Conspiracy theorist Pete Santilli, a spokesman for Truckers Ride for the Constitution, suggested that violence against the government would be justified if his group's plan to jam the Capital Beltway that surrounds Washington, D.C., and ask members of Congress to resign fails.
Santilli is the host of a radio show that promotes conspiracy theories, including the notion that "The World Trade Center towers were turned to dust in mid air by a very powerful energy source." He also drew widespread attention -- including from the Secret Service -- in May when he suggested that Hillary Clinton should be "shot in the vagina" for treason.
Reports that truck drivers would circle the Beltway to cause congestion from October 11 to October 13 and call for the arrest of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) quickly garnered national media coverage. But as U.S. News & World Report noted, the event is disorganized as a result of infighting among its organizers over logistics and what the protest should seek to accomplish.
Santilli and organizer Zeeda Andrews, who promoted the protest on Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, appear to have coopted the event from one of its original promoters, Earl Conlon, who now says he merely intended to "stir the feather of the mainstream media." Media Matters noted that Andrews has promoted racism and bizarre conspiracy theories, including the belief that President Obama and Osama Bin Laden are the same person.
Santilli, whose radio show is prominently featured on the Truckers Ride for the Constitution website, told U.S. News that no arrest attempt will be made on members of Congress, but that he hopes members will "voluntarily resign" as a result of his protest.
But on his radio show, Santilli threatened a "bloody battle" against the United States government if his peaceful protest failed and said that opponents of the government are presently "justified" in using violence.
During the October 7 broadcast of The Pete Santilli Show, Santilli said that raising the debt ceiling would amount to "financial terrorism" and "an act of terroristic war upon the American people." Noting that, "we will respond," Santilli said, "if we were to respond violently with the Second Amendment it would be the equivalent of us going out and doing a preemptive strike on our foreign enemies. That it would be justified at this point because of the war that has been perpetrated upon our American people."
During his rant, Santilli also complained that the government wants to "take my guns away" in order to arm Al Qaeda.
Santilli claimed, "If we do not rise up this week, peacefully, there is going to be Three Percenters who I will also join, to make it not so peacefully." The term Three Percenter is a reference to a claim commonly circulated by anti-government extremists that an armed three-percent of the population would be able to violently overthrow the United States government.
Claiming that a violent revolution would be inevitable if the semi-trailer truck protest failed to accomplish its goals, Santilli claimed that Three Percenters will take "the next logical step to stop our domestic enemies." He added, "I'm prepared myself to give my life in this effort as a United States Marine."
From the October 7 broadcast of The Pete Santilli Show (contains vulgar language):
SANTILLI: I'm going to call this financial terrorism on this October 7, 2013, our people, okay, not our government, we are the government, the people that are running our credit cards, okay, on our behalf are committing financial terrorism against the American people. That right there is an act of war, is an act of terroristic war upon the American people, and we will respond.
And I would say at this point in time, ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to go so far as to say this: that if we were to respond even violently with the Second Amendment, if we were to respond violently with the Second Amendment it would be the equivalent of us going out and doing a preemptive strike on our foreign enemies. That that would be justified at this point because of the war that has been perpetrated upon our American people. That's one instance. Financial terrorism.
Secondly, economic terrorism. They've taken every single job and shipped it off to China so China will make cheap Chinese crap and they're pumping it through Walmart. Okay, that's economic terrorism as far as I'm concerned. Shipping jobs overseas because you want to compete is economic terrorism upon the American people. Especially when you have so many people laid off. That's the second issue.
Third issue, you support Al Qaeda okay, and that is siding with our sworn enemies. If you want to run our government, the people's government, you want to run it like that, you need to go. And we would be justified, not saying that I'm going to do this because this would be a bloody battle.
Alright, because what is going to happen is if we do not take this peaceful maneuver right now, peacefully, and rise up and shut their whole system down and say enough is enough, no Obamacare, no raising the debt ceiling, no more economic terrorism, no more supporting Al Qaeda.
If we don't rise up and do this, and I'm talking about not tomorrow, not mañana, not in another fraudulently perpetrated election, not later on down the road, don't let anyone tell you we have to wait, because one more day they ask us to wait, that's one more day that they collect more money. And that they supply it to Al Qaeda.
They want to take my guns away, okay, but they want to go give Al Qaeda guns, I find it highly discriminatory. If we do not rise up this week, peacefully, there is going to be Three Percenters who I will also join, to make it not so peacefully. That's what's going to happen. If the American public is not listening to what we're saying right now, we have this peaceful opportunity to do things, we can do it, but you need to at least not be lethargic and sit there and let them commit terrorism against you.
SANTILLI: If the people of America are too lethargic and stupid to understand what I just described and they don't want to save their country this weekend, guess what, that is not going to stop our country from being saved. Okay, our country will be saved. There is a select few of us, we'll call them Three Percenters that will take the next logical step to stop our domestic enemies. It will be stopped, I'm going to say this, this is not a threat. We will defend our nation to the absolute death.
I'm prepared myself to give my life in this effort as a United States Marine. I am prepared to defend the Marines and their honor, who broke past that barrier at the Iwo Jima memorial for the sheer symbolism that the government is never going to get in our faces and stop us like that. Okay, they're never going to be able to stop us and if it takes the Three Percenters to take our government and hand it back to the people, that's what's going to happen here. So we have a choice, peaceful revolution or logical Three Percent type revolution. John McCain doesn't have an option, Lindsey Graham is gone, Barack Obama impeached, failure is not an option. Period.
Santilli's claim that the failure of a peaceful protest to achieve its goals would justify future violence against the government recalls the statements made by conspiracy theory radio host Adam Kokesh, who is currently jailed on weapons charges.
In May, Kokesh caused controversy for attempting to organize a march on all 50 state capitols with the goal of peacefully overthrowing the federal government. In a press release describing his plan, which he announced on Santilli's show, he warned, "Should one whole year from this July 4th pass while the crimes of this government are allowed to continue, we may have passed the point at which non-violent revolution becomes impossible." He was later arrested after displaying and loading an unregistered shotgun in public in Washington, D.C.,'s Freedom Plaza as part of his call for the dissolution of the federal government.