When a U.S. citizen is in violation of U.S. civil or criminal law, there are well-defined legal remedies. If a U.S. citizen defies federal court orders, the remedy is to issue a warrant for their arrest, and let federal law enforcement handle it. Under normal circumstances, this works fairly well.
When it comes to white supremacist militias, however, federal law enforcement doesn’t have a very good track record. While the U.S. Marshals Service is pretty straight forward in serving warrants and making arrests, the FBI and ATF — due to a propensity to grandstand — often screw things up.
Grandstanding, this time in the case of the BLM, provides a platform for the militias and other habitual outlaws to do recruiting. This, in turn, makes it possible for these domestic terrorists to raise funds and organize for further misadventures that threaten law-abiding citizens.
As Charles Tanner reports, the stand-off in Nevada between the BLM and the militias is yet another exercise in stupidity by the feds. Why in the world did they allow illegal trespass by the rancher to go on for twenty years? Why didn’t they evict him?
The short answer, says Tanner, is because he’s white.
In December 2005, during the run-up to the GOP anti-immigrant campaign to benefit the mid-term Congressional elections, Public Good Project co-sponsored a conference on vigilantes as a political pressure group. Mike German, interviewed on Democracy Now in June 2005, was the FBI undercover agent who arrested Washington State Militia members for making bombs to murder human rights activists. German — now with ACLU — left the FBI after his program of infiltrating violent white supremacist organizations was defunded.
Presented at the national human rights conference, Paul de Armond’s report Racist Origins of Border Militias mentions The Order, a Christian Patriot militia which included such noteworthies as Robert Mathews, who was involved in a shootout with U.S. Marshals on Whidbey Island north of Seattle. While Paul and I were involved unofficially in gathering field evidence and information in the Washington State Militia case, we, and undoubtedly others we worked with, quite possibly owe our lives to former Agent German.
Dealing with vigilantes is a constant challenge that law enforcement alone cannot handle. Militarizing law enforcement makes it worse. Negotiating with violent criminals is what happens when law enforcement is politicized.
Arresting Far Right criminals before they can turn conflict into a media spectacle helps. The U.S. Marshals Service seems to understand this, but the FBI, ATF and other federal agencies are so politicized, they seem to enjoy high drama. Most of the high drama that has become part of the Far Right revolutionary lexicon, i.e. Justus Township, Ruby Ridge and Waco, could have been avoided had the Department of Justice followed U.S. Marshals’ advice.
As de Armond observes in his examination of Christian Patriot theology, the essential lesson is that white supremacist militias are violent criminals.
As Tanner and Indian Country Today note, the BLM’s discriminatory treatment of the Western Shoshone Dann sisters, in contrast to the privileged treatment of Cliven Bundy, raises the issue of racial bias. When law enforcement is racially biased for political purposes, indigenous communities are especially vulnerable.