassador, Cui Tiankai, who met with Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday – had been scheduled to come down on Saturday anyway. The man shown in a video posted by the “Patriots” bringing the flag down was a state employee, and he stored the flag afterward as he would normally.
Nonetheless, the video shows the glee of the protesters, who proclaim the state trooper one of their own: “Now that’s an oath keeper there,” says Anthony Bosworth, the leader of the protest. “Making sure the communist flag comes down. That’s an officer I can support.” Then they stood at attention with their Tea Party “Gadsden” flags until the flag was fully down.
At Fox News Insider, the flag removal was touted with the headline, “Patriots Helped Take Down Communist China Flag at a US State Capitol,” while a similar headline over a story at the Washington Times likewise described the removal as something inspired by the protesters.
WSP spokesman Robert Calkins said the flag was originally scheduled to come down last weekend, and when the trooper noticed the protesters, he contacted groundskeepers and ascertained that the flag was scheduled to come down that morning, so they simply expedited the process to avert any conflict.
“On Monday, the Scottish flag was flying,” noted Calkins. He said the standard state protocol is to fly the flag of any nation recognized by the United States government when a dignitary from that nation visits the Capitol. China is Washington state’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade between the two totaling well over $20 billion annually. It’s also the state’s largest export-business client, with China consuming over $15 billion in goods produced in the state each year, notably agricultural products such as apples.
Bosworth and his gang of protesters are becoming familiar sights to the state’s law-enforcement officers. In February, he led a group of about 50 gun-rights protesters in a failed attempt to get arrested by bringing their guns inside the statehouse chambers while the Legislature was in session, though they did so on a day when the Legislature was not in session. In March, he led a similar protest outside the doors of the federal courthouse in Spokane, which likewise led to no arrests.