The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A group of self-described “Patriots” showed up at the Washington state Capitol building last weekend, demanding the removal of the “communist” flag of China from the flagpoles in front of the rotunda. When a state employee arrived and took the flag down, with assistance from a state trooper, they then claimed victory.
However, according to a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol (WSP), the flag – being flown to honor a visit from China’s U.S. ambassador, Cui Tiankai, who met with Gov. Jay Inslee on Friday – had been scheduled to come down on Saturday anyway. The man shown in a video posted by the “Patriots” bringing the flag down was a state employee, and he stored the flag afterward as he would normally.
Nonetheless, the video shows the glee of the protesters, who proclaim the state trooper one of their own: “Now that’s an oath keeper there,” says Anthony Bosworth, the leader of the protest. “Making sure the communist flag comes down. That’s an officer I can support.” Then they stood at attention with their Tea Party “Gadsden” flags until the flag was fully down.
At Fox News Insider, the flag removal was touted with the headline, “Patriots Helped Take Down Communist China Flag at a US State Capitol,” while a similar headline over a story at the Washington Times likewise described the removal as something inspired by the protesters.
WSP spokesman Robert Calkins said the flag was originally scheduled to come down last weekend, and when the trooper noticed the protesters, he contacted groundskeepers and ascertained that the flag was scheduled to come down that morning, so they simply expedited the process to avert any conflict.
“On Monday, the Scottish flag was flying,” noted Calkins. He said the standard state protocol is to fly the flag of any nation recognized by the United States government when a dignitary from that nation visits the Capitol. China is Washington state’s largest trading partner, with two-way trade between the two totaling well over $20 billion annually. It’s also the state’s largest export-business client, with China consuming over $15 billion in goods produced in the state each year, notably agricultural products such as apples.
Bosworth and his gang of protesters are becoming familiar sights to the state’s law-enforcement officers. In February, he led a group of about 50 gun-rights protesters in a failed attempt to get arrested by bringing their guns inside the statehouse chambers while the Legislature was in session, though they did so on a day when the Legislature was not in session. In March, he led a similar protest outside the doors of the federal courthouse in Spokane, which likewise led to no arrests.
Local authorities have intervened and demanded that the Oath Keepers, an antigovernment group comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel, cease providing security for several Ferguson, Mo., businesses in the aftermath of a grand jury decision not to indict the white police officer who killed Michael Brown.
In a public statement, the St. Louis County Police Department confirmed that the Oath Keepers had travelled to Ferguson and begun “walking the rooftops of businesses” with “semi-automatic rifles” “for the purported reason of providing security to local business during the civil unrest in the area.” In so doing, police say, they broke the law.
“[T]he individuals from the group did not adhere to St. Louis County ordinance regulating security officers, couriers, and guard,” a statement the St. Louis Police Department provided Hatewatch said. The ordinance “prohibits anyone from providing security without first obtaining a license.”
A chance encounter earlier this summer with a Border Patrol officer along the Rio Grande has become a disastrous event for the vigilantes prowling the Texas border at the militia encampment dubbed Camp LoneStar.
Two of the militiamen, including camp leader Kevin “K.C.” Massey III, now face federal felony weapons charges as a result of the encounter. Massey was arrested on Monday, while a second militiaman, John Frederick Foerster, was arrested on Tuesday. Both are charged with being felons in possession of a weapon.
A group of Border Patrol officers were in pursuit of several illegal border crossers in the early morning hours of Aug. 29 when one of the officers, having lost sight of the fugitives, came upon Foerster, who was standing in the brush holding a weapon. According to the criminal complaint, the agent fired four shots at Foerster and missed; Foerster threw down his gun and surrendered.
While the officers were processing information with Foerster, Massey and another Camp LoneStar participant arrived to vouch for Foerster, carrying weapons. Massey had an AK-47 rifle and a .45 caliber handgun.
According to Massey’s account of the incident on Facebook, Border Patrol officers asked the men to store their guns (as well as a GoPro video camera) in a Patrol vehicle. But when the officers wrapped up their work, they insisted on keeping the guns and the camera as part of their investigation.
The encounter occurred on the private property owned by Cuban “Rusty” Monsees where the Camp LoneStar encampment is set up, and so no arrests were made at the time. However, it shortly emerged that Foerster was in fact a felon; Massey, as federal agents would later report, also had been convicted of a felony in 1988.
On Monday, ATF agents swooped in and arrested Massey at a hotel in Brownsville, and then arrested Foerster on Tuesday.
The arrests set off a round of paranoia among their fellow militiamen. Massey’s “superior” at Camp LoneStar, Archie Seals, ranted on Facebook about how the arrests represent government oppression of their citizen-vigilante efforts:
Ok, I had been thinking for a while, “Are we doing any good here”? Now I know we are, and we are stepping on someone toes. Listen up all Feds that are monitoring, you have put my #2 in a cell illegally thinking it would shut us up and down. Guess what??? It didn’t work. We are still open for business, because, “This is what we do”. If anything, you made us stronger and more determined. When you take me in on some bs, another has been chosen to take over, then another, and another. We are Camp LoneStar and we are going no where. Now, I need every possible BOG immediately. Let’s show these feds that we only will grow stronger. Who will now join me and who will send support for the camp and for KC??? We need supplies here and KC needs funds for bond and lawyer.
Fellow “Patriot” Gary Hunt, evidently familiar with the details of Massey’s arrest, posted angrily at his blog:
These occurrences … should provide adequate warning to patriots, especially those who have a felony record, that there is a concerted effort on the part of government to find cause to bring charges against you and take your guns away. They also provide insight into the tactics that the government is using to cull the patriot community of as many as they can, reducing the remaining numbers, and intimidating those who remain.
Massey’s friends at the Secure Our Border organization changed the cover photo of their Facebook page to one featuring Massey’s portrait, accompanied by the legend: “Taken by the ATF for the crime of proving that the border can be secured by a few American Patriots.”
It has been six months since the federal government called off its attempt to round up cattle belonging to Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy amid a tense standoff with heavily armed militiamen who trained their weapons on federal agents.
For weeks prior, the antigovernment right had been portraying a federal court order to remove Bundy’s herd from public lands as a prime example of federal overreach – even though Bundy had refused to pay more than $1 million in accumulated grazing fees and fines because he said he didn’t recognize the government’s legitimacy.
Militias from around the country responded to Bundy’s plight, hoping that in that tiny corner of the desert they could make a stand against the government they see as the enemy. And when the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) abandoned the operation to avoid a bloody shootout, they declared victory.
Government officials promised accountability for those who broke the law by taking up arms against federal agents. It seems unfathomable, in fact, that the U.S. Department of Justice would allow a mob of antigovernment zealots to get away with using the threat of violence to block the enforcement of the law.
But, as the months have dragged on, there has been no response. Not an arrest. Not an indictment. Nothing.
As part of Fox News’ eager coverage of the recent “range war” showdown over Cliven Bundy’s cattle grazing rights in Nevada, the network broadcast a segment from the scene Monday that was remarkable both for the reporters’ seeming embrace of the far-right antigovernment “Patriot” movement and for its subjects’ startling clarity on their strategy for confronting federal agents: using women as human shields.
Richard Mack, the erstwhile Arizona sheriff and longtime figure in the Patriot movement, was at the scene. He told Fox reporter William LaJeunesse that the people who gathered there to stop law enforcement from rounding up the illegally grazing cattle – which had grown to hundreds by the time the Bureau of Land Management caved in and returned many of the cattle – were prepared to lay their lives on the line in standing up to the government. Or more precisely:
We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they’re going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.
Mack’s radical Posse-Comitatus-based ideology, which claims that county sheriffs are the higest constitutional level of law enforcement, lines up nicely with Cliven Bundy’s antigovernment views. That explains why Mack has taken a lead role in helping promote Bundy’s cause in far-right media circles. ( continue to full post… )
Not every gun-worshiping, Second Amendment-quoting “Patriot” thinks it’s a good idea for militia members to descend armed to the teeth on the Nevada desert to confront a small army of federal agents and stand with a defiant rancher fighting for his “right” to illegally graze his cattle on environmentally sensitive government land.
Take the gray-bearded host of Resist the Tyranny channel on YouTube, who looked into the camera the other day and declared that when the militiamen “show up with their guns and get killed” the feds will be able to say “it’s a bunch of half-cocked miscreants from a fringe group of radicals” and “they’re going to be right – and you’re going to be dead.”
The host, who only identifies himself as Matt, said he was alarmed at what he was seeing and hearing on YouTube and social media about the weeklong standoff between dozens of federal agents and cattle rancher Cliven Bundy and his growing number of supporters, many of them armed, and with more reportedly on the way.”Some people have even planned for offensive strikes during the day,” Matt said on his show, sitting at a table in front of a Don’t Tread On Me flag and a poster that said “2nd Amendment America’s Original Homeland Security.”
“This is not somewhere we’re going to win by another show of force,” he said. “There will be a time for that. That time is coming, but this is not it.”
Matt said the militia and Patriot movements had to get “the court of public opinion” on their side first, “because until that happens we’re going to lose no matter what.”
He said he knew, however, that his opinion would not be popular “amongst the chest thumpers.” But confronting an army of heavily armed federal agents with militiamen with little training or experience would be a disaster, he said. ( continue to full post… )
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… )