Oregon Patriot Movement Articles

Below are the articles I’ve written about the Patriot movement in Oregon, including the Malheur occupation:

Is Your Local Candidate in Bed with the Patriot Movement?,” spencersunshine.com, April 22, 2016.

Gunning for Office: Oregon’s Patriot Movement and the May 2016 Primary,” Political Research Associates, April 19, 2016.

Will the History Books Record How Neo-Nazis Made Eyes at the Bundy Militia?,” Truthout, January 27, 2016.

Dispatch from Oregon: Armed White Occupiers Are Enjoying Warm Food, Wi-Fi—and No Violence From Feds,” Colorlines, January 21, 2016.

What the Oregon Standoff Is Really About,” Yes! Magazine, January 15, 2016.

Interview with Spencer Sunshine on the Oregon Militia Occupation,” Its Going Down, January 11, 2016.

Where the Oregon Militias Came From,” The Progressive, January 7, 2016.

Profiles on the Right: Three Percenters,” Political Research Associates, January 5, 2016.

I Studied Oregon’s Militia Movement. Here’s 5 Things You Need to Know,” U.S. Uncut, January 3, 2016.

Patriot Movement Paramilitaries in Oregon,” Rural Organizing Project, July 15, 2015.

“It’s Time to Ring the Alarm About White Nationalism”

While the media has heavily covered Islamist terrorist activity and the recent deadly ambushes on police, it has largely overlooked increasingly brazen demonstrations and violence by the Far Right. In the last year, the level of violence has ramped up dramatically and is only now hitting its stride.

On July 7, Michael Strickland, a right-wing journalist who videotapes left-leaning protests and puts participants’ photos on the Internet, was arrested after waving a gun at a Portland Black Lives Matter rally. He claimed that he feared for his life. because someone allegedly shoved him while he was taping the peaceful demonstration.

After a late June confrontation with fascists who had secured a permit to rally at the California state courthouse, nine counter-protestors were hospitalized, with five of them stabbed. The fascists, operating under the banner of the Traditionalist Worker Party (but comprised mostly of members of the neo-Nazi Golden State Skinheads), fled after the clash with protestors. A loaded gun was left at the scene, which anti-fascists claimed neo-Nazis has dropped as they ran away.

Four months before, on February 28, three anti-racist activists were stabbed while confronting Ku Klux Klan members who were attempting to rally in Anaheim, California.

Patriot Movement paramilitaries took over an Oregon wildlife refuge for 41 days in January, their fourth armed encampment in two years.

And all of this has happened barely a year after 21-year-old White supremacist Dylann Roof attended a bible study session at Charleston, South Carolina’s historic Emanuel AME Church, and then fatally shot nine Black worshippers.

This violence needs to serve as a wake-up call.

read the rest at Colorlines

“Is Your Local Candidate in Bed with the Patriot Movement?”

Left: Richard Mack (Oath Keepers, CSPOA), RIght: murderer Jared Miller. Mack, one of the leaders of the Patriot movement, also worked for years with the racist Randy Weaver, an affiliate of the Aryan Nations.
Left: Richard Mack (Oath Keepers, CSPOA), Right: murderer Jared Miller. Mack, one of the leaders of the Patriot movement, also spent years working with racist Randy Weaver, who was affiliated with Aryan Nations.

Is Your Local Candidate in Bed with the Patriot Movement?
Ask Them Twenty Questions and Find Out!
Spencer Sunshine

My Political Research Associates and Rural Organizing Project article “Gunning for Office: Oregon’s Patriot Movement and the May 2016 Primary” details fourteen current candidates for office in Oregon who have links to, or support the goals of, the Patriot movement. But there are many more candidates who are obscuring their real views.

Some people have asked how they can figure out if a candidate is aligned with this movement. Below are some specific questions regarding commonly held views in the Patriot movement that can be used to quiz candidates. No candidate should give answers that are in line with these views; if they give answers to more than a few, then the candidate has politics that are compatible with the Patriot movement.

Feel free to use these questions as worded or tailor them to your local situation.

1. Does Article 1, Section 8, Clause 17 of the Constitution prohibit the federal government from owning any land except for ports, forts, and 10 square miles of Washington, DC?

2. Is the Second Amendment absolute—does it prohibit all gun control laws and restrictions?

3. Is the county sheriff is the highest law enforcement authority, and do they have the ability to decide which laws are Constitutional? For example, if a county sheriff thinks that a gun control law or an executive order is unconstitutional, do they have the power to refuse to enforce it?

4. Should publicly owned land under federal control be transferred to state or county governments? Should these governments have the ability to ignore restrictions against logging, ranching, or mining that federal agencies have passed?

that word5. Can county governments (or other local land-use committees or sheriffs’ offices) force the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, or other federal agencies to comply with county land-use (or other) policies through the “coordination” process?

6. Should federal agencies like the FBI require a county sheriff’s permission before executing warrants or making arrests in their county?

7. Does the 1872 Mining Act prohibit federal agencies from regulating unpatented mining claims?

8. What is your opinion of militia groups, as well as the Oath Keepers, Three Percenters, the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, Citizens for Constitutional Freedom, or a local Committee of Safety? (In Oregon, other groups include the Heirs of Patrick Henry or Central Oregon Patriots.) Are you a member of any of these groups? On social media, are you in any of these Facebook groups or do you Like or Follow these groups? Have you ever had meetings with these groups, or spoken at a meeting that one or more of these groups have sponsored?

9. Does a Committee of Safety have the right to overturn federal or local laws, or otherwise make legally binding decisions?

10. Do citizens have the right to form their own grand juries, outside of the current legal system as we know it, and put public officials or federal employees on trial for violating the Constitution?

11. Should we be concerned about the Agenda 21 plan to use environmentalism as an excuse for the federal government to seize rural citizens’ property, in order to drive them off the land and into the cities?

12. Is the United States a Republic—but not a Democracy?

13. Was Robert “Lavoy” Finicum led into a trap where he was assassinated, as part of a plan that had been designed in advance by the government?

14. Was it illegal for Ammon Bundy and the other occupiers at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to be there? Did they break any laws, other than trespassing?

15. Is the Federal Reserve a corporation that is privately owned by banking families?

16. Were the FBI agents in Harney County really French mercenaries?

17. Is the BLM a private, foreign-owned, off-shore corporation?

18. Are citizens’ militias necessary to keep in check a tyrannical government, which is building secret internment camps?

19. Is the federal government behind recent violent disruptions and false flag attacks, which are a prelude to civil war?

20. Are the 14th and 16th Amendments legitimate, or  should only the “Organic Constitution” be followed?

“Gunning for Office: Oregon’s Patriot Movement and the May 2016 Primary”

This article is based on research from a forthcoming report about Oregon’s Patriot movement, which will be published by the Rural Organizing Project and Political Research Associates.

In the wake of the armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in January and February 2016, a slew of candidates linked to the so-called Patriot movement are running for office in Oregon, including in the upcoming May primary. Even though most of the actual occupiers were from out of state, the occupation highlighted the state’s large and growing Patriot movement. These often-armed, Hard Right activists organized the initial demonstration that preceded the occupation and helped build political support for the occupiers’ demands. These demands included the transfer of federally-owned public lands to state or county governments in order to avoid land-use restrictions, as well as attempts to circumvent the federal government’s decision-making powers by invoking legally groundless claims about the authority of state and county governments.

The arrest of over two dozen people connected to the Malheur occupation, in addition to the death of occupier Robert “Lavoy” Finicum at the hands of law enforcement, has energized the movement—which now has a new martyr and opportunities for activism to support their newly minted political prisoners. For the last few years, the state’s Patriot movement largely focused on non-electoral movement building; some county sheriffs and a handful of other officials were affiliated with its aims, but by and large it remained outside of the electoral arena. This is changing with Oregon’s May 17, 2016 primary election. In several counties where Oregon’s Patriot movement is strong—including Josephine, Crook, Baker, Douglas, and Harney—candidates tied to the movement are running for office. These candidates include key Patriot movement leaders such as Joseph Rice, as well as Republicans who are courting the movement for votes.

The Patriot movement is a Hard Right movement that is trying to radically transform U.S. political and legal institutions. It seeks to implement a form of right-wing decentralization, including the abolition of environmental laws and the social safety net, replacing them with almost completely unrestricted capitalism, all based on an idiosyncratic reading of the Constitution and various conspiracy theories which support their political views. The best known of the movement’s tactics is the formation of paramilitaries—traditionally “militias,” but more recently including other, more decentralized, armed approaches.

Read the rest at Political Research Associates

“Will the History Books Record How Neo-Nazis Made Eyes at the Bundy Militia?”

… As the Malheur occupation fades into history, there are many insights on the US social and political landscape to be distilled both from this episode and from the national conversations it has sparked. One underreported aspect of the affair is what it revealed about the nature of the partial but significant overlaps between neo-Nazis and anti-federal-government activists like the Bundys.

The occupiers had been demanding the abolition of the federal government as we know it, using a set of rationales that were originally derived from racist movements. Some of the occupiers were known to spout anti-Semitic or Islamophobic conspiracy theories, while another denied that slavery existed. And so it should not have surprised anyone that neo-Nazis and other organized racists have applauded the occupation.

read the full article at Truthout

“Dispatch from Oregon: Armed White Occupiers Are Enjoying Warm Food, Wi-Fi—and No Violence From Feds”

Just as they have been since January 2, an armed, mostly White, mostly male group of radical right-wing paramilitaries are still occupying the headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge. So far, local and federal authorities in nearby Burns, Oregon, have taken almost no action. At press time, the buildings are not surrounded by law enforcement. They have electricity, heat and Internet access. Members of the press, supporters and FedEx workers can drive right up to the occupied territory.

A nearby restaurant called The Narrows is still open, too. One can walk in and see a number people—mostly a mixture of media and armed occupiers—enjoying the warm food, Wi-Fi and bar. The atmosphere recalls the cantina scene from the first “Star Wars.”

Read the full article at Colorlines

“What the Oregon Standoff Is Really About”

For a town of fewer than 3,000 residents, Burns, Oregon, sees a lot of business. Travelers heading from Boise to Bend on I-20 stop by here, as do visitors to the nearby wildlife refuge and from other parts of Harney County. Some blocks look like a quaint old Oregon town, the rest is “Anywhere, USA.” The residents seem nice but also direct and unafraid to speak their minds.

When armed right-wing paramilitaries took over the headquarters of the nearby Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on January 2, this is the town they thrust into the national headlines. The armed group’s apparent leaders—Ammon Bundy, 40, and Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 54—succeeded in drawing media coverage and pushing their talking points. But their occupation is starting to divide the community, turning neighbors against each other.

Read the full article at Yes! magazine.