|Francis "Schaeffer" Cox Photo from Anchorage Press|
Five members and associates of a Fairbanks, Alaska, right-wing militia group were arrested yesterday for allegedly plotting to kidnap or kill Alaska State Troopers and a Fairbanks judge.
The five include Francis "Schaeffer" Cox, the founder and leader of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia. Cox also founded a pro-gun group and advocates armed resistance to gun control.
Cox and the other defendants face charges of conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit arson, in addition to gun charges and other crimes.
According to an Alaska Department of Public Safety statement, an investigation of the militia group "revealed extensive plans to kidnap or kill Alaska State Troopers and a Fairbanks Judge."
"Cox et. al. had conspired a plan to launch an attack on Alaska State Troopers and Court Judges. Investigation also revealed that extensive surveillance on troopers in the Fairbanks area had occurred, specifically on the locations of the homes for two Alaska State Troopers. Furthermore, Cox et. al. had acquired a large cache of weapons in order to carry out attacks against their targeted victims. Some of the weapons known to be in the cache are prohibited by state or federal law."
Also arrested were Lonnie Vernon, Karen Vernon, Coleman Barney and Michael Anderson.
An arrest warrant for Cox was issued last month when he failed to show up for a court appearance on a separate weapons charge.
I previously reported for the Anchorage Press the unusual circumstances surrounding that gun charge and Cox's subsequent bizarre court appearances in an article on the Alaska militia movement last December:
"Back in March, right around the time he was organizing his militia ... Cox responded to a distress call on the Liberty Bell Network, an online community of anti-New World Order conspiracy theorists, which sends out mass email bulletins whenever one of its members feels his or her constitutional rights are being violated."
"In this case, a Liberty Bell Network member in Fairbanks claimed that police were conducting a warrantless search of his residence. (Police said they were responding to a 911 hang-up). Cox arrived on the scene armed with a concealed Ruger .380 semiautomatic pistol. Alaska state law requires that anyone carrying a concealed firearm must immediately notify any law enforcement officer they come into contact with of the concealed weapon.
"Cox, who doesn't regard state or federal laws as valid, did not do so and was subsequently charged with a crime."
Cox is a self-declared "sovereign citizen," a movement that preaches violent resistance to the federal and Alaska state government.
In a major report covering the rise of the sovereign citizen movement in recent years and the corresponding violence against law enforcement officers, the Southern Poverty Law Center last fall characterized it as a "sprawling subculture" of "hundreds of thousands of far-right extremists who believe that they -- not judges, juries, law enforcement or elected officials -- get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and who don't think they should have to pay taxes."
Cox is also the founder of the Alaska-based Second Amendment Task Force, a "pro-gun rights" group. Its website details a supposed United Nations-orchestrated conspiracy to deprive Americans of theirs constitutional right to bear arms.
Previously Cox voiced his beliefs like this:
Cox was addressing a crowd of about 150 militia members and supporters in March at the Second Amendment/Constitutional Task Force, held in Kenai. His speech was laced with Sovereign Citizen code.
"God gave you rights, just as a human being He didn't give rights to a government that they can then give to you if they want, which would leave you begging at the feet of government as a subject. As a sovereign, you have the right to life, liberty and property, and a corresponding individual duty to protect those rights," Cox said.
"My greatest fear is that they're not going to hear us until we speak to them in their language, which is force," Cox said. "America is headed to bloody force. If we sit on our hands until it hits the fan and it's go time, we won't be able to exercise that warlike force with a clear conscience. So we need to be very faithful with what's at hand right now.
"I am not opposed to violent, bloody force."
Cox echoed that endorsement of revolutionary violence during an interview with Andrew Sheeler for a January article in the UAF Sun Star about Cox deliberately violating university regulations by carrying a handgun on campus. "[The government] doesn't operate under the rule of law, they operate under the rule of force. My greatest fear is the only time they are going to hear us is when we speak their language," Cox said.
"If there was a gun ban in the city of Fairbanks, that's an act of war. And it would have to be met with war. And we are prepared to do that, we won't back down on that principal. We would spill blood before we let that happen."
Yesterday's arrests were carried out by a joint task force consisting of the Alaska State Troopers' Special Emergency Reaction Team, Fairbanks Patrol Troopers, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service and the Fairbanks Police Department.
An update posted on Cox's Facebook page last night said: "Schaeffer has been taken into custody by the FBI. Please pray for his safety and the safety of his family."
Cox was also listed a delegate for the 2009 We The People (WTP) Continental Congress, an event that brought together a whole host of antigovernment extremists and issued a radical document entitled "Articles of Freedom." The document declared that the federal government a "threat" to "our Life, Liberty and Property through usurpations of the Constitution." It demanded President Obama produce his birth documents and called for the repeal of all social service spending. Taking a page from the sovereign citizens movement, it demanded an end to driver's licenses, auto registration and insurance and rejected the existing legal system, calling instead for the creation of "randomly empanelled citizens' common law grand juries" to determine when a trial will take place.