Ex-Marine, New Hampshire resident and failed political candidate, Jerry DeLemus has a lengthy right-wing resume.
He’s a Tea Party activist, married to a birther, New Hampshire State Rep. Susan DeLemus. This spring, the couple was named to the state leadership team of the Presidential campaign of conservative Texas U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.
DeLemus, who lives in Rochester, N.H., also leads a large local chapter of the 9/12 Project, the Tea Party-friendly group founded by right-wing broadcaster Glenn Beck. One of the pillar principles of the group is, “If you break the law you pay the penalty. Justice is blind and no one is above it.”
Apparently, Delemus forgot those words as he drove 41 hours across the country last year to Nevada to take command of the sometimes hundreds of armed antigovernment zealots, supporting scofflaw rancher Cliven Bundy. The rancher refuses to pay more than $1 million in fees to the government for grazing his cattle on environmentally sensitive federal land for 20 years.
Now it looks like DeLemus wants to add anti-Muslim provocateur to his CV.
The 60-year-old activist recently announced on his Facebook page that he plans to hold a “Draw Muhammad” contest in the Granite State in late August. He said he was organizing the contest because of what happened last month in Garland, Texas, at the end of a similar event sponsored by Pamela Geller, the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant leader.
As Geller’s competition to crown the best cartoon mocking the Prophet Muhammad was coming to a close, two Muslim men from Arizona opened fire outside of the event. But before they could get past the parking lot, they were shot and killed by a police officer. A security guard was slightly injured in the attack, but no one else was hurt.
A month later, FBI and local police gunned down a 26-year-old Muslim man they said lunged at them with a military-style fighting knife when they approached him for questioning on a Boston street. The man, Usaamah Rahim, had been under around-the-clock surveillance, and the authorities said he had been plotting with two other men to behead Geller before changing his mind and targeting police officers instead. He was killed before he could carry out the alleged plot.
“We must not be intimidated into silence or inaction by those that would threaten to do us harm,” DeLemus wrote on his Facebook page, announcing the New Hampshire drawing contest. “To the contrary we must take it to them and expose their evil violent positions. This is my intention and I’m sure there is risk involved but no more than those fighting this same evil in Afghanistan.”
DeLemus acknowledged in an interview, according to a local newspaper, that some Muslims would likely see the contest as blasphemous. Under most interpretations of Islamic law, it is expressly forbidden to depict the prophet visually, and Muslims have historically reacted with violence when newspapers and magazines have done so.
“I’m not worried about taking a risk,” he said.
DeLemus told a local television station that the contest has nothing to do with art. “I don’t care if it’s stick figures to be perfectly frank with you,” he said, adding, “It’s a political statement that we’re America, we’re free.”