Several members of the Alaska Peacemaker Militia were sentenced this week.
January 11, 2013 |
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“We have a plan: We’re going to go to the houses of local cops and burn the houses down with the cops and their families inside,” Schaeffer Cox reportedly said in August 2010, months before he would be arrested for plotting to kidnap and kill federal officials – and just a few years before he would be convicted and sentenced to almost 26 years in prison.
Cox’s sentence came down earlier this week, as part of the trial of Alaska Peacemaker Militia members, a right-wing group that was plotting to stockpile illegal weapons and take violent action against the government.
When Cox spoke of his plan in 2010, it was to Bill Fulton, an Army veteran and the owner of DropZone Security, an Anchorage, Alaska, Army surplus store that doubled as a bail bonds agency and tripled as a private security company. Fulton also happened to be working as an informant for the FBI. In an interview, Fulton described to Salon how he infiltrated the twisty world of Alaska’s right-wing movement, passed along information to federal agents, and even got involved in a minor political scandal related to his security work for then-senatorial candidate Joe Miller.
Fulton met Cox in 2008 at the state Republican convention in Anchorage, where Fulton was approached about a meeting with a staffer for then-Gov. Sarah Palin. The meeting took place one night in Fulton’s hotel room, where he was joined by Palin’s chief of staff Frank Bailey and future senatorial candidate Joe Miller, a Republican from Fairbanks who was popular among militia members in the state. (Supporters of his Senate campaign were known to carry guns to political rallies, and Cox himself attended some of those events. Cox also told Salon: “I know Joe Miller pretty well. It’s a small state. I’ve known him, I know his kids,” but added that he had become disillusioned with Miller’s politics).
The meeting concerned a plan to oust the head of the state Republican party, Randy Ruedrich, on orders from Palin. Fulton told Salon that in the meeting, Miller said that an “up-and-coming politician,” who had done a lot of work for Ron Paul and Miller in Fairbanks, would be joining them, and could help.
(Miller spokesman Bill Peck downplayed the incident this week, telling Salon in an email: “Fulton very well may have invited Cox, but Joe does not have specific memory of who invited whom to the meeting. At the time, Joe knew that Cox was the son of a Baptist preacher and a young political activist. Also at the time, there was no known connection between Cox and militias. Cox apparently rejected conventional politics and went down the militia path after this.”)
The Ruedrich plan was called off later that night. But, Fulton said, in a strange twist, Miller approached Fulton about providing informal security for him for the rest of the convention, because, “There are people trying to kill me.”
At the time of the convention, Cox was just beginning to get involved in state politics, unsuccessfully mounting a challenge to Republican state Rep. Mike Kelly in the same year. Cox was connected to the so-called “sovereign citizen” movement, a disparate and occasionally violent subset of the right that does not believe the government has legitimate authority over American citizens. In a YouTube video of one of his speeches, Cox says that he’d “kill for liberty” and, “My deepest fear is that our government is not going to hear us until we speak to them in their language, which is force.”
Federal officials have said in court filings that Cox first got on their radar after speeches he gave in Montana and Colorado as early as 2009, in which he similarly spoke of violently overthrowing the government.