From April 5 to April 12, people around the country watched as Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, backed by often armed supporters, stood in defiance of federal court orders to remove cattle he had illegally grazed on federal lands since the 1990s. Bundy supporters cast the drama a David versus Goliath clash between a Constitutionally-minded rancher and an out-of-control federal government. A closer look reveals a more complex story, offering insights in to the ability of the far right to engage in armed mobilizations on behalf of activists whose federal law violations get them into legal trouble. When the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) backed off from enforcing Bundy’s long-standing grazing violations, far-rightists claimed victory for their ideas and paramilitary tactics, threatening to embolden those would use violence to advance far right political goals.
With so-called "Common Law Grand Juries" increasingly becoming an issue, we felt that this background document from the archives, Guns & Gavels: Common Law Courts, Militias, and White Supremacy, would be useful in providing context into a problem that goes back decades.
The article below ran in the January 2013 edition of Searchlight, an anti-racist, anti-fascist magazine published monthly in London with international distribution. It analyzes Klan, neo-Nazi and Tea Party activity during 2012, and recounts some of the movement's most violent episodes. At the end, please note the data that points towards problems in the future.
2012: A Year in ReviewBy Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart
The year began with whimpers from white nationalists about the decay of their supposed civilization. And it ended with a bang from gunners screaming about their rights after yet another mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school. Election year events dominated the ebb and flow of the far right, the racists and the bigots. In between, skinheads and assorted Aryan-types were arrested and convicted in multiple instances of horrific violence.
On Monday, January 28, 2013, in Topeka, Washburn University’s Center for Kansas Studies asked IREHR president Leonard Zeskind to give a presentation for their main “Kansas Day” commemoration. The following is an excerpt from that speech.
After a year of fast-paced growth and increasing influence, the Tea Partiers suffered their first ever political defeat on Sunday when the House of Representatives passed health care reform. Remember, it was the Tea Partiers' protests at town hall meetings last August that slowed the legislative drive toward reform and effectively took the single-payer option out of the Democratic Party's playbook. Tea Partiers started to push "independents" away from the Democrats, and they pushed the Republican establishment into becoming the party of no-compromise opposition. Now a simple up or down vote has thrown the first roadblock in front of the Tea Partiers, and the question emerges: how will they respond over the next five months?
A former Marine with ties to Tea Parties and militias who talked openly about using his training “to become a domestic terrorist” has been charged in separate complaints with raping a child and possessing an unregistered grenade launcher. His arrest may signal that a wing of the Tea Parties is heading in a more militant direction.