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Cliven Bundy Redux As Armed Militias Confront U.S. Forest Service In Montana

A clash between miners and the U.S. Forest Service heated up on Tuesday, when federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell to stop a pair of gold miners from illegally threatening government officials and blocking access to public land.

The lawsuit alleges that the two gold miners, George Kornec and Phil Nappo, have unlawfully damaged public land that they do not own surface rights to. Furthermore, they have illegally closed off public access to U.S. Forest land, with armed militias denying entry to the public and to Forest Service officials.

Armed militias have converged upon the area around White Hope Mine to confront the Forest Service, in a standoff reminiscent of the 2014 clash between rancher Cliven Bundy and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Nevada. The Oath Keepers, 3% of Idaho and the Pacific Patriot Network are among the armed militia groups that have flocked to the area to confront government officials.

The government’s complaint against the miners reads in part:

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The unauthorized and illegal actions of Defendants have interfered with and damaged National Forest Service land. Because the non-compliance has not been resolved, and because members of the public are still being threatened or blocked from access, it is necessary for the United States to bring this action.

Like the Cliven Bundy altercation, the dispute stems from private individuals disobeying the law, by trying to stake claim to public land that does not legally belong to them. The miners, like Bundy, surround themselves with armed vigilantes seemingly eager for an opportunity to fire on federal employees.

Fueled by anti-government sentiment and armed to the teeth, these self-styled ”patriots” are a menace to public safety, who turn federal lands into volatile tinderboxes ripe for violence. Hopefully the militias will refrain from engaging in continued armed intimidation against public officials, and the dispute in Montana can be ended peacefully.

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