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Thursday, 12 September 2013 07:54

A Right-Wing Militia's Own Private Idaho

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BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT

AK47While still basically a fantasy, in early September, organizers of The Citadel, an intentional community for Patriots located in Benewah County, Idaho, "gathered at a twenty-acre plot they have already purchased as a starter base-camp, according to county records," The Nation recently reported. "Whether or not the Citadel is built, the gathering itself is important: it could become the most significant turning point in the militia and survivalist world since Timothy McVeigh bombed the Oklahoma federal building in 1995 and the FBI crackdown on armed paramilitaries that followed."

In January, in a piece titled The Citadel: A Gunner's Paradise in Northern Idaho, BuzzFlash reported that The Citadel was "An ambitious project ... aiming to build housing for between 3,500 and 7,000 'patriotic American families who agree that being prepared for the emergencies of life and being proficient with the American icon of Liberty — the Rifle — are prudent measures. ... There will be no recycling police and no local ordinance enforcers from City Hall.'"

The artist's concept has The Citadel including a perimeter fenced road with numerous castle-style fortified walls towers, interior defensive walls and towers, an on-site gun factory ("III Arms Factory"), schools, an Amphitheatre, a firearms museum and reflecting pool, and a farmer's market.

The Citadels' Miller and Kerodin

The key organizers of the project appear to be Christian Kerodin and James L. Miller.

Writing for The Nation, in a piece titled Is America's Militia Movement on the Rise?,  Leonard Zeskind and Devin Burghart, the president and vice president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights, reported that: Christian Kerodin "was born and raised in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, as Christian Allen Hyman. He spent his youth training at a traditional Akijutsudojo in Washington, DC, and with people he called "groundfighters" in Torrance, California, according to Kerodin's blog.

"His martial arts 'skill set,' as he calls it, serves him well in his current incarnation doing close-quarters battle training. He changed his name to Kerodin in 2003, when he began a convoluted effort to scam shopping centers with a phony security scheme in the post-9/11 scare. He was convicted on a weapons charge and a felony for the scam and served about two years in prison, and thus is prohibited from owning or possessing a weapon. His wife, Holly, who is a person of color, stuck with him during this period, and the two have a tight bond, according to Kerodin's blog."

Kerodin is a Threeper, which, according to Zeskind and Burghart "are so named because of their belief that only 3 percent of the colonial American population served in the militias that ousted British rule and established the United States of America. They used the Roman numeral III as their symbol." Threepers emerged out of "the political space created by the Tea Parties and the militias," and were brought into the public spotlight "on March 19, 2010, when one of its principal leaders, Alabamian Mike Vanderboegh, declared on his blog: 'To all modern Sons of Liberty: THIS is your time. Break their windows. Break them NOW.'"

In reviewing James L. Miller's online postings, Zeskind and Burghart found that he has "an interest in guns, preparedness and President Obama's birth certificate. Skilled as a machinist, he registered 'Millerized' with the State of West Virginia in 2010 and opened a machine shop in Berkeley County that customized motorcycle accessories. He also applied for and received his Federal Firearms License, and did some work customizing weapons also. After getting divorced, however, Miller closed up the motorcycle parts business and on June 30, 2011, filed the necessary paperwork. Four months later he joined forces with Kerodin's Threepers."

"In August 2012, he restarted his firearms business, which became III Arms Company that October, according to the West Virginia secretary of state's office. Since that time he has written publicly about taking orders and buying equipment and materials. Finally, he started manufacturing AR-15s this summer, which are being sold for about $1,500 each. Weapons prices are on a steep rise right now, and there is little doubt that Miller will be able to easily sell every rifle he produces. Soon, if the group's writings are accurate, the profits will be plowed back into the Citadel enterprise."

Firearms reign supreme

In January, when writing about The Citadel, we noted that The Atlantic magazine's Conor Friedersdorf pointed out a number of "rules" were directly related to "firearms":

• "Everyone 13 years and older 'shall annually demonstrate proficiency with the rifle of his/her choice by hitting a man-sized steel target at 100 yards with open sights at the Citadel range.'

• "They must also 'annually demonstrate proficiency with a handgun of choice by hitting a man-sized steel target at 25 yards with open sights at the Citadel range.'

• "Every able-bodied Patriot of age within the Citadel will maintain one AR15 variant in 5.56mm NATO, at least 5 magazines and 1,000 rounds of ammunition."

• "Every child attending Citadel schools -- with parental discretion for maturity -- shall have as part of every semester's class curriculum basic marksmanship and firearms safety training leading to the proficiency test on the child's 13th birthday as a 'Coming of Age' rite of passage."

• "All Patriots, who are of age and are not legally restricted from bearing firearms, shall agree to remain armed with a loaded sidearm whenever visiting the Citadel Town Center. Firearm shall be on-the-person and under the control of the Resident, not merely stored in a vehicle."

Zeskind and Burghart, pointed out that "A price calculator on the website is supposed to enable prospective buyers to determine housing costs based on square footage, the size of the lot and whether the place was to be built inside the walls or outside. A 2,000-square-foot unfinished home, on an acre lot outside the walls is calculated to cost $1,111 a month. A 900-square-foot home on a quarter of an acre inside the walls is $500 a month, $580 if the Citadel does the work to finish the exterior."

Whether The Citadel is fully realized or not, remains to be seen Two things are certain at this time: Kerodin and Miller are getting more than their fifteen minutes in the public spotlight; and, as Zeskind and Burghart reported, "Kerodin and his fellow militiamen are building a dangerous movement of zealots, with appeals laced with predictions of violence. The gun-manufacturing operation at the center of this movement is a development without precedent in the post–World War II era. The possibility of future violence rises in direct proportion to the proliferation of weapons."

(Photo: Cpl. D.A. Haynes)