The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Funeral services were held today in Tallahassee, Fla., for a 47-year-old sheriff’s deputy who was fatally shot Saturday by a man with antigovernment views who started his house on fire, setting a trap for first responders.
Leon County Deputy Chris Smith, a married father of two, was ambushed and shot with a 40-caliber handgun moments after arriving at the burning home of Curtis Wade Holley, 53, in the Plantation Woods neighborhood just northwest of Tallahassee, authorities say.
Another deputy, Colin Wulfekuhl, was struck in the back by a bullet, but was saved from serious injury by a vest during the 12-minute mid-day gun battle that left Holley dead outside his burning home, the Tallahassee Democrat reported.
Two Tallahassee police officers, Scott Angulo and Mark Lewis, arrived as backup four minutes after the shooting began. Angulo fatally shot Holley in the ensuring gun battle, according to various media accounts.
“We have information that we have received that this person was anti-government, was anti-establishment and had discussed at some point in time planning to harm law enforcement,” Lt. James McQuaig, a spokesman for the Leon County Sheriff’s Office, told the newspaper.
McQuaig and other sheriff’s officials, apparently attending the funeral for their slain comrade, didn’t immediately return calls today from Hatewatch seeking clarification of Holley’s “antigovernment views.”
At an earlier press briefing, the sheriff’s office spokesman said Holley “planned his attack to kill as many first responders as possible,” the newspaper reported.
After starting a fire in the home where he’d lived for a year, Holley waited for it to become fully engulfed before going to his next door neighbor’s house and asking her to call 911.
“It was a 100 percent ambush,” McQuaig said at the press conference after the shooting. “This guy had a plan and he put this plan into action.”
Dispatchers gave first responders the neighbor’s name and address and not Holley’s name from a computer data base which presumably had a temperament warning because of his antigovernment activities.
Deputy Wulfekuhl kept the gunman engaged while warning firefighters who arrived to stay back and evacuate. Multiple engines were called to the scene of the fire.
“It is extremely important to recognize that Colin Wulfekuhl probably saved the life of every firefighter that was there initially responding,” McQuaig said.
A reporter for the Tallahassee newspaper told Hatewatch that authorities investigating the shooting were being tight-lipped about Holley’s background, but did say he had a history of “antigovernment” activity.
Public records show that Holley had minor criminal records in Florida, Texas and North Carolina, including driving without a license and failure to have auto insurance.
Bill Warner, who owns a private detective agency in Sarasota, Fla., told Hatewatch that he has researched Holley’s background and is convinced from his research that Holley was a “sovereign citizen” who put his antigovernment views into action.
Given the title, you might think that Michael Savage’s Stop the Coming Civil War: My Savage Truth would be about preventing and healing the nation’s cultural rift before it erupts into violence. Instead, what he delivers is a manifesto accusing the Obama administration of fomenting just such a war—a war only far-right ideologues like himself can prevent.
None of this is really a surprise given Savage’s long history of incendiary right-wing extremism and hateful rhetoric. In recent months, though, Savage has been ratcheting up attacks to extraordinary levels, claiming that President Obama is trying to wipe out Americans by allowing migrant children to bring disease and culture across the border; that he is trying to bring an Ebola epidemic to the United States; and that soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder—who he called “a bunch of losers”—are weaklings symptomatic of the forces he believes are destroying the country. He also wants the new Republican Congress to promptly arrest the president.
True to form, Stop the Coming Civil War is replete with the usual right-wing attacks on Obama, who he claims is “a metrosexual”intent on destroying the nation and placing it under a dictatorship. True patriots, he claims, will rise up to resist this.
When ATF agents arrested Kevin “K.C.” Massey III at a Brownsville-area hotel last week on charges that he had been illegally carrying weapons while leading border-militia patrols in Texas, they found more in his hotel room than just guns and ammo. There was also a container of ammonium nitrate and fuel—a potent bomb in the making.
According to an inventory of items taken during Massey’s arrest, an “ammo box filled with ammonium nitrate (suspected) and fuel” was found in the room, which participants at Camp LoneStar—the border-militia operation at which Massey had been dubbed a “commander”—had described as a place rented out by the camp as “a place to take a shower and get a good night’s rest.”
As the San Antonio Express-News noted in a report on the arrest, ammonium nitrate, which can be purchased as a farm fertilizer, can make a potent explosion when mixed with diesel fuel and detonated. It was the explosive Timothy McVeigh used in his 1995 terrorist attack on the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
A little over 22 years ago, shooting broke out on a lonely Idaho mountaintop known as Ruby Ridge. The violence left a U.S. marshal and a 14-year-old boy dead, led to the death of the boy’s mother in the 11-day standoff that followed, and became, in the end, a seminal lesson in how law enforcement should not act in such situations.
Earlier this week, Retro Report, a critically acclaimed video documentary series that is distributed by The New York Times, released a thoughtful piece re-examining the 1992 FBI siege of a cabin inhabited by white supremacist Randy Weaver and his family. In the aftermath of that siege, which helped spark the militia movement of the 1990s, Weaver and another man who was in the cabin were acquitted of the murder of Marshal William Degan, and the federal government ultimately paid the surviving Weavers $3.1 million to settle their countervailing legal claims.
The film features Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center and editor of its investigative magazine, Intelligence Report. “The Ruby Ridge standoff became a kind of founding myth of the radical right,” Potok says in the film. “It not only made the government look bad, it was bad. People, whatever views they had, whatever illegal activities they had [engaged in], should not be shot down by government snipers when they are not actively threatening the life of somebody.”
Editors’ Note: Updates with details of Frein’s arraignment.
Eric Matthew Frein, the 31-year-old antigovernment survivalist and accused cop-killer, was arraigned today on murder and other charges in Hawley, Pa., after a 48-day massive manhunt in rural Pennsylvania ended yesterday with his capture.
Frein was restrained in the Pike County District Courtroom in the very handcuffs once used by the Pennsylvania state trooper he is accused of shooting. Authorities slapped those cuffs on him immediately after his arrest and drove him away in the slain officer’s car to the state police barracks where the ambush occurred on Sept. 12.
As Frein was led to the courtroom today–his hair slicked back with a bloody cut on his nose–a crowd of about 150 gathered and shouted, “You’re a coward,” and “Rot in hell,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
With Frein’s hands bound in the handcuffs that once belonged to slain State Police Cpl. Bryon Dickson, another state trooper turned the pages of the murder complaint, which Frein appeared to read intensely, the newspaper reported.
Frein, apparently caught off guard by deputy U.S. marshals, was arrested without a shot fired near an abandoned hangar at Birchwood-Pocono Airpark in Monroe County, Pa., according to several media accounts.
The elusive fugitive, placed on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List last month, was the object of one of the most intense manhunts in modern times–an undertaking now estimated to have cost $10 million. The search for the suspect draped a cloak of fear across assorted Pocono communities resulting in the closure of schools and the cancellation of many activities, including hunting and Halloween trick-or-treating.
While his motivation isn’t clear, Frein was a skilled survivalist and war re-enactment buff accused of harboring a deep-seated hatred of police.
For the past seven weeks, more than 1,000 law enforcement officers combed the dense woods of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains for the Frein following the ambush shooting of Cpl. Byron Dickson, 38, and the wounding of Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, at the Pennsylvania State Police Blooming Grove Barracks in Pike County.
Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin told reporters late Thursday that Frein would be charged with murder, homicide of a law enforcement officer, attempted murder and possession of weapons of mass destruction. That latter charge apparently relates to assembled pipe bombs found during the manhunt. The prosecutor also said he would seek the death penalty, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Frein’s capture came just before dark Thursday, when the federal marshals spotted a man matching the fugitive’s description in a field, appearing to be unarmed, yards from the hangar, the Express-Times newspaper reported.
“They ordered him to surrender, to get down on his knees and raise his hands, which he did,” Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan told the newspaper.
There were other reports, later confirmed by authorities, that a rifle and a handgun were found in the hanger where Frein apparently was seeking refuge from cold and wet fall weather. Frein appeared to be in good condition, not requiring any medical attention, Noonan told the Express-Times.
“He looked fairly healthy, healthier than I would have expected,” he said.
A chance encounter earlier this summer with a Border Patrol officer along the Rio Grande has become a disastrous event for the vigilantes prowling the Texas border at the militia encampment dubbed Camp LoneStar.
Two of the militiamen, including camp leader Kevin “K.C.” Massey III, now face federal felony weapons charges as a result of the encounter. Massey was arrested on Monday, while a second militiaman, John Frederick Foerster, was arrested on Tuesday. Both are charged with being felons in possession of a weapon.
A group of Border Patrol officers were in pursuit of several illegal border crossers in the early morning hours of Aug. 29 when one of the officers, having lost sight of the fugitives, came upon Foerster, who was standing in the brush holding a weapon. According to the criminal complaint, the agent fired four shots at Foerster and missed; Foerster threw down his gun and surrendered.
While the officers were processing information with Foerster, Massey and another Camp LoneStar participant arrived to vouch for Foerster, carrying weapons. Massey had an AK-47 rifle and a .45 caliber handgun.
According to Massey’s account of the incident on Facebook, Border Patrol officers asked the men to store their guns (as well as a GoPro video camera) in a Patrol vehicle. But when the officers wrapped up their work, they insisted on keeping the guns and the camera as part of their investigation.
The encounter occurred on the private property owned by Cuban “Rusty” Monsees where the Camp LoneStar encampment is set up, and so no arrests were made at the time. However, it shortly emerged that Foerster was in fact a felon; Massey, as federal agents would later report, also had been convicted of a felony in 1988.
On Monday, ATF agents swooped in and arrested Massey at a hotel in Brownsville, and then arrested Foerster on Tuesday.
The arrests set off a round of paranoia among their fellow militiamen. Massey’s “superior” at Camp LoneStar, Archie Seals, ranted on Facebook about how the arrests represent government oppression of their citizen-vigilante efforts:
Ok, I had been thinking for a while, “Are we doing any good here”? Now I know we are, and we are stepping on someone toes. Listen up all Feds that are monitoring, you have put my #2 in a cell illegally thinking it would shut us up and down. Guess what??? It didn’t work. We are still open for business, because, “This is what we do”. If anything, you made us stronger and more determined. When you take me in on some bs, another has been chosen to take over, then another, and another. We are Camp LoneStar and we are going no where. Now, I need every possible BOG immediately. Let’s show these feds that we only will grow stronger. Who will now join me and who will send support for the camp and for KC??? We need supplies here and KC needs funds for bond and lawyer.
Fellow “Patriot” Gary Hunt, evidently familiar with the details of Massey’s arrest, posted angrily at his blog:
These occurrences … should provide adequate warning to patriots, especially those who have a felony record, that there is a concerted effort on the part of government to find cause to bring charges against you and take your guns away. They also provide insight into the tactics that the government is using to cull the patriot community of as many as they can, reducing the remaining numbers, and intimidating those who remain.
Massey’s friends at the Secure Our Border organization changed the cover photo of their Facebook page to one featuring Massey’s portrait, accompanied by the legend: “Taken by the ATF for the crime of proving that the border can be secured by a few American Patriots.”
Cliven Bundy in Bizarre Video for Black Candidate: ‘It’s Almost Like Black Folks Think White Folks Owe Them Something’
Cliven Bundy, the defiant “Patriot” Nevada rancher who led an armed confrontation with federal agents in April – and who has still not faced any consequences in its aftermath – continued making the far-right political rounds in Nevada this week by appearing in a video promoting the candidacy of Independent American Party candidate Kamau Bakari.
This is somewhat remarkable, considering that Bakari is African-American. Rather than run away from Bundy’s reputation as a racist — well earned, after his widely publicized remarks about race in the immediate aftermath of Bundy’s showdown — the two of them went on the offensive, attacking his critics for their “political correctness,” which Bakari says is “bad for America.”
But none of it is as remarkable as the exchange between the two men, in which Bundy complains that “a man ought to be able to express himself without being called names”, and adds: “It’s almost like black folks think white folks owe them something.”
The ad opens with a clip of U.S. Attorney General Eric holder, commenting in 2009 on the state of race in America: “In things racial, we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.”
The ad then segues to Bundy and Bakari in western cowboy garb with their horses at a hitching post, as spaghetti-western music plays in the background.
BUNDY: Did he just call me a coward?
BAKARI: No, he just called all white folks cowards.
BUNDY: He must not know me.
BAKARI: You mean if someone called you a racist, you wouldn’t drop your head and be all scared and sad and run around here apologizing like them billionaire ball team owners did a little while ago?
BUNDY: No, I wouldn’t, and I’m sick and tired of people that act like that.
BAKARI: Cliven, you know that political correctness, that’s bad for America. A man ought to be able to say whatever you want to say.
BUNDY: That’s exactly right. I know black folks have had a hard time with slavery and you know, the government was in on it. And the government’s in on it again. I worked my whole life without mistreating anybody. A man ought to be able to express himself without being called names.
BAKARI: I hear you, Cliven, I believe you. A brave white man like you might be just what we need to put an end to this political correctness in America today.
BUNDY: Don’t sell yourself short. You’re taking a chance just being in my company.
BAKARI: I know. I’m as sick as you are. I feel ashamed when I hear black folks whining about “white folks this,” “white folks that.” Always begging.
BUNDY: It’s almost like black folks think white folks owe them something.
BAKARI: I know, I’ve got an idea. Let’s call Eric Holder up.
BUNDY: What do you mean?
BAKARI: Tell him you’re a white man that’s not scared to talk to him about race. And you know a black man that will stand with you.
BUNDY: I like that idea. Mr. Eric Holder, this is one white man that’s not scared to talk about race. I dare you to come to Las Vegas and talk to us.
BAKARI: And don’t give us that “you’re too busy” stuff. You weren’t too busy to go to Ferguson, Missouri.
As the Washington Post notes, Bakari is a fringe candidate who has virtually no change of unseating the incumbent, Rep. Dina Titus, a Democrat, in Nevada’s 1st District.
It has been six months since the federal government called off its attempt to round up cattle belonging to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy amid a tense standoff with heavily armed militiamen who trained their weapons on federal agents.
For weeks prior, the antigovernment right had been portraying a federal court order to remove Bundy’s herd from public lands as a prime example of federal overreach – even though Bundy had refused to pay more than $1 million in accumulated grazing fees and fines because he said he didn’t recognize the government’s legitimacy.
Militias from around the country responded to Bundy’s plight, hoping that in that tiny corner of the desert they could make a stand against the government they see as the enemy. And when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) abandoned the operation to avoid a bloody shootout, they declared victory.
Government officials promised accountability for those who broke the law by taking up arms against federal agents. It seems unfathomable, in fact, that the U.S. Department of Justice would allow a mob of antigovernment zealots to get away with using the threat of violence to block the enforcement of the law.
But, as the months have dragged on, there has been no response. Not an arrest. Not an indictment. Nothing.
Once upon a time, it must have seemed like a good idea to Cherron Phillips, a 44-year-old antigovernment “sovereign citizen” from Chicago, to file a series of frivolous $100 billion liens against some of the most powerful federal judges and prosecutors in the city in retaliation for the prosecution and conviction of her brother on drug charges.
But on Tuesday, in a federal courtroom in Chicago, that good idea turned into a 7-year prison sentence for the visibly shaken Phillips, a former math teacher, successful real estate agent and insurance broker, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The Tribune reported that in passing the sentence, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Reagan described Phillips’ campaign to harass and intimidate public officials as “death by a thousand paper cuts.”
Reagan was brought in to handle the case because of concerns of a conflict of interest of Chicago-based federal court officials, whose colleagues, including former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, were targets of Phillips’ campaign of paper terrorism. The sentence she received, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, was six months longer than federal sentencing guidelines recommend.
For her part, Phillips, a mother of two, who now calls herself River Tali Bey, stayed sovereign to the end. At her sentencing she reportedly told the court that her jailing was “an unauthorized punishment that is not recognized by Congress or the Constitution.” She also admitted to being “confused.”
Phillips started filing the bogus liens in 2011 and was convicted last June on 10 counts of retaliation against a federal official. Phillips filed the liens with the Cook County recorder of deeds, according to the Tribune, after being barred from the federal courthouse for disrupting the proceedings in her younger brother’s drug conspiracy case.
For more than a year, Phillips insisted on representing herself in court. But eventually she was assigned a court appointed attorney, Lauren Solomon, who asked Tuesday that Phillips be given probation, adding that the sovereign citizen ideology is “nonsensical at best” and that jail and prison are breeding grounds for the movement.
“Can we really solve this with incarceration?” Solomon told the court, the Tribune reported.
For Phillips, being a sovereign citizen was apparently a family affair. Solomon told the court that Phillips mother and father had also run into trouble with the law and that they, too, were sovereign citizens. According to the Tribune, Phillips’ parents were once convicted on federal tax evasion charges in a case that featured filings by the couple heavy with sovereign citizen language and tactics, such as challenging the jurisdiction of the court.
At one point, Phillips, her parents and her younger brother, who was convicted on drug charges, were all in federal custody at the same time. Her father has been released from prison. Her mother, according to the Tribune, is scheduled to be released next spring.
Phillips and her family are not the first sovereign citizens in Chicago to make headlines or to clash with the federal government. In 2012, just before Christmas, Joseph Banks, 37, a sovereign citizen and convicted bank robber, one of the most prolific in Chicago history, made a daring, Hollywood-style jail break.
Banks and another inmate, Kenneth Conley, a fellow bank robber but non-sovereign citizen, squeezed through a tiny window at the high rise federal jail in downtown Chicago, scaled down 17 stories on a rope fashioned out of bed sheets, caught a cab and then disappeared into the pre-dawn darkness.
Banks did not get to enjoy his freedom for long. He was back in custody about 48 hours later. His escape partner remained free for two more weeks before he was recaptured.
Still, the federal prison system might want to keep better track of its sheets. Another sovereign citizen is on her way.
Ted Nugent, who has earned a reputation as a racist after calling President Obama a “chimpanzee” and mocking “unclean dipshit Native Americans” for cancelling his shows, is now a dues paying member of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA).
In a Facebook message to his followers yesterday, the self-professed “Motor City Madman” wrote:
The CONSTITUTIONAL SHERIFF’S and POLICEMEN ORGANIZATION OF AMERICA is a great patriotic group of which I am proud to be a life member, and would be great for all good Americans to join. This hardcore org is not just for law enforcement but for concerned citizens as well. Afterall WE THE PEOPLE are supposed to be in charge of America, NOT our elected officials as it has deteriorated into. In these horrific times of rampant asbuse of power & criminal corruption at the very top, I can think of no better way for WE THE PEOPLE to make the ultimate DON’T TREAD ON ME statement to those in power. It is time for WE THE PEOPLE to take back our constitutionally guaranteed power.
The connection Nugent has with CSPOA is guns.
CSPOA is headed by former Arizona Sheriff Richard Mack, who was catapulted from obscurity to right-wing fame in the mid-1990s when he challenged the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and won a U.S. Supreme Court victory that weakened the gun-control law signed by President Bill Clinton. The victory earned him tremendous respect among gun rights advocates and many in the militia movement. Nugent, in addition to his music career, is also known for his strident positions on gun control. He also sits on National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors.
Mack told Hatewatch today that Nugent payed the $35 fee to become a member, and that he wasn’t too concerned about any controversy surrounding the man. And as for calling Obama a “chimpanzee”?
“I would choose a different word,” Mack said. “Mr. Obama is a communist, and I think that’s a lot worse than some of the things I’ve heard Ted call him.”