By Jenny Neyman
Buoyed by abundant doughnuts donated by The Moose is Loose bakery in Soldotna and a reunion-esque feel to the gathering of the Second Amendment/Constitutional Task Force in Kenai on Thursday, a follow-up to a similar event held in Soldotna last April, emcee Bob Bird initiated the presentations with a cordial tone.
But not even the stickiest-sweet apple fritter, the a cappella renditions of the national anthem and Alaska Flag Song, led with gusto by Bird, or the occasional moments of levity interjected by the speakers could sugarcoat the overall tenor of the presentations: anger, distrust and frustration with government, and a sense of urgency to prepare to do something potentially drastic about it.
“I know how all of you feel. I know why you’re here. You feel like there’s something horrible going on and you can’t quite put your finger on what it is, but you know it’s there, you feel helpless to stop it and you feel frustrated because the only thing that you can do is beg a tyrant to be a better kind of tyrant,” said Schaeffer Cox, of Fairbanks. Cox is a leader of the Second Amendment Task Force in Alaska and helped form a militia group in Fairbanks, the Alaska Peacemakers Militia.
Cox and Kathy McCubbins-Carlson, of Nikiski, were two of three Alaska delegates to a Continental Congress held in St. Charles, Ill., in November, and gave a report on the proceedings at Thursday evening’s Freedom Rally at the Renee C. Henderson Auditorium in Kenai.
The purpose of Continental Congress 2009, according to the organization’s Web site, is to “determine a legal and peaceful means to stop the violations of The Constitution of The United States of America and to restore Constitutional governance.”
Bird, a teacher at Nikiski High School, applauded the delegates’ in-depth study of constitutional issues, as a way of combating the myths and misinformation he sees in popular media.
“Global warming has been discredited. Swine flu, same thing. It seems that yesterday’s wild-eyed conspiracy theory becomes today’s mainstream news,” Bird said.
The convention produced a call-to-action declaration, McCubbins-Carlson said, that, “We demand that government immediately re-establish the constitutional rule of law, lest the people be forced do so themselves. And we hereby serve notice that in the defense of freedom and liberty, there shall be no compromise to which we shall ever yield.”
McCubbins-Carlson gained the conviction that Alaska’s most pressing need is the establishment of counties, rather than boroughs, with local sheriffs, she said.
“This is something I feel very strongly about, that we need to see about getting sheriffs in the state of Alaska because they are pretty much, aside from the militia, the sheriff is the one who can tell the federal government, he can tell the FBI, you have no jurisdiction unless I give it to you in my county. We don’t have that last line of defense here,” she said.
The need of sheriffs was an often-revisited topic throughout the evening, with the idea presented as a protection against governmental intrusion.
“The sheriff in his locale is the ultimate authority. Sheriffs have ordered the IRS out in certain counties. The idea that a sheriff is different than state troopers is very important. A sheriff is chosen by the people and is responsible to the people. State troopers are not,” Bird said.
The Constitutional Convention movement is a way to recognize the rights people have beyond what current government acknowledges.
“God gave you rights, just as a human beings. He didn’t give rights to a government that they can then give to you if they want, which would leave you begging at the feet of government as a subject. As a sovereign, you have the right to life, liberty and property, and a corresponding individual duty to protect those rights,” Cox said.
Much of his presentation was laced with calls to action.
“Authority comes from being congruent from natural law, God’s law. Power comes from the barrel of a gun,” he said. “The federal government is all power and no authority. The Constitutional Congress is all authority and no power. So we’re “ced with this question, ‘Do we condone a rebellious government and become an accessory to that with our compliance, or do we come together and try to find a way to put force, put power with that authority?”
There are several types of force, Cox said — monetary force and social force, as well as “violent, deadly force.”
“My greatest fear is that they’re not going to hear us until we speak to them in their language, which is force,” Cox said. “… We would be doing a wrong, bad thing if we skipped over all those other forms of force and we jumped right to bloody force, but right now, America is headed to bloody force. If we sit on our hands until it hits the fan and it’s go time, we won’t be able to exercise that warlike force with a clear conscience. So we need to be very faithful with what’s at hand right now.
“I am not opposed to violent, bloody force. I know that is hard to say to a big group of people. It sounds kind of bad but that is something that we’ve got to reckon with. That is a duty that we have as an individual, as people who have families and friends.”
Cox’s force as a presenter resonated with the nearly 150 attendees of the rally. He never resorted to shouting, and didn’t need to in order to generate applause and shouts of support.
“I have never lived with freedom. I don’t live in a free country, and you don’t live in a free country. I love my country, let’s be very clear about that. I don’t have any nice words to say about my government, and a lie we’ve all been told is that you need to love your country and the government is your country. That’s a half truth and a half lie. Those are the most dangerous kind of lie. We need to recognize that we can hate our government and love our country,” Cox said.
Audience members were free with vocal support at several points in the evening. The announcement that access to Nikishka Beach had been restored generated loud applause, as did the announcement of an upcoming firearms open carry day April 19. Bird said the event will be held in Kenai this year, after a similar open carry day was previously held in Soldotna, with Borough Mayor Dave Carey and U.S. Rep. Don Young in attendance.
“There was no crimes committed against us or by us. Guns are tools. Carry a hammer in your pocket, carry a gun. It can be useful, it can be dangerous,” Bird said, to a round of applause.
Applause was also proffered for political figures in attendance. Gubernatorial candidate Bill Walker’s presence was recognized, along with Carey, Assemblyman Gary Superman and local Alliance of Concerned Taxpayers activist Mike McBride.
Bird noted that some of the presentations were action-oriented, while others were informational. The goal of the rally wasn’t to force a perspective, he said, rather to offer up information for further study.
“Every one of you is an individual and every one of you is important. Every person who comes to realize what it means to really be free after a session like this, then it has been worth it,” Bird said.
Of the informational talks, Seymour Mills, of Sterling, gave a scholarly presentation to “explain how rights to our property, to pay our debts in law and to own a business have been stolen from us by local, state and federal agencies through regulation, license, taxes, martial law, etc., and what we must do to regain our inalienable rights,” he said.
Alaska’s constitution is more like corporate bylaws, he said, meant to treat residents as property to work for the government’s benefit.
“This state was created for the corporations to rape, rob and pillage all the natural resources from we the people. … It’s not a government, it’s a fascist communist government,” he said.
Mills’ review of the federal government wasn’t any better.
“We are being governed by the unlawful fourth branch called agencies — BLM, DEC, EPA, Homeland Security, etc., and they’re not elected by the people and they continue on and on through different administrations,” Mills said. “… It’s emergency powers that they do these things. They create a crisis and then create emergency powers to rule over us.”
David Lee, of Kenai, discussed the purpose of the Oath Keepers organization, where members refuse to obey orders that they feel would violate the U.S. Constitution.
“The Founding Fathers knew what it meant to swear an oath to the Constitution. They put their lives on the line. Police and military do the same, and I support them for that, but there have been points in history when they haven’t been true to their oath,” he said.
Bird spoke about jury nullification, where jurors reserve the right to evaluate the facts of a case as well as law, itself, and state nullification, where states refuse to follow federal dictates that they feel violate the U.S. Constitution.” Nullification is breaking out everywhere because the federal government is an outlaw to their own ground rules. … We must re-assert our authority over this government,” Bird said, to a round of applause.
Cox took a second turn at the microphone, explaining the establishment of a common law court and the Liberty Bell system in Fairbanks. According to Cox, 7,000 people in the Fairbanks area have given their cell phone numbers to be entered into a database. If someone feels their constitutional rights are being violated, they can call the Liberty Bell dispatcher, which sends a text message to all subscribers. Anyone in the area is encouraged to show up on scene and exert social pressure on whoever is creating the violation by being witnesses to the event and recording it with cell phone cameras.
“It circumvents all of the cascading bureaucracy and puts direct, social pressure on any trooper or individual to do right by their oath,” Cox said.
An audience member asked whether Cox had initiated the Liberty Bell system when he had, as Cox put it, “received some really bad press recently.” Cox was arrested for second-degree assault March 1 after allegedly punching and choking his wife during a drive to Anchorage. On March 4 he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor reckless endangerment.
No, Cox said, he didn’t use the Liberty Bell system, “but I did have to stand down about 80 guys. Like, ‘No, this is not go time. Don’t attack, just yet,’” he said. The comment generated laughs and applause from the audience.
Cox wasn’t the only fiery speaker of the rally. Norm Olson, of Nikiski, founder and former head of the Michigan Militia, spoke about the Alaska Citizens Militia he is now attempting to organize.
“We are your neighbors. We are your people. We are armed because we have a common threat that is coming our way. Are you more frightened of me, are you more frightened of the Alaska Citizens Militia, are you more frightened of the uniforms than you are of the federal government — the tyrants, the oppressors that are coming our way? That’s the question you must ask and answer,” Olson said.
His presentation was laden with patriotic, inspirational quotes from Patrick Henry, William Wallace, Samuel Adams and others. He warned that a U.S. economic collapse is near.
“Anyone who looks at the television or has a mind to rationally conceive of what in the world is going on in this country of ours knows that danger is very near and present. Economic collapse of this country is a foregone conclusion. Mathematics do not lie. It is coming. We need to understand that when this economy fails, we all go down,” he said.
Olson said that when a collapse comes, the militia can be a means of ensuring order and protection and urged action.
“There is one more step you must eventually take, and that step is to put actions to your words, or they will be just words. You must eventually prepare yourselves physically, materially and spiritually to endure the storm that is coming our way,” Olson said. “… You are genetic rebels. Accept the fact you are Americans, different from anybody else on this globe. Better to die on our feet than live on our knees. Better to be free people than to be under chains and servitude.”
Bird had abundant thanks for the presenters and attendants at the rally.
“This is the kind of quality people we’ve been blessed to have here on the Kenai Peninsula,” he said of Olson and the other local presenters. “… Tonight, when you’re hitting your knees, pray for the grace of God to give us a chance at repentance and a chance to recover our freedoms.”
Cox said that, despite how dire a picture was painted in the rally, he hoped it instilled a measure of hope, as well.” Every day we get a whole lot of bad news about how things are just coming unraveled in this country, and that can be very disheartening. But you know what, that’s OK, because that’s our government unraveling, not our country. We’re going to be fine,” Cox said. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us for the wheels to fall off this tyranny and for us to go back to our roots, and I think that America can do it.”