During the winter of 1995 Idaho's militia movement discovered new fields of opportunity for its political agenda, which took it well beyond its original focus on 2nd amendment issues involving the right-to-keep-and- bear-arms. Litigation and controversies over saving salmon and wolves on public lands under the provisions of the Endangered Species Act radicalized many Idaho citizens. It made them easy prey for someone with messages of what to fear and who to blame. State elected officials offered symbolic promises of relief, but also courted the militia as possible shock troops for the radical right-wing of the Republican party. Some politicians were more adept than others at avoiding accountability for bringing extremism into mainstream politics. The cloak of ambiguity fit too well in several instances, but others, like the state's superintendent of education, decided it didn't suit them.
Dateline -- Challis, ID 1/22/95
Thousands of people in Idaho became unemployed with one stroke of the pen from U.S. District Court Judge David Ezra who January 9th ruled on a suit brought by the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and the Wilderness Society to save an endangered species of salmon. In his decision the Hawaii District Judge ordered all grazing, logging, mining and road-building activities on public lands in central Idaho must be halted until further notice to protect endangered salmon.
Over 4,000 people could lose their jobs representing $83 million in annual payroll. The decision created a storm of protest. The injunction radicalized area residents, released huge amounts of unfocused anger, and left many vulnerable to messages of what to fear and who to blame.
Some of those affected by the injunction threatened violent action as a means to oppose it. Idaho's growing militia movement sought to exploit the situation by sending its key organizers to Challis, ID, to focus this rage on its "new world order" conspiracy theories and to gain new members. Idaho's state and federal elected officials reacted to the suit offering up largely symbolic promises of relief from the injunction.
Six national forests are affected; Nez Perce, Sawtooth, Payette,
Salmon, Boise, and Challis. Economic activities normally taking place
on public lands which will be shut down include 190 active mines, 532
grazing permits, tens-of-millions of board feet of timber under
contract to be cut, and 8.2 million acres of forest area. [data
from Idaho Falls Post Register, Pg.A8, 1/22/95]
"It is clear that the US Forest Service must be enjoined from announcing, awarding, permitting or conducting any new timber sales, range activities, mining activities or road building projects until formal consultation on the LRMPs (land and resource management plans) is completed," the Honolulu-based judge ruled, adding, "under the circumstances, the court is also compelled to enter an injunction against all on-going and announced activities."
"Judge Ezra is halting all activities in which the Forest Service said 'may affect' salmon survival and salmon habitat," said Kristen Boyles, the Sierra Club attorney who argued the case on behalf of Pacific Rivers Council of Eugene, Oregon, and the Wilderness Society of Boise, Idaho. That means all new and current projects that may affect salmon habitat.
Projects like the Thompson Creek Mine, Challis, ID, (employs over 800 miners) would be shut down until the Forest Service and National Marine Fisheries Service agree the molybdenum open-pit mine will not adversely affect habitat, or until Judge Ezra agrees the project will not adversely affect salmon habitat.
Outrage and anger over unemployment caused by a court ruling under
the Endangered Species Act (ESA) erupted like a volcano this week and
prompted 2,500 people to turn out in the deep cold of an Idaho forest
on January 22nd to have their picture taken. Thousands of copies of
the color photo are being sent to anyone who has a say over the
shutdown of six Idaho forests.
The Salmon-Challis Forest is likely to be the hardest hit. It's no surprise that signs sprouted saying things like, "Hungry? Eat an Environmentalist." Salmon-Challis Forest Supervisor Chuck Wilds pleaded with area residents. "Please don't shoot me," he called out to hundreds of ranchers and miners, some carrying weapons, who surrounded his office to stop implementation of the federal court order closing the forests where they make their living.
While a federal judge ordered the injunction to protect the habitat of endangered salmon, area residents told Wilds that it is not their activities which threaten the salmon, but dams on the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon which cut off the fish from returning to their spawning grounds. With the injunction hanging over their heads, area residents feel, as one put it, "that there is nothing which so clarifies one's thinking as a potential hanging in the morning."
The court suit has galvanized the community. Lemhi County commissioners organized and handed out lists of fax number of members of congress, environmental groups, the governor, and anyone else they could think of. Area businesses which had fax machines opened them up for public use and had their employees help people send faxes to their elected officials.
The phone lines in this rural part of the state buckled and then collapsed under the load. One area resident expressed frustration with sending faxes. He said that when this area [Lemhi County] was settled 100 years ago. "people did their fighting with Winchester rifles and bullets and not with fax machines and screwy paper."
However, none of the protests have, so far, been acts of violence. This is partially the result of a temporary stay of the injunction requested by the environmentalists when they realized they'd over-achieved in their suit against the US Forest Service. A spokesman for the Wilderness Society in Boise, ID, said his group never expected the judge to close the forests, only to enjoin new activities. The government now has 45 days to come up with a response to the suit or face the full effects of the injunction.
Reaction to the stay of the injunction was one of widespread relief, but it did not remove the threat of violent protest. Wise Use advocate Phil Nesbet told the Idaho Falls Post Register he was relieved to have time for things to work out. However, he continued to remind people living in Lemhi County that they have only 45 days until the current stay on the injunction runs out.
Challis City Councilman Stan Davis told the media he shares Nesbet's worries. "I have fear in my system over what happens when 45 days are up," he said. Perhaps more than any other factor, the location of the federal judge in Hawaii, and not in Boise, bewildered many.
It turns out the Boise, ID, Federal District Court seat has been vacant for some time due to the inability of the Clinton Administration and Idaho's Republican congressional delegation to reach an agreement on a replacement. The Sierra Club sued in Hawaii which has temporary jurisdiction. This helped the militia's conspiracy theorists who did a pretty good job of spinning up outrage that a judge sitting in Hawaii could shut down forests in Idaho.
Next, they said, the United Nations will send "blue helmented troops" to enforce the judge's decision.
As a practical matter it took several days for the judge's decision to impose the injunction to reach Idaho. Further, the U.S. Forest Service office staff had no desire to enforce the injunction over the objections of angry and armed local citizens.
U.S. Senator Dirk Kempthorne (R-ID) said he would pursue whatever
remedies were necessary to change the Endangered Species Act to
prevent further occurrences like Judge Ezra's ruling.
Kempthorne is now chairman of the Senate subcommittee which plans to rewrite the Act this year. His comments offered only symbolic relief as there is little the senator could do immediately about the judge's ruling.
Idaho Congressman Mike Crapo also paid a symbolic visit to Lemhi County this week. He agreed with calls by area residents to make the court suit and its impending impact on thousands of jobs a national issue. Crapo said the court suit had given opponents of the ESA exactly what they wanted - "ammunition against the act." Crapo also said environmentalists hurt their cause because the original ruling has turned into a rallying cry for those who want to change the Endangered Species Act. He said, "This is a situation where the result was so harsh that they may have lost the war in winning the battle."
Wise use activist Bert Jeffries told the Idaho Falls Post Register, "the Endangered Species Act has been taken hostage by the environmentalists." He added that people are frustrated, "because the law does not recognize that people have to live, work, and eat while bureaucrats figure out whether the fish are threatened or not."
Another activist said he was furious that the environmentalists used the salmon as a way to address the fact that they are unhappy with the forest planning process in Idaho. He said, "it is stupid for them to want us to believe that this is about fish. We know that what this is really about is that the environmentalists haven't gotten their way with the forest plans in central Idaho so they sued over fish and got this result [the injunction]." He added that the area consensus is that the suit filed by the environmental groups has backfired with enormous consequences nationally.
County Extension Agent Bob Loucks agreed with this analysis. He told the Idaho Falls Post Register, "the fact that the ESA needs to be rewritten so that it is not a handy vehicle to accomplish other aims."
Many criticized the U.S. Forest Service for making their jobs vulnerable to litigation. North Fork logger Joe Fraser complained that forest service employees are poorly trained and as a result do a poor job of designing environmental protection measures for timber sales. Another resident said that if the forest service "knew what it was doing up here we wouldn't be in this mess."
For their part environmental groups wrote letters to area
newspapers explaining their position on why the suit was justified.
They charged that area forest logging, mining, and grazing operations
were destroying salmon spawning habitat and have to be stopped.
Environmentalists said, unsympathetically, the Forest Service has to fulfill its job under the Endangered Species Act. "Some of the forest plans, such as the Nez Perce and Payette, called for degradation of salmon habitat and have inflated targets for timber harvest," said Craig Gehrke, regional director of The Wilderness Society in Boise, one of the plaintiffs in the case. He also made this comment, "We're saying, let's face reality, we've got an endangered species here, you've got to revise the forest plans and lower those timber targets so you can protect salmon habitat."
Some observers noted that the only people gaining from the suit were Wise Use and Militia organizations who were recruiting new members among the now out-of-work and angry ranchers and miners milling about in Challis and Salmon with too much time on their hands and not much to do with it.
Dateline -- Boise, ID 3/5/95
Citizens Militia organizer Samuel Sherwood of Blackfoot, ID, told Idaho Lt. Governor Butch Otter in Boise this week he is being "duped by those who are quietly plotting to throw out the U.S. Constitution." Sherwood also said that the state legislature and other elected officials in Idaho were in the same boat with Otter.
In a separate speech in Challis, ID, Sherwood predicted "blood would flow in the streets" if a Federal District Court judge shuts down six national forests in central Idaho March 15th over a suit brought by environmental organizations to protect salmon under the Endangered Species Act.
Idaho Lt. Gov. Otter, a Republican, received a rude message this
week after trying to give a 20-minute speech to members of the United
State Militia Association (USMA), which is based on Blackfoot, ID, an
agricultural community located in the midst of Idaho's potato farming
country 40 miles west of the Wyoming border. Members of the USMA wear
military-type clothing and combat boots at their public meetings.
Otter never got to deliver the standard "stump speech" he uses at appearances with political action groups. Instead, militia members verbally pounded Otter for 90 minutes with their fears about a planned "takeover" of the U.S. government. They told him a 'Conference of the States' set for September 1995 would not enhance states rights, but was a "conspiracy" to overthrow the government. When Otter defended his participation in the meeting, Sherwood told him, according to the Associated Press, "You've been tricked Butch. You've been tricked. A lot of you have been tricked."
Otter held his cool under fire and in the face of obvious provocation. He told militia members, regardless of their excitement over issues, that they had to "obey the law." However, he also criticized militia members for not supporting the National Rifle Association (NRA).
In Idaho, where hunting and guns are second nature, it is unthinkable for an anti-gun control group like the militia to not support the NRA. Otter gave the NRA credit for the Republican Party's landslide in Idaho in the November election. He added, "they did it without wasting a pound of gunpowder."
When asked why he spoke to the militia, Otter defended his appearance before the controversial organization. He said, "No matter what a group is or what it stands for, I think the government needs to be accessible."
Sherwood did not explain the reasons why his group did not support the NRA. However, Sherwood, who has tried to take credit for aiding the election of Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) and Anne Fox, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, was irritated by Otter's criticism of the militia and praise for the NRA. Some attending the meeting said Otter's remarks stung Sherwood, and made him look foolish or ineffectual.
Prior to the meeting with Otter, Sherwood had been up along the
Idaho / Montana border to recruit new members among miners and
ranchers affected by a court suit brought by environmentalists that
closed six national forests and cut them off from making a living.
Focusing on fears of losing their jobs and homes, Samuel Sherwood
told groups of miners and loggers in Challis, ID, they should join
his United States Militia Association to defend themselves against
the "green gestapo" of environmental organizations out to close down
Sherwood traveled to the remote mining town in response to an injunction by Hawaii Federal District Court Judge David Ezra which could shut down all resource activities on public lands in six national forests in central Idaho. The Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund and the Wilderness Society filed suit on the grounds that U.S. Forest Service plans for the six forests did not protect habitat for salmon protected under the Endangered Species Act. The pending injunction is expected to be lifted or implemented by March 15th after a review of the forest plans by the National Marine Fisheries Agency, which is charged with protecting the salmon.
Challis, ID, is so far off the beaten path that locals sell a colorful, green t-shirt that says, "End of the world, 12 miles, Challis 15." However, hundreds make their living in mining, logging, and ranching. Closure of the six forests would put an estimated 4,000 people throughout Idaho out of work with an estimated payroll loss of $83 million.
Sherwood told the Challis meeting "all it's going to take is for
this crazy judge in Hawaii to actually shut down the forests and
there will be blood in the streets." Sherwood urged everyone at the
meeting to "get a semiautomatic assault rife and a revolver and a
Idaho Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa, who also was in Challis with Sherwood, encouraged locals to join the militia, saying that the government was planning to confer legal status on the militia once it reaches 10,000 members. Referring to the possible shutdown of all mining, ranching, and logging in national forests in central Idaho, Cenarrusa called for the restoration of the "sovereignty of Idaho through the court system." If that fails, he said, "there is going to be a great uprising among the people here. It's a matter of survival and when these instincts are aroused, anything can happen."
As a result of hearing the strong rhetoric of a leading state elected official, Custer County Commissioner Lyn Hintze said that "three platoons of militia" would be ready by March 15th to oppose the injunction. He said they would require the U.S. Forest Service to show proof they owned the land. If not, Hintze said, "we're going to take over." Sherwood added, "we want a bloodless revolution," but if the bureaucrats won't listen, we'll give them a civil war to think about. We're ready to look the federal government in the eye."
Dateline -- Boise, Idaho 3/12/95
According to a report by the Associated Press (AP) printed in today's edition of the Idaho Falls Post Register, the leader of the Idaho U.S. Militia Association (USMA) said civil war could be coming and with it the possibility that some Idaho legislators might be shot. Samuel Sherwood, leader of the Blackfoot, ID, based organization, told the AP on March 10th some Idaho lawmakers may "betray" their fellow citizens in Idaho and cling to Washington, DC," hence the need to shoot them. He said, "Go up and look legislators in the face, because some day you may have to blow it off." Sherwood added that history frequently shows politicians pick the wrong side in a revolution and today's politicians are no different.
Sherwood confirmed to the Associated Press and to the Twin Falls, ID, 'Times-News' that he made the statements on March 2, 1995, after leaving a meeting with Idaho Lt. Governor Butch Otter, and again at another militia meeting in Boise March 10th. Sherwood's statements move the militia to the dangerous ground usually occpied by terrorists. He is now seen as a threat to the lives of elected officials.
Reaction from Idaho elected officials was swift. Most state elected officials in Idaho were outraged at being threatened because they do not share Sherwood's apo calyptic vision of the future. Idaho Governor Phil Batt, Lt. Governor Butch Otter, and State Attorney General Al Lance condemned Sherwood's remarks. Through a spokesperson, Governor Batt said he would not support anyone who condones violence. However, Anne Fox, State Superintendent of Public Instruction, declined to comment.
Last month Sherwood claimed that 1,000 of his USMA members manned phones banks and worked vigorously to assure her election. The AP reported that Fox declined to publicly question her association with the USMA.
Two elected officials possibly in Sherwood's gun sights were quick to respond to his threats. State Legislator Wendy Jaquet of Ketchum called Sherwood's statement, "extremism at its worst." State Senator Ron Beck of Boise also issued a statement condemning the remark. Both labeled Sherwood's remarks "frightening and uncivilized."
Sherwood was not deterred by the criticism. He said the media, and not the militia, is responsible for focusing on inflammatory matters. "The press had better stop trying to fan people's fear and a paranoia," he said, warning it could lead to "confrontation or self- immolation."
Sherwood's threat against the Idaho legislature drew an angry response from that body as a whole. On its last day in session, both houses passed a unanimous resolution condemning his remarks. Postscript Some predicted Sherwood would pay dearly for his foray into radicalism. This turned out to be a far more accurate prophecy than any supermarket tabloid could have hoped for in projecting a verdict on the consequences of rash actions.
Dateline -- Challis, ID 3/8/95
This week Challis, ID, rancher Gene Hussey, age 74, got another shock to his system over the death of a wolf on his land. Three armed U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agents (USFWS) served a search warrant on Hussey seeking the bullet that killed the wolf which had earlier been reintroduced to Idaho's Frank Church Wilderness Area. The wolf was found shot to death near the body of a calf on Hussey's ranch.
The action by the USFWS produced protests amplified by statements from Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) charging that the agency used "black helicopters" to intimidate Idaho ranchers and other users of public lands. Locally, Lemhi County Sheriff Brett Barsalou told the news media, "sending three armed agents to serve a warrant on a 74-year old man is inappropriate, heavy handed, and dangerously close to excessive force."
On Friday Sheriff Barsalou and rancher Hussey were treated as heroes before a cheering crowd of 300 organized by People of the West and other Wise Use groups who flocked to Challis, ID, after the Wednesday incident with the USFWS.
As it turns out, the situation is reversed. The USFWS agents secretly tape recorded their encounter with Hussey. From the transcript it appears that the Challis rancher threw rocks at the agents, called them foul names, but that they did a remarkable job, under the circumstances, of not responding to provocation.
The calf turns out to have died from natural causes, and not from a wolf attack. Hussey has not been charged in the shooting death of the wolf, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act.
In a separate development, Federal District Court Judge David Ezra
lifted a pending injunction which would have closed six national
forests in Idaho stopping all ranching, logging, and mining
activities on public lands in central Idaho. This is the second time
the injunction has been lifted pending the outcome of a review of
U.S. Forest Service management plans over habitat protection for
The action defused a potentially dangerous situation in the Challis area. Earlier militia members attempted to organize armed opposition to the injunction. A spokesman for the Wilderness Society, which brought the original suit that resulted in the injunction, said that if further consultations with the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Forest Service over endangered salmon do not go well it might provoke future litigation.
Hundreds of people gathered in Challis and in nearby Salmon, ID,
this week to protest the actions by environmental groups and the
actions of the USFWS. The Idaho Falls Post Register reports that
Idaho State Rep. Lenore Barrett, of Challis, told a crowds of more
than 200 people in Challis, and 300 in Salmon, "We are not Waco. We
are not Ruby Ridge. We are exercising our constitutional rights.' She
told the crowd, "the feds must back off."
It appears her message was heard in Washington, DC. Responding to criticisms of the USFWS by Idaho Congressman Mike Crapo, USFWS Director Mollie Beattie said she would not have approved the search if asked and would not let it happen again. A USFWS spokesman said the search was called for because the results of the autopsy of the wolf indicated that the dead wolf did not kill the calf it was found next to.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Justice Department is taking legal action
against Nye County, NV, which claims the state, and not the Federal
government, own national forests. Nye County Commissioner Dick
Carver, a national Wise Use leader, spoke to a crowd of 600 people
last week in Challis, ID, urging similar resolutions be enacted
asserting control over federal lands. He advocated the continued
promotion of the 'county supremacy' movement which asserts federal
public lands should be returned to county or local control.
While Carver's confrontational politics were well received in Custer County, ID, they were not accepted in nearby Lemhi County. In Salmon, ID, Dennis Hawley, Lemhi County Commissioner, told the Idaho Falls Post Register that his commission held a meeting with Justice Department Attorney Margo Miller to remove Lemhi County from the list of entities challenging federal government ownership of public land. "We don't even want to get involved in that at this time," Hawley said.
The Justice Department's suit challenges the Nye County supremacy doctrine advocated by Carver, but does not seek civil damages against him for charging into a Forest Service wilderness area with a bulldozer last July. Environmental groups have criticized the Clinton Administration for failing to prosecute Carver for his heavy equipment aided assault.
States News Service reported this week disclosure of "threads" environmentalists allege link Nye County Commissioner Dick Carver and other property rights activists with citizen militia that have been blamed for violence and threats against federal workers. Jeff DeBonis, of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said at a press conference, "One top Forest Service official recently told me he thought there was a 50 percent chance of a Forest Service employee getting murdered this summer in either Idaho or Nevada." This prediction came terrifyingly close to reality as a result of several pipe bombs exploding at Nevada forest service offices. While no one was injured in any of the blasts, one ranger's personal van was destroyed, apparently targeted by the bomber(s).
The Associated Press reported this week that growing tensions
between users of public lands and federal land management agencies
have prompted Idaho Sen. Larry Craig to advocate disarming all
federal law enforcement officers who patrol national forests and
wildlife refuges. Craig said people are increasingly frightened by
the presence of "an armed federal entity" in the West." He
elaborated, "There has always been a healthy suspicion of the federal
agent. Now there is developing a healthy fear, especially if the
agent is armed," he told the Associated Press.
Craig said conflicts between landowners and federal officers in the West are due in part to what he views as the "aggressive nature of federal agents and their unwillingness to work with local authorities." Craig said guns are not needed at the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or Fish and Wildlife Service. He said he would maintain some armed law officers at the National Park Service because that agency "is a manager of people as much as a protector of property."
An outspoken opponent of gun control and a board member of the National Rifle Association, Craig said there was no inconsistency in his defense of the right to bear arms at a time he was calling for disarming federal agents. Craig made initial comments about disarming law officers during an interview with the AP about citizen militia and property-rights groups in the West. But Craig didn't stop there. In a recitation of the mantra of the militia, Sen. Craig said fear of armed U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents is growing out of such incidents as the deaths at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, TX, and the killing of a militant's wife and son at Ruby Ridge, ID.
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service declined to comment on Craig's remarks as did the U.S. Forest Service. The Interior Dept. agency was not involved in either tragedy. Federal land management law enforcement agency staff in Utah, who are perhaps less reticent than their cousins in Idaho, said that they had to deal with everything from drug smuggling to illegal dumping of hazardous waste. A monthly crime report from the U.S. Forest Service in March 1995 clearly indicates that crime not only knows no season, but also no place is safe from it. Crimes of every type occur on public lands leaving one wondering how the laws would be enforced if Sen. Craig's policies are implemented.
Quote of the Day: "There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness," Jim Baca, former director of the Bureau of Land Management, speaking to a meeting of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, on the subject of wise use and militia connections, and on opposition to the Noranda mine.
Postscript Journalist David Helvarg, and author of the book, "The War Against the Greens," said he has found strong ties linking Oklahoma City bombing witness James Nichols to the Michigan Property Rights Association. Helvarg connects Nye County Commissioner Dick Carver with the Christian Identity church, widely considered by human rights groups to be a militant, racist religious organization with ties to the Aryan Nation, a neo-Nazi group based in Hayden Lake, ID.
Helvarg, along with Wilderness Society representative Jim Baca, said the western property rights groups have become a recruitment ground for the militia. Baca, a former federal Bureau of Land Management director, said that at first the property rights advocates were likely looking to maintain the "western way of life," even though resources industries are not as economically viable now.
In an weird echo of the threat made by Idaho Militia leader Samuel Sherwood to "shoot" legislators, Helvarg quoted Dick Carver bragging about the infamous incident last July when he and an armed citizens' posse chased two Forest Service rangers off a road he was illegally bulldozing through the Toiyabe National Forest and wilderness area. "All it would have taken was for one of those rangers to have drawn a weapon," Carver is quoted as saying, "and 50 people with side arms would have drilled him."
Some Wise Use activists have been driven by rhetoric from western members of Congress, who claim there is a federal "war on the West," to join armed militia. "I can't say every member of the wise use movement is a member of the militia, but the threads are there," Baca said. "The rhetoric is the same: anti-federal government. And lawmakers' influence pumps every one up."
Lawmakers, such as Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) have said working on behalf of citizens angry with the federal government for perceived abuses of power is not the same as supporting armed militia that break the law. True, but providing political cover for environmental terrorism such as Carver's bulldozer tactics, is not the same as, as some would say, "sweetly reasoning with the magistrate."
This is a story of how Idaho's elected state superintendent of
education flirted with right wing radical politics, took an
unintended high dive into much deeper waters than she bargained for,
and came up with a better appreciation for the currents of
Dateline -- Boise, ID 2/12/94
Anne Fox, State Superintendent of Education, was elected this past November with the help of 1,000 militia members according to Samuel Sherwood of the United States Militia Association, Blackfoot, Idaho. Sherwood said his group manned phones, distributed campaign literature, and provided other forms of support for Fox's Republican candidacy for state superintendent of public instruction. This represents the first instance in Idaho of a militia group engaging in mainstream politics.
The militia group includes white supremacists and racists according to the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment and the Montana Human Rights Network. However, Fox apparently now wishes she had not received so much public support from the group. She ended this week apologizing to Idaho's Jewish community for a bizarre remark about Holocaust victim Anne Frank after a public speech to a militia meeting in Boise.
Samuel Sherwood made his claim of 1,000 militia members helping to
elect Anne Fox after a speaking engagement by Fox to 80 members of
the Blackfoot, ID, organizations in Boise on February 11th. Idaho
Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa also spoke to the group. Militia
members attending the session wore combat green fatigues, military
style sweaters, and black boots.
Sherwood told the Associated Press Fox was invited to address the group, "because she agrees with the group's calls for less federal interference and more local control." For her part Fox endorsed the militia's strong stand against gun control and for states rights. Sherwood also lashed out at federal control of BLM and USFS lands. He said that the lack of income from property taxes on these lands hurts the schools. Sherwood neglected to mention the millions of dollars the Federal government pays the state in the form of "payment in lieu of taxes" as a result of its ownership of public lands.
Some wonder why Fox sought out political support from a radical
right wing group like the militia? Perhaps it's because she is losing
the mainstream political support that got her elected as part of
Idaho's Republican landslide in the last election. Fox has not had an
easy first six weeks in office. She made a series of costly political
* The head of her newly created architectural design office had to resign when it was learned he mis-represented his qualifications to design schools. Instead of having built schools, the appointee was a furniture salesman who sold desks and other items to schools.
** A more serious problem emerged when it was discovered that her campaign manager and chief deputy, Terry Haws, had been charged in Alaska with soliciting sex from a minor in return for drugs. Fox fired Haws when the charges surfaced. Haws later pleaded no contest to the charges.
*** In addition to firing two campaign aides, Fox also fired the state's leading expert on school finance and the science curriculum chief. Simultaneously, Fox submitted a budget to the state legislature which drastically increased the discretionary spending available for her office and hired an advisor who advocated creationism teaching over evolution in public school science classes. The legislature has since trimmed Fox's proposed budget to a level recommended by Idaho Governor Phil Batt. After no small amount of public controversy, the expert on Creationism was "demoted" from paid staff to being an unpaid member of an advisory committee.
**** Fox has taken heat for leasing a new luxury car at $530 a month when other state officials, including the governor, leased cars for about half that amount.
Fox may have put her foot in yet another bucket. In what appears
to be her most bizarre public statement to date, Fox compared the
political struggles of her first six weeks in office to Anne Frank's
persecution by the Nazis.
This drew strong responses from Idaho's small Jewish population. R.T. Tavi, a spokesman for the Jewish Community of Eastern Idaho said, "Anne Fox has no right to wrap her petty political problems in the cloak of Anne Frank's sufferings." Jewish leaders said they sent copies of their complaint about Fox's statement to the Anti-Defamation League office in Seattle. Tavi said, "we cannot permit elected officials to make a mockery out of the Holocaust for short-term political gain."
Jewish leaders in Idaho were not the only group to react to Fox's
exploits with the militia. Newspaper editorial writers at the
Lewiston, ID, Morning Tribune and the Idaho Falls Post Register
raised questions about Fox's judgement and political instincts. The
Lewiston Tribune wrote on 2/14/95; "Idaho school Superintendent Anne
Fox's lack of perspective has never been more glaring than when she
appeared before a gathering of uniformed black booted members of a
self- appointed civilian army to complain that her critics are making
her look bad.
"Does she have any conception of what kind of message it sends to have the elected head of Idaho schools appear not just as a speaker, but as a soulmate at a gathering of people who feel so alienated from government and the rest of us that they are donning uniforms and forming private armies.?"
The Idaho Falls Post Register wrote on 2/17/95 "Idaho is gaining a reputation as a haven for extremists. Fox does not serve the state well or provide a good example to its children by appearing before such a group.
Fox responded to criticism by telephoning Jewish leaders in Boise
and in Idaho Falls and offering apologies for her remarks about Anne
Frank. Boise Rabbi Dan Fink said that he spoke with Fox and
encouraged her to visit with him anytime she was contemplating making
remarks about Jewish subjects. He said her choice to issue an apology
"was commendable," and added that Fox was writing a letter of apology
to go on record about her feelings. Fox also told Jewish leaders she
did not understand the true nature of the militia. When informed
about a November 1994 report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
detailing the activities of the militia in more than two dozen
states, Fox requested a copy.
The ADL also wrote a letter to Fox explaining their position about the inappropriate nature of Fox's remark comparing her transient political problems in Idaho to the death of Anne Frank in the Holocaust at the hands of the Nazis. Fox said her remarks about Anne Frank came from a conversation with Shirley Silver, a friend, who was raised Jewish, who took Fox on a tour of a traveling exhibit about Anne Frank in Boise.
What Fox did not know, and perhaps still does not know, is that Silver is no longer a practicing Jew in a traditional sense. Rabbi Fink said that Silver belongs to a messianic group called 'Jews for Jesus' which is not affiliated with Boise's Jewish congregation. The group is a radical and fundamentalist Christian sect. Fox's logic, according to Silver, who called Tavi to explain her role, was that, "I'm getting this comment about Anne Frank from a Jewish person at a Jewish exhibit. If I repeat it how could I go wrong?"
Is It More than a Failure to Educate? Is it conspiracy or stupidity? Is Fox evil or just not thinking very clearly? Is it possible to believe Fox's remark about not knowing the true nature of the Idaho citizens militia? How could she ignore political support from 1,000 people as claimed by Sherwood? Is the Idaho state superintendent of public instruction capable of being educated on these issues? If this exchange with Fox is about the politics of meaning then it is also about confronting evil, about speaking truth to power, and about educating people where this evil lives. Tavi says, "I do not think, for now, that Anne Fox is evil, just badly mis-informed. Her future actions might confirm that view or cause it to change. We'll have to wait and see. For now, she's apologized and listened to what we had to say. It's enough."
compiled from reports by the Associated Press, Idaho Falls Post
Register, and other sources/ Dateline -- Post Falls, ID 4/17/95
Nearly 300 supporters of the militia movement gathered this weekend in Post Falls, Idaho, to send a signal of rebellion to the federal government. While many in America celebrated spiritual renewal as part of Easter or Passover observances, an embittered alliance of extreme right-wing groups strengthened itself for action in this wild and remote corner of the continent. Haunted and driven by the specters of real and imagined attacks on individual liberties, they came from all corners of the country and from as far away as Hawaii.
Including citizens militia, white supremacists, tax protestors, and constitutionalists, they appeared to arrive out of the gloom and fog of 40 years of hate and discontent like devils' disciples convening for a night on bald mountain. Fiery rhetoric pierced the evening skies as speaker after speaker denounced the spirits and apparitions of gun control and taxes. They invoked the twin icons of the stand-off at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and the massacre at Waco, TX.
"Rebellion is in the air and I love it," said Eustace Mullins, a Staunton, VA-based activist and the featured speaker at the Northwest Liberty Network Seminar. "All over the country, people are rising up." Mullins, a notoriously anti-semitic firebrand, brought his incendiary rhetoric to an Idaho panhandle already amply inhabited by neo-nazi demons. M.J. "Red" Beckman, a tax protestor from Billings, MT, echoed Mullins' call for "revolutionary changes." He said, "these are needed to reverse federal laws that have eroded rights guaranteed under the constitution. A revolution of truth, not a bloody government overthrow, is needed." Few believed his pledge of non-violence. Beckman said that supporters of militia, constitutionalists, white supremacists, and tax protestors were banding together to act to counter government propaganda. "We've had an overthrow of our lawful government," he said, and he charged, "the people have been duped into believing that the government is actually serving them though the opposite is actually the case."
Other speakers at the meeting urged participants to write letters of support for Anne Fox, Idaho's state superintendent of public instruction. Still others gathered signatures for petitions to return ownership of federal lands to the states. Mullins distributed copies of his books which address topics ranging from racial theories about Jews to conspiracy theories about who controls the Federal Reserve System. While Beckman and Mullins were fueling the flames of rebellion in Post Falls, ID, next door in Montana game wardens and Ravalli County officials seized the elk herd of Calvin Greenup at the fugitive militia leader's home south of Darby. Authorities said Greenup, who is wanted on charges of felony obstruction of justice and failure to pay state income taxes, lacked a state license to operate a game farm.
Despite this setback for the Montana militia, Mullins struck a note of bravado. He said the militia and its supporters are now strong enough to act together instead of just talk about protesting taxes and gun laws. However, Mullins will have to act with one less follower.
Postscript The Associated Press reports that the State of Montana has filed criminal charges against three militia members in Ravalli County following an undercover investigation. Three of the four charged are accused of advocating the murder of public officials and other terrorism tactics for political purposes. Charged are Joe Holland of Booneville, Indiana, and national director of the North American Volunteer Militia; Calvin Greenup of Darby, MT, and also, Dennis Stucker and Benjamin Schneider, both of Darby, MT. The last two are also charged with obstructing justice for helping Greenup escape. Greenup was briefly holed up in his ranch as a home alone fugitive.
The charges against Greenup stem from a wiretap of his telephone. A recorded conversation recounts how Greenup allegedly asked other militia members for help in getting firearms to arrest and try local county judges and prosecutors for treason, and if found guilty, to hang them. Evidence was also introduced from two undercover policemen who said Greenup's plan of escape included provisions to run police roadblocks with guns blazing. Greenup recently told a reporter from the TV program 60 Minutes he would not be taken alive. Greenup was arrested on April 17th without incident, and held pending bail of $50,000. Two days after the Post Falls meeting, and 2,000 miles away, words were converted into action as the Federal office building in Oklahoma City was blown up killing 169 people. The FBI believes the domestic terrorist attack was carried out based on militia plans. Two of those arrested and indicted for the crime are linked to the Michigan Militia.
-----------------------------50529266365451 Content-Disposition: form-data; name="userfile"; filename="Samizdat.2.html" Content-Type: text/html
Shortly after the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal building
President Clinton made a speech in Michigan quoting the biblical
lesson that he who troubles his own house will inherit the wind. In
Idaho Samuel Sherwood and James "Bo" Gritz, the state's two leading
political extremists, found themselves in the hot glare of television
lights. Mostly, the media accurately reflected the nervous feelings
people had about the potential for a "copy cat" militia-related
bombing in Idaho.
After ignoring the militia movement for more than a year, Idaho's newspapers gobbled up any information they could find on the subject, and then wondered "what's next?" What came up was Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) who stalked "enemies" of the militia movement like T-Rex in the movie Jurassic Park.
Dateline -- Challis, ID 5/5/95
Idaho Sheriffs are nervous about Samuel Sherwood following the Oklahoma City bombing. Lemhi County Sheriff Brett Barsalou, of wolf recovery fame, told the Idaho Falls Post Register this week he is nervous about the activities of the United States Militia Association (USMA) headed by Samuel Sherwood of Blackfoot, ID.
Barsalou, who made national headlines, and testified before Congress standing up to federal wildlife agents over the killing of an endangered gray wolf, told Post Register reporters Brandon Loomis and Paul B. Johnson, "I don't think organized armed groups with their own private agenda have any place in law enforcement." He also once warned USFWS agents checking on a dead wolf at a Challis, ID, ranch that the militia might try to stop them. Along with other sheriffs in Eastern Idaho, Barsalou stands behind a resolution they passed last August that says they do not recognize the militia nor want its help.
Blackfoot, ID, Police Chief James Jackson told the Idaho Falls Post Register he's seen nothing to suggest Sherwood himself is dangerous despite local concerns that militia in Idaho might try "copycat" attacks on federal facilities in the state. The militia movement concerns Jackson because of its potential to harbor people more prone to violence. "Militia concern me, especially with what's going on in Oklahoma." Jackson adds he sees no need for a militia organization.
Idaho militia leader Samuel Sherwood, who predicted a "civil war"
in the West only last March, got his wish a month later in Oklahoma
City on April 19th. Little wonder that he is getting "testy" about
all the publicity his group is receiving following the deadly bombing
of a federal office building in Oklahoma City and a growing number
links to the alleged bomber with the national militia movement in
Arizona, Florida, Kansas, and Michigan.
While none of these links have anything to do with Sherwood, the Idaho militia leader says his phone is "ringing 50 times a day," and he's besieged with TV crews. Sherwood says the media are twisting his words to make him look more radical.
Apparently, he has only himself to blame for the glare of hot lights, clutter of TV cameras, and reporters assembling in front of the porch of his rented home in Blackfoot, a small agricultural town 300 miles east of Boise. Last March Sherwood wrote a new chapter in the history of radical political movements in Idaho when he told a group of about 60-80 of his followers in Boise, "Go up and look legislators in the face, because some day you may have to blow it off." Later that week Sherwood confirmed he made the remark in response to inquiries from the Twin Falls, ID, 'Times-News'.
Since the Oklahoma bombing Sherwood has denied he made the remark, which took on a life of its own. If Sherwood had denied the remark immediately or offered it up as a mistake right after it was reported, he might be painted in a different light by the media today, but he didn't. That threat was recognized by no less a voice than the Chicago Tribune. which put Sherwood's "shooter remark" on its editorial page on April 26th following the April 19th Oklahoma city bombing. The paper wrote this reaction to his comments. "Those who declare war on this country's government declare war on all Americans."
Perhaps more significantly, the Tribune's editorial represented a breakthrough of sorts for the national news media. It put Sherwood on notice that he was no longer a small pea rattling around in the right- wing pod of Idaho politics. The recognition he always sought had, after all, finally been achieved. Now, because of the Tribune's editorial, Sherwood was fully and officially recognized as a national menace.
Civil rights organizations, who tried vainly for more than a year to get the media's attention about the dangers of the militia movement, wondered why it took 169 deaths in Oklahoma to generate 700 crucial words in Chicago. Sherwood is very unhappy about his new found fame. He calls the press a "mad dog at your heels -- the press, the press, the never ending press."
Perhaps the political who has taken most heat for her support of
the Idaho militia movement, Rep. Helen Chenoweth is also the least
apologetic about it. Expressing sympathy for the militia movement,
Chenoweth has been widely identified in the national media for her
quote in the Idaho Statesman, "I'm not opposed to the concept of the
militia, because I think people ought to be able to protect
For its part, the Idaho Statesman let Chenoweth have it with both barrels. The editors of the Idaho Statesman called her the "poster child" of the militia movement. "Equivocation from any of Idaho's political leaders over the deadly bombing in Oklahoma City won't do. With dozens of people, including children, lying dead, any suggestion that there is a thread of an excuse for such a horrific deed is shameless. Yet U.S. Representative Helen Chenoweth spun such a thread when she said the Oklahoma tragedy indicates possible problems among the federal bureaucracy, state government, and individual rights.
"The nation may have its problems, but paramilitary groups setting off car bombs aren't the answer.
"No one in a position of authority, such as a member of Congress, should be offering any encouragement to the fringe groups that put their hands in the air in an outstretched salute.
"Whether she realizes it or not, Chenoweth is quickly becoming the poster child for such group."
Where Does the Press Go From Here? In addition to law enforcement efforts, there is a full blown media driven assault directed at the militia movement. What has galvanized the media is the "Terror in the Heartland" theme. Even the New York Times published a heart-rending front page profile of the memorial service held 5/6 in front of the ruined Federal building.
Perhaps the best evidence of this is the out-for-blood vengeance with which the media this week pursued Idaho Congresswoman Helen Chenoweth's support for the militia. Scathing profiles of her activities appeared in recent days in the New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, and Newsday, among others; including a mention of her as a symbol of Idaho's now international reputation for intolerance in the Paris, France, Herald Tribune. It was like the colonial practice of tar and feathering, as Roll Call, a Capitol Hill paper, painted a picture of her, and Texas republican Steve Stockman, as part of the "paranoid fringe."
Since the Oklahoma bombing, it has taken the news media just under
three weeks to go the distance from treating the militia as pop
entertainment on the fringes of the right, [TIME Magazine
assigned a rock critic to "review" militia last December], to
covering their links to Wise Use and attacks on abortion clinics,
both of which are now subject of serious, well-placed reports, in
major papers this week.
The next steps could evolve in several directions. The first involves the sensationalism of militia, e.g., prime time entertainment- news TV shows. ABC's Daybreak program last week was a good example which mixed some rather strange choices for people to be interviewed about the militia with a segment on how to improve your sex life. CBS's '48 Hours' this week focused mostly on "up-close-and-personal" interviews with the Militia of Montana (MOM). The show include an expose of MOM's video tape library which allegedly include instruction kits on weapons and chemical warfare.
However, none of these were shown on-air. The second direction appears to be a concerted effort to dig deeper, and to find out where the militia is really coming from. Key questions include;
(1) where's the money coming from,
(2) is there a single political meeting, e.g., at the national or international level, which you can point to that is a seminal starting point for the militia movement
(3) what political constituencies benefit from setting the militia movement loose?
With regard to the money, press reports indicate one FBI theory is that some militia members supporting the Oklahoma bombing may have financed their efforts by robbing two banks in Kingman, AZ. Meanwhile, the Village Voice reported that a 1992 Estes Park, CO, meeting of the Aryan Nation white supremacist movement may be the impetus for some of the sparks that lit the militia movement.
Neither of these completely tells the tale.
The third media direction is thrashing. Unable to get beyond the reality of crackpots in Michigan who blame the Japanese, black helicopters, or the ghost of Elvis for the bombing in Oklahoma, they are either losing interest in the story or running out of leads. For instance, Newsday interviewed reporters from the Idaho Statesman this week. When journalists start interviewing other journalists it is because they have no new information.
There is the oft told story that someone with the right powers can
claim to call monsters from the deep followed by the comeback, "yes,
but will they answer?" The tide has come in. What will happen when it
turns? First, there will be the inevitable trial of McVeigh, assuming
the government can keep him alive. The trial may include the Nichols
brothers and John Doe #2, assuming he is caught. This may rival the
O.J. Simpson case in terms of media sensationalism, or it may attract
different kinds of interest.
Other nations who have terrorism problems, e.g., Japan, Israel, are watching the U.S. response with tremendous interest.
The white supremacists and others who saw the militia as a pipeline to mainstream their politics may have to find a new outlet for their hate and discontent. What will it be? Perhaps it will be the Wise Use Movement, which in the West is sometimes referred to as the militia without guns. Local environmentalists in Montana were not impressed this week by the disclosure by the Wilderness Society of links between Wise Use and the Militia movements. "Better late than never," one said.
Civil rights organizations had tried, without success, to alert the U.S. Department of Justice to the threat of the militia movement for as long as a year prior to the Oklahoma City bombing. This time they took their criticisms right to the top. Referring to President Clinton's remarks at a Michigan university condemning the militia one remarked, "congratulations on your discovery of evil. Where the hell have you been?"
Finally, if this week's editions of the Idaho Falls Post Register are any signal, based on letters to the editor, there are many true believers who are not white supremacists, but who do buy the militia political line. They are not going to change their mind about the government anytime soon. That unfocused anger will be loose once more available for the next organized political movement that wants to exploit it. All it will take is a guy in a suit -- a Ralph Reed type -- and these guys are back in business.
Weather Report: Rage and grief prevail over Oklahoma with
scattered hate and discontent in Idaho and Montana. Clouds obscure
the sun everywhere.
Dateline -- Kamiah, ID 5/9/95
Idaho's leading right wing extremist, James "Bo" Gritz, has been quoted by ABC News commenting on the Oklahoma bombing on the network's 20/20 prime time program. He is reported to have described the Oklahoma bombing as "a masterpiece of science and art put together." An ABC Network News reporter characterized the remark as "a startling insight into the thinking of those Americans who have joined up with the militia"
While outrage over this remark has been widely reported in the news media, there is another possibility. It's possible Gritz is being misquoted as having solely and unambiguously labeled the Oklahoma bombing as a "Rembrandt." What he really, and more likely, said was that he didn't think McVeigh was capable - by himself - of developing the bomb because it was a "masterpiece" of explosive design. In short, Gritz's opinion is that McVeigh is not the master terrorist who designed the bomb or the plan of action to deliver it. As a former Green Beret with combat experience, Gritz actually may have some expertise on the matter which bears inspection.
Gritz's spin control on the media reaction to his remark, which was carried by Cable News Network(CNN) on April 28th, is that he meant to say that McVeigh is inexperienced, and couldn't mount a military action, much less organize a brown-bag lunch, or a major terrorist bombing, if he tried. Gritz, a former Green Beret commando, points out that McVeigh flunked out of the Army's Green Beret school on the 2nd day of introductory training, and did not receive any of the more advanced training with explosives normally given after the first "boot" session is over. He added it is still unclear where McVeigh got the money, logistical support, and overall planning to carry out the bombing. Gritz issued a formal press release to the wire services in which he announced he is suing ABC news for whatever he can get out of them over being misquoted. Some observers think he may have put his foot in the bucket by trying too hard to explain why he thinks McVeigh is an operative and not the chief terrorist.
For all of his macho heroism and expeditions to search for US
MIA's in Thailand, Gritz is not clean cut like the fictional
character James T. Kirk of Star Trek fame, though Gritz's supporters
would like to think of him that way. A former third-party candidate
for President, who had KKK leader David Duke as his running mate on
the Populist ticket, Gritz is best known for his negotiation to the
end of the standoff between federal agents and Randy Weaver at Ruby
Ridge, ID, in September 1992.
Gritz now travels the country giving lectures on his political views and on survivalist techniques, which is a lucrative business for him. He gave talks to packed houses in Dallas, TX, and Orlando, FL, in March and April of this year. He is using the proceeds from these events, and others like it, to build a "Christian Covenant Community" on a 700 acre tract north of Kamiah, ID, at the edge of the Nez Perce National Forest in Idaho's rugged panhandle region. Called "Almost Heaven" by Gritz, human rights activists in three states [OR, WA, ID] call it a stronghold for right-wing, anti-government extremists.
Gritz has sought spiritual life, but it has also eluded him. He
belonged for some years to the Mormon Church, but failed last year to
get a "temple recommend" from his Bishop because of his extremist
political views, including a threat to not pay federal income taxes.
In prior years Gritz associated himself with members of the white
supremacist Christian Identity Movement. Reportedly, Gritz is no
longer a practicing member of either church. It is believed he is
starting his "Christian Covenant Community" because he can't seem to
stay connected with anyone else's.
The history of Gritz's development of his own religious enclave begins in December 1992 when Mormon Church officials in Idaho Falls told their members not to affiliate with Gritz's organization or support his politics. Church officials explained to the Idaho Falls Post Register that Gritz is a "wacko," and that his politics are not consistent with church teachings.
This action is believed to be an outgrowth of Gritz's rise in popularity following his negotiation of the end to the Randy Weaver seige the previous September. With it Gritz hit the road giving talks not only on how he brought the violent and deadly standoff to an end, but also weaving in his outlandish theories on the "New World Order" and the excessive powers of the Federal government, including the roles of the Congress and the President.
Finally, Gritz repeatedly urged his followers to stockpile a year's supply of food because the government and the U.S. Constitution had been, respectively, "overthrown and subverted bythe New World Order." For Mormon offcials, who regard the U.S. Constitution as a singularly important document, this was too much. As a result of repeated censure by his adopted church, in October 1994 Gritz asked that he and his family be removed from Mormon Church membership rolls. Gritz told the news media that he had made the request in writing to the church's governing First Presidency. According to the Associated Press, Gritz and his family have been members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for the past 10 years.
The former third-party presidential candidate now says that he no longer wants to be part of a faith that, "appears to be more controlled by the government than God." Gritz says his decision to leave the LDS church came after his Stake President refused to renew his "temple recommend" because Gritz does not plan to file a federal income-tax return. A "recommend" is a document signed by a Stake President and a Bishop attesting to a member's faithfulness to Mormon strictures. It is required for entry into the church's temples.
It is unusual for this kind of information to get into the press. Mormon Church proceedings are confidential. Gritz told the news media, "My question is - where in the equation of salvation does the Internal Revenue Service fit? I was told by him [the Mormon Bishop] that he was withholding the blessings of the church until he saw a 1040 form from me." Gritz has since retreated an enclave of 200 acres near Kamiah, Idaho, (near Lewiston) which he and his followers call a "Christian Covenant Community."
Gritz appears to be settling into his 'covenant community' in the
northern panhandle of Idaho without incident. Gritz and his
associates have purchased a total of nearly 500 acres in the rural
and rugged countryside. Jonathan Mozzochi, Director of the Portland,
OR, based Coalition for Human Dignity, warned that Gritz's move was
"the most significant development in the white supremacist movement
in the Pacific Northwest in years." He called Gritz's "covenant
community' a "haven for anti- government extremists and bigots."
Human rights groups in Idaho and Montana echoed Mozzochi's
Gritz told area residents he was attracted to the town by its mild climate, a dearth of government regulation, and "the state's conservative reputation." Townspeople had mixed feeling about his arrival, but most expressed a "live and let live" philosophy. However, May Tall Bull, a member of the Nez Perce Indian Tribe, organizing a "Gathering of Culture and Unity" to celebrate harmonious living and respect for all peoples. She may have a tall order to fill. Gritz has a long and seamy history of anti-semitic remarks usually linking Jews to control of the Federal Reserve Board and other "world order" conspiracies.
While there is no question that his racist and anti-semitic comments have been well documented over the years, the problem of the hate and discontent he peddles is not exclusively a Jewish issue, it is an American issue. Gritz is fundamentally divisive in his approach to democratic process.
Marilyn Shuler, the Director of Idaho's Human Rights Commission, says Gritz and the militia preach a "dangerous doctrine" which goes beyond the guarantees of free speech.
Despite shared anti-government beliefs, there is no love lost between Gritz and Idaho militia leader Samuel Sherwood. "Samuel Sherwood doesn't know what he's talking about," Gritz grumbled to the Lewiston, ID, Morning Tribune on April 22nd. Sherwood has been a critic of Gritz since he ran for President on the Populist Party ticket in 1992. On the other hand, Sherwood says he agrees with Gritz's view that armed conflict with the federal government is the shape of things to come. Both are heavily into survivalist scenarios.
Gritz asserts that he has no affiliation with Sherwood's militia
organization, and some observers wonder whether Gritz really means
what he says about conflict with the federal government. They point
out he is now in his late 50s, on his third marriage, and appears
more interested in building "Almost Heaven" as a retirement
community. Said one human rights researcher, "this guy is making
money hand over fist and buying land. He's got too much to lose. He's
not in the mad bomber business. He's really in the P. T. Barnum
business selling survivalism speeches and army surplus gear to
suckers." That may be so, but there are plenty of true believers out
there who have nothing to lose, and they are the ones we have to
Dateline -- Twin Falls, ID 5/19/95
Samuel Sherwood, the much feared and often talked about leader of the United States Militia Association (USMA), turns out to have some chinks in his armor. The Twin Falls, ID, 'Times-News' reported on 5/17/95 that records and other sources reveal numerous contradictions in the life of the Blackfoot, ID, militia leader.
For the past year the Idaho militia movement spread across the state like a western prairie fire. Today, the word came back at the speed of light over the wires of the Associated Press creating headlines on the front pages of the state's newspapers. Samuel Sherwood is not who he says he is or the person he wants us to believe he is.
Instead of Grendel the Monster who might eat state legislators for breakfast, or shoot them for lunch, Sherwood turns out to be really much more like Walter Mitty, who in the famous and humorous tales by James Thurbur conjured up heroic thoughts, imagined daring deeds, sought in dreams the approval of the public, but lived a life of normalcy and even powerlessness. Instead of the sober mindset of a terrorist, Sherwood's state of mind appears to be one that is intoxicated by his own imagination. With all the rhetoric, the rage, the grief expressed about militia and Oklahoma, it turns out the Idaho militia leader has a lot of explaining to do about who he really is.
Like a case of multiple personalities, there are more sides to
Samuel Sherwood than meet the eye, and many of them are unexplained.
*** Although Sherwood positioned the militia as a survivalist organization, and "talked-the-talk" of a soldiers' organization, his total military career involves four months in a Navy ROTC program in Newport, RI. He was then released for unspecified reasons according to the Times-News article. Sherwood told the Twin Falls, ID, TV station KKVI-TV that he served in both the Navy and the Army and had been assigned to a "surface warfare ship."
*** Although Sherwood claimed at various times more than 1,000 of his USMA members helped elected republicans to office in Idaho, the actual size of his organization seems very unclear. According to the Times-News, people Sherwood says are militia leaders in various parts of the state this week disavowed any connection to the organization. Not only did they deny having a leadership role, but some even denied belonging to the militia movement!
*** Although Sherwood has been stung by repeated criticisms about the presence of white supremacists in his organization, in 1971 at the age of 21, he moved to Israel, declared himself to be Jewish, and told the Israeli government he wanted to become a citizen. However, he left Israel a few months later, and returned to Utah where he enrolled in Brigham Young University completing a Bachelor's Degree in 1977.
*** Even more of a paradox was Sherwood's next move in 1977. He returned to Israel and enrolled for a period of time in an Orthodox Jewish seminary in Jerusalem. That commitment seems to be history now. A few weeks ago in Twin Falls, ID, Sherwood asserted, "I am not Jewish, I'm American -- a Christian American." This brought back echoes of the infamous remark of former Interior Secretary James Watt who asserted there are distinctions between Jews and Americans. Sherwood is a Mormon and originally traveled to Israel as part of a mission right after completing high school.
*** Sherwood has twice changed his first name. Born Morgan Stanley Sherwood, he changed it legally to Mason Stanley Sherwood in 1993 and then informally to Samuel Sherwood in 1994. Sherwood says he took the name Samuel after the American revolutionary era patriot Samuel Adams.
*** Although Sherwood has been a very serious advocate of the right to bear arms, and wrote a book on the subject, he did not own a gun until last year. He said he bought the gun after his children urged him to do so to go hunting. For his part, Sherwood refused to speak to the reporter from the Twin Falls, ID, newspaper after demanding to be able to name who would write the article on the paradoxes in his life. Samuel Sherwood, who once threatened to "look the government in the eye" must now look at himself in the mirror and wonder what he has come to at this place, in this time, here in the wilds of Eastern Idaho.
-----------------------------50529266365451 Content-Disposition: form-data; name="userfile"; filename="Samizdat.3.html" Content-Type: text/html
Small-time politicians sometimes seek notoriety in extreme statements and actions to get press. Without pushing the edge of the envelope, no one would notice them, which would be a crushing blow to the career aspirations of any elected official. Others engaged in extreme political action are not part of any political party, but simply rebels against the disciplines of a society of laws and regulations. By self- selecting a role of non-conformity, and enforcing their isolation with threats or acts of violence, they attract the very attention they seek to avoid. Extremist groups always seek legitimacy from the center, not only as a path to power, but also to find a way to control the center and thus impose their narrow vision on society as a whole. When political fringe groups preach a violent gospel their threat to the general population is magnified beyond their numbers when mainstream politicians offer them support. However, extremist groups also realize they have something of value to offer more moderate political activists. They can say, and perhaps do, the things that no ordinary risk-adverse elected officials would pursue on their own. In short, the militia movement in Idaho offers right-wing elected officials value in the battle against the a whole host of perceived enemies. In the West the major hobgoblins of the right are the Endangered Species Act as implemented on public lands and the equal opportunity laws related to jobs.
Dateline -- Idaho Falls, ID 5/21/95
It is said that politicians are as changeable as the phases of the moon. The political tactics of Idaho Attorney General Al Lance appear to be good examples of this folk wisdom. This week he attacked the Federal government over the so-called "war in the West." He went further and offered to "mend fences" with the militia. This was a solid appeal to right-wing extremists. In the next breath he said that, regardless of political wishful thinking, the reality is Idaho laws prohibit the state from legally recognizing private militia. In short, Lance played a symbolic card of support for the militia while withholding the concrete support they really wanted. Two reports follow.
Al Lance, Idaho's elected Attorney-General, says he thinks the
Blackfoot, ID, United States Militia Association (USMA) doesn't sound
like a hate group. He told the Idaho Falls Post Register on May 17th
he's hoping to find time to mend his relationship with the highly
controversial group. "I'd be happy to meet with them some time,"
Lance said in an interview with reporter Kevin Richart.
Militia leaders have criticized Lance for twice breaking appointments to speak to the USMA. Chuck Dalton, a militia leader in Boise, ID, told the Idaho Falls Post Register he continues to hope Lance will review the state's law prohibiting private para-military organizations, and especially to look at repeal of the provisions prohibiting training with weapons. Lance says he could review the law, but added, "it would not be a very productive use of my time." Laws similar to Idaho's are in force in more than three dozen states.
The "war in the West" over protection of endangered species also plays a role here. Militia leaders criticized Lance for hiring "blatant liberals" and "enviro-Nazi" lawyers to staff his office. Lance laconically responded, "I guess they don't agree with my personnel decisions."
Lance said he fired a dozen or more lawyers held over from the prior administration of A-G Larry Echohawk, a Democrat who lost a bid to be elected governor last November. This is typical of Idaho politics and has little to do with the pros or cons of the environmental values of the attorneys. Many of those fired undoubtedly are listed as financial contributors to Echohawk's failed campaign.
Critics of Lance's desire for better relations with the Idaho
militia charged he is crossing the line from objectivity to advocacy
for a group that is testing the limits of free speech. They point to
Samuel Sherwood's statement last March threatening to shoot Idaho
state legislators for supporting federal mandates such as the
Endangered Species Act. One critic told an aide to Lance that the
attorney general was "getting cozy" with groups against which he
might have to enforce the law, a reference to Idaho's statute banning
private paramilitary groups.
An aide to Lance in Boise said that no one has come forward with physical evidence showing any laws have been broken. However, he acknowledged that if things in Idaho get much worse, that the state might have to act. He referred to widespread speculation that since Idaho militia leader Samuel Sherwood has been found to be untruthful about his background, that he might feel compelled to take some radical action to re-establish his credibility with militia members.
Lance responded to criticisms of being too close to militia by saying that on a philosophical basis he does not agree on the need for a voluntary, private militia group. However, he said he shared some of the same anti-federal views of the USMA. Lance has not promised to support attempts to have the militia sponsored by the state government. He noted that Idaho Governor Phil Batt has flatly refused to recognize the militia as a organization to be sponsored by the state.
It's the apparent convergence of values, if not action agendas,
that offers the basis for linkage between Lance and the militia.
Speaking to the Bonneville County Republican Women Lance said, "We
have a powderkeg in the United States." Echoing the recent strident
rhetoric of Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID), Lance said, "We in the West
had just about had enough of the arrogance of the Federal
Lance went on to say the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building was a cowardly act, but offered it as a symbol of the public's distrust of the federal government. In this statement some thought Lance came perilously close to saying the government deserved to be attacked because people don't trust it.
Lance worked the Republican womens' group on a litany of rallying points; Ruby Ridge, wolf recovery, and the Endangered Species Act. Thus, Lance joined Chenoweth as a new member of the "paranoid fringe," a label attached to Chenoweth and Craig by the Idaho Statesman, the state's biggest newspaper in Boise. Both have been outspoken regarding fears of assault on states rights by federal land management agencies.
The criticism Lance received over media reports about his pro-
militia remarks must have hit a nerve. In a letter to the Idaho Falls
Post Register published May 21st, Lance lashed out at the news media
for reporting his remarks about mending fences with the militia. He
accused the newspaper of focusing on the negative aspects of his
comments. While acknowledging that the paper had accurately reported
his remarks, Lance complained, "when combined together, the
unrelated, condensed statements are inaccurate, encouraging readers
to arrive at conclusions inconsistent with my personal views or the
official policy of my office."
The Idaho Falls Post Register responded to Lance's attack with a lead editorial and published Lance's letter next to it. The paper asked rhetorically how Lance thought his remarks would not garner publicity. Gene Fadness, Editorial Page Editor, wrote that Lance's remarks, along with those of Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) and Senator Larry Craig (R- ID), "were divisive." Fadness suggested that if Lance really wants to solve the problem of political turmoil in the West that "he could start by adopting a different tone." Fadness drove home the point by saying he wondered whether Lance might not want to take back his promise to "mend fences" with the militia since the Twin Falls, ID, Times-News revealed Samuel Sherwood, USMA's leader, has lied extensively about his background. "We hope [these reports] give Lance cause to reconsider a meeting that could further this organization's legitimacy."
Rep. Mike Crapo (R-ID), who represents Eastern Idaho, was not so
quick to draw a line in the sand as Lance or Chenoweth. He said via
radio talk show this week he thought it was a "mistake" to try to
link the bombing in Oklahoma to problems in the West with the Federal
government. He pointed out that Federal investigators have linked the
bombing to right-wing activists with alleged ties to a Michigan
militia group. While Lance was speaking to the Republican women, the
Militia of Montana (MOM) crossed the Idaho state line and intimidated
the Lewiston, ID, city council into offering them free use of the
city hall chambers as a meeting place for one of their rallies.
Interestingly, when Samuel Sherwood went to Lewiston the next week and tried to copy MOM's tactics, the city council there had by this time found its backbone. They told Sherwood he'd have to come up with hundreds of dollars for overtime for custodial staff and security. Sherwood, who has few resources and is rumored to travel the state eating peanut butter sandwiches and fast food, told the city council he couldn't pay.
Where does this leave us in Idaho? Except for the Governor and Rep. Crapo, the nation's and indeed the world's view of Idaho is moving towards one of a state full of gun-running militia, plus elected officials who echo their paranoid political view of federal-state relations. Some might say that Chenoweth's and Lance's views are a case of "birds of a feather flock together."
Others might ask whether fear of the federal government as the basis for a political cause might not be linked to "end of time" religious beliefs as a source. Some fundamentalist religious groups, who are linked to the political far-right, believe in government conspiracies that will bring civilization as we know it to an end at the turn-of-the-century. They point of prophetic interpretations of the New Testament as their source.
If it's religion and politics which might be at work, consider this. According to ancient Egyptian mythology, their gods used to compare the weight of the heart of a departed Pharaoh against that of a feather. If the scales balanced, it was thought this would indicate the dead ruler had led a truthful life and would be allowed to enter paradise. One wonders how many of Idaho's politicians could meet that test?
Dateline -- Boise, ID 6/25/95
Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-ID) is an outspoken supporter of the militia. After the Oklahoma City bombing she warned against "a rush to condemn many people who are guilty of nothing more than the peaceful exercise of their basic rights."
Rep. Chenoweth's rhetoric in defense of the Idaho "unorganized militia" is uncompromising, and she tars with a wide brush. Her stand is an example of how once-radical conspiracy theories can enter the political mainstream. She has never condoned violence, but she has vigorously defended militia groups. Militia, in turn, praise her legislative agenda, distribute her speeches via video tapes, and call her their best friend in Congress, along with Texas Congressman Steve Stockman.
The most visible response to extremism in mainstream politics has come from the Boise-based Idaho Statesman which published an editorial in May labeling Rep. Chenoweth "a poster child for the militia," and said she was "confusing individual freedom with anarchy."
This characterization stuck like superglue, and has been picked up by the national news media. Chenoweth is not deterred by a lack of teflon qualities nor by the criticism. Before and after her election victory in November, she stridently defended her extreme right-wing supporters and issued a barrage of attacks on the federal government.
Chenoweth's speeches are not the kind usually seen by Americans on
cable's C-SPAN. Her political image is hot enough to toast the edges
of your TV Guide. Consider some examples of her barn-burner rhetoric.
(Some precede the Oklahoma City bombing, and others, undiminished in
their fury, came afterwards.)
*** Issued a warning that, "We are in a day-and-age now when we are facing an unlawful government from time-to-time."
*** Proposed a bill to strip federal agents, including the FBI, of most arrest, search and seizure powers, unless city or county leaders give advance written approval. This aligned her with Idaho Sen. Larry Craig who earlier this year called for federal law enforcement officers from public lands agencies to turn in their guns.
*** Said that of all the species on Earth, "It's the white Anglo- Saxon male that's endangered,." a comment first offered by Idaho Sen. Larry Craig last August. Craig apologized for his remark. Chenoweth did not.
*** Linked environmentalism to Marxism and called for converting federal lands to state, local or private ownership. Idaho state officials are horrified by the prospect because of costs with fire fighting being the most significant item.
*** Proposed to open silver mining operations in the Idaho Sawtooths wilderness area. Environmentalists claimed her position on mining was prompted by campaign donations from people seeking to open the mine, a charge Chenoweth denies.
*** Defended Samuel Sherwood, chief of the United States Militia Association, who was widely quoted as telling his followers: "Go up and look legislators in the face, because some day you may be forced to blow it off." He says that remark was quoted out of context, but twice confirmed it to the Associated Press at the time he said it last March. Since then most newspapers in Idaho have refused to accept as credible his claims of being misquoted. Sherwood's remarks could be interpreted as going beyond the protection of the 1st amendment and into the realm of criminal intimidation. Chenoweth said she doesn't believe Sherwood made the remark.
Critics of Chenoweth, including Rep. George Miller (D-CA), have
accused Chenoweth of "pandering to militia with 'code words'." Her
videotaped comments linking environmental activism to the 'New World
Order' are sold by the Militia of Montana. Chenoweth says she did not
authorize the sale of the video tape, but she has not asked the
militia to stop selling the tape.
Let's be clear about what's going on. It's hard to stand out as a freshman republican member of Congress. Chenoweth has chosen a path to the limelight paved with the pages of conspiracy theories and extremist views on politics and the environment. Her idea of political expediency is to use the notoriety of the militia to gain press, and negative press is better than none at all.
There is wide sympathy for militia and anti-environmental values in Idaho, if not for the means of the militia movement itself, and the voters of Idaho are the only ones she cares about. This may prove to be the wrong path for Rep. Chenoweth. The Democrats in Idaho have already fielded a candidate to run against her saying her radical views don't fit Idaho's politics.
Last fall the National Federal Lands Conference, a Wise Use group,
printed a newsletter titled "Why There is a Need for the Militia in
America." Inside, it explained the purpose of the militia movement
is, "to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution." Wise Use and
militia groups increasingly share members, and some Wise Use leaders
have spoken at white supremacist gatherings.
Dick Carver, a County Commissioner from Nye County, NV, and outspoken wise use advocate and constitutionalist, has appeared on the same platform as militia leaders including Samuel Sherwood. Wise Use leaders may be seeking to broaden their base of support, as militia groups seek increased political respectability.
Rep. Chenoweth has placed herself in the midst of this loose
coalition acting as a bridge between wise use and militia groups in
Idaho. To achieve this position, she has adopted a political line
which is a blend of wise use and militia politics. She charges that
the government used 'black helicopters' to enforce the Endangered
Species Act, which coincides with militia conspiracy theories that
black helicopters from the United Nations are invading the West.
Chenoweth made the charges at a press conference without ever
consulting with the Department of Interior. Federal wildlife
officials say they have no such aircraft in Idaho.
It turns out the only green- and-black-colored helicopters in Idaho are used by the National Guard. The Militia of Montana tried to shoot down a national guard helicopter on a training mission which had the bad luck to overfly a ranch owned by Calvin Greenup, a fugitive militia leader.
The Boise Interagency Fire Center has told the militia in both states that if they interfere with helicopters supporting forest fire-fighting the aircraft and men on the ground will be withdrawn and the fire allowed to burn whatever stands in its path.
Militia groups have long asserted that county sheriffs are the
supreme law-enforcement officials in the land. Rep. Chenoweth
introduced a bill that would make that philosophy law thus aligning
her with the obscure but growing 'county supremacy' movement that
also wants control of all Federal lands in the West returned to the
And while militia groups have made charges of brutality against federal firearms enforcers, Rep. Chenoweth has leveled such accusations against environmental enforcers from Federal land management agencies. At a recent public hearing on the Endangered Species Act (SEA) held in Boise, she cited a March 1995 incident in which wildlife officers searched an Idaho ranch for evidence in the shooting of a wolf. By all accounts, their mere presence scared the rancher, but they used no force despite provocation. Subsequently, it was learned that the rancher was the aggressor, and threw rocks at the agents.
Rep. Miller said that last year federal land management agency rangers nationwide were assaulted 207 times and injured 36 times by guns, knives or other weapons. The House Resources Committee recently voted to investigate. Rep. Chenoweth opposed the probe, which she called "silly." Environmentalists echo Miller's charges and accuse Chenoweth of being a 'dinosaur' who wants to return to 19th century ways of exploiting the lands and animal species.
Sherwood, who also spoke at Chenoweth's ESA hearing, advocates having armed militiamen confront federal forest rangers. "Then they'll think twice before saying, 'These are our trees,'" he said. Sherwood praised Chenoweth for "standing up and defending her young, while these other snake-oil politicians ran for the nearest dark place to hide."
Perhaps the Idaho Statesman was wrong when it called Chenoweth the 'poster child' of the militia. More likely, she is the terrible mother erupting from the collective unconscious, a thunder lizard of political force and fury. Such monsters stalk the land during times of change from one era to the next. Will she eat her young, instead of defending them, or turn to other prey?
Dateline -- Condon, MT 7/18/95
After more than three years law enforcement authorities finally moved to arrest fugitive tax protestor Gordon Sellner. Their hopes to avoid gunfire and violence were dashed when Sellner, who is also wanted for allegedly shooting a Montana deputy sheriff, fired first. Sellner was seriously wounded in the exchange of gunfire, and is now in a hospital in Missoula, MT, listed in stable condition.
In addition to tax charges, Sellner, age 57, is also being held without bail on the charge of attempted murder in the June 1992 shooting of Missoula County Sheriff Deputy Bob Parcell. Sellner claims he shot Parcell in self-defense even though Sellner fired first. Lake County Sheriff Joe Geldrich said his deputies and state agents also arrested Sellner's wife, Pam Sellner, and his two sons-in-law, Jason Hood and Ray Yates, on charges of obstruction of justice. All those arrested are being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.
Sellner has not filed a federal or state income tax return in more than two decades. His complex politics and tax protest are a mix of anti-abortion rhetoric and constitutional analysis. Although Sellner is not affiliated with the Militia of Montana (MOM), according to Mike Batista of the Montana State Attorney General's office, the Montana militia group claimed Sellner as one of their own on 7/21/95 according to the Associated Press. Randy Trochman, a spokesman for MOM, said the militia group was setting up a defense fund for Sellner even though he is not a member and has rejected previous overtures from that group.
The original altercation with Parcell occurred in 1992 when
Sellner, wanted on an unrelated assault charge, was stopped by
Parcell on a Montana back-country logging road. Sellner allegedly got
out of his pickup truck, shot Parcell in the chest, and ran into the
woods. Parcell, who was wearing a bulletproof vest, recovered from
Sellner's lifestyle as a fugitive was remarkable. He set up shop as a sawmill operator in rural Montana and dared the local sheriff to arrest him. He told authorities he was heavily armed. After his arrest this week a search of his home and the sawmill turned up a World War II-era .50 caliber machine gun, a pipe bomb, dynamite, blasting caps, detonating cord, and thousands of rounds of ammunition for a variety of weapons.
While Lake County, MT, sheriff's deputies were engaged in a fire fight with Sellner, another tax protest story was coming to a head in Blackfoot, ID. Samuel Sherwood, head of the U.S. Militia Association, told the Idaho Statesman in Boise that the Internal Revenue is "hounding" him because he did not file a tax return in 1994. Sherwood says he has received numerous notices from the IRS, and claims it is because of his anti-government views. The IRS had no comment. Sherwood says he did not file a return because he had very little income in 1994, less than the IRS threshold of about $11,000, which triggers the requirement to file a return.
Bingham County, ID, records indicate that Sherwood has no income to speak of. According to the Idaho Falls Post Register, Sherwood was charged with battery last year. His application for a county public defender revealed dependents of a wife and five children, $140 in cash, and no income. The battery charge was eventually dropped. Sherwood says he lives on donations and monthly militia membership pledges of $10/person from 30-40 people. Unlike Sellner, Sherwood has no history of personal violence, no criminal record, and he's not a fugitive. He is famous for public rhetoric laced with bloody visions of civil war in Idaho against the federal government. So far neither he nor his followers have acted on their words, which is a relief to many. However, Sherwood's endurance amidst controversy may be wearing thin. He said, "I am being discriminated against because my name is in the media associated with my political beliefs."
Tax protest is the common thread among many extremists in the
Rockies. Rodney Skurdal, age 42, lives in a house in the mountains of
Montana. The house is owned by the Internal Revenue Service and
valued at $29,000. Along with several others, Skurdal says he is a
member of the Montana Freeman and has, like Sellner, dared
authorities to come and get him. Skurdal's property was seized by the
IRS for non-payment of taxes in July 1993 but so far no one has
attempted to buy it.
Sheriff Paul Smith of Musselshell County says he is choosing caution in dealing with the Freemen. The Skurdal home is located in the Bull Mountains, a rugged and remote area with only one access road. From a military point of view, it is easily defended against ground-based assaults. Skurdal and his fellow Freemen are heavily armed and have vowed not to give up their stand, the home, or their politics, without a fight.
This is not a backwoods log cabin with dirty, bearded, and illiterate mountain men waiting for the end. Instead, the home is outfitted with modern personal computers and fax machines which are used to flood Montana county courts with various Freemen inspired legal motions. Most have been thrown out as "nonsense" says county prosecutor John Bohlman, who now wears a bulletproof vest after numerous threats were made by the Freemen on his life.
Freeman politics are even more extreme than those of the Militia
of Montana. The Freemen declare themselves to be their own sovereign,
bound by their own laws, courts, and derived powers which include
seeking to punish those who persecute them for their beliefs.
*** Acting on these beliefs they have posted $1 million "bounties" on county and state law enforcement officials and threatened to hang lawyers, judges and sheriffs. In April 1994 four Freemen were arrested for these acts, but 12 others are fugitives.
*** They have placed phony liens on property, floated bogus money orders, and declared war in general on civil society. There has been no known counterpart to this group since the labor troubles of the 1930s.
*** Since they have no apparent source of funding, the Freeman have taken to making their own money. One has already been convicted and jailed for a false money order scheme. William Stanton, age 67, got caught when he failed to cover a $25,000 check used to pay property taxes. The check was based on a "deposit" of $3.8 million of what turned out to be bogus money orders. Stanton was convicted and sentenced to prison for his crime.
Freemen bogus money orders have shown up as far away as Minnesota. Nick Murnion, a county prosecutor, said he was targeted by the Militia of Montana, who wanted to spring Stanton from jail. Murion said the day after Stanton's sentencing last winter, seven men, including John Trochman, showed up at the Roundup, MT, county jail. After an altercation in the street with sheriff's deputies, all seven were arrested, but charges were later dropped. At the time of their arrest, the militia members were riding in two cars carrying an arsenal of guns, ammunition, handcuffs, sophisticated portable radios, and $80,000 in currency and gold. Murnion says he thinks the militia made the attempt because "Stanton's arrest hurt their credibility."
The news media labeled the Montana sheriff's reluctance to bring
in Skurdall and his political allies as a case of "Weaver Fever." The
term comes from the sheriff's desire to avoid a confrontation with
the Freemen like the one between the FBI and Randy Weaver at Ruby
Ridge, ID, in September 1992. Following are three citations of how
the national news media dealt with the story. These sources were
reviewed in preparing this article.
*** "Fugitives Gain Respite as Authorities Weigh Move," Timothy Egan, New York Times, 5/17/95, Pg. 15.
*** "Scary Times for Officials Out West; Armed Citizens Seen as a Threat," Karen Brandon, Chicago Tribune, 6/5/95, Pg.1.
*** "Flock on Fringe Declares Itself Exempt from Laws, Taxes," Jules Loh, Associated Press, as published in the Los Angeles Times, 7/2/95, Pg.2.
Dateline -- Whitefish, MT 8/17/95
It's not surprising that the Weaver confrontation has impacted the national political landscape with awesome power, but it is difficult to imagine how things related to the Randy Weaver case could go from bad to worse. The federal government announced this week a $3.1 million settlement to white separatist Randy Weaver and his three daughters. The payment settles, without admission of guilt by the government, a wrongful death suit brought by Weaver against the Justice Dept. for the deaths of his wife and son at the hands of FBI sharpshooters.
Death and betrayal abound in this case, and it is not over yet. Weaver's wife and 14-year old son are dead. U.S. Marshall William Degan is dead, shot by Weaver's friend Kevin Harris during the initial effort to arrest Weaver. Both Weaver and Harris were acquitted of charges related to the deputy's death by a Boise, ID, federal jury. No one has been charged in the deaths of the Weaver family members. However, on August 11th the Justice Dept. suspended four senior FBI agents.
Also, the government is yet again investigating itself to determine if criminal charges should be brought over allegations that the FBI covered-up who approved the so-called "rules of engagement." These are rules that directed FBI agents to shoot on sight any armed adult who emerged from the Weaver cabin in during the fateful days three years ago in August 1992. At issue is who approved the rules of engagement - a field commander or Larry Potts, one of the FBI's highest ranking managers.
Additional allegations include charges by field office FBI agents that critical documents have been destroyed, and that lower level people have taken the fall for higher ups. An editorial in the Missoula, MT, 'Missoulan' summed it up this week by commenting that Weaver, "who was wanted for a relatively petty offense in the first place, has become a wealthy folk hero."
Some have called the government's settlement a partisan, political, pre-emptive strike by the Clinton Administration against the hearings called by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) for September 6th. The FBI, the key federal agency which is expected to deal with domestic terrorism, is involved in self- immolation.
The volume and intensity of anti-government rhetoric from the militia has reached new levels. Emboldened, the militia are increasingly being used as shock troops for the efforts of the Wise Use movement to destroy the environmental movement in the West. They are not just anti-government "goof-balls" anymore.
What can Americans expect - more of the same? Everyone involved has been mistreated and that includes anyone who is afraid of extremism from the right. Where is a voice that speaks the truth with clarity and offers justice? Here in the northwest corner of Montana, hard up against the Canadian Rockies, there are ancient Indian legends of animals which take up the task of vindicating human victims of wrong doing.
One such story is that of Rising Bear, a mature grizzly living long ago in what is now Whitefish, MT. As the story begins, he is watching as traditional Indian ways of cooperation over grass and water, poisoned by greed and lust for power, turn to competition and then take a dive into deception, theft, assault, and murder. The tribal council is paralyzed by conflict, and cannot respond to losses of collective integrity. A mixed metaphor to be sure, but the best way to describe the bear's reaction is akin to the old western movie in which the hero announces, "darlin', there's a new sheriff in town."
The rest of the story describes how Rising Bear takes several 'righteous' Indians into his confidence, lends them his strength, courage, intelligence, and integrity, and aids them in running-off or punishing the wrong doers.
Where is the spirit of a Rising Bear when we need it? It is not Weaver nor the FBI who need vindication, but us. What reservoirs of strength and intelligence must be called upon to respond to not only to loss of traditional allies in the fight against evil, but also to shine a light on and take action to stem the rush of dark elements to the center of American politics? It will take more than the combined efforts of a far-flung coalition of human and civil rights groups to deal with the militia movement.
Certainly, it is useful to document the rise of the far right and shed light in the musty corners. Even more useful would be to organize a movement which would counteract the anti-democratic thrust of the militia and show them what real constitutional democracy is all about. In the political universe the militia movement is like a star that failed to ignite and so throttled its own transformation from a rebellion into a legitimate political party. Weaver's stand at Ruby Ridge was no more and no less than the self-same rebellion.
-----------------------------50529266365451 Content-Disposition: form-data; name="userfile"; filename="Samizdat.4.html" Content-Type: text/html
In medieval times an annual county fair was the highpoint on the calendar of any agricultural region. Blackfoot, ID, home of the Idaho militia, is a potato-farming market center that hosts the Eastern Idaho State Fair each September. Along with great pumpkins, arts & crafts, and livestock, the fair is a magnet for politicians and anyone with a cause because of the crowds attracted by food and a fantastic midway. The militia and the Idaho Citizens Alliance this year found a less than receptive greeting on what should have been home turf. Fairs come at harvest time and so symbolize the cycle of the seasons. Winter releases its grip on the land. Spring brings the planting, and Fall the Harvest. While the fair heralded the end of summer, neither the militia nor the ICA seem to have found a springtime for their politics. It appears hate knows no season in the sun. Judging from the reactions of many attending the fair, they would just as soon put extremists back underground and denied the opportunity to sprout in new fields.
Dateline -- Idaho Falls, ID 9/9/95
In Idaho it's time to come down from the high country. Snow levels will soon descend below 7,500 feet. As September temperatures in the Snake River Valley plunge overnight into the below freezing range, it's also time to consider what the warm months of summer brought us.
Mostly, what summer brought was hot air, media foolishness traditionally associated with the 'dog days' of August, and some interesting public responses to militia initiatives. Events at the Blackfoot, ID, Eastern Idaho State Fair unfolded this week like a fortune teller's prophecy. It was two parts snake oil, one part a case of mistaken identity, and enough wiggle room for a Union Pacific railroad freight train full of potatoes to roar on through.
Politicians testing the winds of popular thinking about the
militia movement in Idaho and Montana have discovered something
important. A lot of people, at least in Montana, don't like the
militia movement. A poll taken by a newspaper in the Big Sky country
shows 68% of those asked said they are "actively opposed" to the
views of the Militia of Montana. Only 20% expressed sympathy for
This poll does not paint a rosy picture of the future for elected officials too closely identified with extremists. Perhaps it indicates a change caused by the Oklahoma City bombing? While many in Idaho and Montana held views similar to the militia about the Federal government, it seems more important now to put distance between political opinions and a movement alleged to have supported a terrorist attack that left 169 people dead.
Idaho's politicians who have flirted with the militia movement might consider taking a page from Montana's book. So far two have. Idaho Lt. Gov. Butch Otter and Sec. of State Pete Cenarrusa have now put at least arm's length distance, politically, between themselves and Samuel Sherwood, head of the Blackfoot, ID, United States Militia Association.
Last winter both considered the militia group a new source of political activism, and courted them with speeches tailored to militia views. All this changed for Otter with the Oklahoma bombing, but not so for Al Lance, Idaho's elected attorney general. Lance told the Idaho Falls Post Register last May he thinks the militia are still a viable political force in the state and publicly offered to "mend fences" with them provoking a storm of criticism. He's defensive about the reactions to his speech, but hasn't changed his mind about the issue.
Cenarrusa, who has worked the political fringes of Idaho politics for years, is now concentrating on the 10th Amendment movement, an effort to give back federal lands to states. However, he is not traveling around the state with militia leader Samuel Sherwood anymore.
It's hard for some to believe that Cenrrusa would give up life-long political habits. Maybe Idaho Gov. Batt's repeated rejection of militia politics has something to do with it?
Perhaps these and other Idaho politicians can take a lesson from
the experience of the Idaho Citizens Alliance (ICA) at the Eastern
Idaho State Fair, which took place in Blackfoot, ID, this week. The
ICA last year lost a state-wide initiated referendum which was
modeled after the Oregon anti-gay legislation. Now the ICA is back,
not only with a new anti-gay measure, but also with an anti-abortion
plank and one promoting various education reforms including prayer in
the schools and public tax vouchers for private schools.
The ICA says it is not a hate group, but their presence generated plenty of heat. After setting up a booth on the fair grounds, ICA activists were cursed, spit upon, and accused of being hate mongers by many attending the fair. It's important to note that Blackfoot is the home of the United States Militia Association. ICA announced last week an alliance with the militia to collect signatures on its ballot initiatives. Someone forgot to tell the ICA that extremist politics in Idaho are getting a bad reputation. One woman said, after telling an ICA organizer to go to hell, said that "these people are like unpopped kernels of popcorn - they're greasy, oily, hard as rocks, and no one want's anything to do with them because they're completely useless."
In response to a continuing stream, literally and figuratively, of vitriol, ICA organizers closed their booth on the fairgrounds and settled for a roving leafleting campaign outside the fair gates which offered the option of escape from outraged passersby.
Ostriches and emus are this year's exotic animal at the Eastern
Idaho State Fair. The presence of the birds brought forth comments
pro and con about the ICA and its political program. While Idaho Sen.
Larry Craig was at the fair shaking hands and kissing babies, he also
saw the ostriches. Unlike the big birds, he's not afraid to stick his
Last Spring Craig said law enforcement agents of federal land management agencies should turn in their guns. This remark caused no small amount of controversy and gave the senator what amounts to 'emu class' egg on his face with law-and-order types, frying important political links to one of the nominally supportive constituencies for the conservative Solon. Craig now says he is "reconsidering" his stand on the issue. Craig, who's shoot-from-the- lip style gets him into catastrophic trouble when he's not fully briefed, seeks protection from accountability in ambiguity.
There is nothing to wonder about with Idaho Rep. Helen Chenoweth. Her idea of arm's length distance from extremist groups is about the space between two kids riding horses side-by-side on the same merry-go-round at the Blackfoot fair. She's as comfortable with the fringes in Idaho as the trim on a buckskin coat. A recent visit to a Wise Use conference in Austin, TX, on September 1st made her the center of attention over militia links rather than the conference program. Texas property rights organizers were outraged at being tarred with the militia brush, and said so to the press. There are few public lands in Texas. The Wise Use movement in that state has a completely different focus than its counterpart in Idaho. These are a group of cattle ranchers and real estate developers who worry about the price of beef, or a new shopping center, rather than imagined threats from 'black helicopters' on patrol to enforce the Endangered Species Act. The conference organizers said they realized they'd made a big mistake inviting Chenoweth, who brought with her excess baggage that no one else wanted to carry.
Militia weirdness isn't playing at the polls, and at least in Montana, certainly in Texas, and perhaps even in Idaho. The majority just don't buy militia politics. Take for example an August 1st letter to the editor of the Idaho Statesman from Idaho State Legislator Milt Erhart (R-Boise) questioned media attention focused on Samuel Sherwood. The militia leader issued a "I'm a tax protestor too" statement following the gunfire-punctuated arrest of Montana tax-protestor Gordon Sellner in July. Erhart said the only reason Sherwood doesn't pay any taxes is because he doesn't have a job. Erhart went on to say that "Sherwood is either a liar or a freeloader," and asked why the media bothers to give such a "marginal person any coverage." Erhart closed by saying that Sherwood should stop rattling around in right-wing politics. "It's time for Mr. Sherwood to get a job and provide for his family," Erhart said. Sherwood answered Erhart with his own letter to the editor, which the Idaho Statesman dutifully printed August 23rd. Sherwood objected to being called a "liar and a freeloader," and said that he should not be labeled as such unless proven guilty of same in a court of law. He denied his own earlier statement published in the paper that his family was living on voluntary donations of $30-40/month. However, he did not define his source of income. Perhaps more interesting is that after months of trying to win a charter or some other legal authority from the state for his movement, Sherwood said that his United States Militia Association was not a militia as defined by state law, and thus he is not answerable to the Governor nor any other elected official.
Having failed to achieve honor with the state, Sherwood decided to
try for elegance with the press. Posing for Mademoiselle Magazine and
ABC-TV's "Good Morning America," a group of women members of the
Idaho militia lined up for the camera with their pistols at the ready
on the grounds of a gun club in Jerome, Idaho. Coaching the women
through their paces on the firing range on a picture perfect day was
Samuel Sherwood. The August 21st "shoot" has the owners of the gun
club fuming with the president of the gun club denying any
association with the militia. John Weston, Vice President of the
Jerome, Idaho, Rod & Gun Club, said neither the militia nor the
media had permission to use the club's firing range. Apparently, gun
club member Mark Harkness of Twin Falls, ID, thought otherwise, and
made the arrangements with militia member Bill Tuttle, also of Twin
Falls. Sherwood said the session was a "national training session for
militia women," but the Idaho Statesman reported the afternoon event
drew more news media than militia women. One woman remained
skeptical. She told a local reporter after the event she didn't like
the militia's practices. "I don't want to crawl around in the dirt
with a gun at night and break my nails," she complained. However, she
said she was willing to provide support for political causes
including stuffing envelopes and making phone calls. This is the
second time Sherwood has staged such an event. In the fall of 1994
his "shoot" drew the same small numbers of women. This may prove that
playing soldier, with real weapons, is still a "guy thing" even if it
is the 1990s.
Dateline -- Idaho Falls, ID 9/10/95
After a highly ritualized mating dance, politically speaking, on 9/6 the Idaho Citizens Alliance (ICA) and the United States Militia Association have had a falling out complete with the hissing and spitting of two ostriches vying for territory. The ICA and the militia had agreed to jointly support the ICA's three ballot initiatives for the 1996 election. In less than a week, the feathers flew and each has gone their separate ways.
I use the ostrich as a metaphorical example because this year's Eastern Idaho State Fair, held in the militia's home town of Blackfoot, ID, just 30 miles south of here, featured ostriches and emus as the new cash crop bird of Idaho farming. There are more than two dozen thriving farms breeding these birds just in eastern Idaho, and they are doing a lot better than either the ICA or the militia.
Ostriches have long necks, and attack their prey or other birds competing for territory or mates by pecking and spitting. Readers of these columns may recall the ICA fled the grounds of the Blackfoot fair earlier this week after outraged passersby spit on organizers of the anti-abortion, anti-gay, and prayer-in-the-schools election initiatives for the 1996 ballot. Idaho citizens have long memories, and remember the discontent stirred up by last year's ICA anti-gay initiative.
Sherwood said the reason he's breaking off the alliance with the ICA is that his group his group read through the ICA's proposed ballot initiatives for 1996 on anti-gay, anti-abortion, and education policies and found "they violated the Declaration of Independence." Sherwood said his group would not support proposals that violate freedom of choice or belief in God according to one's conscience. Sherwood probably meant to say the "Bill of Rights," but with his wild interpretations of history, any reference is possible. As a result of the review of ICA's "real intentions," Sherwood said his militia members will not provide political campaign support for the ICA, which had been the basis of the agreement set up a few days ago. Last week Walton said the value of the militia's support for the ICA is that "they are a substantial signature gathering force." Human rights groups in Idaho were astonished by Sherwood's stand on the ICA proposals, but some wondered on what basis Sherwood got together with the ICA in the first place if he hadn't read their ballot initiatives until now?
For it's part the ICA said "good riddance" to the militia, or words more or less to that effect. Walton says he consulted with, among others, Rep. Helen Chenoweth (R-Id), who the Idaho Statesman dubbed the "poster child of the militia" last Spring for her ardent support of Sherwood's group. Walton told the Associated Press that "Chenoweth regards Sherwood as a loose cannon," and this prompted him to break off with the militia. One human rights spokesman said the characterization of Sherwood as a loose cannon, "has been stupifyingly obvious to most Idahoans for months, but coming from Chenoweth, it must represent a major change of heart."
Well Maybe the fact that no one is coming forward to help pay off Chenoweth's 1994 campaign debt must have given her a message. They say there is no rage like that of a woman scorned. Perhaps Chenoweth is madder than a wet ostrich because most of the campaign debt is owed to her personally from loans she made to the campaign organization in 1994. Walton, who is trying to dip his fund raising bucket in the same well as Chenoweth, must have gotten the same message. Political alliances with the militia, such as the one inked under this week's full moon, guarantee an empty bank account 30 days later. The Idaho Statesman subsequently discovered that at least $40,000 of Chenoweth's campaign debt is an unsecured loan from West One bank. Idaho Democrats immediately made hay with this find and filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission charging that the loan amounts to an illegal corporate campaign contribution.
Walton's shotgun blast of criticism of Sherwood included a statement to the media that he now believes reports that Sherwood threatened state legislators last March despite Sherwood's later vigorous denials. In March Sherwood was quoted as saying, "Go up and look legislators in the face, because some day you may be forced to blow it off." Walton's take on this is, "I'm not going to deal with a group that can't shoot straight, and I'm talking about telling the truth." Perhaps the reason Sherwood wanted his members to meet legislators face-to-face is that communicating the truth over any greater distance falls into the "miss-as-good-as-a-mile" category. Sherwood is well known for shaping the truth to suit purposes of the moment. A series of exposes in the Twin Falls, ID, Times-News last May revealed Sherwood has changed his name at least three times. More significantly, the Times-News revealed he lied about his military background (he claimed naval surface warfare command service, including combat experience, but in reality has virtually none). Finally, despite a devout Mormon upbringing and identity, he spent years in search of spiritual salvation in a Jewish seminary in Israel yet counts white supremacists in eastern Idaho among his militia supporters. Any of these by themselves would probably cause potential political allies to think twice about hooking up with the militia leader. One wonders what Walton was thinking about when he inked his short-lived deal with Sherwood last week.
Not everyone is convinced that the ICA and the militia have had a true falling out. Some say the two groups might secretly kiss-and-make- up, politically speaking, that is. Brian Berquist of the Idaho "No On One Coalition," who opposes the ICA's ballot initiatives, told the Associated Press he hopes the ICA split with the militia "isn't just a PR thing." He went on to say, "We hope Walton isn't just publicly distancing himself from the militia, but that he really does believe and act as if what they are doing is wrong." Walton says he means it and he is not going to behave like an ostrich. He said he recognizes that he can't stick his head in the sand in terms of dealing with the political consequences of his split with Sherwood. He told the Associated Press, "If this action costs me a few signatures, so be it, but I think in the long run it will net us more signatures for wanting to do it right."
The ICA has now joined the ranks of other Idaho political organizations, including the right-wing of Idaho's Republican party, in deciding that the militia really are excess baggage. In railroad terms, passengers and freight that don't pay their own way are labeled as "super cargo." Sherwood, who was branded as a "freeloader" by Idaho state Rep. Mitch Erhart in a letter to the editor of the Idaho Statesman on August 1st, has now also been labeled a "loose cannon" by his nearest and dearest political ally, U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth. It is beginning to look like the militia "don't ride these rails no more" in Idaho.
This trend in Idaho may be mirrored in Montana. This week Mike
Batista, of the State of Montana Division of Law Enforcement, said
that his agency believes that membership in the militia there is
falling off. Batista told the Associated Press, "while meetings of
the Montana group regularly drew hundreds two years ago, those
numbers have dwindled to 75 or 80 per meeting if the meeting is held
at all." Time will tell if a hard core of militia membership
continues to rattle Idaho politics or if the cumulative effects of
foot-in-mouth posturing has undone this year's crop of extremists.
Only the ostriches and emu will thrive, but the lesson learned here
is that the number one food treats at the Blackfoot, ID, fair this
year were ostrich and emu burgers, with catsup, pickle, and a side of
Postscript Just one week after a noisy, public falling out with Kelly Walton, head of the Idaho Citizens Alliance (ICA) over ballot initiatives, Samuel Sherwood, head of the Idaho Militia, has filed his own trio of ballot initiatives for 1996. The initiatives include
(1) a measure to overturn the state's law banning private para-military organizations,
(2) a measure which calls for capital punishment for anyone providing abortion services, and
(3) an initiative on freedom of religion aimed at allowing prayer in the schools and public vouchers for private schools.
Observers suggest that Sherwood's falling out with Walton is not over political philosophy, but who gets the credit for an ability to deliver votes. Sherwood has previously been involved in the home school movement in Utah, so initiative number three may be particularly important to him. What's immediately apparent is that Sherwood is blithely ignoring a substantial body of case law that says states cannot give public tax monies to private religious schools because it violates the separation of church and state.
It takes just 20 signatures to file a ballot initiative with the
Idaho Secretary of State. Sherwood will have to gather nearly 42,000
signatures from Idaho registered voters to get each of his
initiatives on the 1996 ballot. Sherwood acknowledged that he is
likely to fall short of that goal. He told the Associated Press that
even 5,000 to 10,000 signatures will show the legislature his group
"has a political constituency." In the 1992 presidential election
Idaho third-party candidate James "Bo" Gritz polled about 10,000
votes statewide with 4,000 of them in eastern Idaho. Gritz's
political pull at the polls is the closest thing Sherwood has to a
"political constituency," which may make his goal of 42,000
signatures a long shot. At least one person has other ideas about
Sherwood's political future. As Sherwood was attempting to file his
legal papers with the state government, someone called in a bomb
threat which closed the Boise state office building for the balance
of the day. He was back this morning and got his papers accepted
without further incident. Two weeks later Idaho Attorney General Al
Lance threw out Sherwood's proposed ballot initiative on public
vouchers for private religious schools. Lance said the proposal was
'illegal' in its attempt to modify the Idaho State Constitution. The
American Civil Liberties Union agreed with Lance saying Sherwood's
proposed changes to Idaho law were too vague. Finally, partisan
bickering broke out between mainstream Idaho Democrats and their
Republican counterparts over how the state would respond to its
growing reputation for extremism, crackpots, violent rhetoric, and
intolerance. Both promised to make this a campaign issue in 1996.
Idaho political leaders are wondering out loud these days if tourism
and the ability to attract new business to the state will be hurt by
the continuing antics of political extremists. Governor Batt and Jim
Hawkins, his Secretary of Commerce, have launched a public relations
campaign to try to portray the state as other than a hobgoblin of
potato heads with curly french fries that substitute for brains and
Dateline -- Craters of the Moon, Idaho 11/13/95
Idaho's politics are like it's geology. Deep beneath the surface are what volcanologists call 'plutons' of hot magma which periodically, and unpredictably, erupt to cover the landscape. These eruptions of liquid fire from the depths of the earth have created the famous Craters-of-the-Moon lava flows and formed the hot rocks that now drive the geysers of Yellowstone.
The Idaho high desert features three 2 million-year old cinder cones which mark the underground passage of a now famous "hot spot" that blew up 600,000 years ago forming the Island Park Caldera. The most recent eruption, now called "Hell's Half Acre," flowed just 4,500 years ago over what is now farmland halfway between Idaho Falls and Blackfoot.
Man, not to be outdone by nature, has stored 40 years worth of plutonium-contaminated nuclear waste on the desert of the Snake River plain. Interestingly, the 40-year Cold War, which was the impetus for the nuclear arms race that created the waste in the first place was also responsible for so many right-wing political efforts. Consider, for example, how it spawned Barry Goldwater's famous statement at the Republican convention in 1964 that "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice." Democrat Lyndon Johnson promptly ran a TV campaign ad showing an atomic explosion with Goldwater's quote as the voice-over.
Nuclear politics have a long legacy. Certainly, extremism in the 1990s, after roiling underground for a long time like magma, burst explosively on the scene first in 1992 with the Ruby Ridge siege in Idaho and then more calamitously in Oklahoma this past April.
Idaho politics shares with the legacy of nuclear weapons, and the fundamental heat engine of the earth, a common feature. All are plutonian processes that can sweep aside anything that stands in their path.
The ancient Greeks understood the atomic basis of matter and were adept at transferring a metaphor of the nature of existence into politics. For instance, Persephone, daughter of Demeter and Zeus, was abducted by Pluto, Lord of the Underworld. A mitigating effect was that she was allowed to return to the surface each Spring. The Weaver incident, an icon for the militia movement, had no such happy ending.
In an effort to counteract Idaho's dismal political outlook, a
coalition of human rights, civil rights, and political activists has
formed an anti-extremism organization in Idaho. The purpose of the
organization, says one organizer, is to pull together currently
"fractured efforts" aimed at countering a "national hate movement."
Participants at the coalition's first meeting held in Boise, ID, on
Nov 3rd include the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment,
the Idaho Women's Network, the Ada County Human Rights Task Force,
and the Idaho Democratic Party. A coalition spokesman told the Idaho
Statesman that groups like the Aryan Nations, militia, Christian
Identity Movement, and the Idaho Citizens Alliance are part of a
"well oiled national structure." Mary Daley, the Northwest
Coalition's project director in Idaho, said, "These [groups]
may deny that they are part of any other group, but their ideology
makes them part of a movement.
Idaho's militia movement was not pleased with this turn of events. Samuel Sherwood, head of the Blackfoot, ID, based U.S. Militia Association, charged that human rights groups were pushing peoples' "hot buttons" to try to get press and raise money.
Returning to plutonian processes, some have said the militia
movement is like a failed star, one that could not achieve the
critical mass to ignite, and in so doing, is still a rebellion and
not a true political party. Perhaps with a recognition of that
critique in mind, the Idaho militia movement has moved again in the
direction of seeking to enter the political mainstream.
Sherwood, who last winter threatened to shoot Idaho state legislators if they didn't align themselves with his apocalyptic political views, now wants to raise money to elect them. He's formed the "Liberty of Conscience" political action committee (PAC). It's purpose is to fund the election of legislators sympathetic to the militia cause.
The militia will also use its PAC to fund two ballot initiatives. One, if enacted, would outlaw abortions in Idaho, and provides the death penalty as punishment for those who violate the ban. The other would allow Sherwood's para-military militia to train with weapons and be legally recognized by the governor. A third initiative designed to amend the state constitution regarding freedom of religion has been ruled illegal under state law by Idaho attorney general Al Lance. For now , it's in limbo.
Sherwood's intentions, as usual, are less than clear, but it is believed he is interested in challenging the line set by the U.S. Supreme Court, which prohibits public tax dollars from being offered as vouchers in support of private religious or home schools. Sherwood would have to obtain over 40,000 signatures to place each initiative on the ballot and then get a majority of Idaho voters to vote yes in order to enact his initiatives into law.
If Sherwood creates the PAC it would also allow militia watchers like the Anti-Extremist Coalition to request names and amounts given to candidates by the PAC. State election laws would require the militia organization to submit annual reports with this information to the Idaho Secretary of State's office. Also, these reports would include amounts of money raised, who the funds came from, and where the funds were used. At one point Sherwood claimed to have more than 5,000 members in 12 states, but has refused to provide proof to Idaho newspapers on the grounds his members might be harassed. In August of this year Sherwood told the Idaho Statesman his financial support was coming from 30-40 members providing $10/week.
One might think that with Idaho U.S. Rep. Helen Chenoweth's
national notoriety over her support for the militia movement that
some local politicians would greet a militia PAC with open arms.
However, Sherwood found fewer friends than he'd hoped for after
announcing his newest political initiatives. Reaction to the
formation of the militia PAC was swift and unanimous. No legislator
contacted by either the Idaho Statesman or the Idaho Falls Post
Register wants anything to do with it.
Idaho House Speaker Michael Simpson (R-Blackfoot) said, "When someone starts talking about shooting your local legislator I think that creates a credibility problem." What's unique about Simpson's statement is that Sherwood lives in his district. It doesn't reflect well on Sherwood's political instincts to have alienated not only his local legislator, but also the most powerful politician in the Idaho House, and all in one fell swoop.
Rep. Laid Noh (R-Kimberly) is also familiar with the militia. Since Sherwood wore out his welcome in Blackfoot, he's set up shop in Noh's district, which includes Twin Falls. Sherwood's "fashion shoot" for the national news media last August took place there. Noh told the Idaho Falls Post Register, "It would be a desperate candidate that would accept any funds from them."
Rep. Reed Hansen (R-Idaho Falls) told the paper he's willing to meet with any political group, including militia, but he won't take any guff from them. "I'll have no patience for people who question my patriotism. I won't talk to anyone who comes on like that."
As for Rep. Pete Black (D-Pocatello), he said he had not solicited any support from militia groups and didn't plan to. "I don't and I won't," was all he would say to the press. Sherwood charged that legislative hostility to his PAC was not the result of his infamous "shoot the legislator" remark, but rather the work of "cloak and dagger methods used by homosexuals and socialist Democrats." It's unlikely that Sherwood's broad swipe at the anti-extremism coalition will play well with the public.
Human rights activists have said for months that it is "stupifyingly obvious to most Idaho voters that Sherwood is a loose cannon." Or, consider this by ex-Texas Governor Ann Richards recently commenting on the militia movement in her state. She told the Ft. Worth, TX, Telegram that there has been a decline of values in this country. She said, "There was a time . . . when the word 'crackpot' really meant something."
What are the psychological aspects of mass movements which are alienated from the mainstream of society? The Swiss psychologist Carl Jung called such instances "mass contagion." He cited, of course, the rise of the Nazi party. Is it possible the militia movement qualifies under this concept? If so, perhaps we are dealing with very deeply held beliefs and strong emotional attachments by its members. Is this more psychology and less politics?
This is the most difficult type of political movement to deal with
because, according to Jung, many of the emotional attachments to it
are unconscious. These attachments represent "projections" of the
shadow side of the human unconscious, which every person has, but
which few express. Because these emotional projections are initially
invisible to those who express them, but powerfully felt, rational
dialog is less likely to be effective than finding a way to make the
projections of the unconscious visible to the beholder.
By seeing demons in the government, in fact, Jung would say that the militia were projecting their own internal fears of the demons found within the unconscious. The attachments among militia members, which cross socio-economic as well as state lines, are partially unconscious. The emotional power of these attachments, which are driven by unconscious terrors, transcend ordinary barriers to communication and collaboration among very distinctly different types of people. They might call it "solidarity" or "brotherhood." A psychologist would call it mass hysteria.
The militia's wild conspiracy theories begin to make sense, logically, as the projection of unconscious terrors and fantasies rather than as some slice of political reality. A militia member's desire to "protect" the country from its "overthrow" by evil forces in fact suggests a desire to protect the ego from being overwhelmed by the unconscious shadow side of the personality. Jung said that way to deal with the shadow is to confront it head on, recognize it, and integrate the energy potential it represents into a more cooperative emotional relationship between the ego and unconscious. Maybe what we need to solve the militia crisis are psychologists rather than politicians.
The militia movement was already being organized when Randy Weaver's cabin was the site of a struggle between him and the government resulting in death and betrayal. The deaths of scores of Branch Davidians in Texas the following April only fed the fires of the demonic frenzy of the militia movement. Somebody wanted a set of shock troops on the extreme right which could do the things more established politicians could not. Someone wanted to bash in the infrastructure of humanist endeavors in American attacking everything from abortion rights to the Endangered Species Act. The evidence of this is documented. Planned Parenthood found the footprints of the militia movement in John Salvi's fatal attack on a womens' health center in Boston, MA. The Wilderness Society discovered militia organizers in Idaho forests raising armies to stop protection of fish being harmed by excessive logging. This is not just a case of men with weak minds and powerful nightmares.
Regardless of the psychological basis of militia fears, someone
directed the creation of a terrorist form of political theater. What
is not the theater of terrorism if not a scene of a group of
over-the-hill men in Michigan or Idaho, costumed in military
fatigues, and running around in the woods with real weapons?
Tragically, at least two of them, maybe more, lost track of the
differences between self-deception and reality, and now 169 people
are dead in Oklahoma.
-----------------------------50529266365451 Content-Disposition: form-data; name="userfile"; filename="Samizdat.5.html" Content-Type: text/html
This is a series of reports on human rights in eastern Idaho begun
April 1994. They focus on racism unveiled in small town America.
These reports offer an essential historical perspective on the growth
of extremist groups in Idaho during 1993-1995. These reports describe
how difficult it is for local governments to counter hate. The line
between protected free speech and malicious harassment is not sharply
Located just 40 miles west of the Wyoming border, and 250 miles from any large city, Idaho Falls, ID, has a population of only 45,000. Despite tiny minority populations, there have been repeated incidents of the distribution of white supremacy literature.
Just 30 miles down the road in Blackfoot is the national headquarters of the United States Militia Association. Parallels between the growth of the militia movement and the increasing frequency of hate incidents in nearby Idaho Falls are too obvious to ignore.
The title of this section is taken from a flyer distributed by the City of Idaho Falls Human Rights Commission. It was printed in August 1994 in response to racist incidents foisted on the city by members of the White Aryan Resistance. The city's flyer said, "If there are lines to be drawn, let them be around us and not between us."
Dateline -- Idaho Falls, Id 4/15/94
A previously unknown local group distributed flyers seeking recruits for a white supremacy organization in Idaho Falls, ID. Area residents contacted police and the postmaster after racist fliers were distributed in residential parts of the city. Titled "A Challenge to White People," the flier listed a series of alleged grievances white people have against minorities, including affirmative action, immigration policies, school integration, and support by foundations for minorities.
The flyer refers to the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), which is known to be active in Portland, OR. The flyer called on people who agreed with its position to contact the group at an Idaho Falls post office box address. No name or phone number were listed on the flyer.
Last January hate group flyers were distributed in Pocatello, ID, some 50 miles to the south, on Martin Luther King's birthday observance. However, these do not appear to be the work of the same group.
The Idaho Falls Post Register reported on April 17th that the
authors of a racist leaflet distributed in the city last Wednesday
have been identified. A post office box listed on the leaflet was
rented on March 31, 1994, by Jessie M. Olsen and JoAnn Archibald
Olsen of Idaho Falls. Both are in their early 20s. The leaflets were
distributed over a 16-block residential area. The US Post Office
released the information on who rented the box in response to an
inquiry from the newspaper.
Idaho Falls Police, which received numerous complaints, said that no laws were broken in distributing the leaflets. They cited first amendment rights of freedom of speech. When contacted by phone by a Post Register reporter about the leaflets, Jessie Olsen refused to answer a reporter's questions. A woman at the Olsen's residence who refused to give her name said that they chose the name White Aryan Resistance (WAR) because they were familiar with the organization's work in Oregon. However, she denied that they were formally affiliated with WAR. She refused to say how many responses they had received to their recruitment drive.
The distribution of the leaflets was condemned by Marilyn Shuler, Director of the State of Idaho Human Rights Commission. She told the Post Register, "I am very concerned about the appearance of an organization that espouses such theories." She said if the Idaho Falls group really is affiliated with WAR, and not just using the name to attract attention, it could be real trouble for the town. She added there usually are an increase of incidents like the one in Idaho Falls around April 20th each year, which is Adolf Hitler's birthday. Six weeks ago, Shuler said, racist groups recently passed out leaflets in Boise calling for "White Power."
Angela Lowery, of the Montgomery, AL, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), was surprised to hear about the WAR labeled leaflets in Idaho Falls. She told the Post Register that WAR has "been in decline since 1990" when an Oregon jury returned a $12.5 million judgement against WAR leader Tom Metzger in connection with the November 12, 1988, murder of Mulugeta Seraw of Portland. Seraw, who was black, was set upon by skin-heads and beaten to death. Seraw's family, with the help of the SPLC, sued Metzger for encouraging the skinhead's attack.
The Idaho Falls Cultural Awareness and Human Relations Commission
held a hearing on racist leaflets distributed in the city. Commission
Chairman and long-time and now former city council member Wes Deist
said the purpose of the hearing was to gain community input for a
response to the flyers. The flyers, titled, "A Challenge to White
People," asked white people to look out for white interests and
listed a series of grievances against minorities.
The Commission is widely regarded by critics as out of touch and ineffectual. It proved this point with the way it started the inquiry. Deist said the most significant concern the commission had was whether there was any relationship between the anti-minority leaflets and gang activity in the city. He asked if there had been any graffiti such as swastikas.
Idaho Falls Police Officer Mark Burnell told the commission that these are two separate spheres of activity and that he did not know of any link between them. Burnell said that most problems with juveniles and race related-incidents involve "disenfranchised kids," but that they were not affiliated in Idaho Falls at this time with any groups like White Aryan Resistance (WAR). Burnell said there had not been any reports of neo-Nazi graffiti in Idaho Falls.
Due to the number of calls police received about the flyers, and the violent history of WAR, Burnell said that police visited the home of the people who printed and distributed them to assess the situation. Burnell said the Olsons are in their 20s and have five or six other supporters in the city. One has a printing press which is how the flyers were made. He described the Olson's as "very active politically, very firm in their beliefs," but he emphasized that no crime has been committed.
He said the Olsons subscribe to the political theories of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), which includes the concept of "leaderless resistance." This means, in effect, that while the Olsons' subscribe to Aryan political views, they refused to state that they are formally affiliated with the organization. They told Burnell this strategy is specifically designed to thwart the efforts of human rights groups to keep track of them.
Burnell said that Jessie Olson is a native of Idaho Falls, but left the city after graduating from high school and worked in San Francisco for a period of time. The other WAR supporters now in Idaho Falls are all from the San Francisco area. The Olsons and their supporters returned to Idaho Falls to promote their political beliefs. The Olson's reportedly said their purpose in circulating the flyers was to set up a recruiting drive for a WAR chapter, though this apparently conflicts with their earlier statement about "leaderless resistance."
Interestingly, the Olsons volunteered to Idaho Falls police that they had themselves been subjected to hate mail and showed Burnell several letters sent to the PO Box expressing negative messages about their flyers.
The audience at the commission hearing, which numbered about 75
people, was clearly stirred up by the news and asked many questions.
One speaker wanted to know if the high schools had been targeted by
WAR. Burnell said that this was the trend in other cities -- to
recruit alienated youths.
A student from Hillcrest High School in Ammon, a small community of 5,000 east of Idaho Falls, said that flyers had showed up at the school. The student, who is Hispanic, said the appearance of the flyers raised racial tensions in the school. Another speaker pointed out that the appearance of flyers often precedes more aggressive tactics by hate groups. Burnell confirmed that the Olsons' had access to "very impressive national resources" including a "How To" book produced by the national office of WAR which explained tactics to be used to build a local organization through "leaderless resistance." He said some of the literature from WAR at the Olsons' home was "very polished."
Some speakers mentioned that violent incidents occurring in Billings, MT, had been preceded by the distribution of the same kinds of leaflets. Idaho Falls Police Chief Monty Montague said that now that communication has been established and that they, the Olsons, have been identified, he hoped that this will give the city some indications if the situation changes from peaceful political activity. However, the chief also said that as long as no laws are broken it is not the job of his department to worry about peoples' political beliefs.
Larry Carlson, a member of the city council, expressed concern
that the Human Relations Commission does not have any visibility in
the city. He urged them to change that. Over the years the commission
has had an imperceptible impact on race relations in the city. One
speaker suggested the Commission try to get more television coverage
since that's how most people will get their news coverage of
tonight's meeting. Other speakers who asked the commission to act
included the president of the Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce and the
chairman of the Bonneville County Republican Party.
Suggestions from speakers for organizing a response to the flyers drew a mixture of ideas. A speaker representing an organization called Eastern Idaho for Equality suggested a candlelight vigil. She also asked everyone to blow their car horns for 30 seconds at noon. She said this would allow people to "vent their fury over being harassed by racists and having a city that appears to not be able to do anything about it."
Another idea from that group was for special programs in the schools to reach youth. A third speaker wants the local newspaper to print rainbows so that people can put them in their windows with the message being that hate is not tolerated in a home displaying the rainbow. This idea drew a spontaneous and enthusiastic round of applause from the crowd.
All speakers said that an immediate response was necessary and urged the commission not to delay. The last speaker said that a novel way to deal with the WAR affiliated group was to "love them to death." He said that if everyone sent the Olsons cookies and valentines every day that, "they'd decide the whole town was weird, pack up, and move on."
In an unexpected move the City's Human Relations Commission
developed a activist response at its meeting to the distribution of
racist leaflets in the city April 13th by the White Aryan Resistance
(WAR). Indications were last week that the Commission, which
historically has had little visibility or impact in the community,
would content itself with a statement to the press condemning the
leaflets. Instead, spurred by the organization Eastern Idaho for
Equality (EIE), the Commission developed a multi-faceted plan of
EIE had begun to make plans to conduct community awareness actions anticipating a weak response from the Commission. Instead, EIE found itself invited to align itself with the Commission's actions. EIE had been circulating petitions in the city asking people to sign a statement which said, "We oppose bigotry in all its forms, specifically, we denounce the recent distribution of the White Supremacist/Racist flyers in Idaho Falls." Under the Commission's plan volunteers will canvass the same affected Idaho Falls residential neighborhood with a message of tolerance and unity. This will be followed by a full page newspaper advertisement in May titled "A Symbol of Diversity" and signed by more than 500 people. Signatures will be collected at the annual Cinco de Mayo celebrations May 5-8. There will be public service announcements on local TV and radio stations and programs in area schools to emphasize the Commission's actions as a "commitment to all people."
Press coverage about the city's response to the WAR leaflets attracted a U.S. Department of Justice representative to the Monday night meeting. The Idaho Falls Post Register reported that Robert Hughes of the Seattle, WA, office of the Community Relations Service traveled to Idaho Falls. The newspaper reported that he told the Commission, "We are certainly concerned about the problems that seem to be surfacing."
Racists, it turns out, did not wait around quietly for the city to
respond to their first flyer. An Idaho Fall-based white supremacist
group, the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), distributed a second racist
flyer in the city on May 18th. This time the flyer has a picture of a
Viking on it with an tract on white pride. The Idaho Falls pair
reportedly responsible for the flyers, Jessie Olsen (age 23) and
JoAnne Archibald Olsen (age 20) refused to speak with the media about
Idaho Falls Mayor Linda Milam condemned the flyers as "appalling and foolish." The city's Human Relations Commission plans to run a full page newspaper advertisement next week signed by more than 500 people who contributed $1 each to promote a message of diversity.
The City's Human Relations Commission finnaly got its act in
motion. An advertisement featuring a message of racial diversity was
published by the Commission in the Idaho Falls Post Register on June
5th. Each of the persons signing made a financial contribution to pay
for the ad. A wide range of community interests and backgrounds are
represented by those listed.
There was no response from the White Aryan Resistance group active in Idaho Falls. However, they didn't have to wait long for a hate group to strike again.
For the third time this year white supremacists have distributed
fliers in residential areas of Idaho Falls. Flyers hit the same and
new parts of the city on July 16th. This time the fliers contain a
drawing of a white couple with a baby with a caption, "It is simple
reality that to be born WHITE is a honor and a privilege."
Idaho Falls police received numerous complaints from persons living in the area covered by the leaflets. Idaho Falls Police Detective Ken Brown said that the police have no jurisdiction in the matter because those who distributed the leaflets are within their first amendment rights. When asked by a reporter what would change that response, Brown said only if there was evidence that a crime had been committed. He told a reporter that he is as tired of saying this as people are of hearing it, but that's the law.
These fliers were different than the two sets distributed in the past in that there is no organizational identification nor any contact information on the leaflets. Previous incidents of hate leaflets listed an Idaho Falls post office box leased by the White Aryan Resistance (WAR) organization. WAR organizers complained to police that they had received numerous hate letters aimed at their organizing campaign. There is no physical evidence that this third round of hate leaflets was distributed by WAR.
Detective Brown says it is possible that a separate group, other than WAR, is sending out copy-cat leaflets. Wes Deist, chairman of the Idaho Falls Human Relations Commission, said no response was planned to this third instance of white supremacy propaganda. He told the Idaho Falls Post Register, "I'm not going to try to communicate with people when you have no idea who they are."
Others were not so inclined to a wait-and-see attitude. John Stevens, an Idaho Falls resident, said he was contacting the Southern Poverty Law Center for to do more than just give money to some organization."
In response to a third instance of distribution of white
supremacist flyers in residential areas in Idaho Falls, ID, the Idaho
Falls Human Relations Commission canvassed the affected areas on
August 14th with bright blue ribbons asking people who opposed the
racist leaflets to display them. Hundreds of area residents did so.
The ribbons had the words printed on them - "If there are lines to be
drawn, let them be around us and not between us."
On September 24th and 25th churches throughout the Idaho Falls area were to hold special services to emphasize human dignity for all people and the theme of unity.
Law Enforcement officials from western Montana, western Wyoming,
and eastern Idaho gathered at Big Sky, MT, for a two-day conference
in August 1994 to talk about the rise and spread of hate groups in
the rocky mountain states. The public was not allowed to attend some
sessions of the conference which discussed groups such as the KKK,
Aryan Nations, skinheads, tax protestors, and other groups.
Danny Welch, Director of Klanwatch of Montgomery, AL, was an invited speaker. In one of the public sessions he told the Associated Press the "Northwest is a white enclave in a racially diverse nation giving it a reputation of being a haven for white supremacists." Welch called hate groups "fanatics" with weapons who are "stockpiling for a revolution they think will come." Welch told the press hate groups recruit members by convincing impressionable teenagers and the poor their troubles are related. These influences can be stopped by holding multicultural education programs for young students.
While Idaho Falls human rights activists thought they had a
response strategy to local racists, they were stunned to hear a U.S.
Senator utter disturbing words. Idaho Senator Larry Craig managed to
offend just about everyone with a remark he made on Wednesday August
31, 1994, to the Twin Falls, ID, Chamber of Commerce. He said that a
"free white human being" is an endangered species in New York City.
The Associated Press also reported that Craig apologized on Thursday
September 1st for his comments.
The Senator's remarks came in response to a question about the Endangered Species Act. Craig blamed "East Coast environmentalists" for pushing enforcement of the Endangered Species Act in western states. Craig, who was in Twin Falls, ID, for a Chamber of Commerce breakfast and meetings with local leaders, is an outspoken critic of the Endangered Species Act and frequently clashes with environmental groups. The Associated Press also reported that Craig extended his remarks thus, ``It isn't a New York City problem,'' he said. ``The only endangered species in New York City is probably a free white human being.'' Later in the day, Craig said he meant ``the only person there isn't a law protecting today is the white Anglo-Saxon human being.'' He also said New York is ``a very hostile environment'' he tries to avoid. But he said he meant no offense to minorities and apologized Thursday. ``It was a poor choice of words on my part. Absolutely no offense was meant toward any person or group,'' said Craig, a first-term Republican up for re-election in 1996. ``I apologized on the spot and want to repeat that now.''
Bill Mauk, chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party, wasn't impressed by the apology. ``Even though Sen. Larry Craig wants to retract the statement and apologize, sometimes the true feelings of people slip out when they think they're not being recorded or heard,'' he said. Manny Papir, a deputy press secretary to New York Mayor Rudolph Guliani, said he was surprised by Craig's statements. ``We don't know what the senator means exactly about the city being unsafe, but we would love for the senator to visit our city and we would show him how safe our city is,'' Papir said.
What's wrong with this picture is that the statement about "whites" being unprotected is a clear and unvarnished appeal to racism. In eastern Idaho this is a code phrase which is used to oppose equal opportunity in employment. It is a stock phrase of white supremacists who three times this year have circulated leaflets in Idaho Falls with exactly these politics. The remark puts Senator Craig squarely in the extreme right wing of his part aligned, politically, with other right wing extremists like Pat Buchannan. Even more interesting is the cross- over between an attack on the Endangered Species Act and a covert appeal to white supremacy.
Local, state, and federal law enforcement officials told a
skeptical and ultimately angry group of citizens, mostly black, on
December 29th that there was little they could do to prosecute the
people who distributed racist flyers at a meeting of the NAACP
earlier this month. This is the fourth time racist flyers have been
distributed in the community since April. The meeting of the Idaho
Falls Human Relations Commission was held in city council chambers
with representatives from the FBI, Idaho Human Rights Commission, and
Idaho Falls police.
The meeting, the third this month, was held after a fourth round of racist flyers were distributed outside an NAACP gathering at a local hotel. Only cars in the hotel parking lot driven by blacks had flyers placed under their windshield wipers. An anonymous caller to the Idaho Falls Post Register claimed responsibility for putting the flyers on cars outside the hotel and said he represented a white supremacist organization, the White Youth Coalition. NAACP members said this incident represented a "targeting" of blacks specifically and could signal a more aggressive and orchestrated hate campaign against blacks in the Idaho Falls area.
Blacks wanted to know why the county prosecutor cannot use Idaho's
recently enacted "malicious harassment" law to if the people who put
out the flyers are caught. Also, hard questions were asked why the
county prosecutor failed to pursue two earlier incidents where the
persons responsible were known to police, and, why that information
was not shared with the Dept. of Justice and FBI. Idaho law makes it
a felony to threaten or harm a person or their property because of
race, religion, or national origin.
Idaho Falls Police Chief Monty Montague pointed out the Bonneville County prosecutor was replaced in the November election. He said the presence at the meeting of the FBI, officials from the Dept. of Justice Community Relations Service, and the Idaho Human Rights Commission indicated that this information was now being shared. Others attending the meeting included John Perce of Pocatello, Idaho, representing the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment, Mike Dillon, an FBI agent from Boise, Bob Lamb, Dept. of Justice Community Relations Service, and George Bretzmeiter, a Dept. of Justice attorney from the U.S. Attorney's office in Boise. Wes Deist, commission chairman, invited federal and state officials to discuss ways to combat future incidents. However Deist, a former city councilman whose sarcastic speaking style has sometimes alienated citizens, did not chair the meeting. Instead, Mayor Linda Milam opened the proceedings. She said, "We don't want this type of thing in our town. We take these incidents seriously and we want to avoid bigger problems later on. The city wants to be proactive."
With that the Mayor announced a reward fund started with an
initial contribution of $500 from the city. She said the business
community would be approached to add to it, noting that "racism is
bad for business." She agreed with a comment from the audience that
"we are trying to attract new growth here and they won't come if we
have a reputation for racist incidents."
Idaho Falls Police Chief Montague said that "crime stoppers" advertisements would be aired on local radio and TV stations announcing the reward fund. He said this would send a message that the city takes these incidents seriously. He added that undercover police were watching cars outside the building tonight and would also keep an eye on the parking lot on January 14th, when the NAACP holds its annual Martin Luther King banquet. Bob Lamb from the Dept. of Justice office in Boise, ID, handed out a 10-point program for communities to recognize, assess, and respond to inter-group tension and conflict. He said "communities cannot persist in a state of denial." He added that the flyers clearly are racial harassment, but do not constitute a crime under the state's malicious harassment law.
Marilyn Shuler, Director of Idaho's Human Rights Commission, said
there are three specific conditions in the law which indicate when it
can and cannot be used. She said it is now a felony offense in Idaho
if someone physically injures you, causes physical damage to your
property, or threatens you or places you in reasonable fear of harm
to you or your property because of your race, color, religion,
national origin or involvement in human rights activities. Shuler
said she did not think they flyers themselves would meet the test of
Speakers in the audience objected heatedly to this information. One woman said, "you mean someone has to get hurt or killed or their house burned down before you'll do anything." Another speaker said he felt the flyer was like a cross burning and added, "the flyer doesn't have to be lit to hurt people." Others asked why the county prosecutor wasn't present at the meeting. The city of Idaho Falls has only limited authority to prosecute civil offenses and felonies are prosecuted at the county courthouse. And still others asked "how many times do we have to be subjected to this abuse before someone does something?" Further comments in this vein included questions of who really owns the investigation. Bob Lamb answered that while he was not a lawyer, he thought that the "targeting" of a specific group was a threat. Lamb's comment didn't appear to answer the question, and members of the audience were not shy about saying so.
Mayor Milam said she would try to located model legislation used
by other communities to stop racist incidents. She asked for help
from the Department of Justice in locating such ordinances. This
didn't satisfy one speaker who announced that he had renewed his
concealed weapon permit this week. He said he wanted a message sent
to the racists that the next time they distributed flyers they'll
find out "the niggers are armed."
This brought a flood of shouts from the audience including one, "the racists are already armed and they'll just shoot you as soon as look at you." Several people fled the room as the first speaker reached into his jacket for what appeared to be a gun. However, it turned out to be only a piece of paper - his concealed weapon permit.
Catherine Lewis, Regional Chairperson of the NAACP, tried to calm things down by announcing the Idaho Project of the Northwest Coalition Against Malicious Harassment. She handed out flyers explaining the program. However, the meeting collapsed into chaos at this point and order could not be restored.
As the new year of 1995 began, a reward fund sponsored by the
Idaho Falls, ID, "Crime Stoppers" program for the arrest and
conviction of the person(s) responsible for putting hate leaflets on
the cars of members of the local NAACP chapter last December has
gained $1,300 in contributions. No arrests have been made. One male
suspect in his late teens was briefly detained, but not charged. It
seems he had a "white power" bumper sticker on his car. His new girl
friend turned him in with hopes of claiming the reward.
The Idaho Falls Human Relations Commission met January 25th to consider charges by minority groups that Idaho Falls Police do not act as aggressively on crimes committed against minorities as those committed against whites. Wes Deist, the chairman of the commission, agreed with a recommendation to review crime statistics to determine if a pattern exists. A police spokesman said the review should consider the fact that "many of the so-called victims are also suspects." This reference is to violent crimes committed within the drug culture.
For the fifth time in less than a year racist flyers were
distributed in Idaho Falls, Idaho. These flyers distributed on March
25th urged racial segregation and referred to the "White Genocide
Manifesto," written by David Lane. Lane is serving a prison sentence
for the June 1984 murder of Jewish Denver talk radio host Alan Berg.
Previously, racist flyers circulated in during 1994 in Idaho Falls
were attributed to a chapter of the White Aryan Resistance (WAR), a
West Coast Neo-Nazi group with a violent and murderous history.
Idaho Falls Police Detective Ken Brown told the Idaho Falls Post Register he is not sure if these flyers are the same as the ones circulated in the previous three incidents. These flyers refer to a new organization called the "Eastern Idaho Firm," which is unknown to civil rights groups in the region. The City of Idaho Falls has raised $1,300 as a reward leading to the arrest and conviction of the persons circulating the flyers. Idaho Falls Mayor Linda Milam has indicated the city will seek to prosecute the distributors of the flyers under Idaho's malicious harassment law, which makes it a felony to threaten a person or their property because of their race, religion, or national heritage. However, Marilyn Schuler, Director of the Idaho Human Rights Commission, based in Boise, said today she thinks the flyers may be protected under the 1st amendment free speech clause.
Idaho Falls police arrested and briefly jailed a 19-year old and a
15-year old after the two were caught distributing racist flyers a
shopping district in Idaho Falls on July 11th. The flyers are similar
to others distributed in five previous incidents in 1994, one of
which targeted members of the NAACP. The Idaho Falls Post Register
reported on July 14th that Joe Oddo, Bonneville County chief deputy
prosecutor, ordered the boys released after it was determined they
had not violated Idaho's malicious harassment law.
Significantly, Oddo said, the flyers don't make any overt threats. "They are protected under the First Amendment right to free speech. I personally believe the opinions expressed in the handbill are ugly, but people have a right to express unpopular points of view." To constitute a crime, Oddo added, "the flyers would have to articulate a hateful message plus urge imminent violence."
The flyers distributed in the downtown shopping district cite the
works of David Lane, who is serving a prison sentence for the 1984
shooting death in Denver of Jewish radio talk show host Alan Berg.
Lane sends letters to his supporters from his prison cell condemning
abortion and homosexuality as part of a Zionist conspiracy to
eliminate the white race. This is the second time racist flyers
distributed in Idaho Falls have cited Lane's writings. While the
flyers make no overt and immediate threat to harm people or property
because of race or religion, the text demands "the formation of
exclusive White homelands on the North American continent." It adds
ominously that if these demands are not met, "then we will seek
redress by whatever means necessary."
Jeremy Wilcox, age 19, said he distributed the flyers to tell people who are of a similar mind how to get together. "Everyone is a closet racist around here," Wilcox said. His flyer lists as a return address an Idaho Falls post office box which is rented by the local chapter of the White Aryan Resistance. When asked by Idaho Falls Post Register reporter Paul Johnson if he advocated violence against minority groups, Wilcox said, "In the end, the Bible teaches of Armageddon." Wilcox added that Blacks, Hispanics, and Jews should leave Idaho. He said, "The Northwest is going to be for White folks."
A 15-year old boy who was with Wilcox on his mission to distribute hate flyers did not explain his presence or describe his views to the newspaper. Wilcox's mother told the paper she did not agree with her son's views or actions, but defended his first amendment rights and complained that police were harassing her son.
Idaho Falls Mayor Linda Milam expressed frustration with the fifth
incident of racist flyers. Milam said that the material was
"disgusting and offensive," but she felt that it didn't make any
threats. However, she intends to ask Idaho Attorney General Al Lance
to review Oddo's decision. She was critical of what she saw as
"conflicting advice" being given to the city by the county and the
state. The city continues to offer a $1,300 reward for the arrest and
conviction of anyone violating Idaho malicious harassment law.
Idaho Falls Police Detective Ken Brown said that his department knows of four other people, in addition to the two arrested this week, who are actively distributing hate literature. However, their activities are protected under Freedom of Speech so long as they do not threaten anyone and violate Idaho's malicious harassment law.
Dateline -- Boise, ID 6/12/94
Idaho Lt. Gov Butch Otter says he is "astounded" at the anti- Mormon sentiment stirred up when he ordered state flags lowered to half staff to honor Ezra Taft Benson who died this week. Otter, who is Catholic, said he was honoring both Benson's service as head of the Mormon Church and as Secretary of Agriculture under President Eisenhower. Further, Benson is an Idaho native and was buried in his hometown in the rural far southeast corner of the state. More than 250,000 Idaho citizens are Mormons. Tens of thousands attended a memorial service for Benson held this week in Salt Lake City.
Otter said that the more than 200 calls received by his office fell in two categories. Some callers identified themselves and complained about a lack of separation of church and state. Others did not identify themselves. The invective was so intense that Otter answered the phones himself rather than allow his assistants to become further upset by the vehement language. Otter had issued the order on the flags in the absence of outgoing Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus who was on a trade mission to the far east.
Feminism and Mormonism may not mix, or at least not very well. A
painting of a nude woman against a backdrop of Mormon scriptures will
have to hang elsewhere after Boise Cascade Corp. removed it from
their office lobby in Boise this week. The painting, one of 67 on
display as part of the Idaho Water Color Society's 15th annual
exhibition, was removed after several employees at the company
The painting features a naked woman restrained by a man in a business suit. Mormon scriptures are written in the background. Blackfoot, Idaho, teacher Jeriann Sabin, who submitted the piece, said she was shocked the piece aroused controversy. A self-described estranged member of the Mormon Church, Sabin said the work represents her spiritual journey and on becoming a feminist.
Watercolor Society President Ed Labadie said he would help Sabin find another location to exhibit the painting. "Personally, I'm disappointed," he said. He added that if Boise Cascade doesn't like the painting, they don't have to exhibit it.
Maxine Hanks, editor of "Women And Authority: Re-emerging Mormon
Feminism," writes from Salt Lake City that newly installed church
president Howard W. Hunter has some rethinking to do in his call to
alienated Mormons to "return to fellowship." Hanks, who was
excommunicated from the Mormon church for her feminist writings in
1992, said that "God's spirit cannot be homogenized, mass-produced,
and marketed by blue-suited septuagenarians from a high-rise in
downtown Salt Lake City." She said that women will not return to a
church which, "crushes female authority and individual
Hanks' comments appeared in the Los Angeles Times and were reprinted in the Idaho Falls Post Register on 7/15/94. Publication of the article is a change from the newspaper's previously hesitant coverage of the conflicts between secular feminism and the teachings of the Mormon Church. Earlier this year the newspaper declined to interview a Mormon feminist whose watercolor paintings illustrating her beliefs were yanked from a Boise art show following complaints by area Mormons.
In other religious rights news, the man who filed a legal action
against the Bannock County (Pocatello) County Commissions for having
the 10 Commandments stone monument at the county courthouse has
withdrawn from the suit. Andrew Albanese said his reason for
withdrawing from the suit is that he is leaving the area for a job in
another state. The ACLU said they would continue the litigation
The situation in front of the courthouse has reached almost comic proportions. In addition to the original monument, the commissioners have placed another with a statement from Thomas Jefferson on religious liberty and a third that explains the first two and the reason for the current litigation.
After all but endorsing the anti-gay rights Idaho Citizens
Initiative (ICA) in a speech in Twin Falls, ID, in June, Idaho's 2nd
District freshman congressman switched positions in early July and
announced he would not support it. He said that the initiative "as
written" would violate fundamental constitutional rights, including
the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment. Crapo, a
conservative republican congressman and devout Mormon, who does a
pretty good job of accurately reflecting the views of his supporters,
went on to say the presence of the initiative on the ballot will make
Idaho a "national battleground of homosexual rights." Crapo added, "I
do not support the teaching of homosexual values as a lifestyle in
public schools." Crapo's decision to side with constitutional rights
over the strident calls for his support by ICA and his traditional
sources of support was backed up by a three-page, single spaced
position statement issued by his office.
Dateline -- Hamilton, MT 6/14/94 People protesting a proposed land
use plan have brought guns to meetings where the Ravalli (Hamilton)
County land use plan was being considered. The city council has since
passed an emergency ordinance banning guns in public buildings.
Threatening phone calls have been received by county officials
involved in the proposed land use planning ordinance.
Currently, there is no zoning law in the county. Ravalli is near Missoula, MT, and recently was the scene of a armed standoff between a county sheriff and a local rancher who refused to pay the fees for his BLM grazing lease. The man said BLM was violating his "inalienable constitutional rights." For its part, BLM said they would "wait and see" on the situation rather than go to the ranch and incur bloodshed. A BLM spokesman also said the agency would pursue the matter in court.
These incidents are worth reporting because of the increasing polarization among supporters and opponents of environmental protection of public and private lands in the West. A meeting near Salt Lake City in May, reported by the Salt Lake City Tribune, told of "Wise Use" proponents urging "armed rebellion" over environmental controls on public lands.
In a faxed press release sent to the Idaho Falls Post Register
this week Clark Collins of the Blue Ribbon Coalition, a Wise-Use
group based in Pocatello, ID, said, "environmental extremist
organizations like the Sierra Club have lost sight of their purpose.
They have deteriorated into nothing more than hate groups, attacking
any natural resource user that disagrees with their preservationist
philosophy." What is startling and unnerving about Collins attack is
that the anti-environmental interest groups have been adding to their
list of supporters fringe right-wing groups, including the militia
movement, which have been identified with hate organizations.
Meetings held in May of the Wise Use Coalition in Utah, an industry-funded front and cosponsor of Blue Ribbon Coalition positions, have included right-wing extremists according to reports in the Salt Lake City Tribune and the Rocky Mountain News (Denver). The Idaho Falls Post Register ran a brief editorial note pointing out that use of the term "hate groups" ought not be applied in environmental disputes. It said that the Blue Ribbon Coalition's language was offensive and brought that organization closer to the definition of a hate group than anything ever espoused by the Sierra Club.
The Wise Use movement, if nothing else, seems to have the effect
of empowering people to speak out. James Hawkins, a University of
Idaho Extension Agent, who works in rural and mountainous areas of
Custer, Butte, and Lemhi counties, wrote letters opposing Federal
grazing reform to all ranchers in his region of the state. Hawkins
said the mailing supported the position of the Idaho Cattlemen's
Critics charged Hawkins was using Federal money, which pays for the extension service, to lobby against Federal policies.
The Idaho Falls Post Register reports this week that Idaho
Secretary of State Pete Cenarrusa has called for the state to take
over nearly 34 million acres of federal public land within its
borders. Cenarrusa, a sheep rancher, said Idahoans are "tired of
federal arrogance." Cenarrusa was also reported to have attended an
organizing meeting of citizen militia last April, and some believe
his statement this week is an appeal to extreme right wing and wise
use activists within the Republican party in Idaho.
His opponent in the November election, Democrat Bonneville County Commissioner (Eastern Idaho) Edith Stanger, criticized Cenarrusa's position. She said, "who will pay to fight the fires, administer land programs, and maintain other facilities." She added that it was probably unconstitutional to advocate return of federal lands to the states.
In the state's northern panhandle Boundary County Commissioners passed an ordinance annexing Forest Service property. A state court ruled against the action of the commissioners and the case is now pending before the Idaho Supreme Court.
How much support do radical anti-environmental elements have?
Richard Foster, Chairman of the Political Science Department, Idaho
State University, says a 1992 survey of 500 Idaho citizens found a
common view toward environmentalists among lower middle-income people
who had lived in the state for more than 10 years. Foster says they
see environmentalists as anti-establishment, anti-farming, and
anti-rural. They get so swept up in reacting to the labels they
forget their own values for clean air, clean water, and an
Dateline -- Pocatello, Id 11/22/95
On the evening of Thanksgiving there is much to reflect on in the tumultuous year now ending. The militia movement appears to be in eclipse though 'wing nuts' of every type, including some with violent tendencies, continue to populate the landscape.
It isn't easy for grassroots activists to know where one group leaves off and another begins. Academic political and sociological researchers, such as Professor James Aho of Idaho State University, have, perhaps unintentionally, made virtual careers out of unsympathetic and unbiased tracking of the various fringe groups each with their own side channel to mainstream politics.
Academic study does not mitigate the fact that the violent rhetoric of such groups scared the socks off of lots of people and still is cause for concern.
Links between the Wise-use Movement and the Militia continued to flourish but perhaps ineffectually. Officials in two states gave out clear message rejecting calls for turnover of federal lands to local control.
Less clear was the cause of a fire-bomb attack on a medical clinic in Jackson, WY. Dr. Brent Blue, owner of the clinic, said that while he had received threats from anti-abortion activists, he also could not discount that the attack, which caused $30,000 in damage, might have been the work of a disgruntled employee.
Officials in two states this week told the federal government they
do not want to be given title to federal lands.
In Idaho state controller J.D. Williams says the transfer of BLM and Forest Service lands would be a "financial disaster." Williams said the transfer would cost Idaho about $200 per year per taxpayer and that the state would lose $90 million a year in federal payments and support.
In Colorado Governor Roy Romer also said he opposed a bill now pending in Congress to return federal lands to the states. Colorado collected nearly $40 million in federal payments in 1994, Romer said. He estimated it would cost at least that much to manage the lands now under federal jurisdiction.
Despite all the rhetoric about returning public lands to the states, advocates of this policy change are no closer to their goal than the original Sagebrush Rebellion of the late 1970s.
Idaho's sordid reputation as a state of hate, or maybe just being
confused, was used as ammunition by Democrats as part of a drive to
prevent the Republicans from capturing the political center. Bill
Mauk, state democratic chairman, told a group meeting in Pocatello
this week that the voters have negative perceptions of militia and
white separatists. Mauk said that outside of Idaho the state is
perceived as "a bunch of kooks and crazies and that's an
Mauk accused Idaho's Republican delegation of "pandering" to extremists. Allen Anderson of the Pocatello Education Association attacked a proposed ballot initiative by the Idaho Citizens Alliance that would give a $500 tax credit to those parents who did not send their children to public school. Anderson said the initiative would encourage hate mongering. He told the Associated Press, "We'll have Nazis teaching and raising little Nazis in northern Idaho and the taxpayers will be contributing to it."
While the Democrats attacked the entire delegation, in fairness it is clear that only Rep. Helen Chenoweth and Sen. Larry Craig have made public statements in support of extremist politics. For instance, both were quick to criticize U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service agents last winter following their attempts to investigate the death of a wolf on the land of an Idaho rancher. Chenoweth accused the agency of harassing the rancher with "black helicopters," and Craig called for the agents to give up their guns despite the fact that the weapons were not drawn during the incident. Now, the Idaho Falls Post Register revealed that the agents secretly taped recorded their visit to investigate the wolf death. The tape reveals that the rancher, and not the agents, was the aggressor. The paper wrote in an editorial, "Craig and Chenoweth owe the agents an apology, but don't count on ever hearing it."
The paranoid fringe has not sold well with Idaho voters. Now the Democrats sense this is a foil which can be turned against the Republican party as a whole.
Since January of this year six state judges have had their lives
threatened and state officials are worried it's just a matter of time
until someone blows up one of them along with a courtroom full of
people. Idaho State Supreme Court Chief Justice Charles McDevitt has
told state judges they must take actions to prevent violence against
state courts. He specifically warned them they might be targets of an
Oklahoma City-type bombing attack. He told the Associated Press, "A
person who has been ordered out of his house, a person who has lost
his children, or a relationship, as a result of a court action is
usually within arm's reach of a firearm in Idaho." He criticized
actions by the Idaho Association of Counties that blocked attempts to
get money from the legislature for courthouse safety studies.
In Burley, Idaho, County Commissioner Len Harlig said he agreed with the judge's assessment. He noted there were threats in response to three recent planning & zoning decisions. He said the threats "make people think twice about working for the government."
Despite the concerted efforts of the American Civil Liberties
Union (ACLU), two six-foot high, polished, pink granite pillars with
the Ten Commandments carved into their faces, still stand in front of
the Bannock County Court House in Pocatello, Idaho. The ACLU had sued
to remove the pillars on the grounds that their presence in front of
a government building violated the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights
and the related laws on separation of church and state.
Idaho courts ruled against the ACLU and assessed the organization $900 in court costs. Amidst the litigation, the pillars, which were placed there years ago by a local Masonic lodge, almost met an explosive end. Earlier this year police and bomb disposal experts were called to remove what appeared to be dynamite from a hole dug in the ground immediately in front of one of the slabs.
Had explosives been detonated at that location the resulting damage would have taken out several city blocks. As it turned out the 'dynamite' sticks were really railroad-type flares according to Richard "Boom Boom" Green, a demolitions expert with the Idaho National Engineering Laboratory. A warning call to the Bannock County Sheriff's office about the impending "blast" was traced to a cellular phone whose owner had a clear and convincing alibi for the time the call was made. Thus, county law enforcement officials conceded that the whole affair is a hoax within a hoax. Only the stones and their message endure.
National attention focused on a private animal compound about 30 miles south of Pocatello as law enforcement agencies continued their hunt for nearly 50 adult African lions which escaped from the run-down facility. The owners of the compound, who are strong advocates of private property rights, have refused to tell the Bannock County sheriff how many animals they had in hopes of finding them before they are shot. Area schools were closed and squads of hunters combed the rugged Idaho countryside looking for more animals.
One lion was shot just 500 yards from an elementary school. Two lions were shot by area farmers protecting their livestock. So far 18 other lions have been shot on sight. No one called out the "unorganized militia" to hunt the escaped animals or to protect the populace. The remainder of the animals, including about a dozen wolves, were captured and transferred safely to a California facility called Wildlife Waystation. The Bannock County Sheriff told the news media he never expected to "be on safari" in the rugged mountains of the Caribou National Forests. The compound's owners, Robert Fieber and Dotti Martin, have been charged with 84 counts of cruelty to animals and 16 counts of creating a public nuisance.
Despite the extreme threat posed by the big cats, under Idaho's live-and-let-live property laws, there is little the county can do except prosecute under public nuisance laws.
Folks, it's still the wild west out here. Learning the Lesson of Oklahoma City, Madison County Sheriff Gregg Moffat reacted quickly this Fall when a local constitutionalist and tax protester threatened him and area judges. Destel Parkinson of Rexburg, ID, was arrested earlier in November for failing to file state income taxes. He was released on bond, and was briefly a fugitive after issuing a round of written threats via letters to every state and county official involved in his case. Moffat said when he found Parkinson he would throw him in jail. This is what happened and Parkinson faced felony charges.
"I'm taking these threats seriously," Moffat told the Associated Press. "These threats are following a pattern in Montana and Texas where attempts were made on the lives of public officials." Since the Oklahoma City bombing, and the gunfire punctuated arrest of a tax protester in Montana last July, Moffat says he no longer discounts the potential for domestic terrorism. He said these are the lessons learned from Montana and Oklahoma.
American Jewish Committee
165 East 56th Street, New York, NY 10022-2746
Contact: Ken Stern (Anti-Semitic & white supremacy connection to militia)
Anti-Defamation League (National Office)
823 United Nations Plaza New York, NY 10017
Phone: 212-490-2525 Contact: Thomas Halpern
(Published a report which includes a state-by-state look at militia)
Center For Democratic Renewal
P.O. Box 50469 Atlanta, GA 30302
(Helps communities combat hate groups)
CLEAR (Clearinghouse on Environmental Advocacy and Research)
1718 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 600 Washington, DC 20009
(Wise Use/militia links)
Coalition for Human Dignity
P.O. Box 40344 Portland, OR 97240
(Race hate/white supremacy connection to militia)
Montana Human Rights Network
P.O. Box 1222 Helena, MT 59624
(Information about organizing responses to militia in Montana)
NW Coalition Against Malicious Harassment
P.O. Box 16776 Seattle, WA 98116
(Community organizing against intolerance)
People for the American Way
2000 M Street, NW, Suite 406 Washington, DC 20036
Political Research Associates
678 Massachusetts Avenue, Suite 702 Cambridge, MA 02139
(Think-tank monitoring full spectrum of the right)
Southern Poverty Law Center
P.O. Box 548 Montgomery, AL 36195-5101
Contact: Morris Dees
(White supremacy connection to militia)
Simon Wiesenthal Center
9760 West Pico Los Angeles, CA 90035
Contact: Rick Eaton
(Information on far-right and the Internet)
Western States Center
522 SW 5th Avenue, #1390 Portland, OR 97204
(Wise Use/militia links)