Jekyll Island Gathering Recalls Another

The gathering held on Jekyll Island, Ga., last year to bring together disparate elements of the radical right in response to alleged government tyranny was not the first of its kind. Eighteen years ago, at a YMCA high in the Colorado Rockies, 160 “Christian men” met to unite racists and other radicals against the government.

The “Rocky Mountain Rendezvous,” convened on Oct. 23, 1992, by a leading pastor of the anti-Semitic Christian Identity religion, was a direct response to the armed confrontation earlier that year between white supremacist Randy Weaver and federal law enforcement officials. During that 11-day standoff atop Ruby Ridge, Idaho, a U.S. marshal and Weaver’s son and wife were killed by gunfire.

The 1992 meeting, held in Estes Park, Colo., was attended by neo-Nazis, Klansmen, Identity believers and more “moderate” rightists such as Larry Pratt of Gun Owners of America (who also was invited to the 2009 Jekyll Island gathering but sent his regrets). It also included men such as John Trochmann, who was little known at the time but became prominent as founder of the Montana Militia.

In a key speech, neo-Nazi Aryan Nations official and former Texas Klan leader Louis Beam described the Weavers as victims of “the tender mercies of a government gone mad,” and called upon his listeners to put aside doctrinal and even racial differences. And, indeed, the militias that exploded across the country in 1994 and afterward generally did de-emphasize racism in favor of anti-federalism.

The Estes Park meeting has been described as marking the birth of the modern militia movement, both in bringing the extreme right together and in helping to lay out militia ideology. But the deadly 1993 siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, was certainly far more important in terms of bringing large numbers of people into the movement. The first major militias appeared in early 1994.

It’s too soon to say what role the so-called Jekyll Island Project may play in coming years. But what seems undeniable is that the gathering, much like the Estes Park conclave before it, has helped draw together men from across the spectrum of the radical right and strengthened their antigovernment movement.

Ericson still wasn’t satisfied. What about the freemason symbol? What about cryptic writings on the floors of the airport? “What does ‘DZIT DIT GAII’ mean?”

Snyder: “Forgive me for assuming you grasped the obvious. The Free Mason symbol is on the capstone because they constructed the capstone. And interestingly enough ‘DZIT DIT GAII’ translated means: ‘Free Press International — bringing you the real world news.’ Who knew!”

“The public has a right to know what these writings mean,” Ericson retorted. “We also need the names of the people on the New World Order Commission.”

When Snyder stopped responding, Ericson wrote on his website that Snyder’s actions showed airport officials were hiding something. And the reaction of his readers was predictable. One called for a march on Washington to “demand the truth before we are all enslaved.” Another thanked Ericson for his courage. And a guy in England added: “It is also abundantly obvious … that the media scrutinizing the building of the airport and not reporting something ‘strange,’ as the fool puts it, is clearly not indicative of nothing going on. Guess what buddy, they work for the [‘New World Order’] too!”

     Larry Keller