An interview planned with the head of a Florida milita ends at the county jail.
The New World Order already had him.
Jordan Jereb, the head of the Republic of Florida (ROF), a would-be militia made up of kids barely old enough to buy guns, was missing. He was a no-show for an interview we had scheduled with him in August. He wasn’t answering his phone. He hadn’t told us he was going to be late. At best, he was standing us up. At worst, he had played us for fools and very soon would post secretly recorded video of “SPLC goons.”
It wasn’t out of the realm of possibility.
Jereb had been posting an onslaught of videos for months. Filming with a handful of high school friends, Jereb and company had warned of a tyrannical global power running the world, instructed viewers on knife fighting and emergency “bug out” bags — and more than a few videos showed Jereb rolling down hills in what was supposed to be a demonstration of paramilitary tactics and training.
It all looked pretty silly, like the kids who hang out at the Army surplus store after school and play army while their friends are out chasing girls.
But it was just enough to bring us to Tallahassee, Fla., last August. Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project, and I had hoped Jereb might take us on patrol, that we could ask him about his antics with ROF and, most importantly, tell us just what he hoped to achieve by embracing just about every right-wing ideology there is — from neo-Confederate calls for secession, to survivalism and prepping, even the occasional Nazi salute in front of a webcam.
Jereb was a weird character even in the extremist underworld to which he so badly wanted to belong. While almost every neo-Nazi, militiaman, nativist and racist despises the Intelligence Report, Jereb wanted desperately to be mentioned in these pages. He flooded us with pleas for attention. In one E-mail, he even included a manual titled Jackass Warfare: How punk kids could destroy an oppressive government, filled with ways to blow things up and descriptions of how “legally being an asshole” can change the world.
In another E-mail, Jereb welcomed the chance to explain his ideas. “We embrace SPLC because your organization helps us with out [sic] outlaw image. … The spirit of rebellion is not stopped by SPLC but rather fueled [sic] for the flames,” Jereb wrote.
But when the day came for our interview, Jereb was nowhere to be found.
We sipped on our sodas, debated getting some lunch, counted the minutes and felt very much that we’d been had. His voicemail message warned of the New World Order, but neither it nor Jereb was answering. The attendant at his extended-stay hotel hadn’t seen him in days.
What followed was a quick and dirty tour of Tallahassee to figure out just what had happened to Jereb. His last E-mail said he had a court appointment for eight-month-old burglary charges the day of the interview, but he didn’t expect that to take too long. We checked a mailing address for the ROF, an empty home, spoke with a few confused neighbors and finally landed at the steps of the Leon County Jail.
Turns out Jereb’s outlaw fantasies weren’t fantasies at all.
The day before our interview, Jereb, along with his second-in-command, C.J. Taylor, was picked up by law enforcement, which had grown increasingly worried of the threatening rhetoric coming from Jereb and his friends. They were charged with trespassing after allegedly entering their old high school. And while Taylor was later released, Jereb remained jailed without bond at press time.
It’s hard to say just what Jereb had hoped to achieve chasing after these pages, or what his foray into the radical right was all about. Maybe he read all the wrong books, if he read them at all, and found in the underbelly of American hate and extremism a subculture he could call his own. Maybe this is only a beginning.
But as a final message to Mr. Jereb, in case this falls into his lap in jail, while this may not be the profile you desperately wanted, it’s all we had to work with. Just know that we’ll be waiting when you get out to go on patrol with you through those quiet neighborhoods of Tallahassee.
But you may want to rethink your job. Tallahassee seems to be doing just fine without you.