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Fbi Tightening Circle On Freemen Another Surveillance Plane Added; No Visitors Allowed

MONDAY, MAY 6, 1996

An extra FBI surveillance plane and a lack of visitors on Sunday, the customary “family day” at the encircled freeman complex, may have signaled that the FBI is tightening control.

Two FBI planes instead of the usual one droned overhead for two hours about midday, considerably longer than usual, and one returned later.

The FBI has barred other aircraft from flying over the 960-acre farm complex.

No relatives of the anti-government freemen visited the compound Sunday for the second consecutive day.

Most days during the 42-day standoff have brought a visitor or two, and Sundays have become a sort of “family day,” when at least one relative visits.

Whether a stricter visitor policy has been imposed could not be confirmed.

The FBI has refused to comment on the operation since it began March 25, when agents arrested two freeman leaders in a sting operation.

A thick fog that shrouded the farm compound early Sunday faded into a warm, sunny day, in marked contrast to cold rain and snow in recent days.

Two children rode bicycles back and forth between a barn and the main farmhouse, where the freemen once taught seminars on their ideology, how to file liens against those they consider enemies, and how to issue checks against those liens.

The freemen contend they are not subject to state or federal law, but only to common law as administered in their own courts.

Several of the group are wanted on state and federal charges ranging from writing bad checks to threatening to kidnap and kill a federal judge.

Federal officials believe 18 people are in the compound.

Negotiations broke off last week despite a vague threat of reprisal from the FBI on Thursday that the agency would “take whatever action it deems necessary to resolve this matter” if the freemen refused to meet with them.

The freemen rejected the offer.

On Sunday, area residents went on with their lives, with many attending a high school rodeo at the Garfield County Fairgrounds or a church potluck nearby.

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