Page 3 of 3Gaede has repeatedly pointed to Montana’s pro-gun culture and loose firearms regulations as one of the fundamental reasons for launching the PLE movement in the Flathead Valley. “You’re not going to have any trouble building up a self-defense arsenal around here,” she recently informed potential recruits.
In addition to arming themselves, the Montana Creators have also been holding public recruiting drives and leafleting throughout the state. In late September, for example, some Missoula residents found Creativity Movement literature on their windshields, and someone placed a Montana Creators sticker on a recycling bin at the University of Montana’s Native American Center that read “Save the White Race! Earth’s Most Endangered Species.”
Members of the Creativity Movement have a long record of racially motivated violence. The Montana Creators website broadcasts militant rhetoric, such as, “Remember that the inferior colored races are our deadly enemies, and that the most dangerous of all is the Jewish race. It is our immediate objective to relentlessly expand the white race and keep shrinking our enemies.”
In July 2009, Montana Creators member Allen Goff, then 17, shot a Latino teenager in the knee in what prosecutors alleged was a racially motivated shooting. Goff, who was found in possession of brass knuckles and carrying a swastika-decorated backpack containing a Glock 9mm pistol (fully loaded with a 30-round high capacity magazine) and a knife, was charged with felony assault and hate crimes.
Earlier that year, the Montana legislature had passed the “Shoot to Kill Bill,” which codified that Montana residents are allowed to use deadly force with a firearm if they are “legally in a place” and feel threatened, whether or not the person by whom they feel threatened is displaying a weapon. The law further declares that it is up to prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a shooter’s actions were not justified.
Although the young man that Goff shot was unarmed, the neo-Nazi’s lawyer argued that his client was justified in using deadly force because he felt threatened. The jury acquitted him.
[image-4] Last year, Goff praised the shooting of an anti-racist activist by skinheads in Portland, Ore., according to an MHRN report: “They [anti-racists] never get brave here [in Montana]. They know we take advantage of our state’s gun laws.”
God told Chuck Baldwin to move to Montana. Specifically, to Kalispell. God did this, according to Baldwin, sometime in the summer of 2010, not long after Baldwin appeared at a Patriot movement convention in Missoula.
For 35 years, Baldwin, a fundamentalist Christian, had lived and preached in Pensacola, Fla., railing in a syndicated column in recent years about U.N. gun control conspiracy theories, tyranny-minded globalists and FEMA internment camps.
Baldwin is now one of the leading figures in the Patriot movement, which has grown considerably since the U.S. economic meltdown and the election of President Barack Obama in 2008. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, the number of Patriot groups in the country went from 149 in 2008 to 824 in 2010. The SPLC says the members of such groups are “people who generally believe that the federal government is an evil entity that is engaged in a secret conspiracy to impose martial law, herd those who resist into concentration camps and force the United States into a socialistic ‘New World Order.’”
Baldwin first aligned himself with the Patriot movement when he ran for Vice President on the anti-government Constitution Party ticket. After that, his rhetoric, both from behind the pulpit and in his prolific writings, became increasingly militant and more concerned with gun rights and battling with globalists than with gay rights and the Rapture, previously his favorite topics.
Then, in September 2010, Baldwin abruptly announced that he was pulling up stakes and moving to Kalispell along with his grown children and their spouses and home-schooled offspring. At the time that Baldwin and his brood of 17 resettled, white supremacists were also migrating to the region to support the Pioneer Little Europe movement. Baldwin’s warnings of a looming battle between Patriots and “Big-Govern-ment globalists” in the U.S. mirrors in key ways longstanding white supremacist predictions of a war against ZOG, or the Zionist Occupation Government.
“We believe America is headed for an almost certain cataclysm,” Baldwin wrote in a September 2010 column headlined “Why We Are Moving to Montana.” It “will almost certainly include a fight between Big-Government globalists and freedom-loving, independent-minded patriots,” he continued. “I would even argue that this fight has already started. And as this battle escalates (and it will most assuredly escalate), only those states that are willing to stand and fight for their independence and freedom will survive—at least in a state of freedom. And we believe that God has already put the love of liberty deep into the hearts of the people of the Mountain States; and we further believe that God is already calling (and will continue to call) many other freedom lovers to those states. One thing is for sure: we know He called us!”
Baldwin assured his followers that he wasn’t moving to Montana for the scenery or the skiing. “We’re not going to play games, or play politics; we are not going to ‘take it easy,’ or ‘hide,’ or hibernate. We are not going to ‘enjoy the climate.’ We are going to fight! We are going to work! We are going to help the freedom-minded people of Montana make their stand for liberty! In many ways, the Mountain States just might become The Alamo of the 21st century, with, hopefully, much better results. But if not, I would rather die fighting for freedom with liberty-loving patriots by my side than be shuttled off to some FEMA camp after having been rejected and betrayed by soft-living, comfort-seeking, materialistic statists.”
True to his word, within a month of getting situated in Montana in early 2011, Baldwin launched a new ministry, the Liberty Fellowship, which meets weekly at the Kalispell Red Lion Inn. His sermons regularly draw around 200 attendees, including well-known members of the PLE movement. Last month, Gaede posted to Stormfront that “PLE Christians” attend the Liberty Fellowship. She’d previously written that Baldwin’s sermonizing moved her to tears. The Southern Poverty Law Center reported earlier this week that Baldwin’s congregation also includes Kalispell resident and white separatist Randy Weaver, whose 1992 Ruby Ridge standoff with federal agents fueled the rapid growth of the militia movement of the 1990s.
Baldwin did not return two messages seeking comment.
“Both hardcore white supremacists and anti-government patriots in the Flathead Valley can hardly contain their enthusiasm when talking about Baldwin now living in Montana,” says McAdam, of the Montana Human Rights Network. “It almost feels like the worshipping of a teen idol.”
Like Patriot groups, the PLE movement promotes itself as being rooted in a strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. The PLE Prospectus calls for targeting communities that will be attractive to restless whites who are “conscious of their own best interests,” whether they are self-declared white supremacists or not. “A PLE is defined as a conscious white community—initially possessing greatly contrasting views among its residents—which comes to dominate a geographical area,” reads the PLE guide.
Patriot group members in the Flathead Valley have attended recent screenings of Holocaust denial films hosted by PLE activists and PLE white supremacists have attended recent Patriot events, including presentations by Baldwin’s eldest son, Timothy.
Timothy Baldwin has given lectures on state sovereignty in Kalispell and Ronan. Freedom Action Rally and Citizens Acting for Liberty, both Flathead Valley Patriot groups, sponsored the events. Earlier this year, Timothy ran for the board of trustees of Flathead Valley Community College and received 778 votes, about 20 percent of those cast.
His father, Chuck, was a featured speaker at a major survivalist gathering held in mid-June in Kalispell by yet another local patriot group, the Flathead Liberty Bell Network, which was founded in 2009 with help from Alaska militia leader Schaeffer Cox, who’s currently jailed awaiting trial on charges of plotting to murder judges and Alaska State Troopers.
The survivalist gathering, dubbed the “Preparedness Expo,” took place inside the Valley Victory Christian Church and on eight adjoining acres less than a week after Kalispell militia leader David Burgert engaged in a shootout with sheriff’s deputies on a backwoods logging road just south of Missoula. Burgert remains at large. “We don’t have quite the same problem with [extremist] activity as they do in Kalispell, but sometimes the Kalispell activity spills over,” says Missoula County Undersheriff Mike Dominick. “I’ve dealt with the militias quite a bit in the past, and in terms of what’s going on now, I haven’t seen anything like it since the early 1990s.”
The survivalist expo offered workshops and demonstrations on topics ranging from small unit combat tactics to canning peaches. Other speakers included Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, a national Patriot group that calls on law enforcement officers and military personnel to disobey orders that they deem unconstitutional, especially when it comes to government confiscation of firearms.
Another speaker was retired Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, a hero to many in the Patriot movement for opposing the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act when he was sheriff of a rural Arizona county in the 1990s. Mack is also the author of From My Cold Dead Hands: Why America Needs Guns, which is popular reading in the Patriot movement.
The top-billed “Special Guest” at the exposition was Randy Weaver.
At least five PLE members appear on videos from the expo. One of them, posting on Stormfront as “White Wolf,” declared Weaver’s presentation “amazing.” Also in attendance was Scott Ernest, a white supremacist from southern Florida who, according to a travelogue he posted to Stormfront, took Amtrak to Kalispell in order to visit the Flathead Valley for the first time and meet with Gaede and two other PLE leaders to discuss moving there.
Ernest has since relocated to Kalispell, where, according to his Stormfront posts, he’s living in an RV. He’s become a huge booster for PLE online, regularly updating his Stormfront thread, which has more than 21,000 views.
“It’s paradise here,” Ernest gushes in one of more than 400 posts. “I open-carry [a handgun] every day. If you can, you should too.”
David Holthouse is a reporter for Media Matters, where another version of this story was published online.