Peace Coalition Warns Rightwing Militias Threaten Democracy

A member of the Oregon chapter of the Oath Keepers stands guard at the Sugar Pine Mine in Medford. (Photo: Reuters)

Peace Coalition Warns Rightwing Militias Threaten Democracy

Ballots Not Bullets points to cases in Nevada and Oregon to show danger posed by groups like Oath Keepers

A coalition of peace groups is sounding the alarm over what it calls a growing trend of violent actions by anti-democracy militias, and say they will work to stem the tide of such forces nationwide.

Ballots Not Bullets was created this year by organizations including the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and the Center for Biological Diversity. The coalition is governed by three principles:

  • The Second Amendment doesn't confer the right to shoot or kill federal officials solely because one concludes that the government is tyrannical.
  • The Constitution addresses redress of grievances, eliminating the need for violence.
  • Rule of law must be enforced in order to eliminate establishment of a precedent that threatens freedom.

To raise awareness about extremist groups using weapons and intimidation to influence public policy, the coalition is pointing to a case in Oregon where armed conservative activists are guarding a mine in Medford over a legal battle with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Sugar Pine Mine owner Rick Barclay summoned members of the Oath Keepers to guard the site after BLM issued a stop-work order over unauthorized equipment in March. According to Reuters, the guards were still on site Tuesday.

Ballots Not Bullets members said the chain of events is similar to the stand-off in Nevada last year between federal agents and ranch owner Cliven Bundy, which occurred after BLM sought to seize Bundy's cattle when he refused to pay grazing fees.

"It is a rejection of any kind of democratic compromise and the endorsement of the use of weapons and violence to get your way," Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center told Reuters, speaking of the militias.

The Durango Herald in Colorado reported that residents in Medford are frightened by the intimidation tactics.

"They're acting like boys in a schoolyard, and they're getting away with it," Rose Chilcoat, associate director of Durango-based Great Old Broads for Wilderness, told the Herald. "You can't take the law into your own hands."

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