America is under attack by the Deep State. From big cities to small towns, no corner of the country is immune. I am not being salacious or inflating the situation when I make that statement. Everyday citizens have experienced swat style raids complete with riot gear, battle ready agents kicking down doors, ripping people from their beds, slamming them to the ground with knees to the back, followed by unwarranted arrest and hours of interrogation. I am one of those people.
My name is Chris Kortlander and I own and operate the historic town of Garryowen, Montana. I am the founding director of the Custer Battlefield Museum, a 501(c)3 non-profit. I served as a Big Horn County sheriff’s deputy for years and also received the Governor’s Tourism Person of the Year award as a tireless promoter of tourism for several decades. After a lifetime of protecting and promoting history and historical places, specifically the site of General Custer’s Last Stand, I feel a little like he must have felt near the end. Surrounded by an insurmountable and superior force with nowhere to turn for help. All he could do was fight with all his remaining strength until the end.
I have chosen to fight as well. Fight against an all-powerful force with superior numbers and arms. The drama I have described is real and real deaths have already occurred. Four individuals who have experienced the SWAT-style raids at the hands of the Bureau of Land Management and subsequently felt the bullying and ongoing harassment was more than they could bear have killed themselves. I know how they feel. I have been there in that dark place, where my own government has turned on me. Hopeless.
My reputation amongst my peers has been tarnished and a lifetime of business interests destroyed.
The BLM and the US Fish and Wildlife Service law enforcement divisions are just one example of the immense power of embedded military style enforcement powers within unaccountable agencies. Known as “Deep State” this began under G.W. Bush and grew under Obama. Remember Cliven Bundy? Remember Gibson Guitars? Twice, US Fish and Wildlife agents dressed in full SWAT gear with automatic long rifles raided Gibson Guitars causing almost irreversible damage to the company over claims they were trafficking in exotic woods. That was never proven, but the damage was done, by what may have simply been a politically motivated attack. The press barely covered the raids at all, let alone their exoneration.
My story got even less press than the Gibson Guitar raids. In 2005 and again in 2008, the town of Garryowen and the Custer Battlefield Museum were raided by 15 to 20 heavily armed agents of the Bureau of Land Management on the pretext that they were investigating the illegal purchase/sale/possession of Battle of the Little Big Horn artifacts. The SWAT-style raids turned up nothing. No charges were filed, and no arrests were made.
That didn’t make the experience any easier for me or my employees who were violently handled at the hands of BLM thugs. The BLM and other agencies are quite literally out of control and need to be reined in. Four individuals have found the experience so unsettling and devastating that they have committed suicide. In 2009, what has become known as the “Four Corners” Raid led by the BLM, two dozen casual Indian artifact collector’s homes were raided. Over the next year three men (James Redd, Steven Shrader, Ted Gardiner) killed themselves subsequent to BLM law enforcement raids.
The most recent suicide occurred on New Year’s Eve in December 2016 after the Bureau of Land Management’s law enforcement division raided the home of Wyoming “rock hound” Robert Weaver. Weaver, who collected fossils, experienced the iron hand of our government agencies run afoul. After having his home raided and enduring hours of interrogation and bullying, no charges were filed. After a month of ongoing harassment, Weaver became the fourth death in a string of unfortunate suicides brought on by BLM intimidation.
Rather than add my name to this list of tragic deaths, I have made it my mission to shine light upon something gone very wrong at the BLM. I have reached out to Congressman Jason Chaffetz of Utah. He has stated, “We need to be more Andy Griffith and less Rambo.” In a January 24th press release he reintroduced the Local Enforcement for Local Lands Act, H.R. 622, which is currently cosponsored by 6 other congressmen, which will strip the BLM and the US Fish and Wildlife Service of their law enforcement authority returning power to the local sheriff. “It’s time to get rid of the BLM and US Forest Service police. If there is a problem, your local sheriff is the first and best line of defense.”
I encourage all US citizens to support Congressman Chaffetz and contact their federal delegation to show their support and cosponsor Chaffetz’s bill, H.R. 622. He needs our support to ensure this comes to fruition. You can imagine it is not easy to strip power from any level of government, but we have a chance.
If power is not taken from the Bureau of Land Management and others, America can expect these raids to only get worse. It’s time that we the people stand up to what has become nothing short of jack-booted thugs within our governmental agencies.
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