While eyes were focused on the Selma golden jubilee celebrating bygone battles, a current-day civil-rights battle was being waged — and ignored by the mainstream media. It took place at the Spokane, Washington, federal courthouse, where armed Second Amendment supporters confronted federal officials.
And the feds backed down.
The March 6 rally, organized by a group calling itself “Liberty for All” (LFA), was a response to the arrest of military veteran and former Yakima County sheriff candidate Anthony Bosworth. A staunch constitutionalist, open-carry advocate, and LFA leader, Bosworth was participating in the “Our State, Our Rights” rally near Spokane’s federal courthouse February 25 with an unloaded rifle slung over his shoulder. This didn’t sit well with federal agents, who approached Bosworth, asked for identification, and accused him of breaking the law. But Bosworth and his supporters say the feds are the lawbreakers.
The sticking point is over the federal statute that prohibits possession of weapons in federal property (i.e., buildings), but not on federal property. InfoWars relates the exchange Bosworth had with federal officials, writing:
While inquiring on the alleged need to provide ID, Bosworth was accused of being in violation of federal gun laws according to a DHS agent on scene.
“It’s against federal law,” the agent claimed. “18 U.S. C 930 says it’s illegal.”
Bosworth, correctly citing the law’s wordage, asserted that the restriction only applied to the inside of federal buildings.
“On federal property,” the DHS agent argued. “You’re on federal property.”
18 U.S. Code 930 in fact never once uses the words “on federal property,” but instead repeatedly refers to the possession of a firearm inside a federally-run building.
InfoWars then cites the relevant federal code:
(a) Except as provided in subsection (d), whoever knowingly possesses or causes to be present a firearm or other dangerous weapon in a Federal facility (other than a Federal court facility), or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both.
None of this mattered, however, and Bosworth was handcuffed and hauled away. Even more strikingly, it’s alleged that his gun rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment weren’t the only ones violated. As Lynn Finney of the Jackson Press wrote, “He was never read his rights; his gun was taken, illegally; he was refused an attorney, although asking for one at least six times; and he was interrogated illegally for several hours. The incident culminated when the Spokane County Sheriff intervened and Mr Bosworth was released after being cited for ‘failure to comply.’”
But Bosworth supporters say it is the federal government that didn’t comply — with the Constitution. As Finney writes, “It is of particular note that when Mr Bosworth requested an attorney, they laughed and told him that was ‘Hollywood Stuff!’”
Yet it is the feds who might be watching too much TV. It’s also alleged, Finney tells us, that in “their attempt to interrogate Mr Bosworth, the Marshal Service were [sic] looking for information on the Liberty for All movement.... They alternated between threatening Mr Bosworth with jail time and trying to recruit him as a snitch.”
As to this good cop/bad cop routine, Bosworth reports that the police and an FBI agent wanted to know about his future plans and political activism. And the story got even stranger after his release. As InfoWars reports:
Bosworth revealed that the same FBI agent, now using a different name, confronted him on the street and asked for a “private meeting.”
The agent reportedly stated that he lacked knowledge on the Second Amendment and wanted to learn Bosworth’s viewpoints, an obvious attempt to lure Bosworth into becoming an informant while gathering further information on his constitutionally-protected First Amendment activity.
Not surprisingly, Bosworth, who spent 17 years in the military and served in Iraq, didn’t bite. He alleges, however, that it was suggested he’d get bitten if he didn’t shut up. A federal marshal told him, reports InfoWars, “‘Between me and you some friendly advice, if you be quiet for a year there is a good chance this will all go away. Just some friendly advice,’ Bosworth recalled.”
Yet LFA’s claim that Bosworth’s arrest was illegal from the get-go seemed to have been vindicated March 2. That day was when Obama-appointed federal judge Rosanna Malouf Peterson signed an order expanding the firearms prohibition “to include the federal property and grounds appurtenant to the U.S. Courthouses within the Eastern District of Washington”; this would seem a tacit admission that the carrying of firearms on said grounds was not illegal previously.
The question is: Is it even illegal now? LFA and its supporters say no, with the Patrick Henry Society’s Kit Lange writing that “Judge Peterson was not only out of line in her decision, she was absolutely against the law” and “could be charged with a host of crimes that involve penalties including imprisonment and more.”
This brings us to the March 6 LFA rally. Protesting Bosworth’s arrest and openly challenging Judge Peterson’s order, a large number of patriots gathered in front of the Spokane courthouse with loaded weapons (video here). This time federal officials — perhaps realizing the law wasn’t on their side (despite Peterson’s apparent judicial activism) or maybe just concerned about inflaming tensions — struck a far more deferential tone. In fact, a law-enforcement officer who appears to be one who was involved in the Bosworth arrest could be seen politely asking the protesters if they could please just stay away from the courthouse door. In short, the feds backed down.
But this doesn’t mean they backed off. Kit Lange attended the rally and later made some disturbing allegations. As she reported at her blog:
As we reached the courthouse, several DHS vehicles were outside. As we stood on the sidewalk, outside federal property, a few of us started scanning — and found what we were looking for. Aside from the DHS helicopter overhead, there was a roving perimeter manned by SUVs with fake license plates. A homeless man on the sidewalk next to a building, holding a smartphone that was taking video. Another man sitting on a bench pretending to read a book while watching closely. Someone else walking around through the crowd trying to chat up the attendees and get their business cards or contact information. There were snipers on the roof ... many of them, positioned in such a way that no matter where we were in the area, we could be taken out any moment.
But for the moment, Americans can still exercise their rights — at least when they have the strength of numbers.
And, increasingly, citizens are opposing the federal government. There was the April 2014 stand-off at the Cliven Bundy ranch in Nevada, where the feds decided to back down after encountering armed patriots and negative publicity. Last December, between 1,000 and 3,000 armed Second Amendment defenders held a rally in Washington’s capitol, Olympia, in defiance of a new state gun-control law as the police stood down and refused to enforce it. And nullification efforts, in which state legislatures and local sheriffs have vowed to ignore unconstitutional federal dictates, are picking up steam from coast to coast. So it appears that while the feds show no sign of backing off on their constitutional trespass, some Americans still understand that, as Thomas Paine said, “The duty of a true patriot is to protect his country from its government.”
Photo: screen-grab from video of rally in front of Spokane, Wash., federal courthouse