The Militia Movement & Hate Groups in America

By Jonathan Mozzochi

At the Coalition for Human Dignity we conduct research into right-wing social and political movements and analyze trends and events involving these groups in the Pacific Northwest. We provide support to civil rights groups, journalists, and communities targeted by the extreme right. Our work monitoring the growth of so-called "citizen militias" and the self-described "Christian patriot movement" extends back to 1989, when we first began actively investigating rural networks of anti-Semitic tax protesters in Oregon and Idaho. Much of the militia activity in the Pacific Northwest can be traced back to these rural, far right networks of the 1980s and previous decades.

This article will focus on two prominent militia supporters and their efforts to recruit from the ranks of law enforcement. These individuals are Gerald "Jack" McLamb and Retired Army Lt. Col. James "Bo" Gritz.

Bo Gritz is one of the most important leaders of the paramilitary right wing in America today, whose influence is felt throughout the white supremacist movement. Gritz is a former Army Green Beret who retired from the military in 1979 and has since been involved in numerous private missions to search for American Prisoners of War in Southeast Asia. He tells the story of these and other exploits in his 1991 autobiography, Called to Serve. In his book, Gritz also endorses explicitly anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the Federal Reserve banking system, claiming, "Eight Jewish families virtually control the entire FED--only three are American Jews." (sic).

In 1988, Gritz accepted the nomination of the racist, anti-Semitic Populist Party as the vice-presidential running mate of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke. Gritz's bigotry is evident in this quote from a speech he delivered in 1991 at an annual "Bible Camp" run by Pastor Pete Peters, a promoter of the racist, anti-Semitic religion known as Christian Identity:

    "The enemy you face today is a satanic overthrow where he would change the United States of America, a nation under God, into USA, Incorporated with King George as chairman of the board. And a Zionist group that would rule over us as long as satan might be upon this earth, that is your enemy." (sic)

Gritz became more prominent in hate group circles when, in August 1992, he negotiated an end to the siege on Ruby Ridge, in Boundary County, Idaho, involving Randy Weaver and federal authorities. The Weaver siege has been cited frequently as being one of the principal events leading to the formation of militia groups.

Since 1993, Gritz has organized a 10-part paramilitary training course and recruited thousands of individuals to participate. An average of 100-200 attendees per session is not unusual. These SPIKE training programs--the acronym SPIKE stands for "Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events"--recruit participants through gun shows, tax protest meetings, "patriot" gatherings, and the racist lecture circuit. The training involves such topics as lock-picking, counter-intelligence maneuvers, cryptography, and weapons combat.

Among other things, SPIKE trainings are designed to enable participants to create so-called "Christian Covenant Communities," which are essentially self-sufficient, paramilitary enclaves within which patriots can enact their own laws and dispense their own brand of justice, separate from what they believe to be illegally constituted authority [the legitimate authority of lawmakers]. Gritz and his colleague, Gerald "Jack" McLamb have begun major construction on one such community in central Idaho, near the small town of Kamiah.

Called "Almost Heaven" by Gritz and McLamb, this "community" sits adjacent to land owned by the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho County, Idaho. Tribal members have repeatedly expressed their concern with the potential for violence developing from the presence of Almost Heaven, as have other well-meaning people in that community. To the people of Idaho County, Idaho, the patriots, militia organizers, and so-called constitutionalists who may soon flock to Almost Heaven are not merely "withdrawing," or "separating" from society, as they often claim. Rather, they are engaging it, close to home.

McLamb, a retired Arizona police officer and former chemical salesman from California, has been active helping Gritz plan and lead the SPIKE trainings. McLamb is a particularly important figure on the paramilitary right because of his role as the self-appointed ambassador to the law enforcement community. His Aid & Abet Police Newsletter and the various reports issued by his American Citizen and Lawmen Association (ACLA) and "Police Against the New World Order" target police officers and military personnel, attempting to "re-educate" them in the ways of bizarre and often thinly veiled anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.

McLamb's primary training manual, Operation Vampire Killer 2000, is a 75-page booklet designed to "enlighten" active duty officers in the way of the conspiracy. The booklet is widely distributed at militia meetings and gun shows. Literally hundreds of copies have been delivered to police departments and law enforcement personnel by militia activists nationwide. In Washington State, we know of at least four counties where the booklet has been distributed: Stevens, Pierce, Whatcom, and King.

Like many activists in the militia movement and in the paramilitary right, certain of McLamb's ideas could well be characterized as racist. For example, McLamb has stated that "The globalists. . .[are] promoting interracial marriage" and "You can be white, you can not have interracial marriage, in working to save America, you don't have to do that type of a thing." Both McLamb and Gritz play prominent roles in the frequent "Preparedness Expos" held throughout the nation in such places as Florida, Los Angeles and San Jose, California, Utah, and Arizona. These gatherings attract hundreds--sometimes thousands--of right-wing extremists, militia supporters, white supremacists, Christian Identity followers, conspiracy theorists, and military surplus vendors.

It is worth noting that it was at gun shows and meetings such as these, for example, that Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh could often be found, thumbing his well-worn copy of the Turner Diaries, the fictional account of neo-Nazi revolution. Playing on themes that have been developed over the years in the so-called Christian Patriot movement, both McLamb and Gritz tell audiences at these events that they need to prepare for the "coming storm," and encourage participants to recruit law enforcement officers and military personnel into the movement. Both have encouraged the formation of citizen militias.

For McLamb, and many other militia proponents, "storm preparation" invariably means preparing for apocalyptic scenarios, including the imminent declaration of martial law by the United States government. Gritz and McLamb's SPIKE trainings are designed to enable patriots to establish their own independent government structures, and to prepare for armed confrontation, if necessary, with a treasonous government and its agents.

Both McLamb and Gritz recognize that if they are to make headway with their efforts to disregard civil rights laws, tax laws, and a host of other legal responsibilities that others must abide by, they must cultivate support within law-making and law-enforcing bodies. Hence their efforts to convince law enforcement personnel to serve the interests of the patriot movement. Thankfully, their efforts and those of others in the militia movement to recruit support from county sheriffs throughout the Northwest have largely been rebuffed. But that does not mean that they have been without success.

One prominent supporter of the militia movement and the far right from the ranks of law enforcement is Sheriff Richard Mack from Graham County, Arizona. Mack has sued the federal government over the Brady Bill, which he refuses to enforce. Mack is widely featured on the militia speaking circuit.

McLamb and Gritz, and by extension, the militia movement as a whole, are attempting to lay the groundwork for legitimizing their paramilitary organizing. For example, in Stevens County, Washington, at least one county commissioner is sympathetic to the militias and is a promoter of the Posse Comitatus and the racist religion of Christian Identity. Ironically, this commissioner sits on a county advisory committee that provides guidance for local authorities in their dealings with federal land-use bodies such as the Bureau of Land Management.

Often the first target of militia supporters is the county sheriff. According to the traditional ideology of the Posse Comitatus, the sheriff is the highest law enforcement official. Of course, according to the same ideology, if the sheriff is not enforcing the law as the Posse sees fit, it is duly empowered to "discipline" the sheriff. In the 1980s, Posse leaders distributed literature threatening to "hang the sheriff at high noon at the county courthouse" if the edicts of tax protestors and their bogus "common law courts" were not carried out.

We see an almost identical approach toward county sheriffs by those in the militia movement today. The concept of the so-called "unorganized militias" is really no different from the bogus notion advanced by the Posse Comitatus--the idea that every able-bodied, white, male resident over the age of 18 is automatically a deputized member of county law enforcement, the veritable "Posse Comitatus," the "power of the county."

When paramilitary hate groups find supporters in the ranks of law enforcement, the results can be devastating: important information stored in police computers can be accessed, confidential contingency plans developed by law enforcement can become compromised, and valuable police and military hardware is placed at risk. When militia activists and their allies in the white supremacist movement gain influence among law enforcement, what becomes of our capacity to provide equal protection under the law consistent with the Fourteenth Amendment?

When political figures, law enforcement professionals, and others support some of the programs and ideas advocated by militia groups there is a significant danger of conferring legitimacy upon the broader, more extreme program of white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and racism which many militia groups have, likewise, embraced.

One profound irony, of course, is that the vision of government advanced by many leaders of the militias is not necessarily a vision for substantially less government, but it is certainly a vision for a much different form of government--one in which religious freedom, racial equality, and individual liberty would be severely at risk.

Jonathan Mozzochi is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Human Dignity based in Portland, Oregon. This article is adapted from his testimony at an informational congressional hearing held in Washington, DC, on July 11, 1995. © 1995, Jonathan Mozzochi.

 

Share This Page

This article is adapted from:
Eyes Right! Challenging the Right Wing Backlash
Spotlight On
Explore

Browse Topics | Site Guide | Multimedia Bookstore | Magazine | Publications | Activists Resources

Political Research Associates

Copyright Information, Terms, and Conditions

Please read our Terms and Conditions for copyright information regarding downloading, copying, printing, and linking material on this site; our disclaimer about links present on this website; and our privacy policy.

Updates and Corrections