August 11, 1996 in City

Montana Militia Delivers Message In Wenatchee Gathering Focuses On How Such Groups Are Misunderstood

Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press
 

The Militia of Montana brought its warnings about one-world government to Washington on Saturday as about 150 people gathered in a hotel ballroom to hear dire predictions of the nation’s future.

John Trochmann, leader of the Militia of Montana, complained about the negative image of militia people, who he said are trying to protect the U.S. Constitution.

“Most militia people are family people, decent, law-abiding and peaceful,” Trochmann said. “We are called neo-Nazis, white supremacists and racists.”

Then he began a speech that linked the Randy Weaver incident in Idaho, the killings at the Branch Davidian complex in Waco, Texas, and the recent arrests of several people in Bellingham as ways the government has betrayed the public.

Numerous people indicated that it was their first such meeting, including Sheila Pitner of Bellingham, sister of John Irvin Pitner who was imprisoned, along with eight others after they were arrested in late July on explosives charges.

“My brother is being made an example of,” Sheila Pitner said. “He is a martyr.”

Trochmann and speaker Jack McLamb, a former Arizona police officer, said part of the purpose of the meeting was to dispel the notion that militias are violent.

“You’re the good guys of the country,” McLamb said. “But you are public enemy No. 1 to a government that has jumped way outside its legal bounds.”

The gathering also featured a long table where books, cassette tapes and video tapes were for sale on topics such as how to prepare food and weapons to survive civil disobedience, the death of Clinton administration figure Vince Foster, and conspiracies involving the murders of President Clinton’s enemies.

James Young of Olympia came to the meeting to listen and to discuss his notion of how the government is stripping the people of their rights. An example was the requirement that a person have a license to drive.

“We have a right to move around,” Young said. “With no license required.”

The bottom line for many at the meeting appeared to be maintaining the right to own firearms. Trochmann noted that gun control efforts in Washington, D.C., have not stopped handgun violence. But Montana, which allows freer access to weapons, has little gun crime, he said.

“I think we should lead by example,” Trochmann said.

The federal case against Pitner and eight others includes charges of conspiracy to make destructive devices. Four are charged with making and possessing pipe bombs, and one with possession and transfer of machine guns. The charges stem from an investigation in which an undercover FBI agent participated in meetings with the defendants.


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