by Tyler Durden
May 22, 2016
During the Oregon standoff, where a group of US citizens calling
Citizens for Constitutional Freedom,
seized control of a federal wildlife refuge in protest of harsh
sentences being given to members of a ranching family for allegedly
allowing fires set on their property to spread on to federal land,
Ron Paul posed a question:
Is the event isolated, or a sign of
things to come?
It is becoming increasingly apparent
that the Oregon standoff was the latter.
As the Washington Post writes, there is a significant movement among
US citizens that are 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.
One example of this movement is a group in Oregon that calls itself
the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard.
The group refers to themselves as
patriots, and is made up of people from all walks of life. The
organization describes itself as a "defensive unit against all
enemies foreign and domestic", mainly because they believe the
government is capable of unprovoked aggression against its own
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
"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
Law enforcement officials call them dangerous, delusional and
sometimes violent, and 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.
B.J. 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
The group's members are,
...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 watchdog
groups are branding such organizations as anti-government extremists
of course, and even trying to marginalize the groups by giving them
nicknames such as "Y'all Qaeda" and "Vanilla Isis", and the groups
have even earned the designation of "domestic terrorists."
Despite the attempts to downplay the
groups, the number of like minded organizations has grown from 150
in 2008 to about 1,000 now, and estimates peg the number of
supporters in the hundreds of thousands.
The movement had been emboldened by
the 2014 standoff at Cliven Bundy's ranch
in Nevada, where federal agents faced off with hundreds of armed
supporters of Bundy in a dispute over the rancher's refusal to pay
fees to graze his cattle on federal land - the agents eventually
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
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 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
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
The latest confrontation that has taken
place was in Burns, Oregon, where armed occupiers, led by Cliven
Bundy's sons, took over the headquarters building of the Malheur
National Wildlife Refuge.
Ultimately, the standoff ended with
multiple arrests, and even the death of the group spokesman
Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, who was shot by the FBI
after an incident at a roadblock in the area.
B.J. Soper, founder of the
Central Oregon Constitutional Guard says he tries to be the calming
voice of the growing movement, knowing there are many hot heads that
fall within its ranks; a voice clearly much needed.
After the standoff at the wildlife
refuge, two members splintered off and went on to kill two police
officers in Las Vegas, leaving a note saying, "This is the beginning
of the revolution."
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 resulted in the death of
Robert "LaVoy" Finicum, an occupier who was shot by state
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
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.
"This is the beginning of the
B.J. Soper has described his reasons to
to start the Central Oregon Constitutional Guard as being simply
that he used to be oblivious to everything that was going on, but
after the Bundy Ranch incident, he decided to get more involved and
make a difference.
Soper's understandable skepticism about
the government gets rather intense, taking views quite outside the
norm, entertaining that the government had a hand in 9/11, that the
government is mandating
vaccines that cause autism, and
the United Nations wants to
reduce global population through a program called
All of which spurred Soper's desire to
create the group, and prepare his family for any possible scenario
through weapons training and emergency food storage.
"I lived like 90 percent of
Americans, oblivious to everything that was going on, from
the time I was 18 until the Bundy Ranch happened," he said.
"I just said,
'I can't sit back and do
nothing. I've got to get involved.'
I feel responsible for where
we're at, because I've done nothing my entire life."
His response was to start his
Central Oregon Constitutional Guard, which he said was partly to
protect against the government, but partly a way to get back to
a simpler America.
"As a kid, life was easy," he
says on the group's website.
"No worries. Very little
threats. I would ride my bike around all over the
neighborhood for hours on end. Play with friends and show
back up for dinner without worry."
Critics say such talk is naive
nostalgia for a 1950s America that wasn't ever really such a
homespun paradise in the first place.
And they say the groups that have
sprung up in response are far more dangerous than Soper and
others want to make them seem.
"The idea that he needs to face
down the government with weapons I think is really, really
wrong," Potok said. "They don't really say that, but I think
that is what is right under the surface."
Soper's research also led him to
some of the Internet's favorite conspiracy theories, including a
purported U.N. plot to impose "One World Government."
And Soper, like most in the patriot
movement, became a believer.
He suspects that the United Nations, through a program called
Agenda 21, wants to
reduce the global population
from 7 billion to fewer than 1 billion.
He said the federal government may
be promoting abortions overseas as part of that plot, and also
may be deliberately mandating childhood vaccines designed to
cause autism because autistic adults are less likely to have
Soper said he could not rule out the possibility that the U.S.
government was behind
the 9/11 attacks.
He suspects that the government and
the "medical community" have had a cancer cure for years but
won't release it because cancer treatment is too profitable
for pharmaceutical companies.
"I'm not saying that's the
case," he said, "but I like to look at all avenues."
Soper knows those ideas sound crazy
to many people, but, he said with a laugh,
"It shows I just don't trust my
Alex McNeely, a 25 year old
drywaller found the patriot group online, and joined the group to
feel that he was helping defend the country.
And in a textbook example of how words
can cause many to take action, echoed the sentiment of many
conservative pundits who claim Obama is a socialist who is trying to
fundamentally change America.
The group is conservative, and generally
supports Trump, although anyone other than Hillary would suffice.
One of the men indicted by the Bundy
ranch case is Gerald DeLemus, who was New Hampshire co-chair
of Veterans for Trump and was named by the Trump campaign as a New
Hampshire alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention
"There's this D.C. mentality
that if you stand up for your rights, you're dangerous and
anti-government," said McNeely, who has an AK-47 assault
rifle tattooed on his forearm.
"But if I'm denied my rights,
what else can I do? Am I just going to stand there and take
it, or am I going to do something?"
In the Constitutional Guard, McNeely
"I feel what we do is stand up
for people who don't have the means to stand up for
themselves. I have an overwhelming desire to help people."
McNeely considered joining the
military when he graduated from high school, but he turned 18
the month Obama was elected in 2008, and, because of Obama's
"I wasn't going to accept him as
my commander in chief."
"I don't like that he wants to fundamentally change
America," McNeely said.
The group members are conservatives,
do not like former secretary of state Hillary Clinton and
generally support Donald Trump.
Soper said he would prefer just
about anyone over Clinton but would not cast a vote for
president this year. He said he thinks casting his vote is "a
waste of time" because Oregon's politics are dominated by
Everyone in the group keeps 30 days worth of food and emergency
supplies on hand, and group members learn gardening and raising
They camp, and learn survival tactics,
including how to fashion a shelter, find food and water, and make a
The group is preparing for anything, and
that includes economic collapse.
"I don't know that it's all that
far-fetched that we have an economic collapse," he said.
"The dollar is a pretty scary
investment anymore. China's buying up all the gold. When people
get hungry and thirsty and can't feed themselves, they get
Soper reiterates every chance that he
gets that he does not want violence, however in his reality, he
believes that if common sense doesn't get restored in the
government, people will get hurt.
"The last thing I want is violence"
Soper said. "But I hope they see that if we continue down this
path, we're going to have more bloodshed in this country."
As he writes his sheriff upon learning
of the news that more people had been arrested in connection with
the 2014 standoff at the Bundy Ranch, Soper airs his concerns, and
ends the letter in a very dramatic fashion:
"People are being detained without
due process" he said. "These are not our American values."
"I pray we find some sense of it again, otherwise a very dark
future awaits us, and it is not very far down the road."
Sheriff, he said, "People are going to die."
As America becomes even more
fragmented, more fractured, and more polarized,
and, as both the GOP and Democratic primaries have shown, with ever
more people calling for true change to take place, the establishment
may be under pressure to finally act for change, even if the change
is at first, very painful - something 8 years of relentless central
bank intervention has desperately tried to prevent.
If the government chooses not to act, a
violent future may await America as the people themselves rise up
once more to recreate what was once the freest and most admired
nation on earth...