The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
The man identified by authorities today as the murderer of two police officers and another person in Sunday’s mass shooting in Las Vegas had long ranted against the “fascist” government, but the last comment he posted before the attack was the most chilling.
“The dawn of a new day,” Jerad Miller wrote on his Facebook page Saturday. “May all our coming sacrifices be worth it.”
Late Sunday, law enforcement officials say, Miller and his wife, Amanda Miller, embarked on a shooting spree that included the ambush-murder of two Las Vegas police officers as they ate at a restaurant and the killing of a male shopper at a nearby Walmart. Witnesses said that they shouted “this is a revolution” and draped the officers with a Gadsden flag — a symbol of liberty used by both the antigovernment “Patriot” movement and many Tea Parties — before going on to kill themselves as police closed in.
In the days and weeks before the attack, Miller posted a series of comments on his Facebook page indicating that, in order to restore “freedom” to the United States, the “best men” would strike for “a free and just world with our blood, sweat and tears as pavement,” he said on June 2. “There is no greater cause to die for than liberty,” he wrote on May 2. “I will willingly die for liberty.” On March 25, he wrote: “I stand firm in my convictions and stand prepared to die for them. … Come for me, free me from your slavery. Give me the death a hero deserves.”
Amanda Miller, who married Jerad on Sept. 22, 2012, didn’t sound very different on her own Facebook page in 2011. “[T]o the people of the world… your [sic] lucky i can’t kill you now but remember one day one day i will get you because one day all hell will break lose [sic] and i’ll be standing in the middle of it with a shot gun in one hand and a pistol in the other.”
On May 25, 2014, Miller also said on his page that he had been present at the mid-April standoff, some 60 miles outside Las Vegas, between rancher Cliven Bundy and federal agents trying to seize his cattle for nonpayment of grazing fees. Bundy, who was backed by hundreds of armed militiamen, ultimately won that battle, as law enforcement officers decided to stand down rather than risk a bloodbath after Bundy’s supporters pointed their weapons at a crowd of federal agents. On April 9, shortly before traveling to the Bundy ranch, Jerad Miller wrote that the standoff was “the next Waco,” a reference to a deadly 1993 standoff in Texas. ( continue to full post… )
The federal Bureau of Land Management kept a low public profile in the weeks following the armed standoff at Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch, where the government backed down in the face of opposition from heavily armed militiamen. But this week the agency took to the airwaves to promise that such incidents would not go unpunished.
Speaking with National Public Radio, BLM director Neil Kornze said the agency was intent on working through the legal system to address those who broke the law on April 12 when heavily armed antigovernment militias forced BLM to suspend a court-ordered roundup of rancher Cliven Bundy’s cattle from roughly 600,000 acres of public lands. Photos and eyewitness accounts from the standoff indicate that the militiamen trained their guns on federal agents.
“I can’t say a lot because there’s an active investigation going on, but we are working hard to insure that those who did break the law are held accountable,” Kornze said on Monday’s episode of The Diane Rehm Show. “We are going to work through the legal system.”
Kornze’s comments are the first from the BLM since the Nevada standoff, and they come as other clashes between antigovernment “Patriots” and federal agents have popped up around the West.
In Utah, last weekend, antigovernment activists protested restrictions on the use of federal lands by riding ATVs into restricted areas of Recapture Canyon, which were closed to motorized traffic to protect archaeological sites from damage. Megan Crandall, a BLM spokeswoman in Utah, told Hatewatch that there were undercover agents in the Utah crowd documenting who violated federal law, and that the BLM was devoting “substantial resources” to pursue charges there, too.
“The BLM is continuing to investigate and will pursue all available redress through the legal system to hold individuals who broke the law accountable,” Crandall said.
MSNBC’s Ed Schultz hosted former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer on Monday night to discuss the growing “revolt” over federal land use policies in Western states, embodied in the recent armed standoff with federal officers at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada. Schweitzer has deep experience with contentious land use issues and dealing with federal agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
As Schultz pointed out, antigovernment animus – rife with extremist “Patriots” and militiamen, as well as ample weaponry – appears to be building. Just last week in Utah, a BLM livestock wrangler was threatened on Interstate 15, and protesters – including two Bundy sons – intentionally violated a ban on motorized vehicles in a natural area, put in place to protect nearby archaeological sites.
Schultz blamed the rise on right-wing media: “We all know where this antigovernment sentiment started, don’t we?”
Schweitzer, who has had plenty of experience in dealing with “Patriot” extremists in his own state, including in the Montana legislature, was particularly scathing in his assessment of the motivations of the people involved in the “revolt”:
SCHWEITZER: And now this bunch, this Cliven Bundy bunch, coming over from Nevada giving advice to people in Utah on how to deal with the BLM? My God, that’s like the Aryan Nations giving advice to Donald Sterling. This bunch, the Bundy bunch are grifters, they haven’t paid their fees, they haven’t cooperated with the federal government, they say they don’t even recognize the United States government. And these Tea Party, militia Foxtrotters, they’re a bunch of ne’er-do-wells – they aren’t ranchers, they aren’t loggers, they aren’t people who have legitimate businesses on the land. You wouldn’t get ranchers to stand next to Bundy. And people who are in the mining business, and the oil and gas business on federal land, they wouldn’t stand next to these people because they make a living on that land, and they listen to the rule of the land.
Schultz pointed out that the fanatical behavior of the “Patriots” raised real concerns about the rule of law: “So now we have got government officials in this country wondering, ‘What do we do if we go out and try to enforce the law, and people are openly armed with assault weapons?’” ( continue to full post… )
There’s a war brewing in the West.
What started with a standoff between federal officers from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and armed militias standing with a rancher in Nevada has now spread to Utah, where antigovernment activists, riding a wave of populist anger, are fighting restrictions on the use of federal lands.
Proposed in February, months before Cliven Bundy and his illegally grazing cattle became a touchstone for antigovernment activists, San Juan County, Utah, Commissioner Phil Lyman conceived a peaceful protest against a federal ban on the use of motorized vehicles in Recapture Canyon. And this weekend, angry protestors waved Gadsden and American flags as they rode their ATVs to protest the ban, which was implemented to protect archaeological sites in the canyon from damage.
While speaking to Hatewatch, Lyman attempted to distance himself from the antigovernment vitriol that has drawn militias and antigovernment “Patriots” in droves to stand with the Bundy family in Nevada, while also sharing a stark assessment of the political climate in the West that has led to such antigovernment rage.
“If things don’t change, it’s not long before shots will be fired,” Lyman said, joining other conservative lawmakers such as U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) who have warned of violence if the federal government doesn’t reign in the BLM. “We’ve seen it happen in history over and over and over. I think we can avoid it. But it’s not going to be by the people changing their attitudes and accepting more intrusion into their lives. It’s going to be by the federal government acknowledging people’s freedom.”
The pushback has been coming for years in states like Utah and Nevada, where the federal government owns the majority of the land.
In 2011, the Intelligence Report outlined growing Patriot anger in Colorado over efforts to restrict 2.5 million acres of the San Juan National Forest. At the time, it was a relatively isolated sentiment. But in the years since, the federal government has found angry Patriots ready for a confrontation throughout the West, especially since Bundy’s standoff.
What is happening is, in many ways, a reprise of other Western land-use uprisings of the past 40 years, including the “Sagebrush Rebellion” and the “Wise Use” and “County Supremacy” movements. As Lyman said, “It’s symptomatic of the feeling that people have in the West about the way the Bureau of Land Management is changing policies year to year that push them more into the corner that they have to make a decision like this.”
But in a more immediate way, it is a part of the second wave of the antigovernment “Patriot” movement that roiled America and spawned much violence in the 1990s. It’s no surprise that many of the armed militia members who stood with Bundy against BLM agents –– an event that has come to be known as “The Battle of Bunkerville” –– came to Utah to ride ATVs alongside local residents. Ryan and Aamon Bundy, two of Cliven Bundy’s sons, and Ryan Payne, who leads Operation Mutual Aid, a coalition of militias sworn to stand with citizens in confrontations with the federal government, were present in Utah.
Payne told Hatewatch that these protests would continue until the federal government understood its constitutional obligations to the people. “One of the biggest things is just standing with people to empower them so they feel comfortable taking a stand,” said Payne, who spent weeks on the Bundy ranch in Nevada. “The effect that these things are having on people is devastating.”
The BLM did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday. But the National Review reported that prior to the protest, the BLM had met with the FBI, the Utah attorney general and other law enforcement including San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge. Together, the decision was made to “stand back” and avoid confrontation.
“It was decided that, at the end of the day, it is not worth it to spill any blood,” Eldredge said.
Following several weeks of silence from federal officials in the wake of the April 12 showdown between federal agents and several hundred heavily armed antigovernment “Patriots” near Cliven Bundy’s Nevada ranch, Clark County Sheriff Doug Gillespie confirmed Thursday that FBI agents are investigating the behavior of participants that day who aimed their loaded weapons at law enforcement officers.
Such behavior constitutes assault against an officer and a is federal crime that can carry a sentence of up to 20 years in prison when a deadly weapon is involved. FBI agents were also investigating verbal threats that were made that day.
“Everyone anticipated that this would occur,” said Gillespie. “I’ve said all along there has to be accountability for what took place on April 12.”
Assistant Sheriff Jim Lombardo, who oversaw local police operations at the scene of the standoff, earlier vowed to investigate the threats.
“Yes, there will be consequences, definitely. That is unacceptable behavior. If we let it go, it will continue into the future,” Lombardo said.
Lombardo told reporters that his officers had collected a great deal of intelligence regarding the actions of individuals that day and would move accordingly.
Gillespie said agents expected to interview every law enforcement officer who was on the scene that day near Bunkerville, including Bureau of Land Management agents and Las Vegas Metro police officers who were brought in to bolster their numbers. He said they were mostly interested in identifying the people who pointed guns at federal agents, and would be poring over photos and video taken during the confrontation to do so.
KLAS-TV also confirmed the FBI investigation.
Bundy supporters have been adamant they did not point weapons at officers at the standoff – rather, that it was the other way around. But the officers who were on the other side say that’s not the case.
“It is not a rumor,” Metro Police Sgt. Tom Jenkins told KLAS. “When we first got out there and made a left to divide I-15, that is all you saw. You saw kids and women and horses in the backdrop and then men with guns, laying on the ground, in the back of pickup trucks. We’re going, ‘Wow, this would never happen in Las Vegas.’ But it was there. That is not a rumor. It is reality and I saw it with my own eyes.”
Brad Rogers, the sheriff of Indiana’s Elkhart County, is a lot like other self-described “constitutional sheriffs.” They are convinced that their extremist interpretation of the Constitution – which originated with the far-right, anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus movement – is the only valid one.
He has traveled far and wide to spread the message, too, including an appearance on CNN with Anderson Cooper last year during the debate over gun control. More recently, he traveled to Nevada to take part in the standoff between antigovernment “Patriots” and federal agents over Bunkerville rancher Cliven Bundy’s illegally grazing cattle. He held forth in a lengthy speech at the ranch on the role of the sheriff as the supreme law of the land.
But back home in Elkhart, he is taking heat for his Nevada adventure. The local Goshen News editorialized that “Rogers made a questionable decision at best to visit Bundy’s ranch and interject Elkhart County into this fray by wearing his sheriff’s uniform.” Many of his constituents were also less than impressed. The Nevada junket – at which Rogers wore his Indiana sheriff’s uniform – angered many of them, and they lit up social media with calls for him to step down or be recalled.
“Sheriff Rogers needs to stay in Elkhart County and worry about its problems instead of traveling across country to stick his nose into another states [sic] business where he doesn’t belong. I have had about enough of this individual who thinks he is above the laws that he has sworn to defend. Your responsibilities are to the people of Elkhart County, not in Nevada,” wrote one of them on the Elkhart Truth website.
“He should be fired by the commissioners!!” wrote another. “Or impeached. He was not elected to represent us in different state [sic] based on his crazy views. This is going too far! Scary!”
Others posting at the local paper wondered whether Rogers would be sympathetic to civil disobedience in Elkhart County: “would really like to know how Sheriff Rogers would feel when WE start questioning HIS authority to enforce laws here in Elkhart County. Something tells me we will not have as much FREEDOM as Sheriff Rogers is being given.”
But others were wildly enthusiastic about his trip. One woman responded to his Facebook post to say: “Brad Rogers for president! Preach it brother! Truth is truth! We could use a little of that in this society..ppl pointing fingers, blaming others, excuses..sick of it.. we need leaders who understand what’s right, moral, and just simply true!” ( continue to full post… )
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.
Ernie Wayne terTelgte likes to style himself as a Montana mountain man, dressing in buckskins, boots and tricornered hats and sometimes bearing an old muzzle-loading musket. He likes to elaborate upon his theories about so-called sovereign citizenship in a florid 18th-century style. But it isn’t a silly nostalgia act. The Bozeman man has, in fact, been challenging Montana’s courts and legal system in the name of his extremist belief system all while adopting anachronistic clothing and calling himself the “Natural Man.”
Asked to explain why he was fishing without a license, terTeltge told a judge: “I was searching for something to put in my stomach as I am recognized to be allowed to do by universal law,” he said. “I am the living man and I have the right to forage for food when I am hungry.”
This all could be written off as the peculiar antics of another kook with convoluted legal ideas – something not unheard of in Montana – but for the fact that terTeltge has amassed supporters locally and regionally. His fight with the courts over what began as a simple fishing citation has become the latest cause célèbre among the far right in the Mountain West, including the region’s antigovernment “Patriots” and associated militias.
Some have gone so far as to begin organizing “citizen grand juries,” another tactic of the sovereign citizen movement, which purport to allow ordinary citizens to present cases to the local sheriff and sit in judgment of local government officials. Indeed, terTeltge himself has played a leading role in helping to organize these “juries” in the Bozeman area.
These activities have a long history in Montana, including the Montana Freemen of the 1990s, some of whom were from the Bozeman area and who practiced a similar kind of “sovereign citizenship” theory in promoting their illegal moneymaking schemes. Indeed, one of terTeltge’s cohorts in forming a “citizen grand jury”, a Bozeman man named Steve McNeil, was heavily involved with the Freemen and was arrested at one of their trials in Billings in 1996. Other extremists, such as neo-Nazi Karl Gharst, have used “citizen grand juries” to threaten the Montana Human Rights Network. ( 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… )
Cliven Bundy keeps doubling down on his observations about African Americans, and many of his erstwhile supports can’t run away quickly enough.
On Thursday, the New York Times published racially incendiary remarks by Bundy, who mused about the status of black people – “Are they better off as slaves?” he asked. Bundy’s support from mainstream conservatives and prominent Republicans essentially vanished. So he began making the media rounds again, trying to explain himself.
But Bundy didn’t apologize or back away from his remarks. Rather, he doubled down, emphasizing at a press conference that he thought he was right to ask such questions:
I’ve been wondering – Cliven Bundys are wondering about these people – now I’m talking about the black community. I’ve been wondering – are they better off with their young women aborting their children? Are they better off with their young men in prison? And are they better off with the older people on the sidewalks in front of their government-issued homes with a few children on them – are they better off, are they happier than they was when they was in the South, in front of their homes with their chickens and their gardens and their children around them, and their men having something to do?
He also went on CNN’s “New Day” program this morning and again doubled down, this time saying Martin Luther King hadn’t finished his job if black people were going to be offended by the things he said:
Maybe I sinned, maybe I need to ask forgiveness, and maybe I don’t know what I actually said. But when you talk about prejudice, we’re talking about not being able to exercise what we think and our feelings — we don’t have freedom to say what we want. If I say ‘Negro’ or ‘black boy’ or ‘slave’ — I’m not — if those people cannot take those kinda words and not be offensive, then Martin Luther King hasn’t got his job done yet.