40 Violent Incidents and the Right-Wing Rhetoric that Presaged Them
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On June 26, 2008, the U.S. Supreme Court embraced the National Rifle Association's contention that the Second Amendment provides individuals with the right to take violent action against our government should it become "tyrannical." The following timeline catalogues incidents of insurrectionist violence (or the promotion of such violence) that have occurred since that decision was issued:
June 26, 2008—The case of District of Columbia v. Heller is decided by the Supreme Court in a 5-4 ruling. The opinion not only endorses the National Rifle Association’s “individual right” interpretation of the Second Amendment; it also affirms that one of the purposes of the right is to “ assure the existence of a “citizens’ militia” as a safeguard against tyranny.” The NRA’s amicus brief in the case had argued that “ the Second Amendment refers to the utility of an armed population in preventing government tyranny.”
July 27, 2008—Jim Adkisson shoots and kills two people at a progressive church in Knoxville, Tennessee, wounding two. Adkisson calls it “ a symbolic killing” because he really “ wanted to kill…every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg's book,” but was unable to gain access to them.
September 18, 2008—Dick Heller, the plaintiff from the case of District of Columbia v. Heller, provides testimony to the D.C. Council regarding firearm-related legislation. Heller’s written, submitted testimony states, in part: "‘ We the people,’ armed, are TRULY what the Writers of the Constitution intended for us to be in Art. 1, Sec. 8, para. 15, and that is the CITIZEN MILITIA. If suicide terrorists DO attact our city, ARMED CITIZENS could be the First to counter these hostilities in our individual neighborhoods.”
September 22, 2008—The National Rifle Association launches its GunBanObama website, which predicts that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, “ if elected…would be the most anti-gun president in American history.” The website is part of a $15 million NRA campaign to discredit Obama.
December 9, 2008—FBI teams investigating the murder of white supremacist James Cumming, 29, a resident of Belfast, Maine, find supplies for a crude radiological dispersal dervice and other explosives in his home. Cumming's wife, who shot him to death after being abused by him repeatedly, explains, " His intentions were to construct a dirty bomb and take it to Washington to kill President Obama. He was planning to hide it in the undercarriage of our moter home."
February 5, 2009—FOX commentator Glenn Beck hosts an hour-long special on Fox called “ We Surround Them,” a “grassroots effort to wake up our Nation's leaders and let them know what many, if not most, Americans truly believe in and stand for.”
February 20, 2009—FOX commentator Glenn Beck hosts a program that games a 2014 civil war scenario called “ The Bubba Effect.” It involves citizen militias in the South and West taking up arms against the U.S. government.
March 3, 2009— FOX commentator Glenn Beck interviews NRA celebrity spokesman Chuck Norris. During the interview, Beck states that, “ Somebody asked me this morning, they said, ‘you really believe that there's going to be trouble in the future?’ And I said, ‘if this country starts to spiral out of control and, you know, and Mexico melts down or whatever, if it really starts to spiral out of control, before America allows a country to become a totalitarian country … Americans will, they just, they won't stand for it. There will be parts of the country that will rise up.’ And they said, ‘where's that going to come from?’ And I said, ‘Texas, it's going to come from Texas.’”
March 9, 2009—NRA celebrity spokesman Chuck Norris writes in an editorial published at WorldNetDaily: “ How much more will Americans take? When will enough be enough? And, when that time comes, will our leaders finally listen or will history need to record a second American Revolution?”
March 11, 2009—NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre speaks at the 2009 Conservative Political Action Conference and announces that “ Our Founding Fathers understood that the guys with the guns make the rules.”
March 21-22, 2009—Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) states that she wants residents of her state to be “ armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people—we the people—are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.”
April 4, 2009—Neo-Nazi Richard Poplawski shoots and kills three police officers responding to a 911 call to his home in Pittsburgh. His friend Edward Perkovic tells reporters that Poplawski feared “ the Obama gun ban that’s on its way” and “ didn’t like our rights being infringed upon.” Perkovic also commented that Poplawski carried out the shooting because “ if anyone tried to take his firearms, he was gonna’ stand by what his forefathers told him to do.”
April 7, 2009—The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis releases an assessment of right wing extremism in the United States. The Department notes that “ the economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.” Recalling the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, the Department speculates, “ The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”
April 15, 2009—Daniel Knight Hayden, 52, is arrested by FBI agents after he openly states on Twitter that he is going to turn the upcoming Oklahoma City “Tea Party” into a bloodbath. Two months earlier, Hayden had written online, “ The only thing that is keeping the New World Order from destroying this nation is the presence of over 100,000,000 guns in civilian hands. When guns are outlawed, only criminals will have guns. Since we are already criminals in the eyes of the New World Order, and they intend to enslave us all, and to kill those of us who will NOT submit to their slavery, I say to IGNORE gun "laws" and keep your guns (AND ammo) handy.”
April 19, 2009—The Oath Keepers, an anti-government group made up of current and former law enforcement and military personnel, holds its first "muster" in Lexington, Massachusetts, the site of the opening shots of the Revolutionary War. The groups' members pledge to disobey ten different orders that they deem " unconstitutional" and " immoral," the first of which reads, " We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people."
April 25, 2009—Joshua Cartwright, 28, a member of the Florida National Guard, shoots and kills two Okaloosa County sheriff's deputies attempting to arrest him on a domestic abuse charge. Cartwright is killed in an enusing gun battle with police. Cartwright's wife reports that he was " severely disturbed" that Barack Obama had been elected president. Okaloosa County Sheriff Edward Spooner states that Cartrwight was " interested in militia groups and weapons training."
May 2009—Data released by the U.S. Marshals Service indicates that threats to the nation's judges and prosecutors have more than doubled in the past six years, from 592 in 2003 to 1,278 in 2008. Federal officials blame a number of parties, including the "sovereign citizen" movement—an unorganized grouping of tax protesters, white supremacists, and others who don't respect federal authority.
May 21-22, 2009—We The People Chairman Bob Schultz hosts a gathering of 30 "freedom keepers" in Jekyll Island, Georgia. The meeting plays " a key role in launching the current resurgence of militias and the larger anti-government 'Patriot' movement." One of the participants, former Texas militia leader Jon Roland, claims the federal government has " been engaging in warlike activity against the American people."
May 31, 2009—Scott P. Roeder shoots and kills Dr. George Tiller, an abortion provider, in the foyer of Reformation Lutheran Church in Wichita, Kansas. The FBI lists Roeder as a member of the Montana Freemen, a radical anti-government group. In April 1996, he had been pulled over in Topeka, Kansas, for driving with a homemade license plate. Police found a military-style rifle, ammunition, a blasting cap, a fuse cord, a one-pound can of gunpowder, and two 9-volt batteries in his car.
June 3, 2009—Hal Turner, a New Jersey resident and white supremacist blogger/radio host, is arrested on charges of inciting injury after calling for the deaths of two Connecticut state legislators on his blog because they sponsored a bill that would have transferred financial power in Roman Catholic parishes from priests and bishops to lay members. “ While filing a lawsuit is quaint and the 'decent' way to handle things,” he wrote, “ we at TRN (Turner Radio Network) believe that being decent to a group of tyrannical scumbags is the wrong approach. It's too soft. Thankfully, the Founding Fathers gave us the tools necessary to resolve tyranny: The Second Amendment. TRN advocates Catholics in Connecticut take up arms and put down this tyranny by force ... If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they're going to get uppity with us about this, I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down, too.”
June 10, 2009—James W. von Brunn, a convicted felon and a “ hardcore Neo-Nazi,” walks into the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and shoots and kills a security guard. Von Brunn believed that Western civilization was going to be replaced with a “ ONE WORLD ILLUMINATI GOVERNMENT” that would “ confiscate private weapons” in order to accomplish its goals.
June 24, 2009—Hal Turner, a New Jersey resident and white supremacist blogger/radio host, is arrested again after calling for the murder of three Republican-appointed jurists on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals who had issued a June 2 decision upholding handgun restrictions in Chicago. Writing on his blog, Turner says, “ Let me be the first to say this plainly: these judges deserve to be killed,” and includes photographs, phone numbers, work addresses, and room numbers of the judges, as well as a map of Chicago’s federal courthouse which points out its “anti-truck bomb” pylons.
July 13, 2009—Gilbert Ortez, Jr. kills a police deputy in Chambers County, Texas, with an assault rifle. Police were responding to reports that Ortez or his wife had fired shots at utility workers in the area. Police searching Ortez’s mobile home after a 10-hour standoff find more than 100 explosive devices; Nazi drawings and extremist literature; and several additional firearms.
July 15, 2009—Katherine Crabill, a Republican candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates in the state’s 99th District makes headlines by calling on Americans to resist the course President Obama has set for the country. Appearing at a “Tea Party” rally, Crabill quotes a 1775 speech by Patrick Henry and then states, “ We have a chance to fight this battle at the ballot box before we have to resort to the bullet box. But that's the beauty of our Second Amendment right. I am glad for all of us who enjoy the use of firearms for hunting. But make no mistake. That was not the intent of the Founding Fathers. Our Second Amendment right was to guard against tyranny.” This thought is reinforced on Crabill’s campaign website, where she states the Second Amendment “ was clearly intended for self defense as well as, and more specifically, to keep the government on notice of an armed citizenry.”
July 31, 2009—On WWJB-AM in Hernando County, Florida, talk radio host Bob Haa takes a call from a listener who mentions ammunition, target practice, and Barack Obama. Haa tells him not to waste his ammunition on targets, to save it for the administration. Haa is later visited by an agent for the Secret Service.
August 3, 2009—After being blamed for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, FOX commentator Glenn Beck cautions his listeners that “ just one lunatic like Timothy McVeigh could ruin everything that everyone has worked so hard for.”
August 11, 2009—William Kostric is filmed openly carrying a handgun outside of President Obama's health care reform town hall meeting in New Hampshire. Kostric holds a sign that reads, "IT IS TIME TO WATER THE TREE OF LIBERTY!" a reference to the following Thomas Jefferson quote: " The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
August 17, 2009—Chris Broughton openly carries a handgun and AR-15 semiautomatic assault rifle to a health care rally in Phoenix, Arizona. Simultaneously, President Obama addresses a VFW Convention across the street. In a video recorded that day, Broughton states, “ What do you think we did in the revolution, in the American Revolution? The British weren't stealing money from us for health care. They weren't taxing us the way they are now back then. And what did we do? We forcefully kicked them out of our country, and we will forcefully resist people imposing their will on us through the strength of the majority with a vote.”