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January 3, 2016 3

Militia Standoff in Oregon: Expected and Unexpected

jonritzheimerhammondjustification (1)

Jon Ritzheimer video jus­ti­fy­ing his actions

Armed anti-government activists asso­ci­ated with mili­tia groups and other right-wing extrem­ist move­ments seized con­trol of the head­quar­ters build­ing for the Mal­heur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan­u­ary 2, 2016, pre­cip­i­tat­ing what is, in effect, an armed stand­off with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment. 
 
Though some sort of con­fronta­tion between mili­tia activists and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment in the Pacific North­west has been brew­ing for months, the seizure itself is unusual and a new depar­ture for anti-government extrem­ists.
 
The action was taken because of anger over the sit­u­a­tion of father and son ranch­ers in Har­ney County in south­east Ore­gon.  The ranch­ers, Dwight Ham­mond, Jr., and Steven Ham­mond, were con­victed of arson for set­ting fire to around 130 acres of fed­eral land, but were given light sen­tences.  An appel­late court ruled that their sen­tences were too short and man­dated new sen­tences of 4–5 years.  They were ordered to report to fed­eral prison on Jan­u­ary 4.
 
Many peo­ple were sym­pa­thetic to the per­ceived plight of the Ham­monds, but it was right-wing anti-government extrem­ists in par­tic­u­lar who adopted the ranch­ers as a cause célèbre, using them to mobi­lize anger at the gov­ern­ment.  Their “adop­tion” of the Ham­monds was hardly sur­pris­ing, as mili­tia groups, Oath Keep­ers, Three Per­centers and other anti-government extrem­ists have actively been seek­ing con­fronta­tions with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for more than a year now, thanks to the Cliven Bundy stand­off of 2014.
 
Cliven Bundy is a Nevada rancher who got into trou­ble with the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment for graz­ing his cat­tle on fed­eral land with­out proper per­mits.  In March 2014, the BLM began to remove Bundy’s cat­tle from fed­eral land but were stopped by a group of armed pro­test­ers.  This pre­cip­i­tated the stand­off, in which right-wing extrem­ists from around the coun­try made their way to the Bundy ranch to “pro­tect” Cliven Bundy and his prop­erty from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.  Bundy, who shared some of their anti-government views, wel­comed the sup­port.  Dur­ing the stand­off, armed extrem­ists allegedly pointed weapons at fed­eral and local law enforce­ment offi­cers. 
 
In the end, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment backed down and stopped the con­fis­ca­tion oper­a­tion, leav­ing Bundy and his mili­tia sup­port­ers to declare vic­tory.  The inci­dent was viewed by the mili­tia move­ment and related groups as a huge suc­cess and one that should be repli­cated else­where if pos­si­ble. 
 
Since the Bundy stand­off, anti-government extrem­ists have actively been seek­ing other future “Bundys” around which they could rally.  Sev­eral of the prime can­di­dates for future con­fronta­tions have been located in the Pacific North­west.  In par­tic­u­lar, anti-government extrem­ists have ral­lied in 2015 to “help” mine own­ers in Ore­gon (the Sugar Pine Mine near Mer­lin) and Mon­tana (the White Hope Mine near Lin­coln) who each had dis­putes with the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, caus­ing many to fear the pos­si­bil­ity of some sort of armed clash.
 
In the end, how­ever, it was the Ham­monds who ended up being the new “Bundys,” though they them­selves do not appear to have sup­ported or con­doned the seizure of the fed­eral build­ing and have said they will report to prison as ordered.  This does not seem to have deterred the activists, sev­eral of whom have direct ties to the Bundy stand­off.  Indeed, two of the peo­ple involved, Ammon and Ryan Bundy, are in fact sons of Cliven Bundy.  Mili­tia activist Ryan Payne of Mon­tana is another vet­eran of the Bundy stand­off allegedly involved in the seizure.  Also promi­nent is Ari­zona extrem­ist Jon Ritzheimer, who has recently orga­nized anti-Muslim events and threat­ened to arrest elected offi­cials.
 
But if some sort of clash was expected and if many of the play­ers involved are famil­iar faces, what is def­i­nitely new is the spe­cific tac­tic of seiz­ing and hold­ing the wildlife refuge head­quar­ters. 
 
Right-wing stand­offs and con­fronta­tions with gov­ern­ment or law enforce­ment over­whelm­ingly take one of two forms.  The first is when extrem­ists rally to “pro­tect” per­ceived vic­tims of gov­ern­ment, such as peo­ple who face their home or land being seized for non-payment of taxes.  The Bundy stand­off is an exam­ple of such a con­fronta­tion, which takes place at the loca­tion of the per­ceived vic­tim.  The sec­ond is the typ­i­cal “bar­ri­caded felon” sit­u­a­tion in which an extrem­ist who has com­mit­ted a crime or is a fugi­tive has holed up some­where and will not sur­ren­der.  The Mon­tana Free­man stand­off of 1996 was such a con­fronta­tion. 
 
In this case, how­ever, right-wing extrem­ists proac­tively seized and are hold­ing a gov­ern­ment building—a sym­bolic tar­get.  Such a tac­tic has his­tor­i­cally been far more com­mon with left-wing activists or extrem­ists, includ­ing the seizure of many uni­ver­sity build­ings in the 1960s and 70s, as well as other loca­tions or places, such as the takeover of Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1973.
 
Because this is a new tac­tic for anti-government extrem­ists, it remains unclear how the sce­nario is likely to play itself out.  But since the build­ing they seized was empty at the time and there is no hostage sit­u­a­tion, it is likely that fed­eral author­i­ties will be slow and delib­er­ate in their response in order to min­i­mize the pos­si­bil­ity of violence.

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June 19, 2013 30

Anti-Semites And Extremists To Host “Freedompalooza 2013” On July 4th Weekend

White suprema­cists, anti-Semites, anti-government extrem­ists and con­spir­acy the­o­rists are among speak­ers sched­uled to appear at “Free­dom­palooza 2013,” orga­nized by Paul Topete, lead singer of the band Pok­er­face and an anti-Semite and anti-government extrem­ist.   It is the third time Topete has orga­nized such an event in Penn­syl­va­nia, but he allegedly has plans to orga­nize future events in other regions of the country.freedom-palooza-2013

Free­dom­palooza will take place from July 4–6, 2013, in Bucks County in east­ern Penn­syl­va­nia.  Although a local restau­rant is pro­vid­ing the prop­erty and sell­ing food at the event, the pri­mary spon­sor (and  pro­moter) of the event is the Amer­i­can Free Press, the anti-Semitic and conspiracy-oriented news­pa­per pub­lished by long-time white suprema­cist Willis Carto.

Topete has lined up a long list of bands and speak­ers, many of the lat­ter com­ing from extrem­ist and fringe move­ments and causes.  One theme that unites many speak­ers is vir­u­lent anti-Semitism or anti-Israel sen­ti­ment.  Two of the more promi­nent speak­ers, for exam­ple, are for­mer mem­bers of Con­gress:  Cyn­thia McK­in­ney and James Traf­i­cant.  McK­in­ney  is a long-time anti-Israel activist who has sup­ported anti-Semitic groups such as the Nation of Islam and the New Black Pan­ther Party, while Traf­i­cant, since his release from prison on fed­eral rack­e­teer­ing and bribery con­vic­tions, has joined the Amer­i­can Free Press, in whose pages he has expressed his own anti-Semitic and anti-Israel views.  Another sched­uled speaker is Jim Con­dit, Jr., who sev­eral times ran for Con­gress in Ohio, tak­ing advan­tage of his can­di­date sta­tus to obtain a plat­form for express­ing his anti-Semitic views in radio advertisements.

Other speak­ers report­edly sched­uled to attend include Mer­lin Miller, the 2012 pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the white suprema­cist Amer­i­can Free­dom Party,  sev­eral Amer­i­can Free Press writ­ers, and Cyn­thia Steele, the wife of white suprema­cist attor­ney Edgar Steele (cur­rently serv­ing a 50-year sen­tence for con­spir­acy to mur­der Cyn­thia, a charge she claims is false).

Free­dom­palooza will also host a vari­ety of anti-government extrem­ist speak­ers, includ­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tives from sev­eral mili­tia groups, a rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the anti-government and con­spir­a­to­r­ial Oath Keep­ers, and the Apple­seed Project, a marks­man­ship pro­gram that warns atten­dees that they may have to (lit­er­ally) fight the gov­ern­ment to main­tain their liberty.

Also present will be Larry Pratt, head of the Gun Own­ers of Amer­ica, a rad­i­cal gun rights group, and Jeff Christo­pher, a sher­iff from Delaware with ties to Michael Per­outka, for­mer pres­i­den­tial can­di­date of the right-wing extrem­ist Con­sti­tu­tion Party.  Christopher’s bat­tle with the state of Delaware over that state’s deci­sion to elim­i­nate the arrest pow­ers of its three county sher­iffs has been much pro­moted by the Amer­i­can Free Press and other right-wing sources.

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March 21, 2013 7

Extremists Flock to 40th Annual CPAC Conference

Mer­lin Miller, a white suprema­cist affil­i­ated with the Amer­i­can Free­dom Party, attended CPAC 2013.

The 40th annual Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence (CPAC) on March 14–16, 2013 in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. attracted a num­ber of indi­vid­u­als on the extreme right of the polit­i­cal spec­trum. Atten­dees at CPAC this year included a white suprema­cist who ran for Pres­i­dent in the 2012 elec­tion, mem­bers of a “white stu­dent union” at Tow­son Uni­ver­sity, and a reported white suprema­cist who cur­rently runs an anti-immigrant group. A promi­nent mem­ber of the anti-government Oath Keep­ers group pre­sented at the event.

Sher­iff Richard Mack of Ari­zona, an anti-government activist and mem­ber of the Oath Keep­ers, pre­sented at this year’s CPAC at a ses­sion titled “How a Con­sti­tu­tional Sher­iff can Pro­tect Your Sec­ond Amend­ment Rights.” The Oath Keep­ers claim they will refuse to carry out cer­tain “orders” that they expect the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to issue, such as putting cit­i­zens in con­cen­tra­tion camps, assist­ing for­eign troops in invad­ing the coun­try and declar­ing mar­tial law. Dur­ing his speech, Mack claimed “the Pres­i­dent has no author­ity in your county” and asserted that “there is no gun con­trol in the Constitution.”

Matthew Heim­bach, a for­mer activist with the now defunct racist group Youth for West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion (YWC) and the founder of the “white stu­dent union” at Tow­son Uni­ver­sity in Mary­land, attended CPAC with other stu­dents. Heim­bach and another stu­dent, Scott Terry, dis­rupted a panel titled, “Trump the Race Card: Are You Sick and Tired of Being Called a Racist When You Know You’re Not One?” Terry pro­claimed that “I feel like my peo­ple, my demo­graphic are being sys­tem­at­i­cally dis­en­fran­chised” and asked the speaker, K. Carl Smith of the group Fred­er­ick Dou­glas Repub­li­cans, “Why can’t we be more like Booker T. Wash­ing­ton Repub­li­cans?” Smith responded by talk­ing about a let­ter writ­ten by Fred­er­ick Dou­glas for­giv­ing his slave mas­ter. Terry inter­rupted Smith, blurt­ing out, “for giv­ing him shel­ter and food and…,” caus­ing a com­mo­tion. A few moments later both Terry and Heim­bach fur­ther dis­rupted pro­ceed­ings by shout­ing that Mar­tin Luther King was a “Marxist.”

Robert Van­der­voort, the exec­u­tive direc­tor of the anti-immigrant group Pro­Eng­lish, attended this year’s CPAC. Van­der­voort is report­edly the for­mer head of the white suprema­cist group Chicagoland Friends of Amer­i­can Renais­sance, a local chap­ter of the white suprema­cist orga­ni­za­tion Amer­i­can Renais­sance. Another extrem­ist in atten­dance was Merlin Miller, a white suprema­cist who ran for Pres­i­dent in the 2012 elec­tion on the Amer­i­can Third Posi­tion (A3P) ticket. A3P, now renamed the Amer­i­can Free­dom Party, is a white suprema­cist polit­i­cal party. Miller attended one ses­sion titled “Iran and the Islamist Threat to Amer­ica and the West: What is — What Should Be — Our Strat­egy.” As reported by ADL, Miller attended an anti-Semitic “Hol­ly­wood­ism” con­fer­ence in Tehran ear­lier in 2013.

Though one of the major themes of the 2013 CPAC was increas­ing inclu­siv­ity in the GOP, extrem­ist ele­ments, though small in num­ber, were still able not only to attend but to par­tic­i­pate at this year’s event.

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