From Missoula Independent. David Holthouse:
Homeland on the Range: Are “patriots” and white supremacists forming an anti-government alliance in Kalispell?
At first glance, the Pioneer Little Europe website seems like it could be the work of the Montana Office of Tourism. Photographs depict the rugged beauty of the Flathead Valley. One image shows a young blonde-haired girl playing in a meadow overlooking Kalispell. The site also features short news items about the Northwest Montana State Fair and a wildflower beautification program, along with Kalispell job postings.
But then there’s this: a scan of a full-page advertisement in a recent edition of the Flathead Beacon with photographs of 47 babies newly delivered in the Kalispell Regional Medical Center. All but one are fair-skinned with light-colored hair. “Wonderful white babies being born in Kalispell,” the website reads. “What do the babies look like being born in your town?”
Another item on the site depicts white families relaxing on the shore of a lake. A caption reads, “This is how white our beaches are, and I’m not talking about sand.”
And see that little girl in the meadow? Her name is Dresden Hale—that’s “Dresden” for the German city firebombed by Allied forces in World War II and “Hale” for Matt Hale, the 1990s leader of the neo-Nazi group World Church of the Creator. Hale is serving 40 years in prison for soliciting the murder of a federal judge.
Dresden Hale is the youngest daughter of Kalispell resident and neo-Nazi activist April Gaede, the public face of the Pioneer Little Europe movement. Launched in 2008, PLE invites “racially conscious” white Americans to relocate to the Flathead Valley to help create an armed Aryan homeland. Gaede’s other two daughters, Lynx and Lamb, are identical twins who gained media attention by performing neo-Nazi folk ballads as the musical act Prussian Blue. Lynx and Lamb have since renounced white supremacism and when last heard from were advocating for medical cannabis.
The PLE movement has brought dozens of white supremacists to the Flathead Valley. They’re increasingly making their presence known by staging public events; openly recruiting and distributing racist literature; stocking up on firearms at area gun shows while dressed in neo-Nazi clothing; working for local anti-gun control and anti-abortion campaigns, according to Gaede; and issuing violent threats to perceived enemies, including Media Matters, where this story was published online last week.
The growing numbers of PLE white supremacists in the Flathead Valley parallels a recent influx to the area of right-wing Patriot movement leaders and their followers. Their combined forces are transforming the region into the apex of right-wing extremism in the U.S.
Nationwide, the Patriot movement is surging. And local, state and federal law enforcement authorities, as well as Montana civil rights activists, say newly arrived Patriot members are forming ties with PLE white supremacists. “They’re showing up at each other’s events,” says a federal law-enforcement investigator. “They have in common a great degree of hostility toward the government in general and specifically law enforcement. Also, they’re both openly encouraging individuals with a similar mindset to relocate to the Kalispell area. At this point, they’re separate but related concerns for law enforcement.”
In addition to calling on fellow right-wing extremists to move to the Flathead Valley, leaders of both the PLE and the Patriot movements are urging their followers to exploit Montana’s lack of firearms regulations by stocking up on guns, says Travis McAdam, executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, which closely follows PLE and Patriot activity.
“With the PLE, it’s the coming battle with Zionist Occupied Government; with the Patriots, it’s the New World Order,” McAdam says. Still, “the rhetoric is similar: ‘A big fight is coming, so move with us to Montana, where it’s easy to get a lot of serious guns.’” Gaede cited Montana’s pro-gun culture in a recent PLE recruiting message posted to the white nationalist online forum Stormfront. The Flathead Valley, she wrote, “has a distinct ‘Montana’ feel and attitude. That attitude is to leave others alone and allow them to have their own beliefs and choices. There is a strong pro-gun and pro-hunting population and one of the strongest Constitution parties that I have seen yet. Our Christmas parade still goes by that name and we have a nativity scene in our public square with a Baby Jesus…Come Home!”
The dogs in the cellar
Last month, Media Matters emailed April Gaede, the spokeswoman for the Pioneer Little Europe movement, to ask whether she considered PLE a racist endeavor.
“Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white,” Gaede replied. “If a group of Jews wanted to move to an area that had a high concentration of Jews already, would that make them Jewish supremacists? If blacks choose to associate and work with other blacks to form a ‘black racial community,’ is that racist? Apparently only white people cannot work for the advancement of their race, while groups like La Raza are accepted as ‘cultural groups.’ What if the 14 words said ‘We must secure the existence of our race and a future for Native American children’ instead of ‘We must secure the existence of our race and a future for White children?’ Would human-rights activists call that racist?”
The “14 words” is a popular white nationalist slogan that was devised by David Lane, a member of the 1980s right-wing domestic terrorist group The Order. The group committed armed robberies, including a $3.6 million armored car heist, in part to fund the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations. Richard Butler, the founder of Aryan Nations, set up shop in a northern Idaho compound in the 1970s. From there, Butler called for the migration of white supremacists to the Northwest. Aryan Nations has all but disintegrated since Butler’s death in 2004.
The current Flathead Valley-based PLE movement is the latest manifestation of the longstanding dream of white supremacists to carve out their own piece of America. Gaede and other PLE activists picked the valley for some of the same reasons Butler picked northern Idaho: historically, its population is more than 95 percent white and politically conservative with a strong libertarian streak. “Around here, we have a live-and-let-live mentality,” says Kalispell Mayor Tammi Fisher. “That leads to some individuals with fringe beliefs finding refuge in the Flathead Valley.”
The PLE movement is guided by an 85-page document titled Pioneer Little Europe (PLE) Prospectus, written in 2001 by H. Michael Barrett, a longstanding white supremacist. Barrett’s history in the movement dates back to the late 1960s, when, by his own account, he served as the armed bodyguard for one of the leaders of the National Socialist White People’s Party, which had evolved out of the American Nazi Party. Barrett went on to join the Ku Klux Klan and become a field organizer for David Duke.
The Prospectus describes a step-by-step plan to gradually transform a mostly white, conservative area by taking over its local political and economic systems and then unleashing what Barrett terms “Uncontrolled White Nationalist Culture” or UNWC:
“The UNWC starts out by drawing together the [white nationalists] who are no longer permitted to exercise the integrity of their community living space anywhere else, those who are unwanted elsewhere if they even so much as express love for their race. These are the culturally homeless, the berserkers, the greatest misfits, the especially angry, those who refuse to run any more, who refuse to bow and scrape, the doers rather than passive thinkers, the dogs in the cellar.” The prospectus lays out plans to “connect with militants, those who have long lacked a community to defend,” and eventually to “displace and DESTROY all the local values that have never really served whites.”
Since the PLE Prospectus first appeared online, several white supremacist groups in the U.S. and the U.K. have announced their intentions to form Aryan communities as outlined by Barrett. Most of these efforts proved to be no more than talk. No other Aryan homeland organizers have gained anywhere close to the kind of traction within the larger white supremacist movement as PLE organizers in Montana have since the fall of 2008, when Gaede issued the first in a series of public invitations to white supremacists across the country to join her and a handful of PLE “advance scouts” in the Flathead Valley.
Gaede’s message was posted on several white supremacist online forums, including Stormfront, the largest website of its kind, with more than 100,000 registered users. Stormfront now has several active discussion threads promoting the Kalispell-based PLE movement, with more than 3,500 posts.
“Hello friends,” Gaede wrote in her first overture. “I am formally making you an invitation to ‘come home’ to the Pacific Northwest. For many years, the Northwest Imperative or Northwest migration movement has existed in the hearts and minds of many of our people. Over 20 years ago, some of the first White Nationalist pioneers started moving to this area. The numbers are not clear, but we are slowly but surely gaining ground. By the creation of PLE areas or towns, those of us who have already made the move will try to help and advise those who wish to do so.”
Local and federal law enforcement put the number of white supremacists who have either relocated to the Flathead Valley permanently or become frequent visitors to the area as a direct result of the PLE movement at close to 50. That figure does not include Patriot movement followers, who have moved there during the same time period. A December 2008 report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives estimated that approximately 35 Freemen or sovereign citizen extremists, sub-sets of the Patriot movement, were active in or near Kalispell. That number has increased since then, following the arrival of Christian fundamentalist preacher Chuck Baldwin, a leading figure in the Patriot movement. Baldwin moved to Kalispell in late 2010 with 17 members of his family. He’s since drawn more than 20 followers to the Flathead Valley, according to law enforcement sources. Last week, he declared his candidacy for Montana’s lieutenant governor.
At least 43 white supremacists on Stormfront and similar internet forums claim to be living in the Flathead Valley as part of PLE and to have moved there since early 2009. Another five claim to be locals who lived there before the PLE movement in Montana began. A review of more than 30 hours of video footage of five right-wing extremist events held in the Flathead Valley in the last 12 months reveals at least 36 self-declared white supremacists are either living there or traveling there often enough to appear at event after event.
“I would say there’s 25-30 of these individuals living here right now, and maybe about that many who come and go and seem to be thinking about moving here,” says Flathead Valley Sheriff Chuck Curry. “Obviously, we hope they don’t.”
Curry says there has been no uptick in reported hate crimes or extremist violence in the Flathead Valley since the PLE movement went public. “At this point, it seems like it’s all rhetoric,” he says. “But we’re keeping our eye on it. We work very well with the FBI here.”
Curry thinks Gaede and other PLE activists were drawn to the valley by widespread anti-government sentiment in the region. “For whatever reason, it’s pretty normal around here for people to declare themselves anti-government, at least in terms of the federal level,” he says. “That’s what these [PLE] folks find attractive, the same as the constitutionalists, whom we called ‘militia’ 10 years ago. But having hard feelings toward the federal government and being a neo-Nazi are two different things. These folks are on the edge of society. They’re not representative of our community.”
Recent arrivals in Kalispell include rank-and-file members of neo-Nazi, skinhead and Ku Klux Klan groups, as well as better-known white supremacists such as Gaede, neo-Nazi webmaster Craig Cobb and former Aryan Nations organizer Karl Gharst.
Earlier this year, the National Policy Institute, a white nationalist think tank, relocated its headquarters to the Flathead Valley. Its director, Richard Spencer, moved to Whitefish. Spencer publicly touted the PLE movement in September at an NPI-sponsored racist conference in Washington, D.C.
It looks as though the PLE movement in Montana is beginning to execute the strategies outlined in the PLE Prospectus. These include providing “safe speaking forums” for controversial historians, some of whom have revisionist views. Since March of 2010, PLE members have organized a lecture in Kalispell by prominent Holocaust-denier David Irving and four showings of Holocaust-denial movies in the basement of the Kalispell Public Library.
In April 2010, a PLE movie night featured Epic: The Story of the Waffen SS, a 1982 film of a speech by former SS officer Leon Degrelle, who calls Adolph Hitler a “man of exceptional genius,” says the Holocaust didn’t happen and claims that Hitler was targeted by “international bankers and the servile press…because of his social work.” While the movie drew about a dozen PLE members and supporters, roughly 200 anti-racist demonstrators rallied outside. Observing the protesters, Karl Gharst told a reporter for the Flathead Beacon, “It’s a fucking freak show…They’re all the same queers and Jews and shit that were at the gay pride parade.” That evening, April Gaede and her husband were arrested for scuffling with a protester who was snapping photographs of individuals entering the library to attend the screening. The charges against them were later dropped.
The protest outside the library was one of four anti-racism demonstrations held in response to the PLE movement by the Flathead Valley Multi-Faith Coalition. Rev. Darryl Kistler, pastor of the Flathead Valley United Church of Christ, organized it. In March, his church was struck by a bullet and spray-painted with graffiti that read “Faggot Lovers.”
It seems as though PLE extremists “feel like they’ve gained a critical mass of numbers,” Kistler says, “and they’re becoming more aggressive and out front with their views.”
We will shrink you
The American Civil Liberties Union is under indictment for treason to the white race. So is the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Council of La Raza, the Anti-Defamation League and the Montana Human Rights Network.
This news arrived in a series of emails sent earlier this year over a six-week period by Karl Gharst, a neo-Nazi organizer who moved to Kalispell and is one of the most notorious members of the Pioneer Little Europe movement. Gharst has a long history of making violent threats.
“I will see justice come to those who lay traps [for], slander and otherwise persecute good white people for exercising their God-given rights,” Gharst wrote in one such email. “I promise!”
Elsewhere, Gharst used arcane language typical of adherents to sovereign citizen ideology, a pseudo-legal system of beliefs founded upon elaborate conspiracy theories that is popular with members of the Patriot movement as well as neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Sovereign citizens hold themselves above laws; typically, the only legal authority they recognize is their own common-law jury system.
The Gharst email declared that the Montana Human Rights Network and the other groups are “Jewish criminal organizations” and “illegal operations of whom their intent and demonstrated actions are constitutional violations also violating the sovereignty of Montana by working against and contrary to the lawful and rightful citizens of the SState [sic] of Montana.”
Gharst singled out by name and threatened several “agents” of Media Matters, the ACLU and an Alabama-based immigration rights organization, citing their “treason to the white race.” “I and my appointed/sworn representatives will do all in my/our power…to ensure that [employees of Media Matters, ACLU and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama] are brought to justice at a time and place of our choosing.”
In a different mid-September email to Montana Human Rights Network executive director Travis McAdam, Gharst declared, “These people calling themselves ‘Jews’ are not citizens of the State of Montana in accordance to the Constitution of the State of Montana.” Gharst wrote that as a “lawful citizen,” meaning white and non-Jewish, “I am giving you proper notice that I am now exercising my duty that I will do all in my power… to see that all MHRN members will stand trial by the lawful citizens of the State of Montana for crimes against the State, and justice returned to lawful citizens.”
A month later Gharst announced that the trial of McAdams and his associates will take place “before or on June 6th, 2012, at 2:00PM MST” in the Kalispell town square.
What may sound like gobbledygook might actually verge on death threats. Gharst is vowing to punish individuals for treason. He recently boasted online that he carries a “razor-sharp” knife at all times, always keeps a gun within reach and is an expert sniper.
In 2004, Gharst was convicted of threatening the life of a Native American social worker in Montana and served five months in jail. According to a charging document, Gharst told the social worker he was forming a group in Kalispell to “gather up all the lesbians and mongrels and evil people,” and that she had only a short time to live.
After he was released, Gharst moved back to Idaho, where he’d long been a recruiter and organizer for Aryan Nations. He resurfaced in Kalispell in 2008 and became active with the Pioneer Little Europe movement by, according to Gharst, arranging construction jobs for skinheads who moved to Kalispell and by organizing the PLE’s Holocaust denial film series along with Gaede, the PLE’s spokesperson.
This fall, however, Gharst apparently had a falling out with Gaede. “Karl, you really need to stop smoking crack,” Gaede posted in late September on a white supremacist bulletin board. “Or maybe the untreated diseases you got from the filthy Rosebriar whores finally caught up with you and warped your brain.” (The Rose Briar Inn is a boarding house in Kalispell.)
Some law enforcement investigators suspect the purported Gharst-Gaede feud is a smokescreen to create a false sense of disorganization and infighting. But it wouldn’t be out of character for Gharst, who attacked another high-profile PLE activist, neo-Nazi webmaster Craig Cobb, in a vicious online rant in mid-September. Gharst called Cobb a Jew and accused him of informing on a “politician’s son who’s part of our movement.” Gharst may have been referring to PLE activist Zachariah Harp, a fellow neo-Nazi who grew up in Kalispell and whose father is former Montana legislator John G. Harp.
Gaede claims the PLE movement has “pro-white” supporters who are high up in the Flathead Valley Republican Party. “I cannot say who they are, obviously they would get lots of flack for it, but yes, we do have people who are pro-white…in higher places,” she posted online in October. Flathead Valley Republican Party Chairwoman Sandy Welch disputes Gaede’s claim. “She says they [PLE supporters in the local Republican party] are keeping their heads down. Well, they must be keeping them really low because there is no obvious racist or pro-white activity in our party. We are not a racist organization and we condemn their positions.”
Cobb began living in Kalispell in the summer of 2010 after being kicked out of Estonia and then being charged with hate crimes in Canada, where he remains a wanted man. (Cobb has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship.) In September 2010, Cobb and Harp co-hosted a PLE screening of a Holocaust-denial film at the Kalispell Public Library.
In addition to their PLE activism, Cobb and Harp are both members of the Creativity Movement, a white supremacist organization formerly known as the World Church of the Creator, according to the Montana Human Rights Network and other hate-group monitors. There have been WCOTC chapters in Montana for at least 20 years, but just in the last two years, along with the rise of the PLE movement, there has been a significant uptick in Creator activity centered in Kalispell as well as in Bozeman and Billings.
The Montana Creators, as members of the state chapters refer to themselves, have been shopping at gun shows while wearing their black-and-red uniforms or Creator “RAHOWA” T-shirts, according to three gun dealers who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution. “RAHOWA” stands for “Racial Holy War.” Last year, one of the leaders of the Montana Creators boasted online that members of his group “take advantage of our state’s gun laws.”
A 2010 report by Legal Community Against Violence, Gun Laws Matter: A Comparison of State Firearms Laws and Statistics, ranked Montana among the 10 states in the country with the weakest firearms laws. Montana, the LCAV found, has enacted few gun-violence prevention laws. The state does not require background checks before the transfer of firearms between private parties (enabling the gun show loophole), does not license or regulate firearms dealers, does not limit the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time and does not prohibit the sale or transfer of assault weapons, .50 caliber sniper rifles or high-capacity magazines.
Gaede has repeatedly pointed to Montana’s pro-gun culture and loose firearms regulations as one of the fundamental reasons for launching the PLE movement in the Flathead Valley. “You’re not going to have any trouble building up a self-defense arsenal around here,” she recently informed potential recruits.
In addition to arming themselves, the Montana Creators have also been holding public recruiting drives and leafleting throughout the state. In late September, for example, some Missoula residents found Creativity Movement literature on their windshields, and someone placed a Montana Creators sticker on a recycling bin at the University of Montana’s Native American Center that read “Save the White Race! Earth’s Most Endangered Species.”
Members of the Creativity Movement have a long record of racially motivated violence. The Montana Creators website broadcasts militant rhetoric, such as, “Remember that the inferior colored races are our deadly enemies, and that the most dangerous of all is the Jewish race. It is our immediate objective to relentlessly expand the white race and keep shrinking our enemies.”
In July 2009, Montana Creators member Allen Goff, then 17, shot a Latino teenager in the knee in what prosecutors alleged was a racially motivated shooting. Goff, who was found in possession of brass knuckles and carrying a swastika-decorated backpack containing a Glock 9mm pistol (fully loaded with a 30-round high capacity magazine) and a knife, was charged with felony assault and hate crimes.
Earlier that year, the Montana legislature had passed the “Shoot to Kill Bill,” which codified that Montana residents are allowed to use deadly force with a firearm if they are “legally in a place” and feel threatened, whether or not the person by whom they feel threatened is displaying a weapon. The law further declares that it is up to prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a shooter’s actions were not justified.
Although the young man that Goff shot was unarmed, the neo-Nazi’s lawyer argued that his client was justified in using deadly force because he felt threatened. The jury acquitted him.
Last year, Goff praised the shooting of an anti-racist activist by skinheads in Portland, Ore., according to an MHRN report: “They [anti-racists] never get brave here [in Montana]. They know we take advantage of our state’s gun laws.”
God told Chuck Baldwin to move to Montana. Specifically, to Kalispell. God did this, according to Baldwin, sometime in the summer of 2010, not long after Baldwin appeared at a Patriot movement convention in Missoula.
For 35 years, Baldwin, a fundamentalist Christian, had lived and preached in Pensacola, Fla., railing in a syndicated column in recent years about U.N. gun control conspiracy theories, tyranny-minded globalists and FEMA internment camps.
Baldwin is now one of the leading figures in the Patriot movement, which has grown considerably since the U.S. economic meltdown and the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, the number of Patriot groups in the country went from 149 in 2008 to 824 in 2010. The SPLC says the members of such groups are “people who generally believe that the federal government is an evil entity that is engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose martial law, herd those who resist into concentration camps and force the United States into a socialistic ‘New World Order.’”
Baldwin first aligned himself with the Patriot movement when he ran for Vice President on the anti-government Constitution Party ticket. After that, his rhetoric, both from behind the pulpit and in his prolific writings, became increasingly militant and more concerned with gun rights and battling with globalists than with gay rights and the Rapture, previously his favorite topics.
Then, in September 2010, Baldwin abruptly announced that he was pulling up stakes and moving to Kalispell along with his grown children and their spouses and home-schooled offspring. At the time that Baldwin and his brood of 17 resettled, white supremacists were also migrating to the region to support the Pioneer Little Europe movement. Baldwin’s warnings of a looming battle between Patriots and “Big-Govern-ment globalists” in the U.S. mirrors in key ways longstanding white supremacist predictions of a war against ZOG, or the Zionist Occupation Government.
“We believe America is headed for an almost certain cataclysm,” Baldwin wrote in a September 2010 column headlined “Why We Are Moving to Montana.” It “will almost certainly include a fight between Big-Government globalists and freedom-loving, independent-minded patriots,” he continued. “I would even argue that this fight has already started. And as this battle escalates (and it will most assuredly escalate), only those states that are willing to stand and fight for their independence and freedom will survive—at least in a state of freedom. And we believe that God has already put the love of liberty deep into the hearts of the people of the Mountain States; and we further believe that God is already calling (and will continue to call) many other freedom lovers to those states. One thing is for sure: we know He called us!”
Baldwin assured his followers that he wasn’t moving to Montana for the scenery or the skiing. “We’re not going to play games, or play politics; we are not going to ‘take it easy,’ or ‘hide,’ or hibernate. We are not going to ‘enjoy the climate.’ We are going to fight! We are going to work! We are going to help the freedom-minded people of Montana make their stand for liberty! In many ways, the Mountain States just might become The Alamo of the 21st century, with, hopefully, much better results. But if not, I would rather die fighting for freedom with liberty-loving patriots by my side than be shuttled off to some FEMA camp after having been rejected and betrayed by soft-living, comfort-seeking, materialistic statists.”
True to his word, within a month of getting situated in Montana in early 2011, Baldwin launched a new ministry, the Liberty Fellowship, which meets weekly at the Kalispell Red Lion Inn. His sermons regularly draw around 200 attendees, including well-known members of the PLE movement. Last month, Gaede posted to Stormfront that “PLE Christians” attend the Liberty Fellowship. She’d previously written that Baldwin’s sermonizing moved her to tears. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported earlier this week that Baldwin’s congregation also includes Kalispell resident and white separatist Randy Weaver, whose 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff with federal agents fueled the rapid growth of the militia movement of the 1990s.
Baldwin did not return two messages seeking comment.
“Both hardcore white supremacists and anti-government patriots in the Flathead Valley can hardly contain their enthusiasm when talking about Baldwin now living in Montana,” says McAdam, of the Montana Human Rights Network. “It almost feels like the worshipping of a teen idol.”
Like Patriot groups, the PLE movement promotes itself as being rooted in a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The PLE Prospectus calls for targeting communities that will be attractive to restless whites who are “conscious of their own best interests,” whether they are self-declared white supremacists or not. “A PLE is defined as a conscious white community—initially possessing greatly contrasting views among its residents—which comes to dominate a geographical area,” reads the PLE guide.
Patriot group members in the Flathead Valley have attended recent screenings of Holocaust denial films hosted by PLE activists and PLE white supremacists have attended recent Patriot events, including presentations by Baldwin’s eldest son, Timothy.
Timothy Baldwin has given lectures on state sovereignty in Kalispell and Ronan. Freedom Action Rally and Citizens Acting for Liberty, both Flathead Valley Patriot groups, sponsored the events. Earlier this year, Timothy ran for the board of trustees of Flathead Valley Community College and received 778 votes, about 20 percent of those cast.
His father, Chuck, was a featured speaker at a major survivalist gathering held in mid-June in Kalispell by yet another local patriot group, the Flathead Liberty Bell Network, which was founded in 2009 with help from Alaska militia leader Schaeffer Cox, who’s currently jailed awaiting trial on charges of plotting to murder judges and Alaska State Troopers.
The survivalist gathering, dubbed the “Preparedness Expo,” took place inside the Valley Victory Christian Church and on eight adjoining acres less than a week after Kalispell militia leader David Burgert engaged in a shootout with sheriff’s deputies on a backwoods logging road just south of Missoula. Burgert remains at large. “We don’t have quite the same problem with [extremist] activity as they do in Kalispell, but sometimes the Kalispell activity spills over,” says Missoula County Undersheriff Mike Dominick. “I’ve dealt with the militias quite a bit in the past, and in terms of what’s going on now, I haven’t seen anything like it since the early 1990s.”
The survivalist expo offered workshops and demonstrations on topics ranging from small unit combat tactics to canning peaches. Other speakers included Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, a national Patriot group that calls on law enforcement officers and military personnel to disobey orders that they deem unconstitutional, especially when it comes to government confiscation of firearms.
Another speaker was retired Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, a hero to many in the Patriot movement for opposing the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act when he was sheriff of a rural Arizona county in the 1990s. Mack is also the author of From My Cold Dead Hands: Why America Needs Guns, which is popular reading in the Patriot movement.
The top-billed “Special Guest” at the exposition was Randy Weaver.
At least five PLE members appear on videos from the expo. One of them, posting on Stormfront as “White Wolf,” declared Weaver’s presentation “amazing.” Also in attendance was Scott Ernest, a white supremacist from southern Florida who, according to a travelogue he posted to Stormfront, took Amtrak to Kalispell in order to visit the Flathead Valley for the first time and meet with Gaede and two other PLE leaders to discuss moving there.
Ernest has since relocated to Kalispell, where, according to his Stormfront posts, he’s living in an RV. He’s become a huge booster for PLE online, regularly updating his Stormfront thread, which has more than 21,000 views.
“It’s paradise here,” Ernest gushes in one of more than 400 posts. “I open-carry [a handgun] every day. If you can, you should too.”
David Holthouse is a reporter for Media Matters, where another version of this story was published online.