Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Antigovernment Speakers Denounce Washington State Gun Law, Threaten Violent Revolt

A group of militiamen stand guard at the 'We Will Not Comply' rally

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

With cries of “Second Amendment remedies” to “government tyranny” ringing in their ears, a crowd of several hundred people gathered near the state Capitol in Olympia, Wash., on Saturday, to voice their disapproval of Initiative 594, the new state law requiring background checks on most gun sales.

The "I-594 Violation Station"
Most people in the gathering carried firearms of one kind or another, and a number of them openly exchanged weapons as a way to make a statement supporting the “We Will Not Comply” rally. There was even a table marked “I-594 Violation Station,” where attendees could openly swap or sell firearms.

The focus of the event, though, was the parade of speakers who encouraged the audience to defy the new law on the grounds that it violated the Constitution. Many of them were longstanding antigovernment figures, including former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, whose fame on the radical right has much to do with his own challenge of federal gun laws and “III Percent” movement provocateur Mike Vanderboegh.

Accordingly, many of them referenced violent action in defense of their gun rights as the ultimate response to what they see as tyranny.

“Make no mistake: If we do not stand up, America, our children and our grandchildren will take back liberty at the price of blood!” intoned Gavin Seim, the Ephrata, Wa.-based “liberty speaker” and chief organizer of the event.

Mike Vanderdoegh
Vanderboegh was even more explicit: “When democracy turns to tyranny, the armed citizenry still gets to vote!” he told the crowd, to loud cheers. “So be careful what you wish for. You may get it.”
Vanderboegh blamed the passage of I-594 last month, with nearly 60 percent of the vote, on internecine bickering between gun rights organizations, notably the National Rifle Association and the Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation. He warned the groups that they needed to work together now to prevent the law from being fully enacted.

“[W]e are here today to remind them, and to remind the enemies of liberty in this state, that if they fail, there are always Second Amendment remedies,” he said. “And like that determined minority of colonists, that original three percent who fought the forces of the greatest empire on the planet to a standstill, we will not be intimidated, we will not compromise, we will not back down, and we will be heard, one way or the other!”

Even more chilling were the demands that were quietly read by an Oath Keepers representative from Washington, Scott Bannister, who demanded that current office holders in the state step down from their positions, or face violent consequences.

“We the people demand that our current government, and their many crimes of treason against the Constitution, breaking the oath they swore to uphold … we are asking them to step back and surrender their position or office they hold, or be arrested by the sheriff of their local state,” he read from a prepared statement. “By their failure to uphold their oath that they swore, they are committing treason and high crimes against our country, and I don’t think any of us want to stand for that. These tyrannical acts and criminal acts toward us American people are out of control.”

Bannister explained further: “Every once in awhile, the tree of liberty needs to be refreshed, and the blood of tyrants needs to flow. If they don’t do it quietly, and resign, sad to say it, maybe that’s what’s gonna happen, I hope not. But we will stand our ground, and no comply.”

Bannister also indulged in a moment of unintended irony when he told the crowd: “I wish more people would realize what’s going on with our country. Because we are all told so many lies, and so many people believe it. It’s really sad that we’ve all been brainwashed.”

Most of the speakers, including state Rep. Elizabeth Scott, who declared “Molon Labe!” (Come and Take Them) to the idea of gun registration, argued that both the Second Amendment, as well as provisions in the state constitution, prohibited such laws as I-594. Several, including Seim, argued that these constitutions prohibited any regulations of any weapons whatsoever.

“We need to draw the line,” Seim said. “Read my lips: The people should be armed equal to government! Because when the people are armed, there is liberty, and when there is liberty, there is safety, and there is security. We must stop trading away our children’s birthright for false promises of security and trade for liberty, because that, my friends, is not liberty, and that’s why we stand here today.”

Richard Mack argued along similar lines. “I don’t care if it’s state level, county level, whatever—the only way a background check before you can get a gun is lawful is if you voluntarily do it,” he told the crowd. “If you don’t want to do it, you don’t have to. Because you’re not a criminal, you’re an American, and you don’t have to go through that. Because your government has no authority, no right, no power, no business ever saying to you, ‘Unless you submit and unless you subject yourself to my background check, you can’t have your Second Amendment.’

“That’s not the way our government works. We don’t need your permission! We don’t need your permission to be here, or to exercise our Second Amendment rights, but you need our permission to exist. You got it all backwards!” he said. “And we will not comply, we will not disarm, we will not be slaves, and we will not subject ourselves to you, in any way!”

Seim demonstrated how deeply he embraced this idea at the end of the four-hour-long program by burning his state concealed-carry permit, claiming that the government didn’t have the power to control his gun rights.

“You do not need a permit to exercise your rights,” he said. “If you, my friends, want a tank in your front yard, then buy one, and I for one may want to live next door, because your house will be the safest on the block.

“I was on a radio interview a little while ago, as we were planning this rally,” he continued. “He suggested that I was too radical. And he said, ‘If you stood up before all those people and said you ought to be able to own bazookas, they would not stand with you.’ And I said, ‘Well, challenge accepted,’ or something along those lines. So I say, if you want to own a bazooka, you can own a bazooka! Although an AR-15 might actually be a more effective weapon.”

The crowd cheered loudly, and a number of them came up to toss their concealed-carry permits into the fire as well.

[Below: A gallery from Saturday's event.]

A group of Washington state militiamen pose at the rally.

Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe

Friday, December 12, 2014

Arizona Pastor Boasts About Tricking Rabbis Into Participating in Anti-Semitic Film

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]
Three Phoenix-area rabbis were recently tricked into participating in the production of an anti-Semitic film by Steven Anderson, the Arizona pastor who has made headlines with his vitriolic rants about LGBT people and President Obama.

Anderson, whose Tempe-based Faith Temple Baptist Church is among the most hardcore anti-LGBT hate groups in the country, has attracted attention for his rants wishing death upon President Obama and gays and lesbians, as well as for declaring that birth control was turning American women into “whores.” At one point, Anderson was tasered at a checkpoint on the Mexico border while defying a patrolman’s orders. He recently made headlines by predicting that America could have an AIDS-free Christmas if all gays are killed, as the Bible demands.

But in recent months, Anderson’s ministry has also taken a decidedly anti-Semitic turn, as Stephen Lemons explored in a recent Phoenix New Times post.

Anderson has given sermons—preserved on YouTube—covering such subjects as “The Jews and Their Lies,” “Hebrew Roots Movement Exposed,” “The Jews Are Antichrists,” “Jews Worship a Different God Than Christians,” “The Jews Are the Racists,” and the ever-popular “The Jews Killed Jesus.”

Anderson and his cohort, Paul Wittenberger, are currently coproducing an anti-Semitic film titled Marching to Zion, described on YouTube as providing “Scriptural evidence that the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people.” It also purports to reveal that rabbinical Judaism’s Messiah is the Antichrist; among the “topics covered” are “Blasphemous teachings of the Talmud and Kabbalah,” “Modern DNA evidence of the Jews’ ancestry,” and “Proof that Christian Zionism is a modern phenomenon.”

Four Phoenix-area rabbis are interviewed for the film, which has prompted outrage in the Jewish community.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) issued a statement saying it was “deeply troubled by the upcoming release of a new ‘documentary’ geared toward Christian audiences that purportedly will focus on ‘the history of the Jews,’ but in fact will likely serve as a tool for denigrating Jews and Judaism.”

Anderson recently boasted during one of his Internet radio broadcasts how he came to include the four rabbis:
Well, here’s how I got the four rabbis to participate. I got a list of every rabbi in Arizona, and I think I got 41 rabbis. And I just figured, you know, if I contact enough rabbis, somebody’s going to agree to do it. And so I actually contacted all 41 of them, and I told them I was making a film about Judaism and the history of the nation of Israel, which is true, and I gave them a whole list of questions and those questions are the questions that I asked in the interview.

So they knew the questions they were being asked going in. I told them it was going to be about Judaism and the nation of Israel, but I didn’t tell them whether it was going to be positive or negative. Well, they just assume it’s going to be positive, because they assume that I’m going to be like the rest of evangelicals in Christianity and bow down to the chosen ones and worship them and say how great they are.

So basically, all four of them are going to hate this movie, of course, but it’s the truth, they’re false prophets and they deserve to be exposed and I didn’t lie to them, I mean, everything I told them was the truth.
According to the Jewish News, the rabbis who took part did not realize the nature of the production. Anderson allegedly described himself as “an interested layperson” making a documentary explaining elements of the Jewish faith.

Rabbi Irwin Wiener, one of the four Jewish interviewees, was outraged: “The subterfuge that he used to get these interviews from us is beyond belief.”

According to the report, Anderson had told the interviewees that he was making the documentary for the Public Broadcasting System. “When he used the words PBS to me, it sounded legitimate and I didn’t pursue it any further,” Wiener said.

Another interviewee, Orthodox Rabbi Reuven Mann, was blindsided by the discovery that he had been tricked, since he felt a responsibility to explain his faith to anyone interested. “I’m very open about this and I don’t suspect that anyone has any ulterior motives,” he said.

But Anderson was defensive in his Internet broadcast when his interlocutor about the rabbis—who in fact, was Stephen Lemons—pressed him on whether he had deceived his subjects, notably with the claim to be making a PBS documentary.

“Well, guess what, who is a liar but he that deny that Jesus is the Christ,” Anderson retorted. “He’s anti-Christ. So basically, if somebody is lying and saying that Jesus isn’t the messiah, it also does not surprise me that they would lie and say I was selling the film to PBS.”

Lemons then asked Anderson if he was being deceptive himself. “Ooh,” he said mockingly, “it’s possible that I could be lying too. It’s also possible that the Bible could be lying but guess what the Bible’s not lying and it’s the Jews that are lying.”

Anderson then hung up on Lemons, and continued with his anti-Semitic rant: “So obviously this is somebody who is calling in trying to defend the anti-Christ Jews and he’d rather listen to somebody who calls himself a rabbi and spits on the name of Jesus Christ and calls Jesus a bastard and his mother a whore, and he thinks I’m lying because I supposedly claimed I was selling the film to PBS? No I never said any such thing, and the lying Jewish rabbi that told you that made it up.”

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

‘Antigovernment’ Figures to Lead ‘We Will Not Comply’ Rally in Washington State Over Gun Rights

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

A slate of national and state antigovernment “Patriot” movement figures—including former Arizona Sheriff  Richard Mack, antigovernment propagandist Mike Vanderboegh and Ammon Bundy, the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy—is scheduled to lead Saturday’s “We Will Not Comply” rally in Olympia, Wash., protesting a gun-control measure taking effect this month.

Organized by self-described “liberty speaker” Gavin Seim, the rally’s stated purpose is to openly defy the new law, known as Initiative 594, which requires background checks for guns sold by private gun owners.

“We will rally at the capitol, openly exchange guns, unveil and plan to break apart the entire legislation and violate I-594 in every possible way. … We will buy and sell guns from whom we please, we will not submit to background checks, we will not give up our rights, WE WILL NOT comply,” the rally’s organizers say.

The organizers claim that 5,000 gun owners will attend, but the source of that figure is unclear and historically such rallies have drawn considerably smaller crowds. It also remains unclear if the rally even has a permit, typically required for demonstrations on Capitol grounds.

Seim, when told by state officials that a permit wasn’t available because another group had already been given a permit for that date, responded defiantly: “First let’s be clear. We are not asking for your ‘authorization’ and we’re not ‘applying’ to the State. We are allowing them the opportunity to work with us. I did in fact clearly inform you we would be gathering on the main lawn right from the start and there was no doubt about where I meant. What I have outlined is what we ARE doing. … We informed you of the plan out of courtesy. You can work with us, or you can play games.”

It is uncler clear if the activities that occur Saturday will actually break any laws, and Washington State Police officials say they do not expect to make any arrests at the rally.

The rally’s scheduled speakers include Mack, a longtime militia darling who recently made headlines with his involvement in the standoff with federal agents at Bundy’s Nevada ranch, where Ammon Bundy also became well-known as a media spokesman for his family. At one point in the standoff, Ammon Bundy was tasered after law enforcement officials say he tried to kick a police dog.

, a cofounder of the so-called “III Percent” Movement, was also at the Bundy ranch but is perhaps best known for having urged conservatives to throw bricks through the windows of Democrats’ offices in March 2010 to protest the passage of the Affordable Care Act. In recent weeks he has toured states where gun control laws have been passed to promote the “I Will Not Comply” concept.

“I have gone around the country breaking (and encouraging others to break) unconstitutional state laws such as those recently passed in CT, NY, MD, CO and now, Washington State,” he boasted on his blog. “I have smuggled, and facilitated the smuggling of, standard capacity magazines in violation of those laws and dared the authorities of those states to do anything about it.”

Washington state Rep. Elizabeth Scott, R-Monroe, an arch-conservative who has aligned herself closely with antigovernment activists, is also among the scheduled speakers. Scott gained a reputation for arch-conservative positions during her first two years in the House, including second-guessing federal cleanup efforts at the Oso landslide disaster that occurred in Snohomish County in March.

The Oath Keepers, a group of retired military and police personnel fearful of the New World Order, posted a bulletin urging members to attend. However, a number of the state’s leading anti-gun control organizations, including the National Rifle Association and Alan Gottlieb’s Bellevue-based Second Amendment Foundation, have declined either to endorse or participate in the rally.

Seim recently issued a final appeal on Facebook to the reluctant gun owners: “I’m sad to report that nearly ALL gun rights and show groups and even some patriot groups have NOT supported America’s courageous stand for liberty on the 13th,” he wrote. “We the people in mass are standing tall, but those that should be standing with us are silent. I ask patriots to contact groups tomorrow and invite them to stand with us.”

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Conspiracy Theories Fan Fears of Race War, With Alex Jones Leading the Parade

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

In the wake of last week’s black riots in Ferguson, Mo., conspiracy theorists from the far-right antigovernment movement have whipped themselves into a frenzy over the prospect of a nationwide “race war,” though it is difficult to tell whether they fear such a prospect or are actively hoping for it.

In truth, the notion that President Obama is inciting a race war in America has been floating around the extremist right almost since the beginning Obama’s presidency. Right-wing pundit Wayne Allyn Root theorized along similar lines when the situation in Ferguson first erupted this summer. Gun-rights extremist Larry Pratt has argued for some time that Obama’s immigration policies are intended to provoke a race war. Some anti-immigration extremists accused Obama of intending to spark such a conflict with his executive order on immigration.

But leading the parade has been Alex Jones, whose radio broadcasts for the past week have focused on the civic unrest erupting nationally after a grand jury ruled not to indict a white police officer for the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson this summer.

Jones’ theory is that President Obama and the media are combining forces to stir up so much racial unrest that it will give them a pretext to declare martial law and impose a dictatorship. Joining Jones in this theory have been right-wing pundits such as Austin Miles at Renew America; radio host Rick Wiles; onetime presidential candidate Alan Keyes; and Glenn Beck, who has been pitching a version of the theory for over a year now.

Jones laid out his version of the theory for listeners on Monday, noting that he had been issuing warnings about this possibility for some time:
They [globalists] want to cause a civil war in order to go confiscate the guns, and then we are forced to defend ourselves and then it kicks off, and the police and military get taken out, along with the Patriots, in a civil war against each other. … This is the grand game. This is divide and conquer. This is what I have warned you about thousands of times, no exaggeration.
Jones, citing a Time magazine op-ed piece justifying riots as an expression of civic anger, explained that the media has been complicit in this conspiracy, using race to attack Obama’s critics while whipping up anger in the black community:
 That’s what’s going on: Media nationwide is pushing race war. That’s all they’ve got. Don’t like Obamacare, you’re a racist. Don’t want to turn your guns in, you’re a racist. Michael Moore – ‘if you own guns and you’re white, it’s because you’re scared of black people.’ That’s a quote from CNN. This is all they’ve got, while these big foreign banks that own the country loot the treasury with bailout money, Obamacare scamming everybody, Obama opening the borders up, giving free welfare to tens of millions of people, all these unconstitutional scams happening. And all they’ve got is getting us to fight with each other.
Jones-PopularJones has frequently attacked law enforcement around the nation for their supposed attacks on American civil liberties, typically in cases involving gun owners and right-wing extremists. At the same time, most of his reporting about Ferguson has focused on the supposed violent depravity of the demonstrators and the need for police intervention.

Indeed, the most popular stories at Jones’ InfoWars website so far this week have featured such headlines as “Blacks Screamed ‘Kill the White People’ Before Brutal Murder of Zemir Bergic” and “Rap Star ‘Jokes’ About ‘Killing Crackers’ in Their Sleep.” The effect of this barrage of dubious information is to whip up fear of an imminent civil war featuring hordes of rampaging black people.

And there are others with variations of the idea.

  • Miles’ theory includes the idea – also promoted by would-be presidential candidate Ben Carson – that Obama intends to cancel the 2016 election: “If all works according to plan, there will be no further presidential elections. Obama will declare a crisis (he can pick from a large number of those) so he can use Executive Privilege to declare himself President for Life, which he fully intends to do.” Miles contends that Obama is the product of a long-running Communist conspiracy (indicated by his “lack” of a birth certificate) to control America. “The Communists are scheming for the Ferguson, Missouri incident to be the fuse that explodes into a national race riot,” he said. “That is what Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are hoping to accomplish since this would put citizens at war with themselves in a new civil war while at the same time sapping the strength out of America, making her easier to control.”
  • Wiles used one of Alex Jones’ pet concepts—the “false flag” operation in which a violent incident is actually a government-fabricated media event—to explain the situation in Ferguson: “I was thinking how easily something like this could get out of control and there’s gunfire in the cities, if they go into the suburban neighborhoods and begin burning buildings and upsetting cars, homeowners are going to come out with their firearms and begin defending their property,” he said. “And that sets the stage for Emperor Obama to say, ‘We have to get guns off the streets and this Congress has refused to implement my gun control legislation, therefore by executive order I am doing this, this and this.’ ”
  • Keyes, meanwhile, has accused Obama of “exploiting this situation by way of threatening the Republicans, saying that there will be massive unrest if they don’t knuckle under to his will and trying to prove that he’s got the power to turn our cities into powder kegs that will explode in the face of anybody who opposes him.” He went on to describe it as “a Hitlerian situation.”

Saturday, November 29, 2014

New Washington Gun-Control Law Spurs ‘We Will Not Comply’ Rally Led by Youthful ‘Patriot’

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Gavin Seim believes that it’s self-evident that Washington state’s recently approved gun-control initiative is unconstitutional, which in turn means that the state’s citizens don’t have to obey its requirement of a background check for most gun sales. And he is organizing a rally – “We Will Not Comply” – at the state capitol in Olympia in mid-December to make their defiance manifest in a massive act of civil disobedience.

There’s one problem, however: None of the activities that Seim and his anti-gun-control cohorts say they will be engaging in on the Capitol steps is illegal on its face, even if people openly sell guns to each other there. And so, state police say, they wouldn’t be likely to arrest anyone for failing to comply with the new law – at least not right away.

Seim is a youthful “constitutionalist” from the central Washington town of Ephrata whose former career as a photographer has been overtaken by his new occupation as a “liberty speaker” – lecturing fellow “Patriots” about the Constitution and organizing events such as the Dec. 13 “We Will Not Comply” rally.

“Will you bow down and lick the boots of tyrants, or will you stand for the liberty of your children?” Seim asks readers at the rally website.

Seim’s new career appears to have been inspired by his brief run for Congress this year in Washington 4th congressional district at the age of 29. His candidacy gained no traction – Seim attracted only 1,462 votes, good for seventh place out of primary firled of 12.

He did, however, gain some publicity by provoking a confrontation at the Grant County Courthouse with sheriff’s deputies over the presence of a lockbox for gun users to store their firearms while conducting business at the courthouse. The county briefly considered filing criminal charges against Seim, though it did also obtain a lockbox.

Since then, Seim has embarked on a one-man crusade against supposed police oppression in rural Washington. This fall, a video that Seim made of himself chastising a police officer for conducting a patrol in an unmarked car went viral, making Seim something of a brief celebrity on the right. In the video, Seim can be seen pulling the officer over and threatening him with a citizens arrest.

Seim holds a relatively radical view of the meaning of the Second Amendment – shared broadly among his fellow “Patriots” – as providing citizens the absolute right to own any weapon they choose. He explained this to KIRO-AM radio host Jason Rantz during a Nov. 12 interview promoting the Olympia rally:

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution says that the right of the people, as you know, to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. That means – and we can go to the historical context, we probably don’t have time for that today, but you can trace this all the way back to the discussions when they were writing this – it means the government has no authority whatsoever to restrict our guns in any fashion whatsoever. Any gun law, except our Constitution’s, is void, it’s lawless.

Rantz pointed out the failure of Seim’s logic, noting that his interpretation would allow anyone to own any kind of weapon, including bazookas or missile launchers – and Seim essentially agreed, arguing that in fact Americans should able to own bazookas if they so choose. And he brushed away the objection that it would allow felons to continue to own guns.

Seim explained that the Olympia rally’s main purpose “is to send a very clear message to our representatives, to our legislators, to our judges, to our law enforcement, that I-594, because it violates the both the United States and the Washington state constitutions, it violates our rights, it is not law, it is void, it will not be followed. And we’re letting them know that if they cross this line, if they try to enforce this lawless law, that we’re not going to let it happen.”

He contends that gun rights are so deeply embedded that it’s OK to ignore the results of a democratic election and refuse to acknowledge the new law. “When the Framers wrote they said that all law that violates the Constitution is void,” he told Rantz. “So when it comes to our rights that are granted by the Constitution, those are inherent, those are natural, God-given rights. Those are our rights, those are our birthright, they belong to us, and no government or individual has the right or authority to
take those away.”

Seim has written warmly about the prospect of “revolution”, saying: “We have the God given right to revolution. Why? Because we have a right to defend life. With it we have an obligation to prudence and principle. Honorable revolt is simply a defense from the lawless.” He later added: “We have the right and duty to use any force necessary against a lawless agency who has declared war on us.”

Seim told Rantz, though, that he sees the Olympia rally as a way to stave off civil war. “If we stand up now and assert that, if we let them know that we are here, we will not comply with this law, that’s how we void lawless legislation. And that’s how we do so peacefully, because we don’t want to get to a point where they’re coming to the door to take our guns, and let’s make no mistake, that’s where they’re going with this.”

The most immediate problem with Seim’s plan, however, is that nothing anyone will do on Dec. 13 will immediately break the law. The way the initiative was written, violations – which are misdemeanors on the first offense, and become felonies on succeeding offenses – only occur when a person selling a gun fails to complete the requisite paperwork within the allotted time.

Seim says
that his fellow rally-goers will violate the law flagrantly at the rally: “It’s not hard since the law is so ridiculous. Hand a gun to a friend, buy a gun, sell a gun. You are welcome to do all of these things as you please.”

However, Washington State Patrol officials made clear that nothing planned for the event would be in itself illegal or provoke an arrest. “We don’t see handing a weapon to someone else as a violation of the law,” a spokesman said. “We don’t see that as a transfer.”

Seim has another problem with his rally: He didn’t obtain a permit for it, and another pro-gun group is planning a rally for the same day. The state official in charge of issuing the permits wrote back to Seim and explained that the conflict precluded his plans: “The place that you have indicated in the below map is taken by another group on this particular day and during the time you are interested in holding a rally. The group that reserved the space submitted a completed application with a specific location request.”

Seim responded defiantly: “First let’s be clear. We are not asking for your ‘authorization’ and we’re not ‘applying’ to the State. We are allowing them the opportunity to work with us. I did in fact clearly inform you we would be gathering on the main lawn right from the start and there was no doubt about where I meant. What I have outlined is what we ARE doing. … We informed you of the plan out of courtesy. You can work with us, or you can play games.”

In the meantime, Seim has continued planning his event by rallying his troops with stirring appeals. “We stand for peace,” he wrote in a recent post. “But we will tear down this tyranny and if I must die for liberty, I will do it with principle and pride, counting myself among the lucky few who were there to see liberty finally stand.”

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Small-Town Montana Residents Organize to Oppose Presence of White Nationalists

An image from a National Policy Institute promotional video.

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

A collection of citizens in the small resort town of Whitefish, Mont., banded together earlier this week to demand that their local town council take action to deal with the effects of the presence of a nationally prominent white-nationalist organization in their midst.

Calling themselves Love Lives Here, the group packed the Whitefish City Council chambers on Monday night to demand the council pass an anti-hate ordinance that would bar such groups from assembling in the city.

The object of their ire was Richard Spencer and his National Policy Institute, a hate group that is one of the leading exemplars of academic racism. Spencer moved his national headquarters to Whitefish from Washington, D.C., several years ago.

Spencer’s activities in Whitefish recently surfaced in the public eye due to an article in The Daily Beast describing an encounter between Spencer and former John McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann on the ski lift at Big Mountain, the resort that dominates Whitefish. According to the article, Spencer “berated” Scheunemann for “being a neocon and for believing in this whole democracy BS.”

Over 100 Whitefish residents on Monday night voiced concern that the presence of Spencer and his organization would lead to their town being identified with his brand of hatemongering.

“We are committed to co-creating a caring, open, accepting, and diverse community, free from discrimination, and dedicated to the equal treatment of all citizens,” Ina Albert, one of the Love Lives Here co-founders, said, according to a report from KPAX-TV. “The idea of hate and discrimination has no place in Whitefish, and I hope you can figure out a way to say, ‘we will not accept it in our town.’”

“This isn’t about one individual, it is about a way of thinking that is despicable,” said Brian Muldoon, a Whitefish attorney. “This community I believe is standing up strongly against the kinds of ideas that Richard Spencer and his ilk promotes … and it is time to deconstruct the ideas that are so insidious. It is time to take a very clear stance. An unambiguous one.”

The council was sympathetic and promised to take action. Councilor Richard Hildner, choked with emotion, told the audience that “hate, racism, bigotry are not community values in Whitefish.”

“I promise you I will do everything I possibly can to see that we protect the citizens of Whitefish. I want you to know you have my pledge,” Hildner added, to a round of applause.

Spencer was defiant. “I’ve been coming to Whitefish for more than 10 years now,” he told the Whitefish Pilot. “At no point have I published an opinion on local politics, held meetings with local or state politicians, or engaged in civic activism of any kind.”

“Whitefish is a place where I go to get away from it all. I have no desire to do anything that changes the community that I love, nor has my organization ever considered establishing a permanent facility or residence in Montana.”

However, according to Whitefish residents interviewed by Hatewatch, there is concern that Spencer in fact is planning to construct a large new center for his organization in the town, and part of their action on Monday was aimed at forestalling that possibility. According to the Pilot, he already is a partner in the development of a mixed-use building in the city’s Railway District, not far from Montana’s only Amtrak terminal.

Spencer denied adamantly in a friendly article in the nearby Kalispell newspaper, the Daily Inter Lake, that he was engaged in hatemongering.

“When people call you a hate group, it means they hate you,” he said. “They’re looking at a mirror reflection … They clearly think more about me than I think about them. I don’t harm anyone; I haven’t challenged or provoked them.”

He then went on to explain to the interviewer the virtues of eugenics and a white ethno-state.
Spencer has spoken frequently about creating a “white homeland” in North America, and like his Flathead Valley neighbor Chuck Baldwin, has at times suggested that racist white people retreat to wide-open spaces such as those in Montana, where relatively few minorities reside, to create it.

Last year Spencer spoke at a gathering of academic racists about his hopes for a “peaceful ethnic cleansing” that would clear parts of North America for Caucasians, meanwhile suggesting that the new state welcome white refugees from Europe. Spencer advocated a “sort of white Zionism” that would infuse whites with the dream of such a homeland just as Zionism helped spur the creation of Israel. “It is perfectly feasible for a white state to be established on the North American continent. Action is the easy part,” Spencer opined, adding, “I have a dream.”

The Flathead Valley has had several brushes with right-wing extremists over the years. Love Lives Here was founded in 2010 when a group of neo-Nazis showed Holocaust-denial films at a Kalispell theater.

Several years before that, local residents organized resistance to a campaign of violent harassment of local environmentalists that was being organized in part through a right-wing radio station. The campaign came on the heels of the arrest of a local extremist named David Burgert for his plot to assassinate local police and political leaders.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Judge Tells Simcox He Can’t Rely on ‘Grand Conspiracy’ Defense in Molestation Trial

[Cross-posted at Hatewatch.]

Chris Simcox, the erstwhile border vigilante Minuteman movement leader, has been sitting in the Maricopa County Jail for over a year as he awaits trial on two counts of child molestation, one involving his own preteen daughter. But, judging from a recent court appearance, he is confident that he will win his freedom.

How? Apparently Simcox has some secret evidence.

According to a report from Stephen Lemons at Phoenix New Times, Simcox indicated during a recent court hearing on a possible plea agreement that there is previously unknown reasons for his arrest.

Documents filed by Simcox’s attorneys suggest he will attempt a defense based on claims that he was targeted for prosecution because of his high political profile, and that the charges against him are built on evidence from two daughters who were subject to “parental alienation” because of a “contentious divorce.”

However, Judge Joseph Welty of Maricopa County Superior Court apparently was not buying. Saying that Simcox was suggesting “some grand conspiracy at play,” he reminded Simcox, 53, that the evidence against him also involved victims who were not his daughters, and that the charges he faced were not political crimes.

The purpose of the hearing last week was to review the plea bargain that prosecutors had offered to Simcox earlier this year that would limit his prison time to seven years in exchange for a guilty plea. However, Simcox adamantly continued to refuse the deal, saying he intended to prove his innocence in court.

Simcox’s refusal ensures that the two victims in the case—one of them his now-teenage daughter, the second being a friend of hers who Simcox was supposed to be babysitting at the time—will be required to testify on the stand. The trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 17, but Simcox’s decision on the plea bargain probably means it will be pushed forward to January.

According to Lemons, a previous judge in the case ensured that so-called “propensity evidence”—involving previous incidents that suggest the defendant’s crime is part of a behavior pattern—would also be admitted.

As the SPLC reported in 2005, Simcox was accused by his first wife of molesting another daughter when she was a teenager, though no complaint was ever made to police. His second wife also sought custody of their teenage son because, she said, Simcox had become violent and unpredictable. His third wife—the mother of his current accuser—took out a restraining order against Simcox in 2010 when she divorced him.

If convicted, Simcox could face up to life in prison.