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Robert DePugh and The Minutemen

Robert DePugh, 72, came into prominence in the early 1960s as
founder of the Minutemen – a secretive, extreme right-wing
group that perceived an impending Communist takeover of the
U.S. and organized violent “counteraction” to prevent the
alleged takeover. Organized into secret cells of five to 15
members, the Minutemen stockpiled weapons and trained together
to defend the country against what they deemed “subversives.”
In scattered incidents throughout the U.S. during the 1960s,
armed Minutemen clashed with law enforcement authorities and
private citizens.

Minutemen carrying out DePugh’s orders and objectives placed
armed caches in various locations around the country. They
attracted notoriety when this military equipment was
discovered by law enforcement. In October 1966, for example,
19 New York Minutemen were arrested in raids and accused of
planning to bomb and burn three summer camps in the New York
metropolitan area, which the Minutemen claimed were being used
by “Communist, left-wing, and liberal” individuals. Huge
supplies of weapons and explosives – including rifles, pipe
bombs, mortars, machine guns, grenade launchers and a bazooka
– were uncovered. Because of faulty search warrants, however,
the charges against the Minutemen were dropped in 1971, after
lengthy court proceedings.

In addition, the Minutemen used threats against their
perceived enemies. In one incident, DePugh’s monthly
publication, _On Target_, listed the names of 20 Congressmen
who had criticized the then-active House Committee on
Un-American Activities, warning: “Traitors beware! Even now
the cross hairs are on the back of your necks.”

In February 1968, DePugh went underground after a Federal
grand jury in Seattle indicted him and seven other Minutemen
on charges of conspiring to rob a bank. Federal agents
captured DePugh and an associate 17 months later as they were
leaving a hideout in Truth-or-Consequences, New Mexico. In
July 1969, DePugh was sentenced to an 11-year prison term for
firearms violations, bond jumping, and breaking Federal
fugitive gun control laws.

DePugh’s incarceration signalled the end of the Minutemen as a
significant presence among the radical right in America.
Following his release from prison in May 1973, DePugh
attempted to revive his stature in the hate movement, first by
affiliating himself briefly with Liberty Lobby, the leading
anti-Semitic propaganda organization in the country, and then
by collaborating with United Klans of America leader Robert
Shelton on an unsuccessful project called “the Committee of
Ten Million.”

In June 1992, John Grady, leader of the American Pistol and
Rifle Association (APRA) – a far-right alternative to the
National Rifle Association – appealed to “Selected Patriots”
to initiate a letter-writing campaign to overturn DePugh’s
conviction on other weapons violations. According to press
accounts, DePugh had been convicted on two counts of weapons
possession by a felon and one count of possessing an
unregistered machine gun following a September 1991 Iowa
arrest on charges of sexual exploitation of a 13-year-old girl
and misdemeanor possession of of child pornography. No further
details on these charges have been reported since.
(Anti-Defamation League, 15-16)

Work Cited

Anti-Defamation League. [Special Report] Paranoia as Patriotism:
Far-Right Influences on the Militia Movement. 1995.

Newsgroups: alt.conspiracy,alt.politics.white-power
Subject: Paranoia as Patriotism: DePugh and the Minutemen

Archive/File: pub/orgs/american/adl/paranoia-as-patriotism/minutemen
Last-Modified: 1995/08/19