|Fugitive David Bugert
Alaska Peacekeepers Militia leader Francis "Schaeffer" Cox is locked up in Fairbanks, Alaska, awaiting trial on state and federal charges of conspiring to murder judges and State Troopers, along with a slew of illegal weapons crimes.
Yet Cox is still having an impact on the resurgent antigovernment militia movement well beyond his home state. This coming Saturday for example, the Montana-based militia group Flathead Liberty Bell, which Cox helped get off the ground in 2009, is sponsoring a survivalist "Preparedness Expo" at the Valley Victory Church in Kalispell, Montana.
Scheduled workshops include Political Structures, Wild Foods and Herbal Remedies, Home Schooling, Animal Care, Self-Defense...and much more.
Also featured will be Special Presentations by radical right luminaries including Ruby Ridge icon Randy Weaver, who will be autographing copies of The Federal Siege at Ruby Ridge, and Stewart Rhodes, ex-Ron Paul aide and founder of the Oath Keepers, a national organization of police and soldiers who've sworn to disobey orders they deem unconstitutional.
Presumably not in attendance will be longtime Montana militia leader David Burgert, who's the subject of a state and federal manhunt after he allegedly fired shots at Missoula County deputies two days ago.
Flathead County Undersheriff Jordan White tells Media Matters that Burgert has been associating with Flathead Liberty Bell members since Burgert was released from federal prison last March.
The Flathead Liberty Bell directs prospective members to watch a video of a presentation called The Solution that Cox delivered before a December 1, 2009 militia gathering in Hamilton Montana.
"Our government is not going to hear us until we speak to them in their language, which is force," Cox said. "Now that doesn't necessarily mean violence. And don't get me wrong--I'm not against violence. I am not against violence, okay? I am not against spilling blood for freedom. I will kill for liberty. You know, everybody asks, 'Would you die for liberty?' That's not really the right question to ask. The right question to ask is, 'Would you kill for liberty?' Because if you would kill for liberty, it assumes that you would die for liberty."
At the time of the December 1 militia gathering, Burgert was nearing completion of an eight-year federal prison sentence.
In 2002, Burgert headed an antigovernment militia group called "Project 7" in Flathead County, in northwestern Montana, about 120 miles north of where the current manhunt is underway. The "Project 7" militia was heavily armed and was allegedly plotting to assassinate local officials, battle the National Guard and attempt to overthrow the federal government.
That antigovernment group was dismantled with the 2002 arrest of Burgert on federal firearms charges. He was sentenced to eight years in prison where he filed civil suits against city, county and federal officials. Those suits later were dismissed as frivolous.
According to the Billings Gazette, police say that on June 12 " Burgert pulled his Jeep to the side of the road, jumped out and fired his handgun at the deputies. ... The deputies fired back, but did not hit Burgert, who calmly grabbed gear out of his vehicle and fled on foot, bushwhacking in a northeast direction."
Law enforcement also believe Burgert had been planning for the dramatic conflict for at least a few days.
Last week, he was stopped by the Montana Highway Patrol for a moving violation, and told patrolmen at that time "he wasn't going to be taken down like last time," and "it would take a SWAT team" to bring him in, [Missoula County Undersheriff Mike] Dominick said.
A SWAT team was in fact called to help the Missoula County Sheriff's Office find Burgert late Sunday, along with law officers with Missoula city police, the United States Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Montana National Guard.
"He is extremely dangerous," Dominick said, "and he's a danger to anyone he meets."
Flathead Liberty Bell materials are rife with the kind of Sovereign Citizen ideology espoused by Cox in his voluminous writings and online lectures.
"America's Founding Fathers would say that Americans today are slaves. Wealthy slaves that enjoy luxury and tranquility, but slaves none the less," it reads.
"Sovereignty and personal responsibility go hand in hand. If you believe a government-guaranteed life is better than the 'anarchy' of competition, and if you believe the government is going to guarantee your tranquility, your wealth, and your luxury, then you are nothing more than a slave. You will either continue to allow the government to control every aspect of your life or you will reclaim your liberty and become free."