PATRIOTS AT THE GATE: THE AMERICANS PREPARING FOR BATTLE AGAINST THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT

May 22, 2016 by

Oregon016

WASHINGTON POST

B.J. Soper works on welding a target that he and fellow members of the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard were going to use for firearms training on March 4 in Redmond, Ore. (Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
By Kevin Sullivan May 21 at 6:54 PM

REDMOND, Ore. —BJ Soper took aim with his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle and fired a dozen shots at a human silhouette target. Soper’s wife and their 16-year-old daughter practiced drawing pistols. Then Soper helped his 4-year-old daughter, in pink sneakers and a ponytail, work on her marksmanship with a .22-caliber rifle.

Deep in the heart of a vast U.S. military training ground, surrounded by spent shotgun shells and juniper trees blasted to shreds, the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard was conducting its weekly firearms training.

“The intent is to be able to work together and defend ourselves if we need to,” said Soper, 40, a building contractor who is an emerging leader in a growing national movement rooted in distrust of the federal government, one that increasingly finds itself in armed conflicts with authorities.

Those in the movement call themselves patriots, demanding that the federal government adhere to the Constitution and stop what they see as systematic abuse of land rights, gun rights, freedom of speech and other liberties.

Law enforcement officials call them dangerous, delusional and sometimes violent, and they say that their numbers are growing amid a wave of anger at the government that has been gaining strength since 2008, a surge that coincided with the election of the first black U.S. president and a crippling economic recession.
‘The land of the free and the home of the brave, because of the brave’


Members of the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard explain what America means to them and what they want to do to improve it. (Gillian Brockell,Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

Soper started his group, which consists of about 30 men, women and children from a handful of families, two years ago as a “defensive unit” against “all enemies foreign and domestic.” Mainly, he’s talking about the federal government, which he thinks is capable of unprovoked aggression against its own people.

The group’s members are drywallers and flooring contractors, nurses and painters and high school students, who stockpile supplies, practice survival skills and “basic infantry” tactics, learn how to treat combat injuries, study the Constitution and train with their concealed handguns and combat-style rifles.

“It doesn’t say in our Constitution that you can’t stand up and defend yourself,” Soper said. “We’ve let the government step over the line and rule us, and that was never the intent of this country.”

Law enforcement officials and the watchdog groups that track the self-styled “patriot” groups call them anti-government extremists, militias, armed militants or even domestic terrorists. Some opponents of the largely white and rural groups have made fun by calling them “Y’all Qaeda” or “Vanilla ISIS.”

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremism, said there were about 150 such groups in 2008 and about 1,000 now. Potok and other analysts, including law enforcement officials who track the groups, said their supporters number in the hundreds of thousands, counting people who signal their support in more passive ways, such as following the groups on social media. The Facebook page of the Oath Keepers, a group of former members of police forces and the military, for example, has more than 525,000 “likes.”

President Obama’s progressive policies and the tough economic times have inflamed anti-government anger, the same vein of rage into which Donald Trump has tapped during his Republican presidential campaign, said Potok and Mark ­Pitcavage, who works with the Anti-Defamation League and has monitored extremism for 20 years.

Much of the movement traces its roots to the deadly 1990s confrontations between civilians and federal agents at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and in Waco, Tex., that resulted in the deaths of as many as 90. Timothy Mc­Veigh cited both events before he was executed for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people, and he said he had deliberately chosen a building housing federal government agencies.

Now a “Second Wave” is spreading across the country, especially in the West, fueled by the Internet and social media. J.J. MacNab, an author and George Washington University researcher who specializes in extremism, said social media has allowed individuals or small groups such as Soper’s to become far more influential than in the 1990s, when the groups would spread their message through meetings at local diners and via faxes.

The movement received a huge boost from the 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy’s ranch in Nevada, where federal agents and hundreds of armed supporters of Bundy faced off in a dispute over the rancher’s refusal to pay fees to graze his cattle on federal land.

When federal agents backed down rather than risk a bloody clash, Bundy’s supporters claimed victory and were emboldened to stage similar armed face-offs last year at gold mines in Oregon and Montana.

In January, dozens of armed occupiers, led by Bundy’s sons Ammon and Ryan, took over the headquarters buildings of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge near rural Burns, Ore., an action that later resulted in the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, an occupier who was shot by state troopers.

Soper has been in the middle of all of it. He says he has tried to be a more moderate voice in a movement best known for its hotheads. He spent a month living in his RV at Burns, trying to talk the occupiers into standing down.

Two days after Soper’s last visit to the refuge, Finicum was killed in an operation in which the Bundys were arrested. An independent local investigation concluded that the shooting was justified, although the U.S. Justice Department is investigating several FBI agents for possible misconduct. Soper considers Finicum’s death “murder.”

That kind of talk is “a big deal,” said Stephanie Douglas, who retired in 2013 as the FBI’s top official overseeing foreign and domestic counterterrorism programs. “Free speech doesn’t make you a terrorist just because you disagree with the government. But if you start espousing violence and radicalizing your own people toward a violent act, the federal government is going to take notice.”

Shortly after the Bundy ranch confrontation, two of Bundy’s supporters who had been at the ranch, Jerad and Amanda Miller, killed two police officers and a civilian and also died in a Las Vegas shooting rampage. Police said the couple left a note on the body of one the officers they had shot point-blank.

It said: “This is the beginning of the revolution.”

Until two years ago, BJ Soper was a creature of ESPN.

Settled down after spending much of his 20s as a professional rodeo rider, he lived with his second wife and their two daughters on a pastoral plot of land with horses, dogs, cats, chickens and a majestic view of the snow-capped Cascades.

1 Comment

  1. biff Michael Appia

    Let’s look at how Oregon started in a maybe not so accurate timeline… http://www.ode.state.or.us/opportunities/grants/saelp/orraciallaws.pdf

    22 Minutes: Canadian Rifle Association… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oK6scDChSp8

    “War Against the Weak”, Edwin Black.

    “Lies My Teacher Told Me”, James W. Loewen… https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzTOX1xo8sgpN2JmYWRjOGEtYjhlMS00NzMwLTljNWEtNTdiZTJkMDZlYWRh/view?pli=1

    “American Nations”, Colin Woodard.

    “Indian Givers”, Jack Weatherford… https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=forums&srcid=MTA4MjQ5Nzg4NTczODU0OTk1MzEBMDA2ODE1Nzk5Nzk2MjE4MzU2OTgBWU9ZRE94aDR0QkFKATAuMQEBdjI

    Even People’s History of the United States”, Howard Zinn… http://www.thegoyslife.com/Documents/Books/A%20People's%20History%20of%20the%20United%20States-%20Howard%20Zinn.pdf

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