The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Rancher Cliven Bundy, the tax scofflaw whose defiance of a federal court order invigorated the antigovernment movement last year, is becoming something of a political asset.
On Monday, Bundy met with Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul during a campaign swing through Nevada. The two met in Mesquite during a “Stand with Rand” question-and-answer session, where Paul discussed public land rights with Bundy and 50 other potential supporters and activists, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported.
After the Q-and-A session, Paul’s aids found a private room where the presidential candidate met privately with Bundy, his wife and one of his sons for 45 minutes, according to a report in Politico.
“I think almost all land use issues and animal issues, endangered species issues, ought to be handled at the state level,” Rand told the Associated Press. “I think that the government shouldn’t interfere with state decisions, so if a state decides to have medical marijuana or something like that, it should be respected as a state decision.”
After the political rally, Bundy –– not so surprisingly –– told the AP he supported Paul’s position that the federal government should turn over ownership of its public lands to the states.
“In general, I think we’re in tune with each other,” Bundy told the wire service, adding, “I don’t think we need to ask Washington, D.C. for this land. It’s our land.”
Paul, only one of an ever-growing field of GOP contenders for the White House, didn’t however mention Bundy’s April 2014 standoff near Bunkerville, Nev.,with the Bureau of Land Management, an event that proved to be inspiring to the antigovernment movement.
Bundy has said the federal government, which controls 80 percent of the land in Nevada, has no authority there and he should be free to graze his cattle on public land without federal oversight.The BLM says Bundy still owes more than $1 million in back grazing fees for having his cattle herd roam on Nevada’s public lands in Nevada for the past two decades.
The BLM has refused requests for answers about how it intends to proceed against Bundy or the others involved in the standoff, including some armed militia members who pointed firearms at federal agents, though it has promised to seek justice for Bundy’s actions.
Despite the baggage that Bundy brings to any campaign, other political candidates have sought out his celebrity. Bundy has appeared at rallies and fundraisers for other candidates, mostly in Nevada and Arizona.
Last year he showed up at an Arizona picnic attended by Republicans Douglas A. “Doug” Ducey, who was elected governor of Arizona, and Mark Brnovich, who was elected at that state’s attorney general.
Bundy, who drew widespread criticism for talking about the “negro” in an interview with The New York Times, appeared in a campaign advertisement for Kamau Bakari, who was an unsuccessful Independent American Party candidate for Congress in last fall’s elections.
A judge’s order requiring the Bureau of Land Management to refrain from enforcing its regulations while the dispute over the Sugar Pine Mine in southwestern Oregon is being adjudicated appears to be enough for the assembled antigovernment “Patriots” who have shown up on the scene to declare victory and head for home.
“Mission Accomplished” now declares the header over the website of the Oath Keepers of Josephine County, the local organization that had made a national callout the month before for other Oath Keepers and likeminded antigovernment zealots to show up to defend the mine from the supposed plans of the BLM to destroy the mine and kick out its owners. The day before, the headline had read: “STAND DOWN.”
“Our initial mission has been a success… however this is just the first of many missions we are still working on,” the website proclaims.
The U.S. military’s plan to conduct a training exercise this summer across seven states has become the latest hot-button topic for antigovernment conspiracy mongers who are advancing a plethora of wild-eyed theories.
The exercise, called “Jade Helm,” is tantamount to martial law, they say, where special operations forces from four branches of the U.S. military will secretly train and further militarize local police, blending in with local populations and gearing up for an eventual battle to disarm Americans.
“They’re training to attack and beat and arrest and shoot and kill Patriots,” conspiracy theorist Alex Jones recently said on his television show. “This is what a slow-motion martial law scenario looks like!”
The U.S. Army’s Special Operations command has dismissed those conspiracy theories, saying Jade Helm is nothing more than “routine training to maintain a high level of readiness for (special forces) since they must be ready to support potential missions anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.” ( continue to full post… )
It wasn’t exactly a black helicopter, but it was close enough to spook the Oath Keepers keeping watch on the Sugar Pine Mine in southern Oregon.
Someone flew a private helicopter over a tract of land near the mine north of Grants Pass last week and set off a panic among the assembled “Patriots” – Oath Keepers, so-called “III Percenters,” and various other militiamen. And somehow, in militialand, this translated into a certainty that not one, but three helicopters were circling the mine and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was bringing in “troops.”
The militia gathered issued a coded call to arms, bringing the entire collection of would-be defenders rushing to the armed encampment’s staging area near the town of Merlin, bristling with guns and ready for action.
“THIS IS NOT A DRILL. CODE WORDS HAVE JUST BEEN GIVEN THAT OR MINE IS IN DISTRESS. ANY PATRIOTS IN THE AREA. ROLL OUT. ANYONE WHO CAN GO BETTER” read the callout on Facebook.
But according to Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel, it was all a false alarm. The helicopter did not belong to the BLM or any government agency, but instead was privately owned. It was landing on a mountain far from the Sugar Pine Mine. ( continue to full post… )
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:
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.
An antigovernment extremist who espoused killing police officers, judges and using napalm to burn down a county courthouse has been arrested in Montana after buying a fully automatic shotgun during six-month FBI sting.
William Krisstofer Wolf, 52, who broadcast his extremist views on a weekly webcast called “The Montana Republic,” was arrested Wednesday by FBI agents in Livingston, Mont., after paying $725 and taking possession of a sawed-off, fully automatic Russian Saiga-12 shotgun capable of shooting 10 rounds in two seconds, court documents say. His arrest came without incident.
The case will be presented to a federal grand jury for indictment while West remains in jail without bond on a charge of possession an illegal fully automatic machine gun.
Wolf allegedly expressed a desire to buy the illegal gun during a series of meetings he had, beginning last November, with an FBI informant who introduced Wolf to an undercover FBI agent, the documents say. It’s likely those conversations were secretly recorded by the FBI, although that’s not specifically detailed in public records.
During those meetings, Wolf also discussed building a “blowtorch gun” with a range up to 150 feet “for the purpose of protection against law enforcement officers wearing body armor.”
The court documents also say Wolf discussed using his blowtorch gun to destroy a “BearCAT” armored vehicle recently acquired by the Bozeman Police Department for use in SWAT operations. He allegedly said the most-effective way of destroying the police armored vehicle “would be cooking it from the inside.”
As the FBI continued monitoring West’s activities, agents learned that possession of the type of flamethrower described by Wolf wouldn’t violate federal law, the court documents disclose. But during those discussions, they say, Wolf also expressed his desire to acquire the Russian-made fully automatic shotgun.
Wolf began broadcasting “The Montana Republic” in November 2013 “to bring like-minded Patriots from across the country” together to discuss ways to counter local, state and federal officials who Patriots consider to be “overstepping on constitutional rights,” the documents say.
In several of his webcasts, West talked about “taking out bridges or power grids and seizing law enforcement vehicles and weapons,” they say.
“Over the next 12 months, Wolf repeatedly espoused his contempt for local judges, law enforcement, the county attorney, city and county commissioners and agents and agencies of the federal government,” the documents say.
When a “sovereign citizen” was arrested in Montana, Wolf urged his fellow Patriots to make citizen’s arrests of judges involved in the case and “stated his intention to use a means of force if necessary.”
Wolf advocated targeting police officers suspected of violating their oaths of office — comparing “shooting law enforcement officers to gopher hunting,” the documents allege.
Last October, in another broadcast, Wolf said federal judges who overturned gay marriage bans also “are now viable targets because they violated the Constitution.”
“As it sits folks, please understand, I firmly believe that all agents of the government, all judiciary, and all police officers are targets,” he said on the broadcast.
At a Patriots “committee of safety” meeting that Wolf hosted in late January, he discussed destroying the Gallatin County Courthouse in Bozeman, Mont. “My preferred method, I’m serious … would be to drop 500 pounds of napalm through the roof of the courthouse and burn it to the ground and roast some marshmallows on it.”
“I don’t believe in doing anything that’s not extreme and right now, wiping that place out would be my extreme movement and then my next [question] would be, ‘OK, which county, city building is going to be next?’”
When someone in the group urged West to exercise restraint and caution, the court documents say, he responded that if “they wanted to put him in jail, they had better bring a coroner and several body bags.”
Richard Mack, the leader of the so-called “Constitutional sheriffs” movement and a longtime figure in the antigovernment “Patriot” movement, made a somewhat startling announcement near the end of his speech Saturday December 13 to the gathering of fellow gun-rights enthusiasts at the “We Will Not Comply” rally in Olympia, Wash.
“I want you to know that there is something that I’m gonna do – and I don’t want to do it,” he said. “And my wife really doesn’t want to do it. But there is a group of people that were looking for answers to what we’re doing. And they formed a committee, and they formed a website, and they got together and they said, let’s call this the Constitutional County Project. And we’re going to try to make at least one county a complete and entire constitutional county.”
Mack smiled. “Now imagine that all of you – all of us that similarly live in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, all lived in the same place,” he said. “Can you imagine that? And we are the town councils, the county commissioners. And I am moving there to run for sheriff.”
This is not the first time that Mack has moved to another locale in an attempt to become sheriff since losing his badge as the sheriff of Graham County, Ariz., in the mid-1990s. In 1998, he ran as a Republican for sheriff in Utah County, Utah, but lost in the primary. He returned to Arizona, where in 2006 he ran as a Libertarian Party candidate in the U.S. Senate race against incumbent Jon Kyl, a Republican, but finished in the general election with only 3% of the vote. Mack, who now has a residence in Texas, ran in the 2012 GOP primary against Republican Rep. Lamar Smith of the state’s 21st Congressional District and was similarly trounced, garnering only 15 percent of the vote.
There is indeed a website devoted to a “Constitutional County Project,” as well as a Facebook page, and they explain that their mission is to “re-assert the United States Constitution as the supreme law of the land, driven by active citizen engagement within the political process at the County level, to secure and protect the liberties of ‘We the People’ without compromise.”
The website explains that the organizers have set their sights on Navajo County, a sparsely populated and relatively large body in Arizona’s northeastern corner, as the county where they hope to establish a large population of fellow “constitutionalists” who share their political views, and to transform the county’s politics accordingly.
The project’s intentions, according to the website, in Navajo County include “supporting Constitutional candidates, as well as encouraging project participants to run, for all county offices including county sheriff, attorney, board of supervisors, school board, along with all municipal and political party offices,” “repealing local and county laws and regulations which are unrelated to protecting individual rights,” “establishing and enforcing environmental regulations at the county level,” and “using legal and political means to protect the county’s residents against any attempt to un-Constitutionally interfere with peaceable living and enterprise.”
“The main reasons for our choosing Navajo County include a rural location, mild climate, and an already existing tradition of independence, self-reliance, and liberty among its residents,” the website explains.
The site also lists a number of endorsements for the project from around Arizona, including a number of leading Republican Party officials. Among them are Dara Vanesian, the Navajo County GOP Chairman; AJ Lafaro, the Maricopa County GOP Chairman; Pinal County GOP Chairman Seraphim Larsen; and Arizona State Sen. Judy Burges, R-Sun City West, a noted Tea Party figure who once made headlines by introducing a “birther” bill in the Legislature, as well as for a bill to stave off a “one-world order,” a response to the right-wing conspiracy theory about Agenda 21.
Local endorsees include Sylvia Allen, a Navajo County Supervisor; former Arizona State Senator Jonathan Paton; Barry Weller, an Apache County Supervisor; and Robert Corbell, a Greenlee County Supervisor. The group’s leadership appears to include Barry Hess, a former Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, and Barbara Blewster of the state’s chapter of the John Birch Society.
Mack explained to the crowd Saturday how it all came about. “This group got together and came to me, I wasn’t part of it,” he said. “They told me about this, and I said, ‘This is tremendous. This is what I’ve said for years. If we’re going to take back freedom, we have one opportunity to keep it peaceful, and that is the enforcement of state sovereignty by our sheriffs, and by our state and county legislators.”
He said he saw it as a dream come true: “We can keep this movement peaceful, my dear friends, we can. You have to have them on board, though. You have to have some of them. And you have to have some sheriffs. And so they said, ‘We want all of that to happen – in Navajo County, Arizona, and we want you to come there and run for sheriff.
“And I said yes. My wife said no. This is one time I’m gonna be the boss. We’re moving. And it’s three hours from where I live now.”
He also made a pitch for fellow “Patriots” to join him there. “The election is in 2016,” he said. “I want you to carefully, prayerfully consider moving there with me. And I’m serious. You want to live in a free county? You want to live by constitutional law? You want to not worry about the federal government not moving in and ruining your lives and your family and hauling you off at midnight? Come live with us there. We’re gonna do this.
“We’re gonna make it a constitutional county and show everybody the blueprint for freedom. And there’s a lot more people running for other offices than me. I just said I’d run for sheriff. We’re going to give this one more try. The election is in 2016. I’m going to be moving there in spring of 2015 so I can start getting ready for this. You have about a year and a half to decide. And I’m dead serious about this. If I can move there, so can you.”
There are some immediate problems, however, with the plans of Mack and his cohorts. The most obvious is that of the county’s 9,960 square miles, 6,632 of those are federally designated Indian reservation – the third most of any county in the United States.
Nor is it clear that their political plans – involving a predominantly white “Patriot” movement contingent – will go over well with the county’s current population, some 45 percent of which in the latest Census was Native American. That is only slightly outnumbered by the county’s white population, which comprises 51 percent. However, that white population has grown in recent years; in the 2000 Census, only 46 percent of the county was white, while 48 percent was Native.
Kelly “K.C.” Clark, the current Navajo County sheriff – a Democrat who has held the office since 2008 – told Hatewatch that he had heard of the “constitutional county” rumblings a month ago and had been told recently about Mack’s plans. “I take everything seriously,” he said, “but I just do what I have always done as sheriff.
“You know, I have been serving the citizens of Navajo County for 27 years,” he added. “I have taken the oath as a certified police officer, when I became certified, and then twice as an elected official. And we all know what that oath says. I don’t take that oath lightly, never have.”
But he bridles at the idea that what he and other mainstream sheriffs do is somehow unconstitutional. “I do support the Second Amendment, but I support the whole Constitution, too. I support all 26 amendments. Because I am a constitutional sheriff.”
Clark said he welcomed Mack and his fellow constitutionalists. “You know, anybody can run for sheriff,” he said. “If he does, then so be it. I heard on that video that he was encouraging other people to move here. And I hope so, because that would be great for our economy.”
A federal judge in North Carolina has denied a motion to set aside the 2011 jury conviction of a Bernard von NotHaus, an antigovernment activist who minted and sold his own silver coins in competition with U.S. government.
The protracted and complex legal case attracted widespread interest from gold and coin enthusiasts, as well as antigovernment activists and antigovernment “sovereign citizens” who say the government cannot control them.
The 47-page ruling, filed Nov. 10 by U.S. District Judge Richard Vorhees, came three years after von NotHaus’ conviction in Asheville, N.C., and the filing of assorted post-trial motions, including an attempted legal intervention by Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee, Inc. The ruling on those motions, all rejected as baseless by the court, clears the way for von NotHaus’ sentencing next month.
After his conviction, the man who described himself as the “architect of the free-money movement” argued that federal laws under which he was charged are unconstitutional and that federal prosecutors didn’t present sufficient evidence showing he intended to violate counterfeit laws.
The 70-year-old founder of the so-called “Liberty Dollar Operation” minted his own silver coins that looked very much like U.S. silver dollars, intending them to be used as “private barter currency” for goods and services in direct competition with the Federal Reserve. He sold them to distributors in a Pyramid-style operation, accepting Federal Reserve greenbacks for the purchases, reportedly putting more than $20 million Liberty Dollars into circulation before being arrested by the FBI on federal counterfeiting and conspiracy charges.
The post-conviction motions, the judge said, presented “a question as to the scope and extent” of Congress’ exclusive power to coin money.
Von NotHaus argued his conviction “infringes on the public’s right to utilize private bartering systems” and that it is not illegal or counterfeiting for a private individual to compete with the Federal Reserve.
The judge said he was not ruling that private barter systems are illegal. He also said that while the Constitution doesn’t give Congress the exclusive right to coin money, it does “expressly prohibit” states from doing that.
“It is undisputed that Congress has the ability to enact comprehensive laws concerning the coinage of money, the value of money, and counterfeiting,” the judge’s ruling said.
Further, the judge ruled that Congress does indeed possess the power to make it illegal for someone like von NotHaus to mint coins—whether they resemble U.S. coins or are of original design—if they are intended for use in monetary transactions.
Vorhees order said the jury that heard the evidence against von NotHaus found that his Liberty Dollars were counterfeit and that he intended to break federal law by minting and selling them.
After earlier interest by the Secret Service, the FBI opened a criminal investigation in 2004 after the Asheville, N.C., police department got a report the State Employees Credit Union that someone had attempt to “pass a coin that looked similar to United States coinage.”
The judge said the jury that heard the case “was in a position to evaluate the specific and fine points of the Liberty Dollars” before unanimously concluding they were counterfeit and that von NotHaus intended to break federal law.
“There is a heavy burden to prove that a jury’s verdict and findings of facts are wrong,” the judge said, denying von NotHaus’ motions to set aside his convictions or grant a new trial.
While operating the Royal Hawaiian Mint in the late 1990s, von NotHaus founded “The National Organization for the Repeal of the Federal Reserve Act and Internal Revenue Code” or NORFED. To circumvent laws, he also started the Free Marijuana Church of Honolulu, where he called himself the “high priest.”
But it was his Liberty Dollar operation that captured national headlines as von NotHaus claimed NORFED would compete with the Federal Reserve System just like FedEx does with the U.S. Postal Service.
He later moved its headquarters to Evansville, Ind., Later, where he teamed with James W. Thomas, publisher of Media Bypass, a now-defunct magazine popular with antigovernment “Patriots,” sovereign citizens and extremists with anti-Semitic agendas.
NORFED issued and circulated five coins in one, five, ten, twenty and fifty dollar denominations. The Liberty Dollars, marked as “America’s inflation-proof currency,” were minted at Sunshine Minting, Inc. in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.
While the coins actually contained silver, trial evidence showed von NotHaus and his operation would recall and re-mint the coins if the “average spot price” of that precious metal exceeded the face value of a particular coin.
“We never refer to the American Liberty as a coin,” von NotHaus said in an interview in 1999. “The word ‘coin’ is a government-controlled term. This is currency that is free from government control.”
“When the people own the money, they control the government,” he said. “When the government owns the money, it controls the people.”