As a standoff continues in Oregon between armed protesters and federal authorities, right-wing sympathizers around the country continue to watch how the situation plays out. Yesterday, protesters tore down a $100,000 fence to let their cows graze on federal land but said they would reveal an exit strategy this Friday. As New Times reported last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual count revealed 276 militia groups in America. Numerous such groups come and go in Florida.
Jesse Wilkes, a 30-year-old Gainesville-area chef who founded the Florida Constitutional Guard four years ago, says of the Oregon standoff: “We’re absolutely watching that situation.” In a phone interview, he asserted that “we do stand and support the Hammond family” — referring to the ranchers who were sentenced to prison for arson on federal land and whose case sparked the standoff —- but he and his Florida cohorts decided not to join the standoff because “we realize [the family does] not want a confrontation.” But “we do support [the protesters’] right to be there and protest and do what they’re doing.” FULL REPORT