Russian shelling in east Ukraine kills at least 15

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Russian shelling in east Ukraine kills at least 15

“Acting within our constitutional rights as We the People’s Grand Jury,” the 1LoudVoice website declares, “the signatures below represent those that endorse the public court held on the steps of the nation’s capitol on January 6th, 2021 at 9AM, and the subsequent indictment served by such public court jury composed of 25 or more of We the People.”

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#1LoudVoice is described on the website as a coalition “united by our sense of duty to the scripture and constitution, as we navigate through a Revolutionary Refounding to restore American liberties.”

To be clear, a grand jury, as described on the website, has no legal authority or legitimacy. Walter Holton, a former US attorney appointed by President Clinton, told Raw Story that a grand jury must be sworn in and meet under the direction of a federal or state court in order to hold legitimacy and legal authority.

The “We the People’s Grand Jury” concept is drawn from the far-right Posse Comitatus, according to Devin Burghart, who has monitored far-right extremists for the past three decades and heads the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights. Initially conceived by Henry Lamont “Mike” Beach, a former member of the neofascist Silver Shirts, the “citizens grand jury” concept emerged in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1970s.

“In the 1990s, it returned thanks to groups like the Freemen in Montana and other ‘Common Law Court’ groups,” Burghart told Raw Story. “These ideas made a comeback during the pandemic, particularly among more militant COVID denial groups.”

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The 1LoudVoice website does not include any information about the coalition’s leadership, but the foremost promoter of the coalition in the days leading up to the Jan. 6 attack was a New Hampshire-based event organizer named Felisa Blazek. website, which promotes events organized by Blazek, includes a tab for a mission statement that includes the #1LoudVoice hashtag. The mission statement contains language about “seven spheres of influence” that explicitly references Seven Mountains dominion ideology, a belief that a select group of zealous Christians should take charge of all realms of society, including government, media and entertainment. The page for Patriot Party’s mission includes a header near the top that reads. “Our Coalition,” with a link to the 1LoudVoice website from which the call for a “We the People’s Grand Jury” was issued.

Blazek referenced #1LoudVoice as a group during a Dec. 30, 2020 conference call that featured Jason Sullivan, a social media strategist who had been briefly contracted by Roger Stone to work on the 2016 Trump campaign. In a recording of the conference call provided to Raw Story, one of the participants can be heard asking Sullivan what group he was with. After initially stating that he was not with any group, Blazek can be heard interjecting. Sullivan responded, “Well, yes. Thank you for correcting me. I just joined with 1LoudVoice. Yes, Felisa’s fantastic and I greatly admire her.”

During the conference call, Sullivan urged participants to “descend on the Capitol,” and to ensure that lawmakers inside the building “understand that people are breathing down their necks.” Earlier in the call, as previously reported by Raw Story, Sullivan said, “That’s why President Trump invited everybody there and said it’s going to be quote-unquote wild. It is going to be wild. All these people are implicated. And when they certify those states, they are certifying their crime…. If they knew that there was election fraud that took place and they were involved, or they witnessed it in some way, and they certified the state, they have sealed their doom.”

Then, Sullivan indicated that he was familiar with plans by the so-called “militia.” Members of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have since been indicted in two separate seditious conspiracy cases.

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“There’s dates floating around for some of the people in the militia, okay?” Sullivan said during the Dec. 30 conference call. “They will not allow Biden to go into the White House. That’s a fact. I’m not a part of that. I don’t applaud that. I don’t endorse it. I don’t encourage it. But I do have my ear to the railroad. We have all the real-time social media intelligence you could imagine.”

Some of the organizations listed on the “coalition members” page on the 1LoudVoice website told Raw Story they were unaware that their names and logos had been used.

A group called Bikers for America told Raw Story in an emailed statement that representatives “declined this event weeks beforehand.” The statement continued: “We were not interested in speaking or any ‘Citizens Grand Jury.’ We were going solely to support/hear President Trump. Shocked they continue to use our name. We asked them to remove us. Their event was too far away from where President Trump was speaking. We were not going to travel that far and possibly miss his speech. After what happened, glad we refused.”

Paula Crowder Calloway, who organizes the annual Patriot Network Summit in southwest Virginia, told Raw Story she doesn’t know why the logo for her event is displayed on the page for 1LoudVoice coalition members.

“A lot of people contacted me prior to Jan. 6,” Calloway said in a Facebook message. “I can’t recall who they were. I traveled with my local girlfriends, not with any group or organization. As with any event, there is a lot of intentional confusion thrown out there in the weeks leading up. It is my experience that most if not all of this is 1) some idiot trying to get attention, 2) the other side creating division and drawing away focus, or 3) the feds looking to set something up. It’s sad really.”

A representative of Virginia Freedom Keepers, one of the groups listed on the “coalition members” page, told Raw Story that they were unaware of their name being used. Upon learning about it, “messaged the website and asked for our logo and any reference to our organization to be removed immediately.” As of Sunday, all references to Virginia Freedom Keepers were removed from the website.

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Virginia Freedom Keepers co-hosted a rally outside the Russell Senate Office Building, one block north of the Capitol, from noon to 4 p.m. on Jan. 6.

Latinos for Trump, whose president Bianca Gracia was present during the Jan. 5 meeting between Tarrio and Rhodes, hosted a previous slot from 10 a.m. to noon.

A website with the URL listed Virginia Freedom Keepers and United Medical Freedom Super PAC as the co-hosts of the noon-4 p.m. segment. Federal Election Commission records show that Virginia Freedom Keepers and Marsha Lessard, the organization’s founder, together contributed a total of $2,500 to the United Medical Freedom Super PAC in the days leading up to the event. United Medical Freedom Super PAC, in turn, paid $6,144 to a Maryland professional audio and staging company six months later.

“We work exclusively on informed consent legislation,” the Virginia Freedom Keepers representative told Raw Story. “We have no interest or involvement in anything election related.”

Asked how Virginia Freedom Keepers became involved in the Jan. 6 event, the representative wrote: “We hosted a medical freedom information stage on January 6th. We were literally permitted in the Russell Senate area. We were not hosting a ‘MAGA Freedom rally.’ We were not there for anything MAGA related. If anyone else created that branding it was not with our permission or consent.”

The website for the event shows Lessard and Christina Skaggs, Virginia Freedom Keepers’ director of operations and advocacy, speaking alongside Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and Leigh Dundas, an anti-vaccine activist who vocally promoted the false claim that the election was stolen from Donald Trump in late 2020.

The Virginia Freedom Keepers representative said the group was forced to hold its event near the Capitol due to “road closures around our preferred location.” Asked to explain why Jan. 6, which coincided with Congress meeting to certify the electoral vote and President Trump speaking at the Ellipse, was chosen as a date for the “medical freedom” event, the representative referred further questions to the organization’s lawyer, Dave Warrington. An email to Warrington for this story went unreturned.

Photos of the rally on website, which has since been taken down, show Blazek and Sullivan at the rally with members of Bikers for Trump and Veterans for Trump.

One group listed among the “coalition members” appears to have embraced the “We the People’s Grand Jury.”

In an email sent out on Jan. 1, Veterans in Defense of Liberty Executive Director Scott Magill announced that his organization “has linked arms with #1loudvoice and will be ‘assembling’ with a multitude of Conservative groups in Washington, DC on America’s ‘Second Birthday — the sixth of January, 2021.”

The logistical details in Magill’s email aligned with the “public court” referenced on the 1LoudVoice website. Magill promised that “there will be a most historic ‘We the People’ event on the steps of the US Capitol at 0900 hrs (9:00 a.m.).”

Magill could not be reached for comment for this story.

In a 2017 video, Magill described a plan “to establish a cavalry division of veteran motorcycle riders.” Liberty Riders, he said, would “function as a peaceful rapid response team to anti-American protests, flag-burning ceremonies, snowflake rallies and et cetera et cetera.”

Blazek did not respond to multiple requests for comment by email and voicemail for this story.

But in an interview with a QAnon-friendly podcaster, she described a radicalization process that began with questioning the official narrative surrounding the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, but accelerated in early 2020 when a friend referred her to a conspiracy theory claiming that Americans’ birth certificates are held by the British royal family.

“[I] traced back to what the Federal Reserve actually is, and it’s just kind of, all roads lead to Geneva, Switzerland,” Blazek recounted. “And I just couldn’t understand all of that. And so, for quite a few weeks I just nose-dived as deep as I could all the way back to pre-Christ, and reconciled the truth. Digging and digging and digging. Consulting rabbis. Consulting ministers. Consulting other ministers who had gone that far. And then through each capillary kind of worked my way back up to the heart of the issue, and landed with the corruption of Deep State and how everything’s really been a lie.”

Blazek’s interest in birth certificates aligns with a tenet of sovereign citizen beliefs, as described by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Sovereign citizen researchers believe, according to the SPLC, that “the government has pledged its citizenry as collateral, by selling their future earning capabilities to foreign investors, effectively enslaving all Americans. This sale, they claim, takes place at birth. When a baby is born in the US, a birth certificate is issued, and the hospital usually advises the parents to apply for a Social Security number. Sovereigns say that the government then used that birth certificate to set up a corporate trust in the baby’s name – a secret Treasury account — which it funds with amounts ranging from $600,000 to $20 million, depending on the particular variant of sovereign beliefs.”

Ideas like the “We the People’s Grand Jury” publicized in the days before the attack on the US Capitol draw on a deep tradition of far-right activism reaching back at least five decades. Devin Burghart from the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights and co-author Robert Crawford described common-law courts in a 1996 report as “self-elected vigilante organizations that claim the authority of law.”

“Like the militias, common law courts are dominated by conspiratorial and bigoted ideas and favor tactics — armed confrontation, threats and pseudo-legal pronouncements — that attack the very basis of democratic society: the rule of law,” they wrote.

An early edition of the “Blue Book,” authored by Posse Comitatus founder Mike Beach, included a warning to officials who would defy common law authority, according to Burghart and Crawford. They would “be removed by the Posse to the most populated intersection of streets in the township and at high noon hung by the neck, the body remaining until sundown as an example to those who would subvert the law.”

Far from being an anti-government movement, as is commonly misconceived, Burghart and Crawford wrote, so-called “Christian Patriots” seek to replace the existing government with a more authoritarian version.

“Closely linked to militias, common law courts and citizen grand juries are part of a system of parallel institutions which constitute a virtual alternative government,” the two men wrote 26 years ago. “These institutions — the armed militias, the Posse Comitatus, common law courts and warehouse banks along with political, lobbying and media organizations — are intended to be the embryo of an exclusive white Christian republic.”

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