Last Saturday evening, Sheriff Spruell gave a live interview to the Political Cesspool, the radio program of the far-right racist organization Council of Conservative Citizens. Spruell's presence on that program, which backs David Duke for president in 2012, is troubling enough. According to the most recent census, 25% of the residents of Spruell's county are American Indian or Hispanic. Those citizens can hardly be reassured that the man they depend on to enforce the law in their county thinks it appropriate to appear on the nation's most popular explicitly racist program -- one that touts "free speech for White Americans", promotes racist organizations like American Renaissance and individuals like David Duke and promotes racist depictions of African-Americans, Jews and Hispanics.
What Spruell had to say on that radio program was more troubling still. Spruell revealed that he believes that federal employees working on roads in the federal forest and park land in his county may be secretly conspiring to give natural resources to China "as collateral for (the national) debt". Although he offered no evidence for this odd belief, he made a very real and very troubling threat to counter this purported conspiracy. He announced that he would arrest any federal employee who attempted to close a road on federal land in his county. He said that he intended to do this out of his deep, abiding love for the constitution.
The interview is available at about 1:00 of the mp3 at this link. The conspiracy theory mongering begins at about 10:30. (Link goes directly to mp3 file. The interview can also be heard at link #2 of the 2/5/2011 program here.
Sheriff Spruell may think that his constituents want him to protect national forests from the Chinese by arresting Forestry Service employees, but he'd be wrong. About 1/3 of Montezuma County is federal forest which is administered by three federal agencies, and many local residents object to a recently announced plan to end public access to some Forest Service land (read here). Spruell is now using that controversy as a springboard for his broader agenda of opposition to federal authority and promotion of conspiracy theories. When asked by a reporter for the local paper what issues they wanted him to deal with, they universally said crime related to local production of crystal meth, which is endemic in the area. (Read here.) Interestingly, not one of them cited countering the threat of Chinese encroachment on U.S. forests as a concern.
Spruell was brought to the attention of the Cesspool radio show by a supporter, Montezuma County resident Mike Gaddy, who actually conducted the interview. Gaddy is a former leader of the anti-immigrant Minutemen vigilante group and a blogger at the Lew Rockwell website. There, you can read his many columns advocating gun ownership, predicting a civil war in which federal agents will soon confiscate guns and place gun owners in concentration camps (read here) , claiming that U.S. gun control laws are taken word for word from those of Nazi Germany (read here), supporting the Confederacy as opposing a "one world government" (read here), and implying that Pearl Harbor, the TWA 800 crash, the Oklahoma City bombing and 9/11 were done by the federal government (read here). He also claims that the Tucson massacre was a "false flag" undertaken by the federal government to justify further restrictions on gun ownership (read here).
(Nice stuff they publish at Lew Rockwell. Say, wasn't he Ron Paul's top advisor for several decades? Just saying...)
Think about the following quote from Gaddy as you picture Sheriff Spruell and his deputies attempting to arrest U.S. Forest Service employees in Montezuma County:
What will be the reaction of the soldier from Colorado who is confiscating guns and placing so-called domestic terrorists in detention camps in Ohio when he gets word other soldiers are doing the same to his family and friends back home? Who will soldiers and law enforcement officers side with ... If military and law enforcement personnel begin to side with the citizens, will the fedgov [sic] call in United Nations forces to subdue those who cherish personal freedom and will fight to retain it? Regardless of which series of events occur, Americans will be the losers. Brace yourselves and prepare, this is going to get real ugly.
Gaddy and Spruell deliberately characterize a run of the mill conflict between local and federal interests in extremely heightened, militaristic and conspiratorial terms, creating a hostile environment which may endanger federal employees. They should be deeply ashamed.
Sheriff Spruell should renounce his bizarre conspiracy theory and apologize to the innocent federal employees he has threatened to arrest. Moreover, he should make clear to the public that they should take no vigilante action against federal employees. Spruell needs to make clear to Park Service, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management workers that they should not fear to do their jobs. For him to do otherwise would compound his already grossly irresponsible behavior. What Spruell advocated in his radio interview is merely vigilantism masquerading as law enforcement. Like many on the Tea Party right, he is all too anxious for local authorities to use force against the federal government in order to prevent illusory conspiracies. In that respect, for them, the means justifies the ends.
1) The interview was touted on the "White Pride" website: http://white-pride.org/2011/02/political-cesspool-tonight/.
2) The chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, Dick Wadhams, has announced that he will step down, ending his bid for another term. (Read here and here.) He's quoted as saying:
I have tired of those who are obsessed with seeing conspiracies around every corner and who have terribly misguided notions of what the role of the state party is.
While that comment on the Colorado GOP in the Tea Party era was targeted more at Tom Tancredo and other statewide politicians than at Sheriff Spruill, it certainly applies.