Something changed. The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and a crowd of citizens in a Tucson shopping center this past weekend has made more people conscious of our society’s undercurrent of violence against the government.
Before you argue that there are always a few malcontents on the fringes of society, read this whole list of recent incidents. The fringes are being actively organized and manipulated to view the government as the source of their problems. Once, this kind of dissatisfaction might have been just a lot of ego and posturing at a bar. Now, attacks are really being carried out and people are being hurt and killed. According to their own literature, they believe they are waging a war against the government.
First they came for…
First? What was first? Our country was born in violence, and politically-based violence has always been with us, but when can we say the current wave of violence began? Was it when President Obama took office? Was it earlier, when the Supreme Court defended citizens militias and violence against a tyrannical government in District of Columbia v. Heller? Was it earlier, when Fox institutionalized veiled threats? Was it even earlier, when Rush Limbaugh first proved that he didn’t have to be accurate to motivate an audience, he just had to sound convincing?
They come in greater numbers….
U.S. Marshals Service data showed that threats to the nation’s judges and prosecutors more than doubled from 2003 to 2008.
As of October 2009, there was a 400% increase in death threats serious and credible enough to be pursued by the Secret Service against Obama as compared to Bush.
In March 2010, The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced that the number of new anti-government “Patriot” groups in the United States in 2009 jumped from 149 (including 42 militias) to 512 (127 of them militias), a 244% increase.
They target the government…
April 1995, Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma city as a direct strike against the government.
July 2008, Jim Adkisson shot and killed two people at a progressive church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He really wanted to kill “every Democrat in the Senate & House, the 100 people in Bernard Goldberg’s book.”
Aoril 2009, Richard Poplawski of Pittsburgh made a 911 call and killed the three officers who responded. A friend of Poplawski said this was a preemptive strike against a future “Obama gun ban.” This was about two weeks after Michele Bachmann’s notorious “armed and dangerous” speech.
April 2009, Daniel Hayden was arrested for threatening violence at an Oklahoma City tea party. He also said he expected guns to be outlawed.
August 2009, During the tea party Summer of Hate, attendees decided to come armed to a town hall in New Hampshire and a health care rally in Arizona. President Obama spoke at the New Hampshire event and was across the street at the time of the Arizona event.
September 2009, Joshua Bowman was arrested trying to drive a car full of firearms and ammo up to the Capitol building where President Obama was addressing a joint session of Congress.
October 2009, John Brek was arrested for threatening President Obama. His home was a veritable arsenal of legal and illegal weapons.
January 2010, While arresting Charles Dyer, a militia and Oath Keepers member, for rape, police discovered a stash of weapons, including a stolen grenade launcher, and videos he made claiming to be a threat to the government.
February 2010, Gregory Girard of Massachusetts was arrested for weapons charges with a now-typical assortment of weapons and ammo. His wife reports he said, “Don’t talk to people; shoot them instead.”
February 2010, Joseph Stack crashed a plane into an Austin, TX IRS office, leaving two dead (including the pilot) and 13 injured. He left a suicide note equating taxes with the tactics of a totalitarian regime and using this to justify violence.
March 2010, Russell Laing pointed an assault rifle at the Pennsylvania officers who responded to a 911 call at his home. Officers recovered approximately 150 guns and 15,000 rounds of ammunition from Laing’s one-bedroom apartment.
March 2010, Nine members of the Michigan-based “Hutaree” Christian militia were arrested and charged with seditious conspiracy and attempting to deploy weapons of mass destruction. The group targeted members of the federal government.
March-April 2010, While Congress debated and eventually passed health care,
- Vandals attacked congressional offices in Richmond, Virginia, Pleasant Ridge, Ohio; Wichita, Kansas; Tuscon, Arizona; Niagra Falls, New York; and Rochester, New York
- Several congressmen received death threats, including Democrats Nancy Pelosi (CA), Patty Murray (WA) Louise Slaughter (NY), Bart Stupak (MI), Vic Snyder (AR) and Betsy Markey (CO) and Republican Eric Cantor (VA). Stupak and James Clyburn (SC) also received faxes with drawings of nooses. Anthony Weiner (NY) received a package containing white powder and an angry letter.
- The propane line was cut at the house of Rep. Tom Perriello’s brother after the brother’s address was mistakenly posted as Perriello’s address on a tea party site.
August 2010, Josiah Fornof was arrested for armed resistance to an officer serving him a warrant.
And they don’t care who gets hurt…
April 1995, 168 dead, 680 injured in Oklahoma City
May 2009, Scott Roeder killed abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. Roeder belonged to a network of people who saw Roeder as a hero for this action.
June 2009, James von Brunn killed a security guard in the Washington D.C., holocaust museum. Von Brunn also feared a gun ban.
December 23, 2009, Warren Taylor took three people hostage at a federal post office in Virginia in protest of “the government taking over the right to bear arms.” He was armed with four guns despite a criminal record.
January 2010, Mark Campano was arrested after accidentally detonating a pipe bomb in his apartment. Police find 30 pipe bombs, 17 guns, and hundreds of rounds of ammo. Neighbors said Campano tried to get them to listen to anti-government videos.
April 2010, Walter Fitzpatrick was arrested for making an invalid citizen’s arrest of a grand jury foreman in Tennessee. On the day of Fitzpatrick’s trial, fellow militia member Darren Huff was arrested en route to the courthouse with a car full of guns and ammo.
April 2010, Brody Whitaker led police on a high-speed chase down I-75 in Florida, fired shots, then denied the authority of the police (and later judge) over him.
May 2010, Jerry and 16-year-old son Joseph Kane kill two Arkansas police officers with AK-47 assault rifles during a routine traffic stop, then are killed within an hour in a shootout in a WalMart parking lot. Two other officers were wounded. Jerry Kane also made anti-government videos.
July 2010, California Highway Patrol officers arrested Byron Williams, 45, after a shootout on I-580 in which more than 60 rounds were fired. Williams was on his way to San Francisco to kill employees of the ACLU and Tides Foundation. Williams, a convicted felon, was shot several times, but survived because he was wearing body armor.
August 2010, Patrick Sharp, opened fire on the Department of Public Safety in McKinney, Texas, and unsuccessfully attempted to ignite his trailer full of gasoline and ammonium nitrate. Sharp was killed after an exchange of gunfire with police. Miraculously, no one else was hurt.
August 2010, Thomas Pidgeon was arrested attempting to enter the Cook County courthouse with a .45. He was scheduled to attend a foreclosure hearing.
September 2010, Armed with two starter pistols and four explosive devices, James Lee took hostages at the Discovery Communications building in Maryland. The hostages made it out alive. Lee did not.
October 2010, George Lee of Walhalla, South Carolina wielded his protest signs at a group of tween girls. When he was later arrested for something else in November, officers found literature on how to kill police officers.
November 2010, James Patock, 66, of Pima County, Arizona (where Giffords was shot), was arrested on the National Mall in the District of Columbia. Law enforcement officials found four guns, several boxes of ammunition, and propane tanks wired to four car batteries in his truck and trailer.
November 2010, an email sent to a Florida radio station expressing support for the station’s rhetoric (if ballots don’t work, bullets will) also included the information that “something big will happen at a government building in Broward county, maybe a post office, maybe even a school.” Schools throughout the county went into immediate lockdown. A phone call was later received at the station, allegedly from the emailer’s wife, warning that he was preparing to go to a Pembroke Pines school and open fire.
January 2011, Jared Loughner shot 20 people at a meet-and-greet for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, AZ. He killed six, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl. He wounded 14 others, including Giffords, who was shot in the head. Investigation into Loughner’s background turned up at least one anti-government video on YouTube.
Data from Coalition to Stop Gun Violence