Going To Extremes: The Obama Era’s Top Ten Anti-Government Flare-Ups

April 1, 2010 2:35 pm

The charges filed this week against nine members of the Hutaree Christian militia group have re-focused attention on the resurgence over the last year or so of the broader militia movement.

That resurgence has been driven in part, say experts, by the election of President Obama. But during the Obama era, threats of anti-government violence — and even the real thing — have become more widespread. In fact, with disaffected Americans from Massachusetts to California freaking out against the Feds en masse, it sometimes seems that going postal has become all the rage. Of course, in some cases, that anti-government animus long predates the election of our current president. But there seems to be something about the current climate that’s contributing to the rash of incidents.Here are our top ten flare-ups of anti-government violence — or threats of violence — in the Obama era.

1. The Hutaree: Nine members of the Christian militia group, which says it’s preparing for the arrival of the Anti-Christ, were charged this week with plotting to kill law enforcement and “oppose by force the authority of the U.S. government.” The Feds acted after one member posted online that the group was “ready for war.”

2. Joe Stack: In February, the embittered software developer rammed a plane into the IRS building in Austin, Texas, killing himself and one IRS employee. Stack had recently posted online a lengthy anti-government screed, charging among other things that the government had “left me to rot and die while they bailed out their rich, incompetent cronies WITH MY MONEY!”

3. James Von Brunn: The 88-year old shot and killed an African-American guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC last June. Von Brunn, who recently died in prison, had long moved in neo-Nazi circles, and in 1981 he tried to hold hostage an employee of the Federal Reserve at gunpoint. In recent writings he had expressed support for Birtherism, and had praised Sarah Palin.

4. Richard Poplawski: This Pittsburgh man allegedly shot and killed three police officers last April, after telling friends he feared that President Obama planned to confiscate weapons. He also had recently expressed alarm about a supposed plan by FEMA to herd people into concentration camps, which he had seen discussed by Glenn Beck on Fox News.

5. John Patrick Bedell: He traveled from California in February, to shoot two Pentagon police officers before being mortally wounded himself. In an online video manifesto posted in 2006, Bedell had railed against the government’s ability to “confiscate the resources of their citizens to fund schemes that need only be justified by lies and deception.”

6. Joshua Cartwright: This Florida man killed two sheriff’s deputies at a gun range last April, before police officers shot him dead. His wife told police he was “severely disturbed” by Obama’s election, and “believed that the US government was conspiring against him.”

7. John Gimbel: This California man was charged in October after sending a racist, profanity-filled email that called for the death of President Obama and for the words “Fed shit” to be written on his chest. The email, which can be read here, called for the murders of Michelle Obama and the couple’s two children “in front of” the president.

8. Steven Anderson: The Phoenix pastor told his congregation last summer to “pray for Barack Obama to die and go to hell.” The next day, one of his congregants showed up at an Obama event with an assault rifle and a handgun.*

9. Greg Girard: The Massachusetts software consultant and sometime Tea Party activist was charged in February with stockpiling weapons, and possessing explosive devices including tear gas and pepper ball canisters. His wife told police that he feared Armageddon was imminent, and that martial law would soon be imposed. Girard had recently written online that Sarah Palin is on a “righteous mission from God.”

10. Norman LeBoon: This Philadelphia man was charged Monday with threatening to kill Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) in a profanity-strewn Youtube video. LeBoon has also posted previous videos making threats against Obama, Nancy Pelosi, and other leaders.

* This sentence has been edited from an earlier version.

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