When Foxes Guard the Hen House

Patriot Prayer founder and Republican Washongton Senate candidate Joey Gibson speaks at campaign rally in Portland, Oregon, August 4, 2018 (Photo: Thomas Patterson/AFP, Getty Images)

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us ‘having a revolution every now and then is a good thing,’ and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.” (Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, WWTC 1280 AM, March 22, 2009)

“If this Congress keeps going the way it is, people are really looking toward those Second Amendment remedies.” (2010 Republican nominee for US Senate Sharron Angle of Nevada)

If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks. Although the Second Amendment people, maybe there is.” (Donald Trump, August 9, 2016)

Back in 2017, in the August 21 issue of the Washington Post, a former senior analyst for domestic terrorism at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) named Daryl Johnson told us all “I told you so.”

Back in 2009, Johnson was the lead author of a DHS intelligence report titled Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment, warning of attempts by rightwing extremists to recruit military combat veterans and exploit their military training and combat skills. However, when Johnson’s report was leaked by conservative media, the new Obama administration’s Attorney General Janet Napolitano folded and rescinded the report under intense pressure from veterans’ groups, like the American Legion’s formal demand for an apology to veterans, to the din of outrage by Republican lawmakers, Fox News and other right wing media propagandists.

“Now, right-wing terrorism has become the national security threat which many government leaders have yet to acknowledge,” Johnson wrote three years ago. We are still waiting for that acknowledgement. In fact, much of the government by now seems to have embraced it.

Meanwhile, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on a third night of rioting following Black Lives Matter marches and demonstrations in the wake of the brutal August 23 shooting by Kenosha Police of Jacob Blake, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, a 17 year-old white kid from Illinois, among a group of vigilantes, opened fire on demonstrators killing two of them. The story is still developing, including the nature of contacts between the shooter, the so-called militia around him and police before the killings.

But even before Johnson’s report, back in 2006, the FBI investigated white nationalists infiltrating police departments to recruit other white supremacists and disrupt investigations against white supremacy groups and their members.

Earlier this month in Portland, Oregon — where numerous clashes have become commonplace since the election of Donald Trump between Portland’s Rose City Anti-Fascist Action (Antifa) against right wing groups the Proud Boys and the Vancouver, Washington-based Patriot Prayer, led by 2018 Washington US Senate candidate Joey Gibson — Police Chief Danielle Outlaw cleared the Portland Police Bureau’s crowd control liaison Lt. Jeff Niiya of wrongdoing when he exchanged texts, including real time intelligence, with Gibson.

Lt. Niiya was investigated by Portland’s Independent Police Review, a city auditing division that handles investigations of high-ranking police administrators, as reported by Oregon Live. The allegations against Lt. Niiya included, but were not limited to, inappropriately disclosing information to allow Proud Boys member Tusitala John “Tiny” Toese avoid a warrant for disorderly conduct issued by the Portland Police. Lt. Niiya, according to the Oregon Live story, was backed by the senior command staff as he told investigators that he shared the information with Gibson in hopes that Toese would not return to Portland and to avoid causing a potential safety issue by arresting Toese during a protest.

Local Portland newspaper, Willamette Week reported that on December 8, 2017, Niiya texted Gibson about Toese asking if he had “his court stuff taken care of,” referring to the warrant for Toese’s arrest. The next day, Niiya texted Gibson again, adding “Just make sure he doesn’t do anything which may draw our attention. If he still has the warrant in the system (I don’t run you guys so I don’t personally know) the officers could arrest him. I don’t see a need to arrest on the warrant unless there is a reason.”

During the December 23, 2017 protest in Portland, Lt. Niiya texted Gibson “Heads up just told 4–5 black Bloch [sic: black bloc anarchists, often conflated with Antifa] heading your way. One carrying a flag. We will have officers nearby but you may want to think about moving soon if more come.”

More recently, on Saturday, August 22, 2020, a week after Lt. Niiya was cleared in the Independent Police Review investigation, the Washington Post reported on a “Back The Blue” rally in Portland, including approximately 100 Proud Boys and armed militia members, at the downtown Justice Center that has been the scene of regular recent Black Lives Matter protests in Portland. The police kept their distance, allowing the brawl between the fascists and antifascists to run its course while making several announcements over loudspeakers to “self-monitor for criminal activity.” After about two hours the right-wingers retreated to their cars, followed by Antifa counter-protesters to a downtown parking garage a few blocks away. Among the Proud Boys, Tusitala “Tiny” Toese walked past several Portland police officers who did not attempt to apprehend him. But as the antifascist counterprotesters returned to the federal plaza, it was declared an unlawful assembly by Federal police and they were driven from the plaza.

As the record of official security and intelligence investigations and journalistic reporting grows and as these stories proliferate, short of willful ignorance, no American can truly claim any genuine sense of surprise. Indeed, as this election year wears on, we can look to a long season of swagger from President Trump about where his peculiar ideas of Law & Order begin and end.

For example, not long after the midterm elections when the Democratic Party flipped the House of Representatives, Trump said in an interview in the Oval Office with the rightwing Daily Caller, “These people, like the Antifa — they better hope that the opposition to Antifa decides not to mobilize. Because if they do, they’re much tougher. Much stronger. Potentially much more violent. And Antifa’s going to be in big trouble. But so far they haven’t done that and that’s a good thing.” The president reportedly reiterated that Antifa “better hope that the other side doesn’t mobilize. Because if you look, the other side, it’s the military. It’s the police. It’s a lot of very strong, a lot of very tough people. Tougher than them. And smarter for them. They’re sitting back and watching and they’re getting angrier and angrier.”

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