oath keepers » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘oath keepers’
January 3, 2016

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

June 19, 2013

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

March 21, 2013

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,