May 21, 2011
Tucson, ArizonaMay 30, 2011March and rally from 9am to 3pm, followed by formal indoor meeting with speeches and additional memorial ceremonies into evening.
Further details to be posted at www.oathkeepers.org
CALLING ALL OATH KEEPERS, ALL VETERANS, ALL PATRIOTIC POLICE OFFICERS, ALL GUN OWNERS, AND ALL LIBERTY LOVING AMERICANS.
This is an urgent call-out to all Oath Keepers, all veterans, all patriotic police officers, all Americans who cherish our liberty and our Constitution, and to all liberty leaders and patriotic organizations to join us in Tucson, Arizona this Memorial Day, May 30, 2011 to take a stand in defense of our Constitution, which our war dead fought to defend, and to take a stand against the egregious policy of using SWAT teams to serve search warrants on veterans and gun owners with no violent criminal history.
As you may know, on May 5, 2011, a young 26 year old Marine veteran who had survived two tours in Iraq, and father of two, Jose Guereña, was killed in a SWAT raid in Tucson, Arizona (see below news articles for details). At approximately 9:30 am, two hours after he hit the rack after working a twelve hour graveyard shift at an Arizona mine, his wife woke him by yelling that there were men with guns outside (she had seen a man outside the window pointing a gun at her). He told her to take their four year old son and hide in a closet, grabbed his AR-15, and stepped out into the hallway of his home just as his front door was battered in.
He died with his safety still on. He didn’t fire a shot. The Pima County, Arizona (Sheriff Dupnik’s department), SWAT Team fired 71 rounds at him, hitting him with approximately 60 rounds. He had no criminal record. The only justification given by the Sheriff’s spokesman for using SWAT to serve the warrant was that it was a search warrant in a narcotics conspiracy investigation (with three other homes searched in the same neighborhood), and that this is their policy when the home-owner may be armed
This policy of using SWAT to serve mere search warrants on people with no violent criminal history will lead to more deaths of veterans and other trained American gun owners because a trained man will react precisely the same way this young Marine did.
We must take a stand on this use of SWAT against gun owners and veterans who have no violent crime history, and that stand needs to be a firm one.
Therefore, we are going to rally in Tucson this coming Memorial Day, May 30, 2011 to honor this young Marine’s service and to express our opposition to the destruction of our liberty, and our opposition to this policy of using SWAT Teams to serve mere search warrants on gun owners and veterans who have no violent criminal record.
We don’t yet know the exact details of where precisely we will meet for a rally point in Tucson. We are still working out the details, which will depend on Jose’s family’s wishes, and other variables, but at a minimum we will conduct a solemn march and memorial for this Marine, Jose Guereña, to be followed by a formal gathering of remembrance for all of our war dead, with patriotic speeches by liberty leaders, patriotic police officers,and veterans.
We are seeking permission of the family to hold a memorial ceremony at Jose Guereña’s grave, present his wife with an award for valor for him, from us, for his service to his country, and to his family for doing exactly what any warrior should do. If we get permission from his widow and family, we will march to his grave, hold the ceremony, and march back to a rally point, and then we will go to a meeting hall (VFW, Marine Corps League, American Legion, or a local church – still to be determined) and have speeches and further fellowship and remembrance of him and of all our fallen. We will invite ALL who cherish our Constitution and want to honor him and all our fallen. We will see who shows up and who does not. We will let that speak for itself.
- A d v e r t i s e m e n t
We will also issue a formal statement and press release condemning the policy that lead to his death. that statement will be signed by our current serving and retired police officer leadership who oppose this misuse of SWAT, and also by our Marine combat veteran leadership who are outraged at what was done to this young Marine, as well as other veterans within our leadership, on behalf of all 12,000 official members of oath keepers who are current or retired military and police, and on behalf of all American veterans, retired police, and gun owners who are placed at risk by this dangerous policy precisely because they would react the same way this Marine did.
And we will petition the Governor, Attorney General, and Legislature of Arizona to conduct independent investigations into this Marine’s death. We will present those petitions in person the next day, Tuesday May 31 in Phoenix, and we invite you to go with us to the Capitol of Arizona. We may also present a formal letter of grievances directly to Pima County Sheriff Dupnik. We are still sorting out the details of exactly what we will do in that regard.
What better way to honor our war dead and veterans this Memorial Day than to defend our Constitution and our God given rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which is what they all fought, bled, and died for?
And yet those are the very freedoms that are now being taken away, and the Constitution they all swore to defend and gave their lives defending is now being trampled all over by corrupt oath breakers. Our Constitution truly hangs by a thread. If we don’t step up and defend it, there won’t be many more Memorial Days, and our Republic will fall.
We must stand against this policy that puts all veterans at risk of being shot by SWAT if their homes are searched, and we must honor the service and courage of this young Marine who simply did as any of us would have done by defending his family. And while there, we will also honor all other American warriors who have given their lives in defense of their homes, our way of life, and our Constitution. Let’s honor the oath keepers of the past by standing as oath keepers now
So, if you can at all make it to Tucson, please join us there to stand with us this Memorial Day, May 30, in Tucson.
This will be but the first salvo in a long campaign to fight this flawed policy, by placing the blame where it belongs – on the militarization of the police, on the trend to consider gun ownership the equivalent of a violent criminal record as justification for such SWAT raids to serve mere search warrants on gun owners who have no violent criminal history, and also at the feet of DHS and the Southern Poverty Law Center which have demonized both returning veterans and gun owners in general with their rhetoric of hate (labeling them “extremists’ and potential terrorists) that lead to this killing and will lead to many more. We will make sure that this young man will not have died in vain.
Why This Rally Must Be Done in Reaction to the Killing of this Marine
I want you to imagine yourself in the same situation this young Marine veteran, Jose Guereña faced. What would you do if your wife woke you up by screaming that there are armed men outside. I think you would do as this young Marine did – you would grab your gun to defend your family. And then a few seconds later your door is busted in, and you come face to face with unknown armed intruders (not knowing if they are street criminal home invaders or police). You would be in the same situation this young Marine was in. And if it turned out to be a SWAT team, it is likely you too would be shot dead while you are trying to sort out whether those armed men are police – as Jose was likely doing, which would explain why his safety was still on.
Those of us who are trained know and understand that the only way your family is going to be safe from a criminal home invasion is if you step up and defend them, but if you do that, if you dare to arm yourself and defend your family against home invasion, if it turns out to be the police conducting a dynamic SWAT raid, you will be at risk of being shot on sight every time. You will die for simply defending your family.
And that’s the problem with this policy of using a SWAT team just to serve a search warrant. Jose had a clean record – no criminal history. It wasn’t like he had a long rap sheet of violent crime convictions. So, what was the reasoning for going in like a military counter-terrorism unit? The sheriff’s spokesman, Lt. Michael O’Connor, said they do this when a suspect may be armed. So, they are telling us that whenever they serve a search warrant on any gun owner, this is how they are going to come in – with a dynamic entry by a heavily armed SWAT team a mere 15 seconds after pounding on the front door. Fifteen seconds is not enough time for you to get out of bed, figure out who it is, and then go answer the door, especially after your wife is screaming that there are armed men outside – are you really going to just stick your face in a window to see what’s outside? Or are you going to react in a tactical manner, arming yourself and being careful about taking a peek outside? By that time, your door will be battered in and you will be face to face with unknown gunmen (and don’t forget that many street criminals now impersonate police when they do home invasions). This is a recipe for disaster and death every time. Our New Mexico Chapter President, retired police officer Juli Adcock, wrote me to say:
“My utter sorrow simply cannot be expressed. It could just as easily have been my 26 year old son, a Marine Vet, with 2 babies and a wife.”
She’s right. It could have been her young Marine son, it could have been her, it could have been me, it could have been you – it could happen to any of us since we would all do the same thing he did in response to an apparent home invasion.
Oath Keepers Board member Rand Cardwell, a Marine Scout-Sniper combat veteran, agrees. He told me that the same thing would happen to him or to his son, who is a current serving Marine Scout-Sniper, or to his Marine son-in-law. All of them would react in the same way under those same circumstances. And he agrees that it is most likely this young Marine still had his safety on because he was trying to ID the threat before he fired, as he had been trained to do.
And Arizona Oath Keepers Chapter President Ray Epps, also a Marine infantry veteran, agrees that he would react the same way under those circumstances. And indeed, the same response was voiced by retired Las Vegas Metro Police Officer Dave Freeman, my Western US Vice President and National Peace Officer Liaison. Indeed, every current or former police officer (several with SWAT experience) or military service member I have asked has had the same opinion.
If the Pima County Sheriff’s office were really concerned about avoiding this kind of near guaranteed firefight against a well trained gun owning veteran, they could have stopped him on the road on his way home from work. How hard would that have been? Just pull him over in a traffic stop, tell him they have a search warrant to search his home, and then conduct the search. But instead, they went in exactly as they would against a barricaded suspect with a long history of violence.
This policy is going to lead to more deaths, and especially among veterans, among retired police, and among any Americans who have had some training in defensive weaponcraft. Perversely, the better trained you are, the more likely you are to be shot by a SWAT team because you will not just curl up in a fetal position when your door is kicked in and armed men enter your home screaming obscenities. That only works on the untrained. It doesn’t work on Marines, all of whom are riflemen first, or on any other veteran who has had combat arms training. Nor will it work on retired police officers, or on well trained citizens who have been to any high quality civilian shooting school such as Suarez International, Thunder Ranch, Gunsite, Front Sight, etc. The better trained you are, the more likely you are to be shot dead by a SWAT team because you won’t freeze, and because you will react in a competent, effective manner to defend your family.
And such use of SWAT is not confined to search warrants in drug investigations. Tea Party founder Walter Reddy recently had a SWAT raid conducted on him by his local police department, based in part upon an unsubstantiated FBI statement that Reddy was a “person of interest” in a domestic terrorism investigation. The local SWAT Team executed a search and seizure warrant, seizing all of his guns. He was never charged with a crime, and yet his guns were taken for a year. You can read the details here:
As egregious as has been the lack of due process in Reddy’s case, the most dangerous aspect was the use of a SWAT team on him to merely serve a search warrant. Reddy is fortunate that he did not end up like this young Marine in Tucson. What was the basis for using SWAT on Reddy to serve this warrant? It wasn’t drugs. Aside from the mere fact that he is a gun owner, it could only be his political activities. Reddy is the founder of Committees of Safety and a known “patriot” leader who helped orchestrate the first modern Tea Party event in Boston, on December 17, 2007, and is now working on an alternative money system, with his “Sovereign State Depository, Inc.” which was recently incorporated in Delaware and is being designed to help the dozen or so state legislatures that have passed gold and silver resolutions in the past year to find a way to make commercial transactions in units of gold and silver. Such a dangerous man!
As I have said many times before, that is precisely the kind of heavy handed, dangerous use of SWAT that Southern Poverty Law Center and others of their ilk would like to see done to all of us, for merely defending the Constitution and advocating for constitutional government.
This policy of using SWAT to serve search warrants on gun owners simply because they are armed, and where there is no long history of violent crime, has got to stop. I think taking a stand over the use of SWAT against this young Marine in Tucson is a good place to start. And we also need to demand some answers from Pima County Sheriff Dupnik about exactly why this young Marine was left to bleed out while paramedics were prevented from treating him for an hour and fifteen minutes. Jose would have had a better chance if he had been shot in Iraq, where a corpsman would have braved enemy fire to treat him.
As we head toward Memorial Day, I find it disgusting that this young Marine survived two tours in Iraq and returned home to a family who was no doubt relieved and grateful to God that he had survived war, only to be gunned down in his own home, by his own government. As a veteran, I am just plain ticked off. But also as the Founder of this organization, I am convinced that we Oath Keepers veterans need to step up with as much resolve as we expect the current serving to do. We ask them to “steel their resolve” to do what’s right by their oath. We veterans need to do the same, and we Oath Keepers need to take the lead on encouraging other veterans and veterans organizations to step up.
And as for any concerns about not knowing all the facts in this case, what is at issue is the policy of using SWAT to serve a search warrant on a veteran with no criminal history that is at issue here. The facts related to that decision are clear. And it is that practice that is being used across this nation, in direct conflict with our right to bear arms and our right to defend our homes. And that policy will lead to more deaths, and it must be stopped. That is the point, not any ultimate outcome in this particular case – and since the Sheriff’s office has sealed all documentation and is now refusing to answer any further questions, it will be months or perhaps even years before all facts are known in this particular case. By then, people may have forgotten all about it. So now is the time to step up.
At this Memorial Day rally, we will conduct ourselves in a professional manner that does due honor to the dead, due honor to our Republic, and due honor to this young Marine’s service. Just like during the 912 March in DC, where there was not a scrap of paper on the ground after a million people were done speaking their minds, we will conduct ourselves in such a manner as to not give the domestic enemies of the Constitution a leg to stand on. Liberty is preserved by four boxes of freedom. Let’s use the first box, the soap box, by exercising our right to freedom of speech, assembly, and our right to petition government for a redress of grievances. Conduct yourselves with honor and due respect for Memorial Day, but let’s do send a firm, resolute message that we will not let our Constitution be destroyed, and we will not let our children’s heritage and birthright of liberty be stolen. Not on our watch!
For the Republic,
Army Airborne veteran and Founder of Oath Keepers