The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Trial of Florida Sheriff on Misconduct Charge Draws Wrath of ‘Constitutional Sheriffs’ and Oath Keepers
The trial of a Florida sheriff on a charge of official misconduct is attracting the attention of so-called “constitutional sheriffs” and the far-right Oath Keepers, who claim that the sheriff – Nick Finch of Liberty County – was only standing up for the Second Amendment when he “nullified” the arrest of a citizen on a concealed-weapon charge.
Those activists see the Finch trial as a showdown between their “constitutionalist” belief that the county sheriff is the highest authority in the nation and state and federal authorities intent on imposing their “tyranny” on the citizenry. In reality, Finch was arrested for allegedly tampering with the arrest record of a man on a concealment charge because he believed enforcing the law violated the Second Amendment.
Finch was arrested in June by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and charged with one count of official misconduct, a third-degree felony, for having “destroyed or removed official arrest documents” and making it appear an arrest had never occurred, including whiting out the suspect’s name in the booking log. His trial in Bristol began today.
Finch, 50, first elected in 2012, has been suspended and could be permanently removed from office. ( continue to full post… )
A statewide organization of conspiracy-peddling Oath Keepers has been gaining traction in small-town Oregon by convincing a series of county-level officials that they need to speak out against the enactment of the National Defense Authorization Act by passing official resolutions defending the constitutional rights of their citizens.
Among the concerns that these county officials cite is the alleged threat, raised by the Oath Keeper activists who promote these resolutions, that federal authorities are planning to round up American citizens and incarcerate them in concentration camps.
The resolution passed by the Klamath County board of commissioners on Sept. 24, for example, warned that “Whereas Klamath County is not a ‘battlefield’ subject to the ‘laws of war’,” the county commission was declaring that “it is unconstitutional, and therefore unlawful for any person to … arrest or capture any person in Klamath County, or citizen of Klamath County within the United States, with the intent of ‘detention under the law of war’ … or subject any person to targeted killing in Klamath County.” ( continue to full post… )
Missouri recently narrowly avoided a dubious distinction: becoming the first state to enact a law drawn directly from the fantasies of the far-right antigovernment “Patriot” movement of the 1990s.
By only a handful of votes, the Missouri state Senate last week failed to override a governor’s veto of a bill that would have ostensibly “nullified” federal gun laws and their enforcement in the state, and would have directed local authorities to arrest federal officers who tried to enforce them. GOP leaders in the state cited concerns about hindering local law enforcement and infringing on free-speech rights.
The Missouri legislation was only the foremost example of a nationwide movement among conservative states to “nullify” federal laws with which those officials disagree — most notably, gun-control laws. A number of states have already passed gun laws that challenge federal power, led by Montana’s Firearms Freedom Act, which exempted guns manufactured in the state from federal regulations. ( continue to full post… )
Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes has always trusted his intellectual pedigree to keep him above the fray.
Boasting a Yale Law School degree and a smooth-talking manner, Rhodes from the start described the group he formed in 2009 — made up largely of law enforcement officials and past and present members of the military — as merely standing up for the Constitution and American liberties. When he urged his members to resist orders to impose martial law or create detention camps, he said, his were merely theoretical worries. After all, he said, Hessian mercenaries once did help the British during the American Revolution and Japanese Americans were rounded up and detained in internment camps during World War II.
He was no conspiracy theorist.
But nearly four years later, if there were any questions still remaining about what the Oath Keepers really are, an event the group has planned for this weekend should lay them all to rest. Starting on Friday at the Farragut State Park outside Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, the Oath Keepers are hosting the Northwest Patriots and Self Reliance Rally. The lineup of participating allies is revealing. ( continue to full post… )
LUDOWICI, Ga. – The suspected leader of a murderous militia of military men was the last to be interrogated that mild Georgia winter evening 18 months ago. Although he was only 20 at the time, United States Army Pvt. Isaac Aguigui played it cool and defiant. “You can go to hell,” he told an agent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI). His tough-guy act didn’t last long. Within 20 minutes, Aguigui deserted his rigid military discipline and whimpered, “I’m just going to end up in a jail cell alone for the rest of my life.”
Today, his tearful prophecy came true.
The now 22-year-old soldier was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty to the murder of Tiffany York, 17, and her boyfriend, Michael Roark, 19, a former soldier who served with Aguigui at the Fort Stewart Army base in Hinesville. Georgia state prosecutors say the young sweethearts were shot to death in the woods not far from the sprawling military facility to keep secret Aguigui’s video-game inspired militia and its delusional plans to overthrow the government of the United States through a torrent of bombings, kidnappings and political assassinations. ( continue to full post… )
Jeffrey Earnhardt, a young prince of one of NASCAR’s royal families, and the Oath Keepers, a conspiracy-spinning “Constitutionalist” group, are joining forces for an upcoming race that “could help make Oath Keepers a household name.”
At least that’s the pitch – and the hope – of the Oath Keepers founder, Stewart Rhodes, as he tries to raise $30,000 in time to get a car on the track for a June 1 NASCAR-sanctioned second-tier race at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. ( continue to full post… )
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — You might have thought that a conference with the title “Conservative Call to Action” would feature lots of talk of small government, of Ronald Reagan, of the need to defend traditional values and a capitalist economy. But that would be yesterday’s conservatives.
Instead, at the event held Saturday in this famously conservative town that is home to the nation’s biggest concentration of Christian Right organizations, rabid Florida pastor Terry Jones, whose televised burning of Korans set off riots overseas that left several people dead, claimed that he didn’t hate Muslims at all — and then went on to rant that Islam “makes Nazism, fascism look like charity.” He was joined by other “conservatives” who warned that the universities are brimming with “commies,” that all liberals are evil, that President Obama only won re-election through “massive voter fraud,” and that the president’s health care plan is “Marxism to the core.”
Symptomatic of the shift of a broad swath of the conservative movement to outright paranoid fantasy was the appearance of Dinesh D’Souza, who was once a respected commentator on the right. D’Souza began to run off the rails with a 2010 Forbes magazine article that he expanded into a book and then into a 2012 film, “2016: Obama’s America.” The article was pilloried by more old-fashioned conservatives, including Daniel Larison, who described it in The American Conservative as “the most ridiculous piece of Obama analysis yet written.” The article, book and film argue that Obama is motivated by a dream of undermining Western power. ( continue to full post… )
The number of antigovernment “Patriot” groups on the American radical right hit an all-time high in 2012, the fourth straight year of explosive growth, according to a report released today by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). As the new year began, serious talk of gun control, prompted by a Connecticut school massacre in December, fueled even more rage on the right, and the threat of violence loomed .
The new report, contained in the latest issue of the quarterly investigative journal Intelligence Report, found that the conspiracy-minded Patriot groups, which numbered only 149 in 2008, soared over the first four years of Barack Obama’s presidency to 1,360 in 2012 — an astounding 813% increase. At the same time, it found that hate groups remained at near-record levels of over 1,000 (see interactive map and state-by-state lists of 2012 hate groups here).
The resurgence of militias and other Patriot groups and an uptick over recent years in non-Islamic domestic terrorism caused SPLC President Richard Cohen today to write (letter pdf) U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to request the creation of a new interagency task force to assess the adequacy of federal resources devoted to the threat. “As in the period before the  Oklahoma City bombing,” Cohen wrote, “we are now seeing ominous threats from those who believe that the government is poised to take their guns.” ( continue to full post… )
If you’re a band of antigovernment “Patriots” pitching a plan to build a walled city in North Idaho and manufacture handguns and assault rifles there, you might expect raised eyebrows, a little criticism. But potshots from other Patriots?
Potshots, indeed, are flying at III Arms Co. and its sister land development company, Citadel Land Development, the firms behind a proposed 2,000- to 3,000-acre III Citadel complex for as many as 7,000 “Patriot” families near St. Maries, in Idaho’s sparsely populated Benewah County.
The criticism is sparked by the fact that one of the key players linked to the unlikely-sounding venture is three-time convicted felon Christian Allen Kerodin, a Maryland contractor who has apparently used various aliases and whose birth name was Christian Hyman. His wife or partner, Holly Ann Kerodin, has been involved in questionable charity, counseling, publishing and other ventures that have failed, various critics say. ( continue to full post… )
If you can’t beat them in court, kill them in the street.
At least that seems to have been the legal strategy of an elderly Texas tax protester and suspected “sovereign citizen,” who authorities charged Monday with trying to hire a hit man to kill the federal judge presiding over his upcoming trial for filing false tax returns.
Phillip Monroe Ballard, 71, was already in federal custody, awaiting trial, when, authorities say, he offered to pay an assassin $100,000 cash – presumably tax-free – to shoot or blow up U.S. District Judge John McBryde of the Northern District of Texas. ( continue to full post… )