False Patriots

Profiles of 40 antigovernment leaders
Militiaman in Black
J.J. Johnson, 39

The militia movement was widely seen as overwhelmingly dominated by angry, white men — and it was. James "J.J." Johnson, who offered a black militia face to the TV cameras during a 1995 Senate hearing into the movement, was a rare exception.

Johnson co-founded the first well-known militia in Ohio, the Ohio Unorganized Militia, and described militias as "the civil rights movement of the nineties."

As journalists increasingly pictured the movement as almost all-white, Johnson became an ever more popular speaker, appearing at more than 200 militia gatherings. During the Montana Freeman standoff, he was one of several men signing a declaration warning that militia leaders in 10 states would consider it an "act of war" should any of the Freemen be hurt.

Johnson also circulated a document, "Project Worst Nightmare," that proposed violence if the standoff ended badly. But in 1997, after divorcing his wife Helen and marrying Nancy Lord — the 1992 Libertarian vice-presidential candidate — Johnson left the militia movement, saying it was "ineffective." Moving to Nevada, he ran for local sheriff and lost.

By last year, Johnson had become a favorite speaker on the circuit of neo-Confederates — another milieu dominated by whites. He pleased many new friends with his essay, "I Don't Want to be Black Anymore."


The Extermination Act
Martin Lindstedt, 43

Hailing from Granby, Mo., professional truck driver and perennial candidate Martin Linstedt typifies the mix of racism and antigovernment attitudes that characterized much of the Patriot movement. Linstedt, who while with the U.S. Army helped run a tactical nuclear missile system in Germany, has been for many years the leader of the 7th Missouri Militia.

But at the same time, he ran for a variety of posts, including state representative, governor and U.S. senator, on the Libertarian ticket — until the Libertarians finally booted him out of their party over his homophobia.

During his 1998 Senate run, he listed his top priority as a bill he called The Extermination of Regime Criminals Act, prescribing death for corrupt politicians and lawyers, along with the elimination of public schools.

In 2000, like many other racist radicals, Linstedt came into the Reform Party, running for U.S. senator a second time under presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.

"I want [white] Republicans where they either got the choice of joining the [neo-Nazi] Aryan Nations or becoming some black boy's bitch," Linstedt, a Christian Identity adherent, told a reporter at the time.

"A few people in the Reform Party told me, 'Martin, you gotta tone down the racism,' but I said, 'You guys are trying to go after the moderates, who... [will not] vote for you. At least I got a strategy.'"


Looking Bad
Ray Looker, 59

A real estate appraiser and former missionary who used Prozac to control his anxiety, Floyd "Ray" Looker led one of the more radical militia groups of the 1990s. His West Virginia Mountaineer Militia used a manual outlining how to attack trains, highways and power plants.

Two months after the 1995 Oklahoma bombing, 26 "county commanders" of Looker's militia and another from Pennsylvania met at a farm where Looker identified a massive FBI fingerprint facility near Clarksburg as one of three potential bombing targets.

A deputy who was a volunteer in the local fire department photographed blueprints of the facility kept in a locked room and gave them to Looker, who began with other militia members to stockpile plastic explosives, grenades and homemade bombs. But all the while, an FBI informant who Looker selected as his group's "security officer" was collecting tapes of 430 conversations.

In the end, an undercover agent posing as a broker for a fictitious Middle Eastern terrorist group bought the facility blueprints from Looker, prompting Looker's prosecution under a new federal anti-terrorism statute.

Although it turned out that the blueprints were public documents, Looker pleaded guilty to "providing resources" to a terrorist group, and in 1997 was sentenced to 18 years in prison.


The Paper Terrorist
Rick McLaren, 47

While thousands during the 1990s used the Patriot "common-law" tactics of filing fraudulent liens and spurious lawsuits against their enemies, few matched Richard "Rick" McLaren for volume and sheer audacity.

The self-styled "chief ambassador" of the Republic of Texas (ROT) — a group that claimed that Texas is a sovereign nation that was never legally annexed by the United States — was fond of lawsuits, however, long before he hooked up with the separatist group.

Looking like something of a mad scientist, McLaren harassed his neighbors with obnoxious lawsuits for years even before he became an ROT leader.

He also amazed them with complaints that space rays — not lack of water — were destroying his nearby vineyard. McLaren and other Republic leaders claimed the government owed them $93 trillion in "war reparations." They tried to pass $3 million in fake checks and placed bogus liens on people including Pope John Paul II.

They "ordered" then-Gov. George W. Bush to vacate his Austin offices. In the end, McLaren's handful of followers kidnapped a neighbor couple, injuring the man badly and precipitating a six-day standoff with hundreds of Texas Rangers.

The militias that McLaren said would come from 22 states to help him never showed — other than a pot-smoking crew arrested in a van as they approached — and McLaren was sent to prison on state and federal charges.