Ignoring his court case in Washington state for harassing a police officer, popular Patriot 'liberty speaker' opts for a sunnier climate with his family.
“I’m not hiding. I’m changing the narrative.”
That’s Gavin Seim’s explanation to his army of followers about his sudden disappearance from his home near Ephrata, Washington, in the middle of a court proceeding he has been touting as a showdown between the far right “constitutionalist” beliefs he peddles and the mainstream court system.
The catch: He was telling them all about it via a video he posted from Tepic, Mexico.
Seim was scheduled to appear last week in Grant County District Court to begin arguing his case, as a pro se attorney representing himself, arising from his August arrest for interfering with an Ephrata police officer as he performed his duties.
Instead, he posted a video to his YouTube page explaining that he had chosen not to appear in court because he feared for his family’s lives if he did so. The county prosecutors pursuing his case, he claimed, “do not care about the law. They only care about winning.” He described local law enforcement as “these insane, mentally ill psychopaths who use people who hold a gun to our heads and then say, ‘We are the law.’ ”
A few days later, he posted another video — this time from Mexico. It showed him gathering the family together in Ephrata, buying groceries for a “road trip” with his children, and then crossing the border into Mexico towing a trailer behind his pickup.
“I left home because I refuse to be forced to unlock my phone for a prosecutor, and I don’t consent to a kangaroo trial,” he explained in a post on his website. “But more than that. I’ve been an activist for years, but not because I wanted to be. I had a good business and a good life before that started. I spoke up because things needed to be said and many of my videos have exposed corruption in my [own] Grant County.”
Seim first began building his second career as a “liberty speaker” appearing at a variety of antigovernment “Patriot” events around the Pacific Northwest (and eventually the nation) by posting videos to YouTube showing himself badgering a variety of police officers during ordinary traffic stops, lecturing them on his version of “constitutional law.”
Seim also organized a “Patriot” pro-gun rally in Olympia at the state capitol building in December 2014 protesting the state’s passage of a new gun law requiring background checks. Called the “We Will Not Comply” rally, it attracted a number of well-known “Patriot” movement figures, including Richard Mack and Michael Vanderboegh.
He later played a leading role in the closing stages of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge standoff in January 2016. Seim traveled to the southern Oregon scene and was part of a delegation of “Patriots” who attempted to negotiate an end to the standoff with the final remnants who remained inside the refuge after a series of arrests earlier in the month.
The Grant County dispute is hardly his first tangle with local law enforcement. He earlier became embroiled in a similar case in neighboring Douglas County when he attempted to intervene in the arrest of a local man by authorities there. In that case, Seim was arrested for disrupting a court proceeding.
The legal battle that caused him to flee to Mexico began when he attempted to intervene as a police officer ticketed a local Ephrata woman in the parking lot of a Walmart, telling the officer to “stop harassing the woman, stop blocking the road, get in your car, go, that’s an order.” The officer — who had been the subject of previous Seim videos — first asked Seim to return to his car, completed his traffic stop, then went to Seim’s vehicle with additional officers and arrested him, confiscating his phone.
The phone became the object of a legal tug-of-war. After Seim, who is representing himself, refused to provide police with the code to unlock it, prosecutors presented a request seeking the court to order him to unlock it.
Grant County prosecutors were not available this week for comment.
One of Seim’s defenders, a Texas preacher named Rudy Davis, posted a video of a message he left for the prosecutors. “I consider you an incredible evildoer, working for the minions of Satan and the New World Order, and I pray death and destruction upon you and everything that you’re trying to do, as far as coming against the Patriots in this country,” he said, describing him as “a scumbag reprobate on a fast track to hell.”
Seim, however, also has critics within the Patriot movement, and many of them have questioned his actions in taking off south of the border.
“It’s funny, because there is people out there saying, ‘Oh, Gavin’s a coward,’ ‘Gavin ran, you know, from justice’,” Seim explains in one video. “And I’m like, no I didn’t run from law or justice. (Deputy) Prosecutor Marc (Fedorak) has nothing to do with either one and neither does the judge and neither does Grant County, neither does my sheriff. I’m not hiding. I’m changing the narrative.”