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Oh goody, militia flakes and "Oath Keepers" are freaking out about the Bureau of Land Management doing tyranny all over an innocent landowner again, and they're mobilizing Internet Commandos to load up the Suburban with guns and head to Oregon to defend a plucky Patriot from the Illegal Usurpations of an Out-of-Control Federal Government!! (All the exclamation points)! There aren't any cows this time, but there's a gold mine. Unfortunately, this time around, it looks like cooler heads may prevail, and where's the fun (or long-overdue New American Revolution) in that?


So, a brief overview of the situation -- or in militia terms, "sitrep" (it's fun to play military!): The whole dispute has to do with the weird bifurcation between land ownership (surface rights) and a mining claim (mineral rights). There's these two guys, Rick Barclay and George Backes, who own the mineral rights to a parcel of land in rural southwest Oregon, and they've been operating a small gold mining operation on it, arguing that since their mining claim dates back to before a 1955 law that changed how mining claims work, they also have surface rights to the land where the mine is located. The BLM, however, says that the surface rights belong to the federal government, having been ceded to the BLM in 1961 (and yes, mineral rights disputes are every bit as fascinating as fights over water rights). The BLM sent a letter to the mine's co-owners in March asserting federal ownership of the surface rights.

Now, obviously, this will eventually get worked out in court, but just to make things interesting, one of the mine's co-owners, Rick Barclay, enlisted the help of a local chapter of the Oath Keepers, who are either the Greatest Patriots Ever or maybe a quasi-paramilitary anti-government group that's just itching for the chance to get in a shooting war with the Feds, to Restore America.

Barclay told a local TV station that the BLM letter was the equivalent of "somebody coming to your house saying ‘This is mine now. You got 14 days to take your house out and 30 days to take down your fences and everything you own,'" and insisted that he simply wants his "day in court." For their part, BLM spokesman Jim Whittington told Talking Points Memo that, no, the agency is not planning to seize the land, bulldoze the mine, or burn down anybody's house.

"We’re not at all disputing that there’s a valid mining claim there," he told TPM, adding that the dispute over who owns surface rights on the Sugar Pine Mine claim could be hashed out through what it likely to be a lengthy administrative appeal process.

Just to be on the safe side, though, Oath Keepers have been spreading the word all over the Wingosphere, with completely calm videos like this:

First Militia Dude: Apparently the BLM's coming through trying to kick people out, trying to take over a gold mine, but the American People, plus me and Blaine, we're not gonna let that happen [...]

Second Militia Dude: We as Americans need to get behind each other. That's what being American's all about. We won't allow our neighbors to be enslaved or beaten or tortured by government jackboots because they want to steal our land and our resources, to keep us under their thumb.

Second militia dude promises that there are some "heavy hitters" joining the standoff, but he can't identify them because of "O-Spec" -- we think he means "OpSec" (Operational Security), but we'll admit we haven't read the Militia Fantasy DungeonMaster's Guide for all the lingo. He also warns that "We can't let the Chinese or the government have the gold, it belongs to the people," which is a surprisingly socialist-sounding stance. Doesn't it belong to the guys what have the mineral rights? Fucking commie militiamen.

So somehow, through the natural logic of the Patriot Loons and the internet, a letter informing the mine's owners that they and the BLM disagree about the surface rights to some land is now a bid by the Chinese to steal Our Gold and maybe also do some torture and slavery to the American People.

Just to add an extra soupçon of goofy to the whole situation, the local Oath Keepers spokeswoman, Mary Emerick, says that they've had to turn away at least a few would-be Guardians of Liberty who are too nutso or criminal for their tastes:

"I am aware that people are just literally getting in their cars," she said. "However, we also know that some of those people are on sort of a list and are not going to be welcomed at the camp."

"We are very careful about who we let in to this staging area," Emerick added. "This is not some kind of field festival or a standoff with the BLM. We are just helping to protect rights."

And Barclay, who started the whole shitstorm with his call for help from the Oath Keepers, seems to be having second thoughts about the wisdom of that move, telling a local paper that the militia influx has "taken on a life of its own," and also, too, could you Patriots please just stop it with the death threats to the Feds already?

"We don't need any more volunteers, we're not under attack, this is not the Bundy Ranch," said Sugar Pine Mine co-owner Rick Barclay. "Please stop calling the BLM and threatening their personnel."

Not that Barclay's call for calm is going to help much -- the two Militia Dudes in the video above are quite insistent that you should not believe any claims that the call for assistance has been rescinded, and explicitly say that viewers should only listen to some third militia dude who's really in the know. So shut up, Rick Barclay, you are going to get help in your brave standoff with the Feds whether you want it or not! And for that matter, regardless of whether the Feds actually show up to stand off with anyone -- which, incidentally, they haven't done, either. BLM spokesman Whittington told TPM that the agency has instructed employees to stay away from the mine, and has also informed local law enforcement that it's not planning to seize any cattle picks or shovels.

But maybe the only thing keeping the Federal Jackboots at bay is the influx of armed patriots, who so far seem to be all locked and loaded with no bad guys to aim at. Stay vigilant, you magnificent heroes. You never know when Chinese BLM agents will try to take your gold and enslave you.

[TPM / Mail Tribune]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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