Movement’s leadership left in disarray

Lives have mirrored the groups’ rise, fall

One attempted suicide. Another went on the lam. Another is selling antique model airplanes on eBay.

All once were leaders in the patriot, militia and white-supremacist movements whose names became widely known after the Oklahoma City bombing.

Now, some are in prison or have different careers or have been shunned by their former followers:

• Donald Beauregard, Florida militia leader. In 1995, his militia claimed that a map mistakenly printed on a box of Trix cereal revealed a secret U.N. plan to take over the United States.

In 1998, according to authorities, Beauregard plotted to blow up Florida power stations and government buildings. He was sentenced in 2000 to five years in prison. He was released last April.

“Here’s the guy who discovered the secret plan to turn the United States into a biosphere,” said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center. “How’d he figure it out? Well, he was eating breakfast one morning and he saw that the New World Order had accidentally printed it on the back of his Trix cereal box.”

• Bo Gritz, patriot movement leader. Gritz had a popular radio show and in 1994 founded a “covenant community” in Idaho called Almost Heaven, a Promised Land for patriots where people could live free from government intervention. He made a living traveling the country, training people how to be survivalists in preparation for Y2K.

Gritz lost credibility after he admitted shooting himself in an attempted suicide after his wife sought a divorce. The decorated Vietnam War veteran said that he was trying to “extinguish” the pain in his heart but missed.

Gritz and others in the movement lost more credibility when Y2K was not the catastrophe they had predicted. Gritz now is a follower of the Christian Identity religion, which teaches that Jews are Satanic and nonwhites are inferior.

Last week, Gritz immersed himself in the controversy over removing the feeding tube from Terri Schiavo, a brain-damaged Florida woman. Gritz reportedly went to Florida to make a citizen’s arrest of the judge who was handling the case.

• Dennis Mahon, former leader of the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in the Kansas City area. Mahon mistakenly was caught up in the Oklahoma City investigation because he had stayed at Elohim City, a white-separatist compound that Timothy McVeigh called shortly before he bombed the federal building.

Mahon now says he is ashamed of the white-supremacist movement.

“Unfortunately, the quality of the people that are involved with the white-supremacist movement leave a lot to be desired,” he said. “A lot of them are just losers that have no self-esteem, they’re not disciplined, they’re dysfunctional. I’m fed up with the movement. Basically, I’m fed up with the white race.”

However, Mahon continues to be active in the White Aryan Resistance while trying to make a living selling antique model airplanes on eBay.

• Mark Koernke, a leader in the militia movement. A member of the Michigan Militia Corps, he made headlines in 1995 when he was wrongly linked to the Oklahoma City bombing. Koernke was arrested in 1998 after trying to elude police in connection with skipping a court hearing.

Authorities said that as part of his disguise, Koernke dyed his black hair orange and spoke with a phony Irish accent. Koernke went to prison in 2001 for resisting arrest and for assault with a dangerous weapon.

As for the Michigan Militia, one of its recent efforts to raise money involves selling what it called “Militia Babes” calendars. The calendars feature young women toting assault rifles and wearing camouflage bikinis.


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Kansas City Star, USA
Mare. 20, 2005
Judy L. Thomas
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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday March 22, 2005.
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