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Ruby Ridge figure coming to Browns

Concord Monitor | June 16, 2007
Margot Sanger-Katz

Plainfield, meet Ruby Ridge.

Randy Weaver, who survived a standoff with U.S. marshals in Idaho that claimed the lives of his wife and son, is driving to New Hampshire this weekend to advise Ed and Elaine Brown on how to manage their own conflict with the marshal service.

"If it helps, I'm more than willing to do it," Weaver said on an internet radio show this week.

The Browns, who have been holed up in their Plainfield home for nearly five months, say that any attempt to arrest them will result in bloodshed. The couple has been sentenced to more than five years in prison for a series of crimes related to their nonpayment of federal income taxes.

Weaver, who was involved in white-separatist causes in the early 1990s, failed to appear for a court appearance in 1992 on charges he'd owned illegally shortened shotguns. When marshals came to his home to arrest him, a shootout ensued. A deputy marshal was killed, along with Weaver's 14-year-old son, Samuel, and his wife, Vicki.

After a standoff that continued for 10 days, Weaver, a friend and his remaining family members surrendered peacefully. He was acquitted on charges of killing the marshal. The standoff, which was covered extensively by national media, became a symbol of government overreaching in the militia movement.

Ed Brown has said that the events at Ruby Ridge and Waco, Texas, a few years later first made him suspicious of the federal government. At Waco, a prolonged standoff between federal agents and members of the Branch Davidian religious sect ended with the deaths of 79 people.

Brown confirmed in an interview at his house that Weaver had called him and is coming to Plainfield, but Brown took pains to distinguish between his own situation and that at Ruby Ridge.

"We are not a Ruby Ridge. We are not a Waco," Brown said. He added that his circumstances were rather the outcome of his "criminal investigation" into the actions of the federal government in New Hampshire.

Last week, marshals and state troopers surrounded the Browns' home in Plainfield, bringing SWAT teams, armored vehicles, ambulances, helicopters and an explosives disposal unit. U.S. Marshal Stephen Monier said that marshals were there to provide security while the Treasury Department seized a commercial property owned by the couple 10 miles away in Lebanon.

Dan Riley, a Brown supporter who was walking the couple's dog, was detained and questioned by marshals after he accidentally spotted officers hiding in the woods near the Brown home.

Weaver said that his goal in visiting the Browns was to help the couple negotiate with the marshals and reduce the likelihood of bloodshed.

Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks extremist groups, said that Weaver's appearance has symbolic value for the Browns.

"Ed Brown is trying desperately to portray himself as some kind of victim, and bringing Randy in is designed as evidence for that idea," Potok said.

Calls for Weaver's involvement in the Brown case began months ago from Brown supporters on the internet. He agreed to visit New Hampshire this week after learning that a group of radio personalities would bankroll his trip.

On the radio, Weaver said that he would not fly to New Hampshire because he did not want to go through security. He described how his daughter underwent a pat-down and a search of her bag.

"It appears to me that the foreigners have taken over our government, period," he said of the incident.

He hit the road last night with John Stadtmiller and Michael Herzog, who host shows on the Republic Broadcasting Network, an internet radio station that also broadcasts Ed and Elaine Brown's daily show Ed Brown Under Siege. Alex Jones, whose Alex Jones Show is on another internet radio station, first publicized Weaver's willingness to travel during an interview on his show Tuesday.

"He said, 'I'd like to go support those people to draw attention to that,' " Jones said in a phone interview yesterday. "Next thing I heard, he is on his way up to the property, and I'm really excited about it because I want to get as much attention to this nationally as I can."

Stadtmiller would not answer many questions about the trip and would not even say where Weaver is departing from. (Weaver has told Jones's radio listeners that he's living in Arkansas.) But he said they left last night and planned to arrive in Plainfield tomorrow. A press conference at the Browns' home Monday has been publicized on the internet, but Stadtmiller said he wasn't sure if the event would happen.


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