Baker County

In remote Baker County in the northeastern part of Oregon, the Patriot movement-style politics occupy the minds of the county commission. The commission’s chair, Bill Harvey, is an advocate for a slew of Patriot movement-inspired initiatives. Because of the penetration of these issues into the Baker County government, that county’s movement seems to focus on electoral work.

Harvey’s friend Kody Justus, who unsuccessfully ran for county commissioner in the May 2016 primary, is coordinator of the county’s Oath Keepers chapter. One blog post puts Justus and another member at the founding meeting of the Harney County Committee of Safety.1)See note at bottom of “Open Letter to All County Sheriffs,” Baker County Solutions, December 20, 2015, https://bakercountysolutions.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/open-letter-to-all-county-sheriffs/ – more-513. He brought supplies to the Malheur occupation, along with his nine-year-old daughter, earning a mention in the New York Times.2)Julie Turkewitzjan, “Fervor in Oregon Compound and Fear Outside It,” New York Times, January 12, 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/01/13/us/fervor-in-oregon-compound-and-fear-outside-it.html. His campaign video promoted “aggressively engaging federal agencies through coordination and pursuing the transfer of public lands to local control.”3)“Kody Justus for Baker County Commission,” Vimeo video, 1:42, posted by “Sound Image Productions,” March 4, 2016, https://vimeo.com/157685693.

The Baker County Oath Keepers focus on two things: community preparedness, and Sovereign Citizen-style claims about the federal government. One article on their blog asks “Do Presidential Orders Apply to YOU?” The post says, “The question can be answered ‘Yes’ IF you are an employee of the corporate ‘United States’ or IF you voluntarily and knowingly allowed yourself to be subjected to the jurisdiction of the private, foreign corporation called ‘United States’.”4)“Do Presidential Executive Orders Apply to YOU?,” Baker County Solutions, January 27, 2015, https://bakercountysolutions.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/do-presidential-executive-orders-apply-to-you. They also denounce Baker County’s status as a “sanctuary county” (a broad term used for any Oregon county where a judge or sheriff has decided that local or county law enforcement holding anyone detained for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE, violates their Fourth Amendment rights). They write, “it is clear to everyone with half a brain that we are in the middle of a cultural/financial/moral/spiritual WAR! And it is already lost.” They call on county officials to take action against the federal government on this—despite the fact that the decision was made on the county level, which is usually recognized in Patriot movement political ideology as a legitimate venue for deciding what is Constitutional.5)“Baker County listed as “Sanctuary County”….huh???,” Baker County Solutions, July 20, 2015, https://bakercountysolutions.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/baker-county-listed-as-sanctuary-county-huh.

The Baker County Oath Keepers also heavily promote community preparedness, giving classes and saying they’ve held meetings with “several county Emergency Management professionals.”6)“The County Emergency Operations Plan…so far!,” Baker County Solutions, November 17, 2014, https://bakercountysolutions.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/the-county-emergency-operations-plan-so-far; Kerry McQuisten, “Oath Keepers present ideas for inexpensive food storage,” Baker County Press, July 24, 2015, http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/2015260133/2015-07-24/ed-1/seq-10.pdf, 10; Kerry McQuisten, “Oath Keepers learn about radio show, colloidal silver,” Baker County Press, March 20, 2015, 9, http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/2015260133/2015-03-20/ed-1/seq-9.pdf. The Oath Keepers were part of an Emergency Preparedness Fair on May 30, 2015 put on by Baker County Emergency Management and, ironically, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.7)The Oath Keepers “displayed survival kits and offered ideas for those with physical limitations.” Brian Addison, “Citizens come out to prepare,” Baker County Press, June 5, 2015, 1, 5, http://media.wix.com/ugd/3aa06d_817000ffa80c47bfa22d1b25de3f82ef.pdf.

Additionally, Bill Harvey, Kody Justus, Baker County commissioner Mark Bennet, and CSPOA member (and county sheriff candidate) John Hoopes all attended the Rural Lives Matter rally in Halfway, Oregon on February 6, 2016—one of the first post-Malheur occupation support events.8)Jayson Jacoby, “Message Delivered,” Baker City Herald, February 8, 2016, www.bakercityherald.com/Local-News/Message-Delivered.

References   [ + ]

1. See note at bottom of “Open Letter to All County Sheriffs,” Baker County Solutions, December 20, 2015, https://bakercountysolutions.wordpress.com/2015/12/20/open-letter-to-all-county-sheriffs/ – more-513.
2. Julie Turkewitzjan, “Fervor in Oregon Compound and Fear Outside It,” New York Times, January 12, 2016, www.nytimes.com/2016/01/13/us/fervor-in-oregon-compound-and-fear-outside-it.html.
3. “Kody Justus for Baker County Commission,” Vimeo video, 1:42, posted by “Sound Image Productions,” March 4, 2016, https://vimeo.com/157685693.
4. “Do Presidential Executive Orders Apply to YOU?,” Baker County Solutions, January 27, 2015, https://bakercountysolutions.wordpress.com/2015/01/27/do-presidential-executive-orders-apply-to-you.
5. “Baker County listed as “Sanctuary County”….huh???,” Baker County Solutions, July 20, 2015, https://bakercountysolutions.wordpress.com/2015/07/20/baker-county-listed-as-sanctuary-county-huh.
6. “The County Emergency Operations Plan…so far!,” Baker County Solutions, November 17, 2014, https://bakercountysolutions.wordpress.com/2014/11/17/the-county-emergency-operations-plan-so-far; Kerry McQuisten, “Oath Keepers present ideas for inexpensive food storage,” Baker County Press, July 24, 2015, http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/2015260133/2015-07-24/ed-1/seq-10.pdf, 10; Kerry McQuisten, “Oath Keepers learn about radio show, colloidal silver,” Baker County Press, March 20, 2015, 9, http://oregonnews.uoregon.edu/lccn/2015260133/2015-03-20/ed-1/seq-9.pdf.
7. The Oath Keepers “displayed survival kits and offered ideas for those with physical limitations.” Brian Addison, “Citizens come out to prepare,” Baker County Press, June 5, 2015, 1, 5, http://media.wix.com/ugd/3aa06d_817000ffa80c47bfa22d1b25de3f82ef.pdf.
8. Jayson Jacoby, “Message Delivered,” Baker City Herald, February 8, 2016, www.bakercityherald.com/Local-News/Message-Delivered.