Everybody comes. And we protect each other. Militias and the Law Forty-one states have laws that limit or prohibit private military groups or paramilitary training. However, there is no record of these laws being invoked against patriot militias. Read more on how law enforcement turns a blind eye to militia activity. Militias were originally a creation of the colonial leadership, and participation was mandatory. They were tasked with defending the colonies from hostile French and Spanish forces and their Native American allies.
In the South, militias also patrolled for runaway slaves. Forced militia enrollment became so unpopular that by the middle of the 19th century, states found a way to get around it. Yet the stipulation that every able-bodied man between 17 and 45 is an automatic member of the militia is still on the books. Modern militias cite these arcane provisions as their legal justification. But Pitcavage points out that these laws make no allowance for privately organized militias.
Patriot militias overlook that detail, just as they overlook the historic age limit on militia service. I am assigned to Bravo team for an afternoon op. There are three of us. We pile into The Moose. Iceman is a lanky year-old with a thick black beard and a short mohawk hidden under his boonie hat. A transparent, coiled wire in his ear is attached to a Chinese Baofeng radio. An AR hangs in front of him and a long combat knife is strapped to his waist.
He has eight round magazines attached to his chest rig as well as some clips for the sidearm strapped to his leg. He wears head-to-toe MultiCam, hard-knuckled combat gloves, kneepads, and a patch specifying his blood type. Sandstone is similarly dressed, except instead of carrying a rifle, a long sword is strapped to his back, the handle wrapped in Army-green paracord.
A sheathed machete is attached to his chest. Slender, with a shaved head, a pink face, and a wispy red goatee, he often grimaces dramatically, as if in pain. Unlike Iceman, who jokes on occasion, Sandstone is always serious, even when he spritzes himself with the MistyMate strapped to his back. Help us do it by making a tax-deductible donation to MoJo today. During the long, bumpy drive over the mountain, Sandstone barely speaks, but Iceman tells me about himself.
Seven years ago, shortly after high school, he wound up homeless, living out of his car. He joined the Marine Corps and was sent to Afghanistan. There, he searched cars entering his base for bombs and drugs. Life still seemed stacked against him. He was working at a Subway and had a baby with heart problems. Sometimes he found himself hungry and penniless. Iceman lay awake at night and wondered about the way of things. Why is the country so divided? He had a sinking suspicion that the government was behind it all.
Was the government trying to start a race war to make it easier to enact martial law so that Obama could secure a third term, bring in UN troops, and launch the New World Order like George Soros and the big bankers want? There were clear signs of government overreach—the National Security Agency, everyone knew, was spying on us.
He revered people like Edward Snowden who took action against the government. Iceman started to believe it might be necessary to take up arms someday, not as a soldier, but as a citizen. After joining 3UP, he felt like the hole inside him began to fill. This is his third or fourth border operation.
The first time, he was jumpy. It reminds him of Afghanistan. We got a war zone in our own backyard. Iceman and Sandstone discuss intimacies and betrayals back home. They are clearly good friends, but their friendship exists within a hierarchy and Iceman has higher rank. As we drive, our convoy stops on occasion to drop two-man squads along the road, each executing a different mission. Ghost gets out of the truck, points to a saddle on a distant mountain, and tells us to walk toward it until we hit Duquesne Road several miles away.
My squad, Bravo, and the other squad, Alpha, are to spread apart, sweeping the area. You got from now until dark to make it back to Duquesne Road, okay? You got plenty of time. Heads up: These guys will probably see you before you see them. So take your time. He drives away and we all check our weapons to make sure they are locked and loaded.
If we see someone who looks like an immigrant, my understanding is that we are to radio the base and it will alert Border Patrol. But no commanding officer has ever made the protocol clear to me. How do we detain the person? At gunpoint? What happens if we see someone jump from behind a bush and run? Observe and report. You cannot chase anybody down. You cannot handcuff anybody. At the top of a small hill, Iceman takes a knee and Sandstone and I do the same.
For several minutes, we look out over the valley, mottled with creosote bushes, sotol, and grass. I sense that for them, there is a romance to this—the open land, the distant mountains, the belief that they are defending the frontier in service of the nation. I, too, relish this moment. Like them, I have a rationale for my attraction to danger and violence. I, too, am here. We walk down the hill and enter a narrow, sandy wash. Iceman bends over a patch of sand and points to the ground.
Read more on the history of American militias. This dynamic continues for a good while. At one point, Sandstone finds a piece of cellophane that he determines to be the wrapper of a phone battery. He crumples it in his hand and confidently leads us on yet another course. Sandstone is observant. He takes photographs of airplane contrails and altocumulus cloud patterns and posts them on Facebook as evidence that the government is spraying us with chemicals and conducting surveillance.
He does not consider himself left or right, though he does support Trump as a matter of practicality. He swings a sledgehammer and breaks concrete all day and has little to show for it. Why should he have to compete with anyone who will work for less? I hear a voice over the radio. He and Geezer are near the top of the mountain, and they have intel to relay: There is an all-terrain vehicle at the border fence, and another ATV and a white minivan are driving toward it. Captain Yota chimes in over the radio, reminding Bull that people do use this area for recreation and it is the weekend.
We walk for 20 minutes until we come to the edge of a foot ravine. There is another backpack nearby. Iceman and Sandstone become tense. As if on cue, a coyote yips, startling all of us. For a few seconds, I raise my weapon and point it off in the distance, scanning the horizon to defend against an ambush. They climb down into the ravine. Iceman nudges the backpack with his foot. Sandstone opens a backpack and pulls out anchovy and tuna packets, Snickers, suckers.
He and Iceman open the other one, pulling out shoes, fresh clothes, and more food and candy. There are full water jugs at foot intervals up the ravine. In a crevice, Sandstone spots a Mexican blanket, tightly wound with a rope. He unsheathes his sword, cuts the rope, and unfurls the blanket. Nothing inside. They start to climb out of the ravine, but Iceman stops.
He swings and jabs a jug, spilling the water onto the sand. He marches over to the next one and stabs it passionately. He stabs each item meticulously—the candy bars, the tuna packets. Sandstone follows behind, stomping the food into the dirt. When they are done, Sandstone sheathes his sword and we continue our journey north. A hundred yards from the ravine, Iceman stops. We walk down another wash, where the shadows have become long and the light golden.
We stop, drop our bags and rifles, and sit. Sandstone eats some crackers and gives a Slim Jim to Iceman, who is scraping burrs off his boot with a knife. Nearby, a gnarled, sunbaked shirt is lying in the sand. Sandstone gets up, walks over, and pisses on it. I pull my tube mask over my face to protect against the freezing air in the back of The Moose. There is a flurry of alarmed radio chatter about a heart attack on the base.
Ghost races back over the mountain. A helicopter blocks us, sitting in the road with Border Patrol vehicles scattered around. We stand at the edge of the road, our weapons at the ready, and stare out into the black desert. With the patient inside, the helicopter lifts off, fades into a dot of light, and vanishes over the mountains. The base is tense. During the medical evacuation, the Colorado leadership was in the field. The Arizona guys took charge and refused to stand down once Colorado tried to assert control from afar. Now the Arizona guys gather around their fire pit while Blackfin lectures some of the Colorado crew.
Bad decisions were made, Blackfin says. Instead of standing around, men should have staked out the perimeter immediately. Suicide bombers? As soon as something chaotic happens, you still need to pull security. You have to be—or you will die. I listen to this talking-to with Iceman and Sandstone, but since we were out on an op, we are comfortably not implicated in any of this. Then Captain Yota starts to speak. He is furious. He asks who was using a cellphone to navigate out in the field.
I raise my hand. Holy shit! To find drugs, catch illegals? He was a sniper for eight years and claims his lieutenant abandoned him and his spotter near Ramadi. He is also angry about how my team handled the backpacks. Iceman should have taken control of the situation and searched the bags without calling it in. Take pictures and secure the shit. Destroy the shit. I bolt awake to my alarm at a. I walk to the fire, where Bull is sitting, his baseball hat pulled low over his eyes. There always seems to be something simmering inside him. He is with the Borderkeepers of Alabama.
I ask him what they do, given that there is no border there. Nobody can compete with that. They fuck up everything. One time, Bull was at a gas station and a Mexican man was trying to buy alcohol, he tells me. Bull came up behind him. He says the man pushed past and got into his car. He called the cops and reported the man for driving without a license. But when the cops showed up, Bull says, they focused their attention on him rather than the Mexican.
When he came to Arizona for his last border operation, he scooped up some dirt near the border fence, put it in a bag with some flowers, and brought it back to Alabama. Guys talk with them readily, but I am careful to avoid them, so as not to appear in their footage. One of her main sources is Bull. Bivins tells viewers they can find the Borderkeepers on Facebook if they want to get involved. It was obvious what was going on. Spirits are high as we stand around the fire at night. Ghost regales us with stories from past ops and tells us about the tradition of no-pants Mondays on the base.
Every motherfucker up there was stopping by my truck. And they charging me out the damn ass for it. Denver comes up behind Ghost and hands a cigar over his shoulder. Ghost is very pleased. Ghost lights his, flaring out his lips and biting down on it with his front teeth.
Someone makes a joke about how cigars are like horse cocks. Most of the harassment in the camp is directed at the lone woman from Arizona, a blond, tattooed prison nurse who works in a solitary confinement unit. I consider sleeping with my rifle in my tent. Sarge falls into a side conversation that moves from sex to the Department of Veterans Affairs. They tried to give me a lot of pills. I said nope. I get up from my stump and stand with Jaeger and Destroyer. Jaeger is insisting that the Mexican military sometimes drives its Humvees over the border and shoots at the Border Patrol.
They went to scramble jets and they were ordered to stand down.
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Campfire smoke suddenly wafts in our direction. Destroyer laughs. Destroyer is fluent; he was born and raised in Switzerland and served in the Swiss military. It strikes me as strange that someone raised in Europe would get involved in the patriot movement. He says he was home-schooled by his American mother. Destroyer recalls a time he came to the United States through Canada with his family. They had to wait two hours at the border because his dad did not have a US passport.
Spent two hours on the Canadian border.
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Someone asks where a guy called Wolfman is. Rogue says he left today. You know how tempting it is to just go see my kid? Then I just gave up—well, I ran out of money.
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Used all my deployment money fighting on this shit. I just went to the Marine Corps and that made me an even bigger asshole. We stop at Pizza Hut. Everyone takes advantage of the cell reception to check Facebook. Captain Pain has an online business selling threeper holsters, shirts, and decals. He shows us a picture of a big-breasted woman in a bikini on Instagram. His tone is very reasonable. So it gets pretty cold in January. The recruits are told to imagine they are out in Arizona and have been captured by a drug cartel.
The mock detainees are cuffed to a table sloped at an angle and asked questions like how many people are in their group and what radio frequency they use. Their task is to resist giving any information. Stick a cattle prod through the holes. One guy, he tried to turn around and we got him right between his legs in the ball sack.
Sometimes when Showtime interrogates people, he cuffs them to a metal chair. If they resist, he shoves it into their faces. One time, he says, they tied a man upside-down on the tilt-table with his arms stretched over his head. I quit! Captain Pain stresses that the recruits can drop out anytime they want during the roughly hour training, and many do. A female member of 3UP was in the room, he says.
He just looked at me, so I lit her up. Lit her up. Hit her in the calf. He laughs. Nobody died. Our reporters can go after stories that are hard to get but need to be told, thanks to support by our readers. Fifty Cal comes out of his trailer and tells us to rally up. Fifty Cal appoints some of them as squad leaders and tells them to each pick two men for their team.
He tells us we are going back to the area where Sandstone, Iceman, and I found the water and backpacks. Someone points out there is no way to cross that area without going through private property. At p. My blood feels like an electrical current. Is this, ultimately, why they do this? Maybe what drives them is not just the fear of illegal immigration or the New World Order, but this feeling I am having right now—nerves exploding, blood coursing: alive.
Five squads of three get dropped off at yard intervals along the fence. I am with Showtime and Jaeger. Showtime, whose face, as always, is painted green, tells me to take point and navigate directly north. Flashlights are out of the question, so I let my eyes adjust to the light of the crescent moon, pull out my compass, and lead the way. Every few hundred yards, Showtime stops, takes out his night vision goggles, and scans the terrain.
We make our way slowly for two hours. From time to time, I bump into spiky bushes, scratching my face. Then I hear voices ahead of us. Minutes ago, an officer had approached Yota, Destroyer, and Bull, shouting to them in Spanish. After a tense moment, they all put down their weapons. The six of us follow the agents quietly back to the road. Fifty Cal and Ghost are standing at the roadside. I turn on my body camera. An agent named Dennis, his baseball cap cocked backward, introduces himself to Fifty Cal.
They walk over to a 3UP truck and Yota hands his weapon to the second Border Patrol officer, whose name sounds like Ford. Ford turns it over, looks it up and down, and aims it. Then Fifty Cal brings over his. Or at least give you something in writing so you guys can brief and whatnot. Fifty Cal brags to Dennis about their survival training.
We have perfected the art of waterboarding. Fifty Cal tells the officers that 3UP once had a run-in with the Mexican military. They wanted to know a lot of shit. I honor that oath. I got out in I went in in Ghost asks where there is a good place for us to set up and look for people. Dennis looks at Ford. Dennis offers to take us on a tour of the border road. We follow the Border Patrol truck on dirt roads for what feels like an hour, shining spotlights into the desert and along the fence.
We occasionally stop and Dennis, Ghost, and Fifty Cal get out of their vehicles and talk apart from the rest of us. When we get back to the base, I thaw my freezing hands by the fire. He just told me the exact trail that they take. He said you just get on top of that. You can see everything up to Duquesne Road. They run right by ya. Fifty Cal tells us to circle up. Their pace is twice our walking pace.
Put people in position along that trail. The day passes slowly as we wait. Jaeger, Destroyer, and Spartan sit and play cards under a tree. Why should we be blamed for it? This makes Destroyer think of Black Lives Matter. A Border Patrol agent stops in, hurried, and tells us some of their sensors were tripped just to the south of us. Doc and one of the Borderkeepers of Alabama gear up and take a position on a nearby hill. Fifty Cal tells us to stay alert. The other day, a Border Patrol agent showed up with two boxes of doughnuts.
I asked him whether they ever get any pressure from their superiors in Washington, DC, about us being around. I later asked the agency to comment on these interactions between its officers and militiamen. Colorado can set up its own base next time. There is still the problem of equipment, though: The Arizona guys supply the kitchen and lights. Ghost says he has propane lights and gas burners back home. They might try crowdfunding, too. The owner is a 3UP sympathizer. We can build barracks.
We can build fucking shooting lanes. It can also easily claim to be the birthplace and capital city of the global popular culture industry, led by Hollywood movies. In addition, there are numerous community colleges. The city is also home to several major private colleges and universities. USC is known for its world-renowned School of Cinema-Television, strong science, engineering, and social science departments, and winning athletic teams. It is also the largest private employer in the city. The California Institute of Technology , also known as Caltech , in Pasadena, is one of the leading science and engineering universities in the world.
The JPL is most widely known for its development of spacecraft and the management of several space probe programs. Pepperdine University , a private institution affiliated with the Churches of Christ, occupies a spectacular campus overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Malibu.
Loyola Marymount University is the oldest and most prestigious Catholic university in southern California. Occidental College, founded in , and Whittier College, founded in , are other highly regarded private colleges in Los Angeles. Museums and Libraries The Los Angeles region has numerous major art museums.
The J. Paul Getty Museum has two locations: The main museum, featuring collections of European paintings, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts, is in the massive Getty Center west of Beverly Hills, while the ancient art collections are housed in a replica of a Roman villa in Malibu.
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art in midtown Los Angeles houses the largest and most wide-ranging art collection in the region, with notable collections of American, European, and Asian art. It has two locations downtown and one in West Hollywood. Three very important smaller museums in Los Angeles were founded by private collectors.
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The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino house collections of 18th- and 19th-century British and French paintings and an important collection of books and manuscripts in the fields of British and American history and literature. Los Angeles has many fine museums dedicated to ethnic and cultural themes. El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument contains several museums preserving the earliest Spanish and Mexican heritage of the city.
Los Angeles is also home to many institutions dedicated to various industries, sciences, and human endeavors. The Griffith Observatory houses a planetarium and a hall of science, and mounts exhibitions as well. The Los Angeles Public Library system consists of a large central library and dozens of branch libraries. Several annual festivals have become strong regional traditions in this young metropolis.
Recreation The Los Angeles region boasts some of the finest and most spectacular natural recreation areas in the world. The Pacific Ocean beaches—all open to the public—stretch for more than km 60 mi and are visited by tens of millions of people every year. The Santa Monica, San Bernardino, and San Gabriel mountains have hundreds of miles of hiking trails and numerous campgrounds, recreational lakes, and ski resorts—all within km 60 mi of downtown Los Angeles.
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The Mohave Desert, most of which is still wilderness, encircles the region to the north and east. Santa Catalina Island, lying 30 km 20 mi off the coast, contains a popular resort town named Avalon. Griffith Park, covering 1, hectares 4, acres , lies at the heart of Los Angeles. Besides many hiking and equestrian trails, it contains the Los Angeles Zoo and the Griffith Observatory.
The Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach features large-scale marine habitats. Exposition Park, south of downtown Los Angeles, was created in the late 19th century and contains a large botanical garden and several museums. Anaheim's Disneyland, which opened in , is probably the most famous amusement park in the world. It is located in Exposition Park. Economy Los Angeles is a major trade, manufacturing, and distribution center for the United States, the Pacific Rim, and the world.
Its leading economic sectors include shipping, manufacturing, communications, finance, and fashion. Los Angeles is also a center for advanced industries, notably high-technology and information-related concerns. It is a leading producer of aircraft, aerospace, and military equipment, with several large firms engaged as U. It is also the world capital of the motion picture, television, radio, and recording industries.
Los Angeles manufacturing, once remarkable for the production of automobiles and rubber in large assembly-line factories, has shifted to smaller enterprises with a greater emphasis on light manufacturing, refinishing, and recycling. Leading products include garments, food products, furniture, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. Sitting atop a series of oil fields, the metropolis is also a major producer and refiner of petroleum products.
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Within the service sector, Entertainment Industry The motion-picture, television, radio, and recording industries have been greatly transformed in recent decades through corporate mergers and the decline of the studio system, in which studios controlled every stage of the moviemaking process, from screenwriting to production to distribution to exhibition.
Over the years, antitrust actions forced studios to split off their theater chains, and the industry became more and more decentralized. Production is now conducted by thousands of small independent enterprises, which work on a film-by-film contract basis, with the major studio corporations acting as producers. All the entertainment conglomerates are now competing for customer share of the Internet market as well. Transportation A distinctive feature of the Los Angeles region is its organization around the principal freeway corridors.
The central east-west corridor is the Santa Monica Freeway I , which carries hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day through a string of urban commercial centers from Santa Monica on the Pacific Ocean to Palm Springs in the Mohave Desert. The major freeway interchanges each handle hundreds of thousands of vehicles every day, and the entire regional system carries millions of vehicles each day. The Metro Rail system is a mostly above-ground light rail network serving the core areas with trains and subways. Government There are three main categories of local government in the Los Angeles metropolitan region: city, county, and regional authorities.
Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Ventura counties are the largest units in terms of population, territory, and budgets. Within these 5 counties are separate municipalities. The City of Los Angeles is run by a mayor and a member city council. Each of the council members represents a distinct district, and both the mayor and the council members are popularly elected to four-year terms. It also operates several large and powerful proprietary departments, which are self-supporting and own extensive land and resource rights. Each of the counties is governed by small elected boards of supervisors.
Los Angeles County, the most populous in the United States, is governed by five supervisors who serve four-year terms. Each supervisor represents an area in which about 2 million people live. In addition, Los Angeles County operates a massive public health system, with several major hospitals and dozens of community health care centers. It seeks to coordinate city and regional planning and transportation systems, and provides the public with information about these two main areas of concern. Its members are appointed by the member governments.
Contemporary Issues By the s the expanding metropolis of Los Angeles had developed an array of serious social problems, many affecting youth: poor schooling, gangs, drugs, and violence. These problems reached notorious proportions in the early s, when gang membership was estimated at 30, Youth gangs are concentrated among poor, working-class, and minority neighborhoods, primarily in the core of the metropolis.
Although youth gangs have been common characteristics of such neighborhoods in U. Gangs fight for turf, small territories in which they retail drugs imported by large organized crime cartels operating from Colombia and Mexico. Local and federal authorities have had little success in suppressing this aspect of the gang problem.