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Distrustful of Government, Upset About Race, Militias Rise Again in America

The Final Call, News Report , Jesse Muhammad Posted: Aug 20, 2009

Is having a Black man rise to the highest position in the United States, a Latina appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court, and census predictions showing minorities gaining numerical superiority in the next 50 years among factors that have caused resurgence in an anti-government movement filled with angry Whites?

A report from the Southern Poverty Law Center reveals a growth in angry White militia operations saturated throughout the Deep South, Northwest and Midwest parts of the country.

Not since the 90s has there been such a large presence of anti-government militias in this country like there is today, Mark Potok told The Final Call. Mr. Potok is a staff director at SPLC and also co-wrote the report.

This resurgence is dangerous and directly related to us having a Black man as president, period, Doug Pennington, of a national gun control group, told The Final Call. If any other reason is given, I would have to be convinced. Just look at how people are bringing weapons to the healthcare town hall meetings.

In April, Department of Homeland Security officials warned in a report that right-wing extremists could use the declining U.S. economy and the election of the country's first Black president to increase membership. Recruiters have penetrated social networking sites such as YouTube and Facebook.

Rightwing extremist groups' frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to incite individuals or small groups toward violence. If such violence were to occur, it likely would be isolated, small-scale, and directed at specific immigration-related targets, warned Homeland Security officials.

The department further noted that extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to exploit their skills and knowledge derived from military training and combat and a heightened interest in legislation for tighter firearms may be invigorating rightwing extremist activity, specifically the White supremacist and militia movements.

These militias have also been successful in getting their false propaganda and conspiracy theories into mainstream media, Mr. Potok told The Final Call. These militias make people look at certain groups as the enemy and causes hate crimes. Also this makes rational and sensible debates hard in this country. This report is important because there is a real danger of violence.

Mr. Pennington, who heads communications for the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence headquartered in Washington, D.C., said, the rise of these militia groups is evident that law enforcement needs more funding for personnel to enforce gun laws that are already on the books. Also to crack down on illegal gun trafficking.

The Brady Campaign works to enforce sensible gun laws, regulations, and public policies. They linked up with the Million Mom March Network, launched nine-years-ago, to educate the public about gun violence through litigation, grassroots mobilization, and outreach to affected communities.

This mindset of these armed individuals is impacting the communities and shootings like the one at the Holocaust Museum here can happen anywhere, Mr. Pennington told The Final Call. These militia groups are finding loopholes in the laws to gain access to weaponry. White supremacist James von Brunn allegedly opened fire at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. in June, killing a Black security guard. Mr. Von Brunn's arraignment is set for Sept. 2 in U.S. District Court in Washington.

In the 24-page report, titled The Second Wave: Return of the Militias, the SPLC warns that at least 50 new militias have been discovered in the last few months and that today the Patriot movement may not have the White-hot fury that it did in the 1990s. But the movement clearly is growing again, and Americans, in particular law enforcement officers, need to take the dangers it presents seriously.

This is the most significant growth we've seen in 10 to 12 years. All it's lacking is a spark and it's only a matter of time before you see threats and violence, the report said. It was released Aug. 12.

The report details 75 plots, conspiracies and racist rampages since the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, an explosion killed 168 people and injured 500 more. Over a span of four years, the incidents have increased.

In June of this year, White supremacist Dennis Mahon and his brother were indicted in Arizona in connection with a mail bomb sent in 2004 to a diversity office in Scottsdale that injured three people. That same month the White forerunner of an anti-immigrant vigilante group that conducts citizen patrols on the Arizona-Mexico border was charged with two counts of first degree murder for the alleged role in the slayings of a Latino man and his 9-year-old daughter in Arivaca, Ariz.

In Kansas, White anti-abortion extremist Scott Roeder, who was involved with the anti-government Freemen movement in the 1990s, allegedly shot to death a late-term abortion providing doctor in a Wichita church April 25.

The element of racism is definitely alive in Kansas and it's getting worse, Juanita Blackmon, a Wichita resident, told The Final Call. The rise in militia groups does not surprise me at all.

Ms. Blackmon, a Black woman, heads the Justice Keepers of Wichita, which aims to attack racism. People need to stop thinking this is a post-racial America. These angry White people are organizing, so we need to organize as well. We are in a fight and they are not playing. They have been doing this stuff for years but it has been hidden.

According to the SPLC report, the most law enforcement officers murdered at the hands of a domestic extremist since the Oklahoma bombing occurred on April 4 in Pittsburgh. It was on that day that White supremacist Richard Andrew Poplawski fatally shot three Pittsburgh officers to death. According to the SPLC report, Mr. Poplawski told a friend that America is controlled by a cabal of Jews, that U.S. troops may soon be used against American citizens, and that he feared a ban on guns was coming.

This resurgence is happening again because history will repeat itself when the problem is not properly attacked, Mathew Fogg, a former law enforcement officer, told The Final Call. It's no longer good enough to just say that this racist mind exists. We have to be diligent in eradicating it because when something is left untreated it only gets worse.

Mr. Fogg is a Black retired chief deputy U.S. Marshal for the Department of Justice with over 30 years of experience. Racism is a threat to national security and I have seen it within law enforcement. These militias are orchestrated efforts by those who feel they are losing something. America is still divided.

The last report I saw, President Obama is receiving 50 death threats a day. This is unheard of and unprecedented, said Mr. Fogg, who is also the original author of the NO-FEAR Act signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2002 to fight discrimination across federal agencies.

Evil thrives when good men sit by and do nothing. Everyone must take a stand and fight injustice and racism, he said.

Acts of rage against the president

President Barack Obama has received more death threats that any of his predecessors and extremist plots increased during the presidential race of 2008, according to the SPLC report.

In June 2008, six people tied to the militia movement were arrested in Pennsylvania after officials found assault rifles, improvised explosives and homemade weapons.

Pennsylvania Citizens Militia recruiter Bradley T. Kahle allegedly told authorities he intended to shoot Black people from a rooftop in Pittsburgh and predicted civil war if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton was elected president, the report said.

In August of last year White supremacists Shawn Robert Adolf, Tharin Robert Gartrell and Nathan D. Johnson were arrested during the Democratic National Convention in Denver on weapons charges and for possession of amphetamines in a plot to assassinate then-presidential candidate Obama.

In Tennessee, two White supremacists, Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman, were arrested in October for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mr. Obama and murder more than 100 Black people. Officials also said to two had planned to kill 88 people and then behead 14 more.

The current political environment is awash with seemingly absurd but nonetheless influential conspiracy theories, hyperbolic claims and demonized targets, and this creates a milieu where violence is a likely outcome, said Larry Keller in the SPLC report.

Infiltrating the healthcare debate

News reports have shown people bringing loaded handguns to town hall debates over health care, even to President Obama's town hall in New Hampshire on Aug. 11.

Let's be clear: it is dangerous to allow the carrying of loaded handguns to the town hall' meetings hosting heated discussions about health care and other issues around the country, said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign, in a released statement.

Except for trained law enforcement, it is unthinkable to allow people with loaded guns near the president of the United States, he said. We should decide contentious public issues with ballots, not bullets. The any gun, anywhere, anytime' mentality of a few must give way to common sense before innocent people get hurt.

If these were Black people acting ugly, the media and other opinion leaders would be all over it, said Dr. Ron Walters, director of the African-American Leadership Institute at the University of Maryland. There would be no protection, no temporizing, but much criticism and condemnation and perhaps even a show of police action. What's next? he asked.

Related Articles:

SPLC Report: Militias Returning in Fear of Black President

Why is White Right Attacking the First Black President?

Behind the Town Halls' 'Angry White Men'

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