In February, Anthony Bosworth, an unsuccessful Yakima County sheriff’s candidate, walked onto the steps of the Federal Courthouse in Spokane armed with an AK-47 rifle and a 9mm pistol. When he refused to leave
, a federal agent arrested him for failing to comply.
This Monday at 10 am, in front of the federal courthouse, there will be an armed rally in support of Bosworth. Beyond the specifics of the case, the underpinning of the rally hinges on whether gun owners should be able to openly carry firearms on publicly
accessible federal property.
Yet there's also an internal debate among pro-gun conservatives about tactics. Some of Bosworth's actions have been controversial, even within very conservative circles. To some, he's a hero, a sort of modern Rosa Parks for the gun-rights movement, using civil disobedience to spark pressure to change laws. That's why on Monday, a crowd is planning on carrying weapons in the federal courthouse courtyard in their protest: to do the same thing Bosworth got in trouble for.
"I applaud Anthony for his courage," local gun-rights activist Vitaliy Maksimov wrote in a Facebook message. "Most of us in the liberty movement, myself included, are too chicken to put everything on the line, as he does."
“There is nothing the federal government can do to us, even if they lock up our patriots like Anthony Bosworth!” Rep. Matt Shea said at the Marble Country's 21st Annual God and Country Celebration on July 4. Similarly, Kit Lange, an Everett resident, Patrick Henry Society writer and leader of the "Liberty For All 3 Percenter" group in Washington, saw parallels with Bosworth's treatment, and the way Ruby Ridge went, earlier this year.
“We pledge this with our blood and our lives,” Lange wrote on a Facebook post. “If the Federal government attempts to create Ruby Ridge and Waco, they will find themselves up against people who are incredibly well-trained, and incredibly armed.”
She wanted to be clear, however, that she wasn’t going to start any violence. “We will not fire the first shot, we will not target innocents. But we will not allow the constant erosion of our rights,” she wrote. “We will not start this violent phase of this Civil War. But by God, if they bring it, we sure will finish it.”
Lange spoke at an armed rally in March in front of the courthouse to protest Bosworth's arrest on the day of his hearing. It was a particularly tense moment, both for supporters of Bosworth and for law enforcement.
Deputy U.S. Marshal Martin Kridler says law enforcement agencies met multiple times to plan their response. It was a balancing act. They wanted to observe the situation in case it escalated,
but didn’t want their presence to be the very thing that escalated it. Law enforcement officers were perched on the roof of the adjacent post office, with radios and binoculars. But they didn’t want to incite a volatile crowd.
Yet as Lange gave a speech on the courthouse steps, armed with her .45 Springfield XD-S, she was sure there multiple federal snipers watching her from nearby roofs. She thought she’d spotted them. She was concerned, too, that with all the tension, something would snap.
“What should we have done if they had shot us?” Lange says she had to ask herself. “Had someone shot at someone next to me, I would have fired back, yes.” But since then, Lange's views on Bosworth have changed.
After the Inlander cover story
about Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich's clash with local libertarian conservatives was released in August, Bosworth posted this photo on the sheriff's campaign flag.
The caption, "I'm your Huckleberry" appeared to reference Doc Holliday's
famous line in Tombstone
that preceded a shootout.
It wasn't the first threatening-sounding message from the Bosworths.
In July, Bosworth posted a Facebook message that appeared to taunt a plain-clothed federal marshal:
Earlier this year, Anthony Bosworth did not respond to the Inlander
's questions about statements like these.
But the photo Bosworth posted had Lange concerned he was "poking the dragon." She says she and Sam Wilson, another Liberty For All leader, "were not comfortable with the photos that were displayed."
"We wanted to focus more on training and educating people as opposed to starting that ruckus," Lange says. "We’re not looking to start a fight."
In September, the Liberty for All group posted a message titled "LFA III% Statement Regarding the Current Drama
"Any claims by other persons or organizations that they are affiliated with us are false and made without our consent. This page is managed by Kit, Sam, and Steve, as is the website," the statement read. "While we work out the details necessary for a growing organization, know that we will be putting in protections to preserve the organization against internal and external threats."
Lange, to say the least, is not planning on speaking at Monday's rally.