According to federal officials, they moved in on the party quickly because they were concerned they might engage in violence at a gun rights rally planned for Monday in Richmond.
Law Enforcement Today sources familiar with the investigation say that the timing comes just as the Virginia General Assembly’s new Democratic majority is advancing four bills – all of which would massively restrict gun rights.
“Lemley, Mathews, and Bilbrough are members of a white supremacist organization named ‘The Base,’ ” the complaint says.
“Within The Base’s encrypted chat rooms, members have discussed, among other things, recruitment, creating a white ethno-state, committing acts of violence against minority communities (including African-Americans and Jewish-Americans), the organization’s military-style training camps, and ways to make improvised explosive devices.”
In August, Mathews went missing from Canada and we’re told by officials that he illegally slipped across the border.
Police said Lemley and Bilbrough met up with him in Michigan and brought him to Maryland and Delaware.
According to court documents, Lemley and Mathews then assembled full assault rifles. An FBI agent caught onto them when on Jan. 2, he watched as Lemley took the weapon to a gun range in Maryland “and heard what appeared to be more than one bullet being fired at a time.”
According to FBI Director Christopher A. Wray in a warning to Congress in the fall, American neo-Nazis seem to be increasingly communicating with like-minded violent racists overseas.
He then suggested those links so far appear more inspirational than organizational.
“We are starting to see racially motivated violent extremists connecting with like-minded individuals online, certainly, and in some instances we have seen people travel overseas to train,” Wray said.
“We have seen some connection between U.S.-based neo-Nazis and overseas analogues,” Wray said. “Probably a more prevalent phenomenon that we see right now is racially motivated violent extremists who are inspired by what they see overseas.”
On Wednesday, Virginia Governor Northam announced his most recent attack on his citizen’s second amendment rights.
The governor, ahead of a 2A rally scheduled for Lobby Day on Monday, January 20, has declared a “state of emergency,” thereby banning firearms on the grounds of the Capitol.
On Twitter, the governor said:
“We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies of threats of violence surrounding the demonstration planned for Monday, January 20. This includes extremist rhetoric similar to what has been seen before major incidents, such as Charlottesville in 2017.”
We have received credible intelligence from our law enforcement agencies of threats of violence surrounding the demonstration planned for Monday, January 20. This includes extremist rhetoric similar to what has been seen before major incidents, such as Charlottesville in 2017.
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) January 15, 2020
He later said:
“No one wants another incident like the one we saw in Charlottesville. We will not allow that mayhem and violence to happen here.”
He’s referring to bloody riots which occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia. These riots were attended by conflicting groups of neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and antifa and Black Lives Matter.
Prior to the above intel, which we’re told was NOT shared with local law enforcement, none of these groups had shown or announced any interest in attending the 2A rally.
The organizers of next week’s rally, Virginia Citizens Defense League, has called for peaceful protests and no violence at all during the rally. Northam says that while he “believe[s]” this:
“…they have unleashed something much larger, something they may not be able to control.”
One would think that the infringement upon one’s rights would be the “unleashing,” not the act of speaking out against said infringement. But I digress.
“Intelligence shows a threat of armed militia groups storming our capitol.. . . I call on them to discourage people from other states from coming to Virginia with violent intent. Hate intimidation and violence have no place here.”
An official speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Daily Press that Northam received reports “for weeks about inflammatory online postings by out-of-state pro-gun and militia groups who are promising to attend Monday’s rally.”
Northam has received “intelligence [that] out-of-state militia groups and hate groups planning to travel from across the country to disrupt our democratic process with acts of violence [and] are coming to intimidate and to cause harm.”
Prior to the above arrest, there had been no intelligence announced or shared with the public on any attendees intending on violence at the rally, but Northam has become “increasingly concerned about numerous ominous-sounding postings on social media from forces outside Virginia.”
One such posting is a photo of an AR-15. The caption referred to the area around Capitol Square, where the rally is to take place, and said there are “great sight angles from certain buildings.”
In addition to guns being banned from the grounds, Northam has included “other weapons” in the ban. He also said that helmets and shields of any kind will not be allowed.
Former Virginia delegate, Republican Mike Watson, said on Twitter that the weapons ban holds no legal ground. He posted about Northam’s state of emergency and said, “Perhaps he should take a look at VA Code first: https://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?121+ful+HB20 Del. Tony Wilt & I patroned this bill in 2012 so that no one could declare an emergency in an effort to prohibit citizens from exercising their 2nd Amendment rights. Signed into law 3/1/2012.”
If he can get away with this,no telling how far he & future Gov’s will try to take it. https://t.co/gH8U7ygeeP
— Mike Watson_Virginia (@MikeWatson_VA) January 16, 2020
The legislation he is referring to is § 44-146.15 of the Code of Virginia, which states,
“Nothing in this chapter is to be construed to:
(3) Empower the Governor, any political subdivision, or any other governmental authority to in any way limit or prohibit the otherwise lawful possession, carrying, transportation, sale, or transfer of firearms except to the extent necessary to ensure public safety in any place or facility designated or used by the Governor, any political subdivision of the Commonwealth, or any other governmental entity as an emergency shelter or for the purpose of sheltering persons.”
In another tweet, Watson addressed the “emergency shelter” portion of the legislation. He said, “And per COV sheltering strategy, Capitol Square does not meet the qualifications of an emergency shelter.”
— Mike Watson_Virginia (@MikeWatson_VA) January 16, 2020
He goes on to say:
“So the Governor has declared the Capitol Grounds a “Shelter” in order to get around the law. I’m curious how many times a 14 acre plot of land has been designated an emergency shelter?”
Ironically, the Governor previously voted AGAINST this type of overreach:
Making this even more bizarre, as Senator in 2012, @GovernorVA voted for HB20 that was written to prevent this type of overreach. Today he seeks to usurp the very law he voted for. https://t.co/a8MsBI6uml
— Mike Watson_Virginia (@MikeWatson_VA) January 16, 2020
House Republicans are not thrilled about Northam’s actions. They released a collective statement speaking out against the “state of emergency.”
Statement of House Republican Leadership on Governor Northam's State of Emergency pic.twitter.com/KHeTCoX1TM
— VA House GOP (@vahousegop) January 15, 2020
House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert said:
“Tens of thousands of Virginians are expected to revisit Richmond Monday to assemble and petition their government. While we fully expect this to be peaceful, there are legitimate concerns of a few bad actors hijacking the rally.
Law enforcement says those agitators are acting on their own volition and are not part of the busloads of Virginians visiting the Capitol.
While we are grateful for the precautions taken by law enforcement, the Governor’s actions will unfortunately impede the ability of people to exercise not only their Second Amendment rights, but their First Amendment rights as well.”
House Republican Caucus Chair Kathy Byron said:
“This year’s expanded presence is in response to the numerous pieces of legislation that would roll back Virginians’ Second Amendment rights. Second Amendment Lobby Day has occurred without incident for as long as I’ve been a member of the General Assembly. Precautions against potential agitators are appropriate, but Virginians should be made to feel welcome at their Capitol, not unwanted.”
House Republican Whip Jay Leftwich said:
“A large number of Virginians are expected to gather on Monday to express their opinion about proposed firearms legislation.
We respect the concerns of law enforcement as to the threats they’ve identified, and hope that these procedures will not discouraged our friends, neighbors, and family members from peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to assemble and petition their government for the redress of grievances.”
Likewise, Jack Wilson, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, issued a statement against the firearms ban:
“On Monday, thousands of Virginians – many of whom have already addressed their local governments – will come to the Capitol to ensure their elected representatives to state government appreciate, understand and respect their concerns. That is their right as Virginians and as Americans.
We are grateful to the Capitol Police and the Virginia State Police for all they have been doing to ensure the safety of all who visit Capitol Square. And, we understand the desire of the Administration to do everything possible to ensure that safety.
However, we are concerned that the events of the last week, including the sudden and unannounced banning of firearms by the Joint Rules Committee and today’s announcement regarding Capitol Square, may be serving to heighten rather than assuage tensions.
Moreover, we are not confident Governor Northam is adhering to the limitations placed on the governor’s authority under the Code of Virginia. Specifically, the enactment of House and Senate bills from 2012, for which then-Senator Northam voted, would appear to prohibit, not permit, his actions today.
The thousands of Virginians who plan on rallying at the Capitol on Monday are decent, law-abiding citizens. They plan on utilizing their First Amendment rights to defend their Second Amendment rights. That strikes us as being a very American – and very Virginia – exercise.”
The intention of the Constitution, in addition to later added or amended laws and regulations, is to ensure the American people’s right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Included in said liberties, according to the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, is the right to bear arms.
Governor Northam and other democratic legislators in the State of Virginia are trying with everything in their power, and even not in their power, to infringe upon those rights.
Bad people do not follow laws. By denying the law-abiding, gun-toting 2A advocated their right carry in the “shelter” of the Capitol, Northam is also denying them their right to protect themselves against those bad people.
Northam clearly thinks that his ban will keep 2A advocates from attending the rally. He is doing what he can to twist Virginia legislation and force attendees to choose: exercise your First Amendment rights without protecting yourself, or forgo your First Amendment rights in order to practice your Second Amendment rights.
While you still can.
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