The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
After stumbling out of the gate last month, militia activists in Texas are now appearing along the U.S.-Mexico border as part of a vigilante campaign to “secure our border” in the midst of a refugee crisis involving unaccompanied children from Central America.
According to a handful of news reports out of Texas, the militiamen – who initially were nowhere to be seen after publicizing their plans last month – are now conducting patrols in some areas in hopes of stopping incursions by border crossers.
The San Antonio Express-News published a report this week that listed some of the groups that have been involved in the patrols and included numerous photos of the militiamen.
Strikingly, the patrols are being organized secretively, and all the militiamen involved have insisted on anonymity.
The photos published with the report show dozens of men wearing camouflage gear and carrying a variety of semi-automatic weapons, patrolling areas of the border of southern Texas. In some cases, the men are wearing masks; in others, their faces have been blurred by photo retouching.
The individual who provided the photos insisted on blurring the visible faces of participants, saying they need anonymity to protect against retaliation by “cartel and gang members.” Nonetheless, some of the men in the photos contacted the paper and demanded that it remove the images, blurred or not, from the website.
Kolten Parker, the reporter who handled the story, told the SPLC that he and his editors tried to independently confirm as many details as possible, given that the militias have been secretive about who they are and when and where they are conducting patrols.
“We’ve spoken with ranchers in the area where these patrols are occurring, and we’ve seen plenty of evidence that they are,” Parker said. Judging from the 30 or so photos that the paper ran, he said that so far the patrols are being conducted in a well-organized manner.
Barbie Rogers of the Patriot Information Hotline told the paper that there are 10 “operations on the ground in Texas” this week. ( continue to full post… )
With thousands of undocumented children amassing at the U.S. border, Robert Jones, Imperial Wizard of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, doesn’t want amnesty. He wants “corpses” on the border.
Speaking to Al Jazeera America, Jones, in full Klan robes, warned that immigrant children crossing the border are a threat to a “white homeland” and simply one more way President Obama has “sold out the American people.”
“If we can’t turn them back, I think if we pop a couple of them off and leave their corpses laying at the border maybe they’ll see we’re serious about stopping immigration,” Jones said.
The situation at the border has intensified in recent weeks as violence has forced many families to help their children cross the border for safety –– an option available due to legislation signed by President George W. Bush that gave new protections to children entering the country by prohibiting them from being quickly sent back to their country of origin, the New York Times reported in early July. In response, militia members armed with assault rifles have once again begun border patrols, and groups like the Klan, long obsessed with a white homeland, have focused their hate toward the border once again.
What if militias announced a showdown with the feds and nobody came?
That’s pretty much what happened in Texas this week, after a handful of militia activists called on their fellow militia members to intervene in the increasingly fraught humanitarian crisis on the U.S.-Mexico border, involving large numbers of children from Central America who are straining the government’s ability to process their complicated cases.
For a Texas militiaman named Chris Davis, there was nothing complicated about it. In a video he posted at YouTube – which he has since been removed – he offered a simple solution for dealing with the young border crossers.
“How?” Davis asked rhetorically. “You see an illegal, you point your gun right dead at them, right between the eyes, and say ‘Get back across the border, or you will be shot.’ Simple as that. If you get any flak from sheriffs, city, or feds, Border Patrol, tell them look — this is our birthright. We have a right to secure our own land. This is our land. This is our birthright.”
Davis’s solution was part of his call to his fellow militia members to make their way to the Texas border near Laredo in order to prevent child refugees from crossing there. Late last week, he posted an “Action Alert” bulletin at various online forums, including his Operation Secure Our Border Facebook page. “All Texas & National Militia Available Please Converge Immediately,” it said. The alert said the “mission” was to “close down Laredo Crossing for starters,” and that the operation would be “complete when border fence is in place and secure.”
It named a gathering point at a truck stop in Encinal, Texas, and concluded: “It’s time to bring down the thunder. Activating the Patriots willing to stand up for America GO GO GO. … Let’s share this like the brushfires of Liberty.”
However, Davis’ militia muster call quickly vanished into virtual thin air. Shortly after he began receiving media attention – including accounts in the McAllenville Monitor, Brownsville Herald, San Antonio Express-News and Los Angeles Times – he not only took down all his YouTube videos and deleted his channel there, he also deleted his Facebook page and all its incendiary antigovernment content.
The right-wing media tried to sell Americans on the idea that the antigovernment “Patriots” and militiamen who gathered to block the roundup of Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle in Nevada were well-meaning lovers of liberty. However, Bundy’s most ardent defenders have revealed themselves to be a volatile collection of hotheaded, paranoid men (and a few women) with big egos and even bigger guns.
The situation at the ranch, where armed militiamen and “Patriots” are camped out, has deteriorated so badly that competing factions apparently drew weapons on one another during heated arguments.
We wrote on Wednesday about how tensions flared when a paranoid rumor of an imminent drone strike on the encampment began circulating. The team that primarily circulated the drone-strike rumor – Stewart Rhodes’ Oath Keepers – also began advising people to pull out, which sparked the wrath of militiamen.
Those militiamen voted to oust the Oath Keepers, and a couple even spoke of shooting Rhodes and his men in the back, which they deemed the proper battlefield treatment of “deserters”.
Now Rhodes has replied to their accusations in a video in which he teamed up with fellow Oath Keepers Steve Homan, Robert Casillas and Brandon Ropolla (the latter of whom are also affiliated with Mike Vanderboegh’s so-called “III Percent” movement) to attack the “nutcases” that Rhodes said have assumed control of the militia camp at the Bundy Ranch.
RHODES: Now, when [John] Bidler was dropped on his butt– John Bidler– another guy — some Mountain Man militia guy, put his hand on his gun and said, “I dare ya to draw — draw motherfucker, I’m gonna kill ya.” I’m sorry to cuss but that’s what he said. So they were being threatened. Guys with hands on their guns threatening them. That’s why we told them to get out of there. We knew the situation was this close from being a gunfight, right there inside the camp.
Rhodes later described another close call when guns were drawn and people very nearly shot:
RHODES: And this is the tip of the iceberg of the cluster out there. One of our guys from Montana, Rick Delap, who was there from the beginning — he’s been out there for two weeks in the dirt – the day of this confrontation, I come to find out he had to draw on somebody. Two of the Mountain Men guys came up to him — were aggressing on him. Then one of them ran back to his vehicle and grabbed an AR and came back with an AR in his hand and Rick had to draw on him. And those two ran off. That was this close from Rick having to shoot that ding-a-ling. If that guy had raised his barrel, Rick would have had no choice but to shoot him.
A 76-year-old retired U.S. Army colonel is planning an event in Washington, D.C., on May 16, that he hopes will attract millions of antigovernment patriots voicing a “simple demand” – the resignations of President Obama and ranking members of Congress.
Harry G. Riley tells Hatewatch his “Operation American Spring” is attracting widespread militia support and will be the sequel to last month’s Cliven Bundy standoff in Nevada, “forcing the government thugs to back down in the face of ‘We the People.’”
“It does embolden me and gives me courage,” Riley said of the Bundy standoff, that ended with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management calling off its roundup of the rancher’s cattle for non-payment of grazing fees. Much of Bundy’s support evaporated when he made racist comments.
“The militia groups and the others stood up for Bundy and the government thugs stood down,” Riley said. “I hope people feel the same way about Operation American Spring.”
In fact, Riley said he hopes members of Congress will “come to their senses,” leave their offices and join in the demonstration set to begin in two weeks.
“It’s a sacrificial effort by patriots who believe our nation is in jeopardy,” Riley told Hatewatch today from his home in Crestview, Fla. “Our government at the federal level is totally lawless. Our nation is in grave danger right now of internal implosion.”
While the event is attracting interest from various antigovernment and militia groups, those who join Riley will have to leave their guns behind or face arrest in the District of Columbia.
The group will not apply for a U.S. Park Service demonstration permit “because we are just a bunch of individual patriots who plan on visiting Washington, D.C., exercising our constitutional rights, all at the same time,” Riley told Hatewatch.
Operation American Spring already has delivered its “declaration of revision” demand packets to all 535 members of Congress, Riley said. The packets call for the impeachment or resignations of President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., the Senate majority leader; Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate minority leader; House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House minority leader, and Attorney General Eric Holder.
“These are individuals who are violating their oaths of office and not following their responsibilities under the Constitution,” Riley said.
Those resignation or impeachment demands, Riley said, will be backed by the forthcoming demonstration – “the only simple way to express the collective voice of ‘We the People.’” ( continue to full post… )
U.S. Army Sergeant Anthony Peden, who served two combat tours in Afghanistan and a third in Iraq before returning home and joining an antigovernment militia called FEAR, was sentenced today in Georgia to life in prison for the murder of two teenage sweethearts in December 2011.
Tiffany York, 17, and her boyfriend, Michael Roark, 19, were shot and killed in the Georgia woods by Peden and three other soldiers, prosecutors charged, in an attempt to keep secret the militia’s plans to overthrow the government through a campaign of sabotage, bombings and political assassinations.
But unlike two of his co-defendants, Pvt. Isaac Aguigui and Pvt. Christopher Salmon, who were sentenced previously to life without the possibility of parole, Peden, 28, could be eligible for parole in 30 years.
“It’s still a long, long time,” Peden’s lawyer, H. Burton Baker of the Office of the Georgia Capital Defenders told Hatewatch today. “But it’s a bad, bad crime.”
Baker said the reason Peden received a bit of mercy and the faint hope of distant freedom was because of his combat experience and the obvious damage it did to his heart and soul.
“What distinguishes Anthony’s case from Aguigui and Salmon,” Baker said, “was Peden did perform heroically in combat. He saved people. These other guys never had to fire their weapons in anger. They never had to soldier in the way Anthony did.” ( continue to full post… )
It was the imminent drone attack that finally did it.
Paranoid rumors are not only common at gatherings of antigovernment “Patriots,” they’re practically the entire raison d’etre for them. So when a wild and paranoid rumor began circulating – that Attorney General Eric Holder was preparing a drone strike on the armed militiamen who gathered at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada – it unleashed a rift within the camp, which is brimming with fear, rage, testosterone and firearms.
Vicious infighting among those remaining at the camp – estimated at less than a hundred – broke out a little more than two weeks after heavily armed militiamen forced federal agents to back down from a planned roundup of Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle from public lands. After vowing to stay on and protect Bundy – who then stumbled on the national stage with an outpouring of racist commentary – the remaining “Patriots,” who have been raising fear levels among local residents, have begun feuding. And it has been revealing.
Apparently, someone within one of the major factions at the camp, the Oath Keepers, relayed word of the imminent drone attack to his leaders. Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes responded by pulling his people out of what they called “the kill zone” (the area the supposed drone would be striking). When the other militiamen learned that the Oath Keepers had pulled out, they were outraged.
As you can see in the video below, the angry militiamen – led by a Montana “Patriot” named Ryan Payne, who has been acting as the spokesman for the militiamen at the ranch – held an impromptu gathering at the camp to discuss the situation. They openly talk about shooting Rhodes and other Oath Keepers leaders – because in their view, the Oath Keepers’ actions constituted “desertion” and “cowardice” – and describe how “the whole thing is falling apart over there.” At the end, they vote unanimously to oust the Oath Keepers, or at least its leadership, from the Bundy Ranch camp.
PAYNE: We are open to gentlemanly conversation. But this man and the people that obeyed that order have violated my personal creed. You don’t fucking walk in and say, ‘I’m sorry,’ and you’re back in, brother. You can walk in and say you’re sorry, and you’re lucky that you’re not getting shot in the back. Because that’s what happens to deserters on the battlefield.
For his part, Rhodes and his fellow Oath Keepers are keeping a stiff upper lip about the rejection. Rhodes himself has returned to his Montana home, reportedly for a family birthday, and his underlings say he plans to return. Oath Keepers organizer Elias Alias (aka Franklin Shook) described the incident on the group’s website as an effort “to sabotage the Bundy stand against the government,” and reported that other “Patriot” movement leaders, including militiaman Mike Vanderboegh and Sheriff Richard Mack, remain firmly within their camp.
Alias also tried to explain the incoming-drone rumor:
Yes, it is true: Oath Keepers received a bizarre bit of leaked info which could not be verified but which also could not be ignored. Our contact is connected with the Department of Defense – or ‘was’. The info we received stated that Eric Holder of the Department of Justice had okayed a drone strike on the Bundy ranch near Bunkerville, Nevada, within a 48 hour period over the weekend of April 26/27, 2014.
That, fortunately, turned out to be ‘dis-info’ – a false rumor. And though it came from a trusted source, Oath Keepers could neither prove nor disprove it.
In the ensuing panic at the camp, “Oath Keepers advised people there to consider evacuation,” Alias said. He referred to the angry reaction of the militiamen as “backwash”. ( continue to full post… )
A man arrested a year ago in what the FBI described as a plot to bomb the Montevideo, Minn., police department has been sentenced to 40 months in prison by a federal judge who said she was convinced there was no such conspiracy.
“I don’t think you are a terrorist or part of a conspiracy,” U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery told Buford “Bucky” Rogers before sentencing him on two federal firearms charges, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Rogers, a member of a small antigovernment group called the Black Snake Militia, was arrested May 3, 2013, about two weeks after a deadly terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon. Rogers had come under investigation in October 2012 for possible suspected ties to antigovernment, militia and white supremacist organizations.
The judge said Rogers’ arrest “became a national news story that drew an inordinate amount of pretrial publicity” for what eventually became an ordinary crime of illegal possession of two explosive devices and a firearm,” the Minneapolis newspaper reported.
Rogers, 25, pleaded guilty in January to being a felon in possession of a firearm and illegally possessing homemade bombs.
Federal prosecutors asked the court to sentence Rogers to 63 months in prison – within the suggested federal sentencing guideline range of 57 to 71 months, given his criminal record. His first brush with the law came in 2005 when he brought a pellet gun and shotgun shells to school. He later was convicted of burglary.
Rogers’ attorney, federal defender Andrew H. Mohring, asked the court to sentence Rogers to 24 months of less in prison.
In court filings, Mohring said the federal investigation “failed to substantiate the extensive claims” initially made by law enforcement, including “casting Mr. Rogers as a domestic terrorist” who planned to blow up his hometown police department.
“That Mr. Rogers was the target of an investigation is unremarkable,” Mohring said. “However, the publicity that surrounded the investigation addressed an obvious political agenda.”
The defense attorney told the court that “a veritable armada” of 50 law enforcement personnel, with two armored personnel vehicles, from four federal and state agencies “descended on Montevideo” to arrest Rogers.
Federal prosecutors said the response was appropriate, given the circumstances known at the time by the FBI.
“Today, separated by nearly a year from the bombings in Boston, he [Rogers] chooses to view these events in hindsight and wag an accusing finger at the FBI’s response last May in Montevideo,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Winter told the court. “However, this is both naïve, self-serving, and dangerous.”
“At the time the FBI ‘descended’ on Montevideo, the FBI had been informed that the defendant was part of a group cheering the Boston bombing, possessed explosive devices, and planned to conduct violent acts imminently,” Winter told the court. The FBI also had been told that Rogers’ father allegedly had fired through his front door on a previous occasion when he believed law enforcement officials were on his doorstep.
“The fact that a broader plot was not discovered is not exculpatory,” Winter said, adding that Rogers and his attorney lack the expertise to tell the FBI how to conduct investigations and make arrests.
“It is unlikely that [Rogers] has the training and experience to determine precisely how many personnel are needed to cordon off a residential neighborhood to protect the citizenry from the shrapnel-laced bombs he constructed,” Winter said. “The government and the public should, and will, continue to defer to the FBI’s professional experience on such matters.”
People in rural southeastern Nevada and the surrounding area are not accustomed to being the center of national media attention, as they have increasingly been since their neighbor, rancher Cliven Bundy, began his notorious standoff with federal authorities. But what bothers them now is the threatening presence of armed militiamen who have taken up semi-permanent residency at Bundy’s ranch.
Some local residents, in fact, are complaining that the militiamen are setting up armed checkpoints and detaining people as they travel to their homes, asking for proof that they live nearby before allowing them to proceed. However, the militiamen themselves deny this, and investigating news crews have not found any evidence of it.
What these locals can say with certainty, though, is that the circus surrounding the standoff and the militias’ refusal to leave is not only disrupting their normally quiet lives, it is costing them money.
Congressman Steve Horsford of Las Vegas has been outspoken in criticizing the militiamen, charging that local residents have been confronted by militiamen who have set up armed checkpoints and demanded that they prove they live in the area before being allowed to pass. Horsford also says the militias have created a “persistent presence” along federal highways and state and county roads.
Horsford has demanded that Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie crack down on the outsiders, saying they make local residents feel unsafe.
“I am greatly concerned about the safety and well-being of my constituents after meeting with local community members this past week. I urge Sheriff Gillespie to investigate these reports, as this sort of intimidation cannot be tolerated,” Horsford said.
“We must respect individual constitutional liberties, but residents of and visitors to Clark County should not be expected to live under the persistent watch of an armed militia,” Horsford wrote in a letter to Gillespie. “Residents have expressed their desire to see these groups leave their community. I urge you to investigate these reports and to work with local leaders to ensure that their concerns are addressed in a manner that allows the community [to] move forward without incident.”
They aren’t the only residents who feel threatened. According to a report from KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, the militiamen have also threatened people who live in the nearby town of Mesquite, and businesses there claim they have lost over $100,000 because of their presence.
The station reported that a local hotel was forced to evacuate all of its clients one evening following a bomb threat. The hotel also received at least nine threatening calls after it permitted Bureau of Land Management rangers to stay there. The callers demanded the BLM rangers be kicked out or the hotel “would not be standing in the morning.”
One hotel worker told the news crew he had been told by an anonymous militia member that he would be “dragged out in the parking lot and shot”.
News crews were unable to find any armed checkpoints when they went out searching for them. A militia group spokesman named Ryan Payne denied to KVVU-TV that they were conducting such checks.
“We are not to set up checkpoints, we are not to pull over civilians, without, you know, reasonable cause,” Payne said. Of course, militiamen have no legal right to pull anyone over – with or without reasonable cause.
But local residents remain far from assured. “We are not a playground for armed militias,” Horsford said. “This unfortunate incident and the outside groups that have come for their own agenda are putting a black eye on this community.”
Armed militiamen are continuing to arrive in southeastern Nevada from around the nation with the aim of preventing the federal government from rounding up rancher Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle – and they don’t appear to be going away any time soon.
The Nevada standoff has emerged as the most significant gathering of antigovernment extremists since 1996, when supporters gathered briefly en masse outside the Montana ranch where a group of self-described “Freemen” engaged in an 81-day standoff with FBI agents who sought to arrest key members of their group.
The militiamen at the Bundy Ranch are from all over the United States. Only a few, however, are from militia groups large enough to be known quantities.
A Las Vegas Review-Journal report noted that one man from Philipsburg, Mont., claimed to represent the “West Mountain Rangers,” a group that has not popped up on anyone’s radar previously. A Utah man said he was from the People’s United Mobile Armed Services, whose Facebook page says that they are a “Revolutionary Movement for the Second American Revolution” but are otherwise almost completely unknown.
Indeed, most of the militias in attendance appear to have very small memberships, such as the Oklahoma militiamen who showed up hankering for a fight: “It’s up to the feds. The ball’s in their court! You can do this legally or if you want to try to do a land grab violently, you can do that. We’re going to resist you!” They make the dubious claim in their video that they are 50,000 strong.
These militiamen believe Oklahoma could be next for federal “tyranny”: “Just look around the country. They’re doing it everywhere. If they can do it in Nevada, they can do it in Colorado, they can do it in Texas. I mean, what’s to stop them from coming to Oklahoma? The only thing to stop them is We the People.” ( continue to full post… )