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Patriot Groups under Scrutiny

The political atmosphere is changing quickly in rural America. The top political concerns are shifting to preserving property and personal rights. Ironically, people who regard themselves as patriots and study the Constitution are now considered extremists by the federal regulatory and law enforcement agencies. Citizens who want to limit federal governmental powers are suspected of having anti-American beliefs. The people are electing officials with concerns and beliefs similar to their own. New associations are being formed regarding these beliefs.

One new group, the Coalition of Western States (COWS) was formed in 2014. Their purpose is to “restore management of public lands to the States where it constitutionally belongs.” The organization has 50 legislators and grass roots leaders predominately in the Western United States. Members of this group include Nevada Assemblywomen Michele Fiore and Washington House Republican Matt Shea. The Headline of the Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) report that covered this groups' activities at Malheur Refuge said: "GOP Politicians Planned and Participated in Key Aspects of Refuge Occupation."

Another group is the Constitutional Officers and Peace Officers Association. Their mission statement is: "To equip sheriffs, peace officers and public officials with the necessary information and public support to carry out their duties in accordance with their Oaths of Office." Sheriff Glenn Palmer of Grant County, Oregon was the “Constitutional Sheriff of the Year" for 2012. Palmer sees himself “not fighting with the federal government. In my opinion I’m defending the people that I serve.” The Oregon Department of Justice is now investigating Sheriff Glenn Palmer in regards to his association with the leaders of the Malheur Occupation. If state regulators were to revoke Palmer’s law enforcement certification, it would not necessarily result in his removal from office. He would be breaking the law if he continued to perform law enforcement duties without certification but only a vote by Grant County citizens could force him out of his job.

The Fully Informed Jury Association was organized by Larry Dodge, former chair of the Montana Libertarian Party in the summer of 1989. The association’s primary function is to educate jurors about their duty to act as a check and balance system against unfair laws or unfair application of laws. "Jury nullification of law occurs when a jury returns a Not Guilty verdict even though jurors believe the defendant has broken the law. Because the Not Guilty verdict cannot be overturned, and because the jurors cannot be punished for their verdict, the law is said to be nullified in that particular case." The association's website has a Jurors' Handbook that outlines a juror’s rights plus in-depth resources on issues affecting jurors. A must read.

The group called Oath Keepers started soon after Hurricane Katrina when members of the military found it necessary to refuse orders directing them to fire upon their fellow citizens. Their position statement says: "Oath Keepers is a non-partisan, non-profit, national association of active duty and veteran military, law enforcement, firefighters and all, who take seriously their oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution".... "Oath Keepers does not promote, condone or tolerate violence in any form. We are not a militia or paramilitary group. We intend to simply be a resource and an aid to constitutional law enforcement in time of crisis and to train our neighbors so that resources are used wisely." The III Percent Mission Statement is a quote from Thomas Jefferson: "Rightful Liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others." In the Criminal Complaint leading to the arrests associated with the Malheur Occupation, the Oath Keepers and III% ers were identified as "organizations associated with the anti-American patriot movement."

Pacific Patriots Network mission statement is ... "to provide a comprehensive and integrated response that coordinates community resources to protect life, liberty, property and the environment of our communities through mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery from all natural and man-made hazards that may impact our communities. We are our community’s first responders."

These groups are all growing quickly during these turbulent times, often because of unjust court rulings. For example; the BLM and Forest Service court case against the grazing rights of the Hage Family Ranch near Tonapah, Nevada has lasted decades. Legal fees cost millions of dollars and there have been eight published decisions in three courts. The Hage family’s' victory at the U.S. District Court was overturned in mid-January 2016 by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Wayne Hage, Jr. told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, “It looks to me like the 9th Circuit just swelled the ranks of the militias.” Appeals courts consist of three judges and do not use a jury.

"It is not only his [the juror's] right, but his duty . . . to find the verdict according to his own best understanding, judgment, and conscience, though in direct opposition to the direction of the court." John Adams


Terry Noonkester
Myrtle Creek, Oregon

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