COLORADO SPRINGS TAKES A HIT
Although it's unknown how many people belong to the top-secret paramilitary groups scattered around Colorado Springs and across the country, they all have one thing in common: a belief that they eventually will have to fight troops of the United Nations in the streets of their own towns in order to remain free.
To do so, they need guns.
That need binds these groups together. That, and talk shows. In Colorado Springs, the most popular conservative radio station is KVOR-FM, a station that follows Rush Limbaugh's daily show with its own "On the Carpet," hosted by Chuck Baker. Once a week Baker broadcasts his show live from the Monument Gun Shop outside of Colorado Springs.
Baker attracts a number of guests who are popular on the Patriot circuit. In August he interviewed Linda Thompson, who hyped the "retake the government" day originally slated for September 19.
On his September 7 show, Baker pondered "what we're going to do" if the election didn't change things enough. When he brought up "armed revolution," caller "Jacques" replied, "The problem is, who do we shoot? Other than Kennedy, Foley and Mitchell, the others are borderline traitors. You've got to get your ammo. We've got to do it as an orchestrated militia."
After Baker referred to Clinton and his administration as a "bunch of little creeps," a man named "Frank" called. He talked about how the cells--the six-man subsets of militia groups--needed to cooperate, even though they couldn't know which people belonged to which cell for security reasons. "But it's going to have to be out of togetherness against the Campbells, Schroeders, Mitchells and so forth," Frank added. "It's going to have to be done nationwide."
Baker then offered a plug for the Save America Militia in Calhan, mentioning that "apparently that baby has already grown by great lengths just in the last eight or ten days." He gave out the contact number over the radio.
According to KVOR general manager Donn Seidholz, Baker was at a convention of talk-show hosts in St. Louis when he first heard about the shooting outside the White House on Saturday, October 29. "He was frantic to get home," Seidholz says. "He was concerned about his family and the news media inundating him."
Seidholz says the station got Baker on the first available flight out the next day.
Baker says he was still in St. Louis on Monday, October 31, and didn't know about the shooting until his wife called and told him, "They're blaming you." However, a prominent Republican claims she saw Baker at the Colorado Springs airport on the afternoon of October 30, and he told her he wouldn't be "on the air for a few days because the feds want to go through my stuff and interview me."
Although Baker didn't return calls asking about the discrepancy, Seidholz says he "might have been wrong" about Baker returning to Colorado Springs the Sunday after the shooting. Either way, Baker definitely wasn't on the air Monday, October 31, which Seidholz says the host took as a "vacation day."
Early in November a Colorado Springs television station reported that federal authorities investigating the Duran case had taken all logs from talk-radio stations in the area. Both Baker and Seidholz deny that the FBI has contacted them or asked for their tapes, but Baker says he was told "that in a conversation with the Secret Service, Duran said he listened to Rush Limbaugh and Chuck Baker." When he called Limbaugh's office to warn them, Baker says, they said they'd "been expecting it."
Seidholz says he had "ten calls about the same rumor," suggesting that they could have been part of a conspiracy. "It's almost like it's orchestrated," he adds. "It's the last thing Rush wants. It would give the feds an excuse to go after him."
Two weeks after Duran's arrest, Baker left his show, claiming that pressure from the news media and liberals blaming him for Duran's action was causing him to have a nervous breakdown.
But Baker is already back on the air.
The talk-show host and two Colorado Springs politicians--one victorious and one defeated November 8--are the local heroes of the Patriots. "We're in a battle to recover the country," says Charlie Duke, who was just elected to the Colorado Legislature. "I, for one, am ready to stand up and fight." He advocates a Tenth Amendment resolution that will assert state sovereignty and serve as the first step toward holding a second Constitutional Convention to dismantle the federal government. That convention, of course, will be held in Colorado Springs. Duke is a frequent guest on Baker's show.
David Boyd was a candidate for El Paso County sheriff in the last election. Patriots believe that sheriffs are the most powerful law enforcement officials in the country because they can command citizen militias. In his campaign statements, Boyd said he would refuse to enforce the Brady Bill. "There is nothing in my oath [as sheriff] that says I have to uphold state and federal laws," he noted. Boyd was trumpeted as a "pro-concealed-weapons and a Christian family man" who worships at New Life Church, where Duke is also a member.
"Militias are forming all over the country," Duke says. "People are very concerned about the government coming in and forcibly removing their arms--they know crime will go crazy." Because he's an elected state legislator saying these things, Duke has become popular on the national talk circuit as well as on Baker's show. "I hear revolution from everyone I talk to," he notes.
As for Duran, Duke says, "This man was only one of thousands frustrated with government. Apparently, he was so depressed he was motivated to do something about it."
During an interview, Duke tells a reporter that he thinks the call is being monitored because he hears a "click" on the line. "The feds are so incompetent sometimes," he says. "But the fact is, they're outnumbered and outgunned."
The Patriots can also be paranoid, however. Some militia militants now consider Thompson a "government plant." According to Duke, many in the movement believe she was an "agent provocateur" planted by the federal government to lure honest, gun-toting citizens to Washington so that they could be placed under martial law and seized. He notes that her "retake the government" march was called off the day the Brady Bill passed.
Former El Paso County sheriff Bernard Barry has watched the militia movement develop around Colorado Springs for years. He wasn't on the November 8 ballot; he'd been beaten at the county Republican assembly by two candidates, one a favorite of the Patriots. Barry, who's served in the area since the Seventies, says some of the people involved in the militia emerged from the Posse Comitatus, a renegade group that was headquartered in the Security-Widefield area until the early Eighties.
Bill Cory published The Patriot newspaper in Colorado Springs for several months. In his May issue Cory advocated that patriots hang their American flags upside down as a universal signal of distress. Duran, of course, had an upside-down flag in his garage.
But although Cory believed he had many readers--he gave out over 6,000 copies of his papers, distributing them primarily through gun shops--he had only twelve paid subscribers. "The paranoia within the patriot organizations and the militias is deep," he says. "No one wants to be on any lists, because the government will know where to find them. Many of them won't even register to vote." Without an official circulation list, Cory found it difficult to publish his paper.
"It's 99 percent certain Duran got his inspiration from the propaganda network that feeds these patriot groups," says a source in Colorado Springs who tracks white supremacist and militant organizations. "The citizens' militias are organized like terrorist groups of four- to six-man cells. There is no centralized control, because they fear being identified on lists that might fall into government hands, and they can't be controlled from the top."
On September 2, John Schlosser, former news director of the USA Patriot Network, held a statewide militia meeting in Colorado Springs. It was advertised as the "Army of God" gathering on a Denver neo-Nazi computer bulletin board. Schlosser, who had an outstanding warrant in Arapahoe County, was arrested by the El Paso County Sheriff's Department; the only thing he had on him was a copy of the U.S. Constitution.
All of the known patriot groups in Colorado Springs deny that Duran was a member--although membership lists are nonexistent. A spokeswoman for the Constitutionalists, whose avowed purpose is to "bring the U.S. back into compliance with the Constitution," says she'd never heard of Duran before October 29.
"But there's a lot of us who want to strangle him," she adds. "He's going to make Colorado Springs look like it's full of nuts.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.