As in other parts of the country, the recent rise of militias in Idaho can be linked to four events: the Randy Weaver siege, the Waco disaster, the passage of the Brady Law and the federal anti-crime law. Idaho militias identify particularly closely with the Weaver incident because it took place inside the state and because some key militia figures in the region were allied with Weaver and indeed participated in the events surrounding the siege.
Samuel Sherwood, an Idaho militia leader, has recruited hundreds of Idahoans into his United States Militia Association. At a July meeting in Blackfoot, Idaho, Sherwood reportedly told potential recruits that President Clinton’s crime bill authorized the government to hire 100,000 former Royal Hong Kong police to come to America to enforce gun control laws. As of August 1991, Sherwood’s association has organized militias in at least a dozen of Idaho’s counties.
Sherwood’s recruitment campaign has met with opposition from law enforcement officials. The Tri-County Sheriff’s Association, representing 16 eastern Idaho counties, has passed a resolution against the formation of militias. Greg Moffat, Madison County Sheriff and the leader of the association, has asserted that they would “give absolutely no support to the idea of a militia.”
Although his current project is not strictly speaking the formation of militias, Bo Gritz’s activity closely parallels the militia movement. Gritz, the 1992 Populist Party candidate for president, is a former Green Beret, well-known for conducting SPIKE (Specially Prepared Individuals for Key Events) training throughout the region, preparing participants in weapons and survival techniques.
Gritz is currently creating an armed community on a 200-acre piece of land in Central Idaho known as “Almost Heaven.” He purchased the land and is now selling it in lots. A second community called “Shenandoah” is also planned nearby. Gritz plans to live at Almost Heaven with 30 other families in a self-sufficient community which he has said will obey all laws “unless they go against the laws of God and common sense.” Through rigorous military training, Gritz plans to prepare his followers to prevent the government from making any attempts to intrude: “I want a community where if the F.B.I. looks at us, they’ll end up saying it’s more trouble than it’s worth.”
Gritz derives much of his support from his opposition to the federal government s actions in the Weaver and Waco cases. He himself was present at the Weaver standoff and assisted Weaver in surrendering to the authorities. Gritz recently wrote in his newsletter, “The tyrants who ordered the assault on the Weavers and Waco should be tried and executed as traitors.” But Gritz’s extremist views go beyond opposition to certain government policies. For example, in his book, Called To Serve, he peddles the anti-Semitic myth that Jewish families control the Federal Reserve System.