Armed & Dangerous: Florida

Several groups using the name “militia” have appeared in Florida.(6) Among them are groups whose handbooks and leaflets variously engage in anti-Semitic innuendo. serve up alarmist warnings of a government conspiracy to abolish individual rights (especially gun ownership rights), and specify the amount of ammunition and other material each militia member is expected to carry.

One such outfit is the Florida State Militia, whose prime mover is Robert Pummer of Stuart, in Martin County. Pummer, a Kansas native who was a drug dealer in Michigan in the early 1970’s and served time for second-degree murder, has been agitating on some of the same issues exploited by militia-style groups around the country: gun control, the Branch Davidian conflagration in Waco, the Randy Weaver siege at Ruby Ridge in Idaho, allegations of Russian and other foreign troops operating on U.S. soil, and other conspiracy-minded themes. He claims members in every Florida county.

The Florida State Militia’s handbook, published by Pummer, declares: “We have had enough — enough drugs and crime, enough violence and bloodshed, enough Waco- and Ruby Ridge-style government attacks on Christian Americans.” The handbook explains how to organize militia regiments. It prescribes the recommended survival gear and weaponry: “BUY AMMO NOW! YOU WILL NOT BE ABLE TO BUY IT LATER! while expressing worry over the possibility of infiltration, the handbook offers the following reassurance: “[Y]ou still have your inner circle, and this the FBI, ATF, or any other federal scumbags cannot penetrate, if you keep up your guard.”

Publications contained in a “Patriot List” in the Florida State Militia’s handbook include several anti-Semitic periodicals: The Spotlight, organ of the Washington. D.C.-based Liberty Lobby, the wealthiest and most active anti-Semitic propaganda organization in the country: The Truth At Last, an obsessively anti-Black and anti-Jewish hate sheet produced by longtime extremist Ed Fields of Marietta. Georgia; Criminal Politics, a conspiracy-oriented anti-Semitic, “anti-Zionist” and anti-establishment monthly; and The National Educator, whose pages have honored the leaders of the far-right terrorist gang called The Order and the neo-Nazi paramilitary group, Aryan Nations. The handbook says a short-wave radio is an essential piece of communications equipment. It particularly endorses the Liberty Lobby-controlled program “Radio Free America” as one source that transmits “what the mainstream media will not tell you .”

Pummer’s militia sponsored an Information Fair and Campout in St. Lucie County on the weekend of September 17, 1994. The event attracted approximately 100 attendees, including some parents who came with their children. Most attendees carried firearms, including some semi-automatic weapons. Many wore knives. A workshop on radio communications was conducted by a man who identified himself as a retired police chief and Air Force officer. All attendees were encouraged to attend the U.S. Constitution Restoration Rally in Lakeland. Florida. on October 1 (see below).

A Key Largo-based group calls itself alternately the United States Militia and the 1st Regiment Florida State Militia. Making a specious claim to legitimacy from such documents as the U.S. Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Florida Constitution and Florida statutes, this group has been attempting to recruit members at “patriotic” and anti-gun control gatherings in Florida. Mimicking the style of the Declaration of Independence, its literature speaks of a “Train of Abuses” perpetrated on state and local governments and the citizenry by the federal government. “Just as our Founding Fathers of this country shook off their shackles of bondage,” the group declares, “so must we.”

The militia’s regulations state that “County units will be organized in each county of the state.” Militia members are told to expect to spend one weekend a month engaging in unit activities including rallies, shooting events and fund raisers. A list of suitable equipment is provided, which includes one thousand rounds of ammunition per weapon and six 30-round magazines for each militia member. While the group’s regulations state that “The unit may not be used against the police or governmental authority within the state of Florida,” an exception may be made when such an “entity” commits “crimes of violation of their oath of officer and “of “sections or articles of the Constitution of the United States of America and of this state.”

The United States Militia’s material was distributed at a U.S. Constitution Restoration Rally in Lakeland, Florida, on October 1, 1994. Attended by 1,000 to 1,500 people, the event was sponsored by Operation Freedom, an outfit created by Charles and Ruth Ann Spross of Maitland Florida. The Sprosses describe their effort as a “for profit partnership,” and, indeed, they offer for sale scores of video and book titles, such as “The Planned Destruction of America” and Linda Thompson’s “Waco, The Big Lie.” Featured on the schedule at the October 1 gathering was a speech by M. J. “Red” Beckman, of Montana, who has been influential in the militia movement in his home state.

Distributed along with the speakers program at the rally was a sheet bearing the heading: “Paul Revere Rides Again.” It proclaimed: “A strong and growing Underground Patriotic Movement with state-wide militia groups exists against The Sinister Ones that is unreported by the monopolistic and controlled establishment media.” (sic) Identifying such enemies as the House of Rothschild, international bankers, the Federal Reserve System and the Trilateral Commission, the flier asked: “What is the range of British and Israeli influence in the upper tiers?” It urged readers to “Stockpile food, water, guns and ammo. Never surrender your weapons…. Subscribe to the weekly populist newspaper The Spotlight…. Form or attend meetings with other spirited patriots…. Consider yourself warned!”

Also distributed in large numbers at the rally was a flier urging that “All Gun Owners Should Fire A WARNING SHOT As A Signal To The New Congress” on November 11 at 11:00 pm. “Congress has failed to safeguard the Bill of Rights,” it reads, “especially the 2nd Amendment.” It further declares:

A warship will fire a warning shot across the bow, a rattlesnake will sound off: these warnings are never ignored. It is time to warn politicians that if they do not respect the Bill of Rights they should at least fear the wrath of the People. Congress is forcing the country into a civil war.

A group in Tampa that claims alignment with a national “patriot movement” has ordered four judges and several Hillsborough County officials, including the tax collector, to give themselves up for arrest to the group’s so-called Constitutional Court. Founder of the group, Emilio Ippolito, and his daughter, Susan Mokdad, reportedly said they have an unarmed militia composed of volunteers to execute the Constitutional Court’s orders. Subsequently, Ed Brown, an activist with an armed militia group in New Hampshire, contacted Florida law enforcement authorities, prosecutors’ offices and the Florida Bar Association to express support for Ippolito’s court.