NEW COALITION LAUNCHES TO ADDRESS INCREASING USE OF VIOLENCE IN TARGETING PUBLIC POLICY

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: Samantha Friedman, West End Strategy Team, samantha@westendstrategy.com, Office: (202) 776-7700, Cell: (202) 215-9260

Ballots Not Bullets Coalition to Counter Rising Level of Insurrectionism in U.S.

Washington, DC−The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition has launched with a mission to counter the emerging threat of violent insurrectionism in communities across the country. The establishment of the new advocacy group comes on the heels of an ongoing dispute between the co-owners of the Sugar Pine Mine in Oregon and the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Frustrated with the government’s continued inaction in situations such as the one at the Sugar Pine Mine, seven organizations are uniting through the Ballots Not Bullets Coalition.The Coalition is comprised of the Southern Poverty Law Center, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Alliance for a Better Utah, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and is continuing to expand.

At the start of the Oregon dispute, the owners of the mine put out a call to the Oath Keepers, an insurrectionist group that encourages law enforcement and military service members to disobey laws, policies and practices they deem unconstitutional. Anti-government extremists from across the country have since joined the Oath Keepers at the site, including members of the family of Cliven Bundy. In April 2014, Nevada cattle rancher Bundy’s 20-year dispute with the BLM over unpaid grazing fees on federally owned land developed into an ongoing, armed confrontation between protesters and law enforcement.

The Ballots Not Bullets Coalition is advocating for three simple principles in response to such incidents:

  • The Second Amendment does not provide any individual the right to shoot and kill elected officials, law enforcement, military service members or any other agents of government when one personally concludes that the government is behaving in a “tyrannical” manner.
  • There is no legitimate role for political violence in the United States’ democracy. The Constitution was ratified to obviate the need for such violence.
  • It is imperative that the rule of law be enforced, or a dangerous precedent will be established that threatens American freedoms.

Ballots Not Bullets Coalition members are available for interview. Please contact Samantha Friedman at samantha@westendstrategy.com or 202-215-9260.

Below, please find quotes from coalition members:

Ladd Everitt, Director of Communications, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence
“For me, this is a patriotic endeavor. When you point a gun at people to get your way, and inhibit the rule of law, you are degrading our democracy. We are all supposed to be equal before the law. I am excited to work with our partners in the Ballots Not Bullets Coalition to make it clear that violent insurrection has no legitimacy under our Constitution.”

Mark Potok, Senior Fellow and Editor of Intelligence Report, Southern Poverty Law Center
“For many years, an antigovernment movement has been developing in this country that regularly engages in the threat of armed violence. This troubling trend culminated when rancher Cliven Bundy called in hundreds of radical militiamen to help him defy a lawful court order at the point of their guns—an effort that actually succeeded, and that has since prompted a whole series of similarly unlawful armed ventures. There is no place for this kind of violent threat in a nation of laws such as ours. In America, when we have disagreements or seek change, we go to the ballot box, not to the threat of bullets.”

Rose Chilcoat, Associate Director, Great Old Broads for Wilderness
“Those who incite others to bring guns and threaten violence against federal employees and against citizens who support federal laws, must be held accountable. The recent conviction of a San Juan County Commissioner in Utah for conspiracy and committing an illegal act is a welcome first step to stop the intimidation tactics and brazen flouting of federal authority on our public lands. Little old ladies in tennis shoes have received death threats. This is intolerable in a civil society.”

Christopher Hale, Executive Director, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
“The greatest gift God gives his people is the gift of human life. All of society’s efforts must protect the dignity of men and women. In this time where violence increasingly becomes a means to express disagreement, we must cry again the great commandment of the Lord: ‘Thou shalt not kill!’ With Catholics across the nation, we say ‘yes’ to life and ‘no’ to death. We’re excited to work with our fellow citizens to make this nation more just and less cold, a place where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven.”

Josh Kanter, Founder and Board President, Alliance for a Better Utah
“The Alliance for a Better UTAH is excited to be a member of the Ballots Not Bullets Coalition. While civil disobedience has a long and respected history in protesting government overreach and policy, the threat or use of armed violence, or actions that threaten permanent property damage, crosses the line between respectable civil disobedience and unacceptable illegal activity. Utah is no stranger to policy arguments with the Federal government and may very well be ground-zero in the debate over the use and future of Federal public lands. Nevertheless, Utah also has a strong belief in personal responsibility which means that no one is above the law and we are each responsible for the consequences of our actions. Disagreements over public policy should be protested peacefully, should be debated in the public square, and should be resolved at the ballot box. We reject violence, or the threat of violence, as an acceptable method of protest.”

John Horning, Executive Director, WildEarth Guardians
“Violence and intimidation against the federal employees who manage our nation’s public lands and fish and wildlife are a stain on our nation,” said John Horning executive director of WildEarth Guardians. “We stand together today to say that we won’t sit quietly and watch criminal behavior that threatens our civil servants, our lands and our wildlife.”


The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV) seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement and effective policy advocacy. CSGV can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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