KXLH is reporting that an anti-government militia group told MTN news in an email that the group is planning to nab a local judge.
A spokesperson for the militia group, William Wolf, said of the “unorganized” militia’s plans to make a “a citizens’ arrest” of Justice of the Peace Rick West. The group is upset because their anti-goverment cohort, a tricorn wearing Internet legend who calls himself “the natural man” is in jail for contempt of court. “This isn’t about vengeance, this is about justice,” Wolf told MTN News.
But the local sheriff is concerned. “When you start talking about arresting people and kidnapping people, that’s unacceptable and nothing good comes from that,” Sheriff Brian Gootkin said.
The sheriff is right to be worried–for two reasons.
The first, is that this bunch has been organizing. Last week, they told the Bozeman Chronicle that they had been holding “citizen grand jury meetings” in recent weeks and that they plan on taking out ads in various papers to recruit “jury” members.
A bunch of anti-government types have been also been following “the Natural Man” Ernie Tertelgte around in court, including former GOP legislator Joel Boniek. Boniek, like Tertelgte, questioned the credentials of the prosecutor, attorneys, and judge, which seems to be some kind of standard “sovereign citizen” hokum.
The second reason the sheriff is worried has to do with what’s happened in the past when threats like this are made. In 2011, six members of the antigovernment group known as the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, including the group’s leader, Schaeffer Cox, were arrested and charged with plotting to kill or kidnap state troopers and a Fairbanks judge.
In fact, FBI investigation into the plot was prompted by a right-wing conference in here Montana that featured speeches by those involved in the plot.
Media Matters reported on the Montana angle of the story. Cox was a featured speaker at the Celebrating Conservatism convention (also called the Liberty Convention), where he bragged in front of the audience about commanding a 3,500 strong armed militia and creating a new court system to supplant federal courts.
Media Matters wrote that according to court documents, the “FBI agents began investigating Cox following a series of speeches he gave in Montana in 2009 and 2010.”
You can read more here about the specifics of Shaeffer Cox’s plot. Cox earlier identified himself as a “sovereign citizen.” The “Natural Man” Tertelgte and his supporters also echo the rhetoric of “Posse Comitatus” and Sovereign Citizen Movement.
Former GOP legislator Joel Boniek, who has been following the Natural Man around in court and sticking up for him in the press, is no stranger to courtroom fracases himself. He was hauled into court last year to answer charges that he’d sped through a roadblock in defiance of an officer’s order to keep out. Boniek was trying to get to his house, but his house was in an area where a forest fire was burning and had been evacuated and blocked off due to the emergency. As a devoted Tea Partier and general wingnut, Boniek did not recognize the authority of the policeman to keep him away from his private property. Also, during his encounter with the officer before he crashed the barrier, Boniek allegedly reached for a gun that he had with him in the front seat. As the Livingston Enterprise reported, he:
“allegedly argued with the officers and eventually ‘dropped his left hand near what looked like a holster’ before a deputy brought him to the ground….The deputy removed a loaded handgun from the holster, according to court documents.”
For his day in court, Boniek brought with him an angry mob of supporters, who shouted down the Judge and Prosecutor in such a menacing way that they fled the courtroom fearing for their safety. At that point, Boniek stood up and proclaimed himself regent over the courtroom, and decreed himself innocent of all the charges (before the bailiff told him otherwise, while brandishing his own weapon).
The Oathkeepers published a defense of former Republican state legislator Joel Boniek on their website, saying the “state-worshipping collectivists and socialists of the press” have gotten Boniek’s story all wrong.