About 270 supporters of the constitutionalist and militia movements gathered Saturday for an all-day seminar and celebrated the recent attention they've won in confrontations with law enforcement.
"Rebellion is in the air, and I love it," said Eustace Mullins, a Virginia-based author and featured speaker at Saturday's Northwest Liberty Network Seminar. "All over the country, people are rising up."The one-day event, sponsored by a coalition of extreme right-wing organizations, drew people from as far away as Hawaii who are angry over taxes and gun-control laws.
Participants said the U.S. Constitution and individual rights are being eroded.
"Our government has gone amok," said Jack D. Yoos, a member of a group called the Honolulu Unorganized Militia and a volunteer for James "Bo" Gritz's failed 1992 independent presidential campaign.
Gritz, a former Army Green Beret, is establishing what he calls a "Christian covenant community" north of Kamiah.
The Idaho state police sent an interoffice memo notifying staff of the event and warning officers to be alert for any problems, but none were reported Saturday.
Kootenai County sheriff's officials and Post Falls police also reported no problems related to the seminar, which was held at a hotel.
Militia groups in western and central Montana have gained national attention recently because of a series of confrontations with law enforcement.
On Thursday, Montana game wardens and Ravalli County officials seized the elk herd of Calvin Greenup at the fugitive militia leader's home south of Darby. Authorities said Greenup, who also is wanted for felony obstruction of justice and failure to pay state income taxes, lacked a state license to operate a game farm. He was not at his home during Thursday's raid.
Mullins said the recent events in Montana show backers of the militia and constitutionalist movements are now strong enough to act rather than merely talk about protesting taxes and gun laws. That hasn't always been the case, he said.
"I've been in this movement 50 years, and for 40 years I had heard nothing but doom and gloom," said Mullins, whose books address topics ranging from racial theories about Jews to the Federal Reserve System, which regulates interest rates and the nation's money supply.
The event's other main speaker was M.J. "Red" Beckman, a Billings, Mont., tax protester and author.
Beckman said revolutionary changes are needed to reverse federal laws that have eroded individual rights guaranteed under the Constitution. A revolution of truth, not a bloody government overthrow, is needed, he said.
The people have been duped into believing the government is serving them, though the reverse is actually the case, he said.