Ruby Ridge leader visits New Hampshire tax evaders
AP | June 18, 2007
PLAINFIELD, N.H. -- Randall Weaver, the symbol of everything the government hopes to avoid with convicted tax evaders Ed and Elaine Brown, offered advice to the fugitives and warnings to federal agents at the Browns' fortified home Monday afternoon.
Weaver's wife and son and a deputy U.S. marshal were killed during the infamous Ruby Ridge shootout with federal agents in Idaho in 1992. He visited the Browns' hilltop home on Monday to raise the specter of the botched federal raid and lend his name to the tax evaders' cause.
"We said, 'This is it, we're not going to take it any more' ... This is serious stuff. Bring it on," Weaver said during a news conference on the Browns' front porch. "I ain't afraid of dying no more. I'm curious about the afterlife. And I'm an atheist."
During the sometimes hostile news conference that had Weaver and Ed Brown shouting insults at reporters, the speakers and their supporters repeated their claims that income taxes are voluntary, and any tax on labor amounts to slavery.
"The bottom line is: Show us the law, we will pay what you ask," Ed Brown said. "They can't do it, folks."
The Browns' home, which he calls a castle, has 8-inch concrete walls, a turret that offers a 360-degree view of the property and a driveway that is sometimes barricaded with SUVs. The 110-acre compound is self-sufficient and is capable of running entirely through solar, wind and geothermal energies.
Weaver said he would help the Browns fight "only in self-defense."
"I've been shot in the back and that's no fun," said Weaver, who brought pictures of his slain family to the podium.
Officials cut power last week in an effort to ratchet up pressure on the couple convicted of conspiring to avoid federal income taxes by hiding $1.9 million of income between 1996 and 2003. The Browns said they hadn't noticed.
Ed Brown has threatened "guerrilla warfare" and retaliation against those who played a role in his conviction. He has said he resigned to become a martyr for what prosecutors called novel interpretations of tax law during his trial, which he skipped.
The Browns' claim that the federal income tax is not legitimate has drawn support from so-called "patriot" and militia groups. Supporters from as far away as Texas also have brought weapons and supplies. One has posted photographs on the Internet of himself posing with automatic riffles.
The Browns were joined Monday by several of their supporters, waving "Don't Tread on Me" flags and "Don't Murder the Browns for Money" signs.
It's this support that prompted a panic in Plainfield two weeks ago, when heavily armed police surrounded the Browns' home, cut off phone and Internet service and seized commercial property the couple owned in a neighboring town. SWAT teams, military and explosives vehicles marshaled in the tiny town and sparked rumors - and expectations - of a raid. Neighbors were rousted from their homes and planes flying overhead were ordered away.
U.S. marshals said it was only for surveillance, but Brown said the less-than-covert show of force was intended to swarm the property.
"He's lying through his teeth about several things," Brown said. "Did I think the raid was imminent? Yeah. I was notified that they were on their way."
The authorities were seen by a Brown supporter who was walking a dog. When Danny Riley saw camouflaged scouts in the woods near the driveway, officers took him into custody in an unsuccessful effort to stem a panic.
Since then, officials have cut phone service and electricity for the Browns. But cell phone service sometimes works, and the home has the potential to produce its own electricity through wind and solar sources.
Brown has declared membership as a United States Constitution Ranger, claiming he has more law enforcement authority than local, state or federal police.
"If they decide to make that move against me, go ahead," Brown said in past interviews. "Watch. It ain't going to be as easy as they think it's going to be. Believe me."
U.S. marshals have said any hope for a bloody and scandalous confrontation in Plainfield will only end in disappointment. Federal agents have been living in the shadow of the disastrous 1993 standoff with a cult compound in Waco, Texas. After 51 days, the FBI shot tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound, accidentally starting a fire and killing 80 cult members.
Marshals have refused to physically engage with Brown. They have daily telephone conversations, which sometimes include Brown's rants against the Illuminati, Freemasons and what he says are bogus federal laws. But marshals insist there are no plans to raid the home.
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