From the May 2000 Idaho Observer:


Peaceful protest rally becomes anti government hate march?

War on West protest hits hot button, smokes out organized opposition

The mass protest of civil disobedience over federal land use policies in the west scheduled for April 15 in Libby, Mont., was sabotaged by the dominant media and “human rights” activists. The potentially historic event was reduced to a mini demonstration in a weigh station parking lot off Highway 2 halfway between Libby and Troy. Approximately 40 people, not including swarms of police and a few reporters, were in attendance to watch a few people give speeches and burn a UN flag in the gray day drizzle. By 12:30 p.m., the crowd had completely dispersed.

by Don Harkins

What had promised to be an extremely newsworthy event where an estimated 3,000 concerned Americans would participate in a general protest of the federal government's war on the west was branded an anti-government hate rally by human rights activists and the dominant media. The rally was able to be branded as “hateful” when it was discovered that notorious racists such as Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler planned to attend. Within days local police and businessmen succombed to media-generated hype and began demanding that the rally be called off in fear that hate-filled anti-government extremists will become violent and cause property damage.

According to retired Kootenai Forests Supervisor Jim Rathbun, some of the families were threatened with bodily harm if the rally was not called off and lawsuits if the rally caused property damage or injuries. It was also reported that emmissaaries from the Libby Chamber of Commerce visited restaurants and hotels in the economically depressed town of 2,700 and instructed the proprietors to not serve out of towners coming in for the rally.

“They had to compromise the rally by linking it to racism and anti-government extremism,” commented Jack Gurganus of Americans for a Constitutional Government (ACG) of Post Falls, Idaho. “The federal government cannot afford to allow the American people to become sympathetic to thousands of honest, hardworking ranchers, farmers and loggers who are going bankrupt in the wake of federal land use abuse,” Gurganus added.

Gurganus, who offered to help local Libby law enforcement provide security for the rally, is the chairman of ACG, a group of about 30-40 individuals who meet once a month to discuss the issues. The Montana Human Rights Network (MHRN) circulated a 17-page “intelligence” report among civic leaders and law enforcement that was quoted in the press. The report absurdly itentified ACG as a “militia group” and, therefore, Gurganus a militia leader.

A rally is born

“After about a 20-minute conversation, we decided to do something,” said popular 4-term Montana State Representative Scott Orr (R-Libby) in simple explanation of the origins of what human rights activists and the dominant media labeled an anti-government hate rally.

Rep. Orr, owner of a garbage collection service in Libby, Jim Rathbun, and Libby Ford dealership owner Terry Andreesson, men who have no ties to what the media calls “hate groups,” determined that in the interest of their resource-dependent community and the people of this nation, it was time to stage a protest of encroaching federal control of public and private land within state borders. Andreesson, anticipating typical American apathy, put together a provacative flyer “to get peoples' attention.”

“Mass Rally of Civil Disobedience against Clinton Environmental Regime's War on the West, Show up or Shut Up, Federal and Global Invasion of Our Rural Communities In The Intermountain West is Out of Control,” and “No More Negotiating, No More Public Meetings, A Show Of Protest Is Needed NOW!” was some of the language put into the flyer to “get peoples' attention.”

“We had no idea that the idea would catch on like wildfire,” commented Rep. Orr who agrees that the flyer was “a little provacative.”

Libby Mayor Tony Burgett admitted that, had the flyer been less inflammatory and not called for a UN flag burning, and had rally organizers applied for a parade permit and been more “reponsible,” he would have been more supportive of such an event.

Rep. Orr, Rathbun and Andreesson called off the rally April 7.

The rally concept obviously struck a nerve in the Americans who are at wits end in dealing with advancing federal intrusion into the lives and livelihoods of the American people and those who promote federal incrementalism. Thousands of Americans from all over the nation who share anti-bad government sentiments were planning to participate in the rally. Conversely, those in the dominant media, in the employ of the local, state or federal government and human rights activists who are apparently pro-bad government used whatever means at their disposal to stop the event from happening -- or poison the message with “hate” if it did happen.

Enter the Communist Committee for Environmental Preservation

After the rally had been cancelled, an unsigned letter was sent to Mayor Burgett and the Libby City Council. On letterhead that sported a hammer and sickel on the left, the UN insignia on the right, and the name “Communist Committee for Environmental Preservation (CCEP) in the middle, the mayor and the council were applauded for its role in stopping the rally's “hateful” message. “By your actions, you relieved us of having to use our resources in Libby, enabling us to put them in use in other parts of the country.”

The letter closed with the CCEP asking Libby's leadership to, “Please continue your efforts to promote Human Rights and the promises that sustainable development will bring.”

Rep. Orr also received a letter by the same group commending him for having the “courage and presence of mind to to cancel the Hate rally in Libby.”

Hundreds of greater Libby area postal patrons received a copy of the CCEP newsletter postmarked April 11 from Helena, Mont., which claimed, “Victory is ours,” with regard to the cancellation of the rally. The return address given for the CCEP was, “M Gorbechev Co-Chair, State World Forum, The Presidio, PO Box 29434, San Francisco, CA 94129.”

The gist of the newsletter was to praise Vladimir Lenin and communism and promote the acceptance of the Earth Charter which was born at the 1996 Biodiversity Summit in Rio de Janeiro and being promoted by Gorbechev's Green Cross International environmental group in San Francisco.

The entire package of the CCEP letter to Rep. Orr, the mayor of Libby and its city council and the mass-mailing of the CCEP newsletter is a bizarre attempt to link communism, environmentalism and human rights into one package of blame for the conspiracy to keep Americans from holding a rally in Libby.

There is no website or physical address for the CCEP. Green Cross International has never heard of the organization and the Communist Party, USA, claims to have no knowledge of this group or its activities.

“I think that one of the radical guys who was disappointed that the rally was cancelled is the CCEP,” said Burgett.

Ken Toole of the MHRN also investigated the group and came up empty handed but did remember that CCEP had surfaced during election time in 1998.

On October 21, 1998, the States News Service published a story that described the mass mailing of a brochure attempting to link certain political candidates to the Communist Party. “The mailing supposedly came from a group called the Communist Committee for Environmental Preservation but the group apparently doesn't exist,” the article said.

Caveat

The taxpayers will be punished for this attempt to protest the federal government's “war on the west.” In preparation for the event, off-duty and overtime pay was given to city, state and county police, special gear was purchased and the bill for this couple of hours of police preparedness is expected to run in the tens of thousands of dollars. The dominant media will be sure to publish an itemized report to the taxpayers and inform them just how much it cost for a few people to protest the land use policies of the federal government.