Behind the Bastards

There’s a reason the History Channel has produced hundreds of documentaries about Hitler but only a few about Dwight D. Eisenhower. Bad guys (and gals) are eternally fascinating. Behind the Bastards dives in past the Cliffs Notes of the worst humans in history and exposes the bizarre realities of their lives. Listeners will learn about the young adult novels that helped Hitler form his monstrous ideology, the founder of Blackwater’s insane quest to build his own Air Force, the bizarre lives of the sons and daughters of dictators and Saddam Hussein’s side career as a trashy romance novelist.

It Could Happen Here Weekly 63

It Could Happen Here Weekly 63

Sat, 17 Dec 2022 05:01

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Visit eBay dot com for terms. Did you know that you can save up to half on your wireless plan when you switch to consumer cellular? They offer unlimited talk and text with a flexible data plan starting at just $20 a month with the same premium coverage as the nation's largest carriers. Plus, their award-winning customer support makes switching a breeze. Go to consumer cellular dot com slash podcast 25 and for a limited time, get $25 off when you use promo code podcast 25. Hey everybody, Robert Evans here and I wanted to let you know this is a compilation episode. Every episode of the week that just happened is here in one convenient and with somewhat less ads package for you to listen to in a long stretch. If you want, if you've been listening to the episodes every day this week, there's going to be nothing new here for you, but you can make your own decisions. Ah, it could happen here is a podcast and it is kind of happening here because there have just was just an attack on several power substations in the city of North, or not city in the state of North Carolina that left something like 40,000 people without power for several days. I believe at the moment, at least one person died as a result of this. There have been car crashes. It's pretty fucked up and we are going to be talking about that. Obviously, as a result of this number one, there were a lot of immediate suspicions that came out that this was tied towards a drag queen story hour type event that was going to be being held on the day that the attack was carried out. There's suspicions that this is the result of far right activity. And yeah, we're going to talk about that and everything around that right now. We have on the episode for today, myself, Garrison Davis, James Stout and we are also bringing in friend of the pod researcher and women about town, but not this town, a different town because we live on opposite sides of the country. Molly Konger. Molly, I've been saying your last name wrong for years, even though we've been friends for quite a while. I don't know why I never said anything. It's come up so many times. Yeah. So Garrison, you've kind of been taking point on putting together this one. So I'm going to let you kind of take the reins unless you want me to direct this more. But I do think kind of the place to start is, are we watching a gigantic right wing insurgency unfold or is this a more complex case? And obviously the answer is the latter. As it is, anytime someone poses a question like that. No, we're going to pick the simple, more scary, more inflammatory option and leave it at that. Yeah. Do it quickly. Let's get the cent we know. So yes, the aftermath of the North Carolina attack is kind of, it's gotten a lot of people to learn about infrastructure attacks for the first time and get really scared about them and realize that this is a problem. I then start bringing up past incidents when this has happened and trying to draw this like overall pattern, which isn't entirely incorrect, but the way they're going about it is not very responsible nor really well informed. Yeah. So one of the things we've seen is like the, there have been a lot of attack like, it does seem accurate to say that over the course of the last year or two, there have been more attacks on power infrastructure. But that doesn't mean that we have lots of data on this. There has, the past five years, there has been a pretty strong increase in the number of attacks on power stations. And it's also true that this is a thing. The right has been, the far right, like the Nazi right in particular has been trying to get people to do for longer than anyone on this podcast has been alive. This goes back to the Turner diaries, even pre that stuff. This is in siege. And this is, you know, there has been very recently this summer, a couple of pieces of fairly well put together, Nazi propaganda that was advocating for people to carry out attacks like this. And the reason is that it's easy and it's high impact. It's very easy to fuck up a power substation. All you need is a gun. And it's very easy to get away with it because most of them have effectively zero security. Yeah. And it explained how to do it as well, right? Sorry, money. Like it was literally a guide to fucking up a substation. Yeah. You're specific, we're not going to give you guys a guide to fucking up power substations on this podcast, but it's not hard. That's next week. Yeah, that's next week in our three corner. It's on the Patreon. You're going to be on the Patreon. That's the Patreon special episode. How to destroy power and infrastructure for fun and profit. Yeah. No, but I think too if you're trying to propagandaize people to take action, you know, we've all seen plenty of manifestos from people who carried out mass shootings trying to propagandaize people to take action in that fact. But we've also seen the chats when somebody fails, right? Like if somebody doesn't get what they call a high score, if somebody carries out a mass shooting that doesn't result in very many deaths, it's embarrassing for them. But this is for the perpetrator, relatively low stakes. If you fail, no one will know. If you miss, no one will know. If you hit the, you know, if you hit it and it just looks like vandalism and the power doesn't go out, no one will know that you failed and you can try again later. You don't die. And that's the title of one of the pieces of propaganda that I sent you, right? The title of it is Make It Count, which is an abbreviated form of a quote from Siege, which is, you know, in... It's a Nazi insurgency manual from the general effect. The general, just of the quote is that, you know, the price of failure is death. So whatever you choose to do, make it count. So this is a way to, relatively low stakes for the perpetrator way to have a very high impact with low risk of personal failure. And what I did find, and we'll get off, we'll move to the broader topic in a second, because I think focusing too much on the Nazis right now is going to frame things the wrong way. One of the things I did find interesting about that piece of propaganda was the acknowledgement and the introduction that like carrying out these mass shootings is not going to accomplish our broader goals in part because people have gotten inured to them. Whereas destroying power infrastructure, if you can fuck up the grid, they believe that's going to like... And I think obviously this is a silly line of thought, but they think it's going to like lead to the... I mean, this is always what I think it's going to lead to like the race war that they want, right? That's the thinking there. So it is... But the key in that equation is mid like A to B to C, like this. Yeah. Question mark, question mark race war. Yeah, they're Nazis. Yeah. You know, they're Nazis. They're not right about things. But the fact that all this propaganda is out there, the fact they've been talking about this so long is part of why everyone is convinced that like there's this massive new insurgency that's just broken out and that that's what all of these attacks are, which doesn't mean that none of them are. It's also worth noting that the year before this happened in the same state in North Carolina, a group of Nazis were arrested by the feds for trying to attack power infrastructure. And they also had plans on the Pacific Northwest where there have been in Washington, Portland attacks on some power infrastructure. I mean, they're also just so happens to be... A lot of Nazis here, yeah. Both the Carolitis and the Pacific and the Pacific Northwest are home to a lot of people who self-describe as like militant neo-Nazi accelerationists. And what I think we should do now before we get too much off this and we can return to this topic. But the fact that, and this is kind of the important context, a lot of people who aren't Nazis fuck up electrical grids all the time. It's actually very easy and people seem to just enjoy it. It's an American post-time. I think there's been a lot of missteps people have taken in talking about this and kind of, you know, some people have gotten scared and have kind of, you know, not looked at this fully analytically in a way that is actually really helpful because there's been a lot of kind of retrospective misinformation going around on attacks that have happened in the past few months that have only really gotten reported on or noticed in the wake of the North Carolina attack, which has kind of caused this narrative to come out that since the North Carolina attack, there's been like a bajillion of other attacks happening in quick succession, which actually isn't true. So that's, I first want to talk about the types of stuff that is that people are generally getting wrong about this because it's a good, a good deal. People are misunderstandings. Some of what's going on here. So there was this, you know, pretty, pretty viral story made by a new station of Florida that came out a few days ago talking about how it's all caps. Obstations targeted report shows intrusions had to do energy power stations in Tampa Bay and elsewhere in Florida. So very scary, obviously, because Duke Energy is also the place in North Carolina that was attacked. Founded by the guy who invented the modern cigarette, by the way. Based from you. Based. Thank you. It is based, Garrison, yes. Okay. But if you look at the actual story, these intrusions that they're talking about happened last September, they did not, they did not happen a few days ago. And then also similarly, for the first time, there was reporting on a whole bunch of sub-station attacks in the Pacific Northwest. That reporting was dropped after the North Carolina attacks in part because a memo was, was, was posted by a few different news sites that they probably did open records, requests in the wake of the North Carolina attack. They found this memo reported on it. And now people have this, you know, have learned about this other thing that happened in November. So, but people who don't really are only looking at headlines or only looking at tweets or posts wherever, right? They look at these attacks and they look at, you know, the succession of them becoming public after the North Carolina thing. And they're kind of drawing this narrative that these things have happened one after another. And it's part of this brand new wave of things. And it is part of a wave of things in like the broad sense, but it's not all happened within the past two weeks. So, the first thing is like, when it's super easy for disinformation and misinformation to spread very rampantly in the aftermath of these types of attacks and these types of incidents, you know, some of these probably are not attacks. And it's really easy to kind of glom onto an narrative that's compelling and scary. And if you just dig a little bit deeper, you'll realize there's a whole bunch of contexts that that you're missing. So, that's always an important first step when these things are happening. Yeah. And it's part of the, part of the story here, and I think part of why it's important to understand that like the surge in attacks on power infrastructure is a thing, but it's not necessarily tied to the fact that Nazis are attacking the power infrastructure. Is that like it's easy to do? It's easy to do casually. And this has been known for a while about a decade ago, 2013, there was an attack in the Bay Area on, I think, was it two power substations? I think so. The Meckkopf sniper. Yeah, the Meckkopf sniper. We don't know how many people were involved, but it's suspected more than one. Yes, yes, snipers. And this was a very, if this was a practice attack, a training attack, then it was a very effectively carried out one because we still don't know who did it. And regardless of the mode of this instance of has been mythologized in a lot of extreme circles, as like an example of here's a successful thing that is replicable and you can get away with it. Yes. This is one of the most highly referenced incidents of infrastructure attack on, you know, across, you know, whether you're like an anti-sive, lullite or whether you're a neo-Nazi accelerationist. This is, this specific 2013 attack is highly referenced. And we'll circle back to this towards the end, but I guess I'm going to quote from a recent report by the George Washington University on power substation attacks. They are, they are extremely common. They are, they are becoming increasingly common since 2016. What's from a sister not the only ones who do them? They were also from, from 2016 to 2019, a whole bunch of ISIS-inspired terrorism also hit some substations across the United States. They are, they are, they are not exclusively done by wet supremacists. And there's also sometimes they're just shot at by random people with guns. Yeah. And to be in, and let's be honest, this is the Medcalf attack. It's not impossible that it was just an unusually lucky group of Yehuz who wanted to shoot some power infrastructure. We have no idea. Yeah, I think the number of rounds fired directly into the, yeah, no, I probably make that unlikely. Almost every intelligence agency will disagree with you on that, Robert. Yeah, but they didn't know what they didn't catch the win. They didn't catch shit. But Robert's point, I think I think there is some value in remembering that a drunk guy in the woods might love to fire a gun at something that's going to spark. Yeah. And he's gonna shoot a gun at you might as well shoot it a lot. No, I probably wouldn't shoot it 200 times. No, no, no. It was very, it was, it was very, anyway, there is, we, and we talked about this a bit in our planning. There was one attack and Molly, you probably could recall the year better than I was, but it was a couple of years ago where the guy attacked a power substation because he, and he talked about this at length in his trial, he thought people were on their phones too much. Yeah, so I said, I sent this to you, be able to. They said, they said. I loved, I loved to find a court record, I loved to spend all my, all my pocket change on Pacer and they give me access to the law library. So I spent all day today looking for any case where not, not just charge for convicted, any case where USC 1366, 18 USC 1366 was brought up. So 1366 is the federal statute for damaging or conspiring to damage an energy facility. So energy facility means power lines, power substations, coal mines, nuclear facilities, any place where power is made, right? So it's a pretty broad statute. And so I looked up a few dozen cases where that was on the table to sort of bring the temperature down and say like, okay, aside from Nazis trying to cause a race for water some other things that lead to somebody getting charged with this. Those other motivations, other scenarios, in that case was Jason Woodring, Jason Woodring in August 2013. He tried to use a, this is a quote from some news coverage at the time, tried to lasso a train with a cable attached to a high voltage tower. He is still present. Right to the spins. We'll do a two-shot. Everyone was distracted by their screens, by their phones, by their gaming. And you just want to people to remember what's important. So he tried to lasso a train with a high voltage wire. Now I probably don't need to add this. He was a big and fuzziest of methamphetamine. He has some important ordered substance abuse treatment. And we wish him nothing but the best. I think he's going to be just fine. But I found some other cases where there was an intentional attack with the stated intention of bringing down the grid, but for like non-Nazi reasons. Yeah. And then, really 2000s, a bunch of ELF activists were charged with 1366 for arson's to energy facilities. This is an odd one. In 2019, a guy named Stephen McCray was sentenced for attacking one substation by shooting out the cooling fins. And as part of his plea agreement, he admitted to three other attacks. He got caught because he told a friend of his that he'd been shooting shit up. And his friend was concerned. And went to the FBI and they had his friend record some of their limitations. Snitch. Oh, bad friend. Snitch. Yeah. So he said things like the stated motive was attacking corporate America. So something to be done about global warming. He wasn't well. Otherwise noted as an environmental activist, but he was concerned about the corporations, which I don't know. Me too, Blake Jones. Yeah. Globalists, yeah, that could have come from a couple of different places. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, lizard people maybe. You know, right before his arrest, he told his friend that he was planning a brand daddy event that would make national news and shut down the whole West Coast. Okay. Okay. That's why you wanted to make the video where the end of the day. Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes. Don't tell that to your friend. Yeah. I don't think anyone, if you're playing to do that, your friend is still snitching at that sucks, but like, don't, don't tell that to your buddy. Although, according to the Europe prisons inmate locator, which is another tool I really enjoy, he was released in September. That's good. I hope he's doing that. For striving. Yeah. I'll say his element. This, I think, helps to make the point that like, this is not all or mostly Nazis doing this kind of thing. A lot of people want to do this. I found a third case that sort of fits the same pattern, a guy who shot out a transformer. For reasons, I can't quite discern based on the court filings. But again, in all three of these cases, the Miles Maynard case in Alabama in 2008, Jason Woodry in 2013, Stephen McCray in 2019, they all had court ordered psyche vows. And in McCray's case, there were questions about his competency to stand trial. Miles Maynard died shortly after being released from prison. These are people who are not well. Yeah. Yeah. Not that being unwell or having a substance, you probably make you shoot on a substation. But these aren't explicitly ideological. These are people who just got an idea in their head and didn't control it well. Yeah. And I think part of when you're kind of looking at just any of these attacks, you're trying to discern as stuff pops into the news, is this likely part of an insurgent trend or is this like some dudes fucking around? One of them would be like, how much effort and planning does it look like went into the Metcalfe attack looks like quite a lot. I would say the most recent Portland and Washington attacks given the extent to which there were breakings looked like it was organized and where a lot of steps had to go in. So let's have an ad break and then we'll go into some more actual details of the North Carolina attack and some of the Pacific Northwest ones and then kind of circle back to why people are talking about accelerationism so much. Yeah. You know who loves planning a series of infrastructure attacks, the sponsors of this show, attacks on the infrastructure of your wallet. We're back and nothing that we said before the break can legally be called incitement. It's a joke. It's fine. So now we're going to we're going to talk a little bit more about the details of the North Carolina attack and some of the attacks in the Pacific Northwest and yeah, just getting into some more of the actual details that have been going on with these most recent attacks that have kind of caused people to speculate on various things. So the agents who's involved in investigating the North Carolina more county attack have disclosed very little information about what's happened. They've said that the equipment was hit by gunfire and that the shooters appeared to know what they were doing. Investigators have found nearly two dozen shell casings from high powered rifles in the area around 45,000 people lost power and that power outage lasted for like at least five days as the company tried to replace these very large pieces of equipment, many of which were damaged beyond repair. So investigators are zoning in on two threads of possible motives centered around extremist behavior for the for the attack that happened last last Sunday. One of these one of these is writings by extremists on online forums encouraging attacks on critical infrastructure as well as a series of recent disruptions of LGBTQ plus events across the nation by domestic extremists. According to law enforcement sources disclosed to CNN. So these are the two things that people are looking into. Initial speculation of the night of the shooting centered on right wing backlash towards a drag show that was set to be held that same day at a nearby theater. The drag show was shut down as it was going on because the power went out and there was a local, a local activist made some cryptic comments on their Facebook and they then received a police visit. The police. The police would be them about it. I also like that the this person who who made these cryptic posts was also an army psychological operations officer. So she said they literally worked in sia up. She was like to leave. Yeah. She did think she was trying to say off. Like her job was sia up said this was the person that that posted about this big tie to the drag show. So take that as you will. This person's group earlier that day had had a protest involving armed individuals in military gear to you know push back against the drag show. But yeah, so those the two threads and investigators are looking into is one accelerationist rhetoric and writings that has gotten more popular the past few years and then to maybe connected to this wave of like anti queer stuff. Let's see. One one one interesting kind of thing of note is that three weeks before this attack another substation was deliberately disabled in eastern and north carolina. This this attack happened on Friday, November 11th. It shut down electricity for about 12,000 homes and businesses. Power was restored in a few hours though. This one this one was easier to fix. In a statement posted on the company's website for a few days after the incident. They described it as vandalism and the company said that vandals quote damaged transformers causing them to leak coolant oil. But the statement does not explicitly say what the method was. Yeah. And this is again not uncommon because you're trying to like find people who might have like that's part of how you can like make a case against people is if you can prove they know details of the case that aren't publicly possible like there's a reason why they're not going to say what caliber the weapon is or whatever. Yeah, they did say it wasn't the same as the one used in in the Metcalfe attack, which was 76 too short. Yeah, yes, but the gun that was used on the December North Carolina attack was different than the casings found at the year 2013 one. Interesting. It doesn't mean much. It does not mean much at all. It doesn't. I know there was a lot of initial sort of anger and frustration over the use of the word vandalism and the initial reporting. I think it's fine to use that word because when you don't know what happened, all you can see that happened is that someone damaged property. We don't know the motivations behind it. We don't know that they intended to knock out power because like we said, sometimes people in the woods just shoot at shit because it works funny. So I think it's fair to not want to use that word, but I think initial reporting, especially from authorities, especially from people who could get sued for libel later down the line. The word vandalism is not incorrect. No, and it's this is like I think if you're at, if you want to know like what would immediately set someone off that like something is likely not vandalism, well, the Metcalfe attack is good because so much was fired at the transformer. I would say if like I think that would make me think maybe this is just some yehu fucking around as if it's 30 rounds or less fired and there's no attempt to actually break onto the facility. 30 rounds because that's kind of a standard capacity magazine. Well, which one? The reason why because the North Carolina attack in December did not have many rounds but the reason why it isn't we do know it's intentional is two substations were hit. Like one person hit one then travel the winds to another. It was like, just seem like a lot of a lot of people sort of expressing this outrage is that you know is we're tying these other incidents to it. You know, the ones in Florida, the ones in Pacific Northwest. When we have very little information, it's okay to call it vandalism because that's the baseline, right? That you don't have to use, if you start using terrorism for every minor incident, it delutes it. It's not helpful at Creta's area. I just wanted to get on the table. Yeah, I mean, like, yeah. So even in like November, the FBI was issuing warnings of reported threats to electricity infrastructure by people espousing racially or ethnically motivated extreme study nail ideologies to quote, create civil disorder and inspire further violence. So FBI was sending bulletins to private industry multiple times in the past two months. There's been a lot of bulletins being sent out, which is if I think part of why this, in the aftermath of the attacks with all these public record requests and more reporting on it, people are realizing how much of a thing this actually is. I think in attacks like these on substations or other power, great infrastructure are definitely more common than what you might think and do seem to be increasing in frequency on in the in the broad sense. And some of some of them are certainly have as we know from a rest that have taken place, are part of decentralized right wing attempts at an insurrection. That's not wrong to say it's just the problem is larger and more complicated than that. And to some extent, it's a problem of like I would I would be shocked if part of the explanation for why this is happening so much more is not that Americans have a shitload of guns and during the pandemic, people were bored and kind of going crazy like, you know, people have no chill. Yeah, they have no chill. They're stuck at home and you're out in the middle of nowhere and it's easy to do and you want to see something spark. That's part of the problem, right? Yeah, I mean, and they have been increasing since 2015. There's, there were 70 reports of emergency or electric incidents and disturbances caused by suspected physical attacks sabotage or vandalism from January to August of 2022. That figure represents a 75% increase from 40% around reports in like 2015, which is the first year that there's comparable data for. And it's it's also worth really noting that there is and was as soon as this happened in Metcalf in 2013, suggestions were made as to a really easy way to make it harder to do this, which would not be wildly expensive, which is to put sandbags in front of the coolant systems, which will block most conventional rounds. And at that point, I think, yeah, not because not hard to accomplish and it would also let you know anyone who is going to get around those sandbags is going to be ideologically committed, right? Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And the fact that there's a lot of these very important pieces of infrastructure are highly visible and really only protected by a chain link fence. So in a lot of cases, an attack can be carried out without even entering any kind of restricted grounds. Yeah. Point a gun through a chain link fence and do the thing. I mean, you can be hundreds of yards away, right? It's very, like, you know, a three away, you could be easily several hundred yards away out of the range of any camera and you could take enough potshots to destroy it. It has that kind of penetrative power of 30 at six, you know? Yeah. Not hard hunting right for the granddad has, you know, yeah. Anyone who shoots elk regularly could do this, you know, without any without any realistic way of catching them if you're out in a rural area. I mean, kind of shot that these people actually did like in terms of like, I don't know, like um, there's this, this, we can talk about it later, but obviously the area there in has a very high concentration of a very heavily trained people in unconventional warfare, but oh, yes, we should, that is a factor in North Carolina. Yeah. Is that all of this is occurring on the outskirts of Fort Bragg and a year ago, people who were active duty Marines attempted to carry out a similar attack and were not. Yeah. Do we want to talk about a little bit about that specifically about Robin's say? Yeah. Yeah, and I think it's relevant. Certainly like the first thing I thought when I thought about this area was like, oh, shit, that's right by Southern Pines. I think maybe the show was supposed to happen in Southern Pines, which is kind of central to the United States Army Special Forces community. And a few times a year there, people are newly qualifying to BFF soldiers will do an exercise called Robin Sage. It's our, it's military larping. Yeah. What like the, yeah, yes, it's the military doing larping, but also not the military, right? So like people, I'm sure, will be familiar. People who enjoy will be familiar in the fact that the United States has sometimes helped rebel movements across the world to overthrow a government. So it's the thing that it likes to do. Yeah, it's shocking. Yeah, the, the, the, every revolution in fact has been fermented by the United States and the CIA specifically because people can't think for themselves. So they, what they do in Robin Sage is they practice training a rebel movement that's comprised of civilians, right, or untrained fighters. So these people will go out in small teams, in fill, and then they'll meet a bunch of people who are not soldiers. They might be former soldiers. They might be local volunteers. They might be people from the area. And they will train them for a few days, right? Just like they would if they were actually training up like a guerrilla army and then they'll do a simulated attack. But she might recognize us potentially a bad idea, which, which we now might be seeing as an issue because someone, someone did an attack. So like you have in that area a ton of SF troops, right? And the who span the political spectrum and a ton of randos who have been trained by SF troops in guerrilla warfare, right? Unconventional warfare is what they call it. And if you were doing unconventional warfare, this would be a very effective thing to do, right? There's been this massive panic about cyber attacks on the grid, especially since the start of the war in Ukraine, very funny. We panicked about cyber attacks when in fact you could just go shoot it. You don't need to be that complex. But that's right. It's a weak point. And you would know that if you've been practicing unconventional warfare. And so like this happening in this very specific area, kind of raised some flags for me. It's not super weird that this is the second time in the course of a year that there's been an attempt to a successful attack on North Carolina power infrastructure, right? Like it's not surprising. Yeah, I mean, it's this is at the very least the DHS is not surprised about this earlier this year. They've issued many alerts warning that domestic violent extremists are going to are planning to target the power grid. In February, three people led to plead guilty, which we already talked about in 2020. There was those people arrested in Idaho, they were planning attacks on power stations and highlighting the highlighting locations of transformers and other substations and other power infrastructure and planning to take them out and then using the blackheads to go do other crimes, including assassinating ideological opponents. So like there's been a lot of there's been a lot of extra focus on people's plans to do infrastructure attacks and plans on like, hey, this seems like a problem and people have been talking about it more because it does seem to there isn't at least increasingly high high high profile cases. And at least in the case of this past one in North Carolina, the DHS is currently saying that it does appear to be deliberate and they're they're investigating to see if it's it is tied to ideological motives. But again, it is worth emphasizing that not all of these things are these types of incidents. An example of something that I think has been misreported on is this recent attack or or it's not an attack, but it's been reported as an attack in South Carolina. On December 7th, there was an individual in a truck that opened fire near a dook energy facility. Employees witnessed the struck pull up. It was around 5.30 pm. This guy opened fire in what appeared to be a long gun and then sped away. No one was hurt. There was no outages. There was no reported property damage. And currently, sheriffs are saying that this was a completely random act that was that wasn't even targeted at the power station. They said that the only connection between this shooting and the power station was their proximity. This wasn't an actual attack on a power station. It's just a coincidence. But because this was a few days after this attack in North Carolina, people can read headlines about someone shooting outside of power station in South Carolina and get turned into this big thing and you're like, that's actually not what's going on. You need to look a little bit closer. No. It's similarly with this stuff in Florida. There's been a lot of retroactively trying to apply this accelerationist idea onto those instances as well. And there's simply not the evidence. Yeah. It's one of the things you have to, like as talking about the fat, the folks who are like insurrectionary, one of the force multipliers they have is that the United States has a tremendous amount of people who are just assholes and have guns. And not just their own guns, guns they stole from the military. That is also a factor. Right. That's James's point about the proximity to Fort Bragg though. Right. So Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, obviously different branches of the military, different parts of the state of North Carolina. But you know, there was that attack last month. It was near Camp Lejeune. We have the Camp Lejeune cell that was wrapped up. They're actually still awaiting trial on the third super seating indictment. And they were stealing guns, right? Or at least attempting to that's how they got caught. Yeah. The initial indictment was for illegal first trafficking and illegal guns. Yeah. The Marie court lost a ton of plastic explosive at 29 palms last year as well, like a very large amount, which is concerning. Yeah. A startling quantity of high explosives. Right. And so I was combing for records for anything mentioning Fort Bragg looking for other cases related to this specific geographical area because the more counties literally right outside Fort Bragg, which is where the US Army special forces are hanging out. And so this would not be the first time we had radicalized soldiers out of Fort Bragg. I mean, you go back to the 80s, Michael Tubbs, a founding member of the League of the South, did his first terrorism when he and some other special forces buddies committed armed robbery of machine guns from the Army for the clan, with the intention of using them to start a race war. Yeah. But then in August of this year, a special forces soldier named Killian Ryan was indicted for lying on his security clearance application. He had already been granted a security clearance mind you. He had been granted this clearance. But it turns out, oh, he was a Nazi. I don't know how the security clearance process didn't catch the fact that his email address was Nazi a 1488 at I don't know. Sometimes it's sometimes it's it's hard to check. You know, there's lots of simple mistakes that anyone could make. Well, anybody could make this kind of a scene. So you know, you see this wasn't a surprise to DHS and it shouldn't be these are the mistakes. I also did want to note as we're talking about these special forces guys and the potential of them being radicalized. There's also Timmy McVeigh. Well, Timmy McVeigh was regular Army. But he washed out a special forces. Yeah, he didn't quite make it. But a big steal of what's his name? Yeah. Yeah. There's this is this is like not a this is not an uncommon thing. I am currently writing a story that includes a large section about a Marine that tried to steal equipment from military bases to then go do a mass shooting at a synagogue. And this guy has what was a Nazi before he joined the Marines. And we've got to shut down the Marines until we figure out what's going on. We have got to shut this down until we figure out what's going on. So yeah. And you've got Eric Rudolph, the guy who's carried out the Olympic Park bombings in 96 was a was with the 101st Airborne division. He was an aerosol specialist. And he carried out the bombing of the Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia and then went on the run for months, I think. Yeah. And he was a Nazi, by the way. Oh, it was he was on the run for a long time. Yeah, it took a while. Really. He tells all the squirrels and nothing he did in the woods. Yes. And by the way, he carried out a number of other bombings, including the bombing of an he carried out a bombing of an abortion clinic. He carried out the bombing of a lesbian bar. We talked about this early this year on yeah, yeah, yeah. We did part of one of our many series. We talked about this guy. We had we had we had a whole episode dedicated to him. I do want to briefly talk about some of the stuff happening in the Pacific Northwest as well. And how this ties in and how it there is as opposed to some of the incidents that were like the incidents of Carolina stuff in the Pacific Northwest while happening previous to the North Carolina attack does seem to be deliberate. And it has there has been some interesting pieces of the vibration that have come out in the past few days. So the electrical grid has been physically attacked at least six times in Oregon and Western Washington since mid November. Attackers use fire arms in at least some of the incidents in both states and some power customers in Oregon and Washington experienced at least brief service disruptions as a result of the attacks. Two days before the North Carolina attacks the FBI and Oregon's Titan fusion center issued a memo that warned utilities about this about both these recent attacks and how there could be more of them saying quote power companies in Oregon Washington have reported physical attacks on substations using hand tools, arson, fire arms and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure continuing to say that in recent attacks criminal actors bypassed security fences by cutting the fence links lighting nearby fires shooting equipment from a distance or throwing objects over the fence and on to the equipment. And the aim according to memo is quote violent anti government criminal attack, which is kind of a catch all term that these people use for a whole bunch of kind of white supremacist affiliated acceleration violence. It's kind of a silly term because these people really aren't anti government. They just they just want. It's a there's a fact. They're anti this government because they think this government is too liberal. But yeah, so there was there was an attack on a substation in Clackamas County on Thanksgiving morning. The power company calls this a deliberate physical attack. This is the one where two people cut through fences and use firearms to shoot up and disable numerous pieces of of equipment. A security specialist for the company wrote this kind of brief on it and and has mentioned how that there are local people who are affiliated with you know larger networks of extremist groups that have called for such attacks and have provided instructions on how to do these types of things. And saying quote, there's been a significant uptick in incidents of break ins related to copper and tool or materials theft. But now we are dealing with quickly escalating incidents of sabotage. So that's the kind of that's that's the brief from the security security specialist who works at this power company. Four days after that Thanksgiving morning attack, there was another incident at a Portland General Electric substation also in the Clackamas area. So these things happened pretty close to one another in in the same county. Some of the same people were affected. A few details on this one have been released. But the PG&E team said that quote, our teams have assessed the damage and have began to repair the impacted facilities. Notting out the lights is it can be an end goal, right? That everyone it's dark and it's everyone's inconvenienced and there's an idea that you know making things worse will help fence sitters radicalize towards towards the right and become acceleration themselves. But the darkness it's not its own end goal for some of these people, you know in the the Camp Le Juncelle in the Collins case, they specifically spelled out in some of their planning discussions that the darkness was step one. Once the lights were out, once infrastructure was damaged, the police were distracted, communications were down, people couldn't use their cell phones. They would use that period of chaos to carry out a series of targeted assassinations. And that's not a new idea either. I found a case from the 90s even. This case from the late 90s, the North American militia, it was a splinter group from the Michigan militia Wolverines. Randy Graham and Ken Carter went down in this case. They were recawning targets, including power stations, TV stations, military base, federal buildings. And their plan was to knock out communications and power and use that period of chaos to kill several federal judges and politicians. So this is a recurring theme, you know that this case was in the 90s, and then we have that recent case, the Collins case, those guys haven't even been tried yet. And the stated intention is to use that period of chaos to do additional crimes of terrorism. And I mean, there has been more incidents that definitely do seem to be intentional. Like beyond the ones in Oregon, there was also ones in Western Washington that included setting the control houses on fire, forced entry, and sabotage of intricate electrical control systems, causing short circuits by tossing chains over the overhead bus work and a ballistic attack with small caliber firearms. So that's a lot of stuff going into like in terms of like planning and preparation going into something that's happening, that's a perfect example. Yeah. And if you're as a general rule, if you are encountering one of these stories and you're trying to determine, should I put this in my head as something that is maybe part of something bigger or something that might be people fucking around, that's the kind of stuff to look for is like how much effort went into it, how elaborate was it, does it seem like planning was involved? I would say another thing is like, does it seem is it timed for something like Thanksgiving, right? Like it's not an accident that they picked Thanksgiving to attack a substation because if you're trying to do something that's going to have an impact doing it on a day like that where everybody's at home, people are and there's also a higher power draw in general, like there's a lot of reasons why someone would want to do that, but it all points towards this is something that's part of an organized set of actions as opposed to the normal thing of Americans attacking their own power infrastructure for no good reason. Yeah. Which we love to do. Do you know, do you know what else we love to do, Robert? Yeah. Consume goods and services, Gary's. That's right. We love, we love to have some hulks. Yeah. And our hero based lasso king would say that's part of the problem. Hey, we're back. All right, Garrison take us take us home, which hopefully is not Fort Bragg. No. Yeah. Pivot, this podcast is run by the Yusasak. Yeah, hopefully, hopefully not. So, so yeah, the past year we've seen federal authorities multiple times warn about these types of threats to critical infrastructure. There was a local bulletin posted in late November after the attacks in Oregon and Washington saying that the targets of potential violence includes public gatherings, faith-based institutions, LGBTQ plus communities, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities, and personnel and US critical infrastructure. So, it's definitely something that people are talking about more as incidents have do seem to be getting more common. Now, I'm going to use some of the research from a not an article, but I guess not quite a study like this. I don't know how to describe it in an analysis piece, I guess, from George Washington University's program on extremism entitled mayhem murder and misdirection violent extremist attack plots against critical infrastructure in the United States. So, since 2019, Wetsermacist attacks and plots against critical infrastructure do seem to have distinctly increased between 2016-2022, Wetsermacist plots targeting energy systems dramatically increased in their frequency. 13 individuals associated with the overall Wetsermacist movement, were arrested and charged in federal court with planning attacks on the energy sector. 11 of these attack planners were charged after 2020. The rise of accelerationist ideology and doctrine during the past decade did likely fuel these increased attacks within the Wetsermacist mill use that are targeting critical infrastructure and the energy sector in particular. So, if you look at the data from 2016-2022, if you look at 94 cases of individuals who are ledged to have planned, quote, violent extremist attacks, 59% of those people were identified as Wetsermacists and 37% of those incidents involved some level of planning, specifically planning attacks on critical infrastructure. Now, six of those 16 Wetsermacist plotters had discernible tangible connections to named groups and organizations like the Bay, Saddam Wafer, Fendivision and the National Socialist Movement. And 14 out of the 16 people were known participants in a greater kind of online network that connects various like cells or even just aesthetic styles common among the neo-Nazi exciteratious movement. So, and one of the more kind of interesting data points is the number of Wetsermacist plots that are specifically focused on the energy sector related to nuclear reactors, materials with the waste sector and of course power substations. There's 13 cases of individuals who reportedly planned to conduct attacks on a variety of energy infrastructure from small assaults on local power lines to potentially devastating attacks on power grids or even nuclear facilities. And those represent 87% of the Wetsermacist-related cases in which critical infrastructure was targeted. So, most of that is specifically on power grids, like that's that is that is what these focus on. And the first case within this data point range of 2016 to 2022 dates back to 2017 when a former Florida National Guardsman and the founder of Adam Wafer Division was arrested in Florida and charged with you know, a laughful possession of close devices and explosive materials. One of one of one of this guy's roommates who was also a member of Adam Wafer told jurors that this guy intended to target a number of different locations for explosive attacks using this material including a Jewish synagogue power lines and a new and a nearby nuclear reactor site. And this guy in his apartment had had propaganda and book materials on the functioning of nuclear reactors and other power supply stuff. So, like you know, it's these types of things that people study on and then plan out to do. And what we're seeing more commonly now is a very intensive propaganda team putting together kind of manuals on how to do these types of things both both like in both for like to inspire you to do it but also like instruction manuals. And like here's here's where you should shoot here's like here's how to actually do it. And it's it's they're unfortunately designed quite well. Oh yeah. And that's something that is newer. That is a direct product of the types of aesthetically driven propaganda that has flourished on sites like Telegram. And they're they're getting quite good at making propaganda. It's not just it's not just you know random random books strewn upon your apartment anymore. It's very well made documents on how to do that. And that's in general. Don't mind. So the three the three men who just pleaded guilty in February for their their conspiracy to attack power facilities. One of those men Jackson Saywall in the the original complaint. It says you know, cook had recruited his friends Saywall to join the cause from the outset. Cook believed Saywall's graphic design skills could be an asset to the group's propaganda effort. Yep. So he was recruited to the cell because he was good at graphic design. Now I've read these manifestos. I would not say the graphic design is good. But it's certainly better than sort of a cut and paste scene right there's clear digital design element here. And that's on purpose. And they know that that's how they're going to get eyes on this stuff. I mean, Robert, we both read all those manifestos in the last couple of days. They are certainly a step up. They are what they what they make me think of is when I first when I first got into reporting on extremism it was because I went through every issue of like ISIS's magazine to beat right after the the butta clon attacks. And it's number one like there was when that Adam Waffen guy killed his roommates and it had he had converted to Islam and was like very much into ISIS. There was this like surprise from people who don't think a lot about this stuff. But a lot of these guys had a lot of admiration for the way that ISIS put together their propaganda campaign, which included a lot of very detailed guides for how to do things like carry out rent vehicles and carry out vehicular attacks, right? Like this is, you know, we're this is the way terrorism works. And these guys are taking a little bit of a different tack. But again, not that like as as Molly pointed out, there were a number of ISIS inspired attacks on power infrastructure. Just didn't get a ton of of of play. But like none of this is like all of this is in line with the trends that we have seen globally in the way in which insurgent movements function. Yeah. And I think you know, this well-produced easily spread propaganda and these online networks that they created to spread this propaganda mean that we're not just, you know, we have these cases of these organized cells that got caught. But it's not just organized cells that have the capacity to carry out these attacks because any idiot in a telegram group can open that manifesto with the detailed instructions for carrying out an identical attack. And this is called disseminates and becomes contagious. There's this there's this people who talk about a lot online now about stochastic terrorism. And some of us here might be a little bit to blame to that. But a lot of times they're they're getting it wrong. Because what's what what these Nazis are doing, this is inspirational terrorism, which has been a thing for as long as terrorism has existed. When people gather the gun. I mean, that's why they have their calendar of saints, you know, yeah, exactly. And there's a lot of debate about like when do you stochastic terrorism, but kind of in my mind, when I tend to think it's appropriate is when the attempt is to kind of use the way algorithms on various sites in the internet work to spread propaganda that's meant to cause that's meant to inspire attacks. Because that is it's a type of inspirational terrorism, but it's it's it's clearly a new evolution of it because of its reliance on those networks. But this is again, we're getting into the weeds. Is there anything else you wanted to kind of get into here, Garrison? I mean, no, I kind of I kind of wanted to wrap up by talking about some of the terror Graham stuff. So I think we kind of we kind of hit on a lot of stuff that I that I wanted to mention. I mean, in 2019, two years after that first that that that first attack in 2017 and two years later, a Buenaire man was was arrested for planning to blow up power grid substations. He was a member of Adam Waffen. And we already we already talked about a whole we already talked about the two other kind of main incidents that are well known from 2020. And then stuff that is that that just got um uh there was there was court cases as recently as February 2022. We also mentioned in terms of the their their plans to take out power stations to then carry out assassinations. So those are the two other incidents that I wanted to mention. Um, but yeah, I mean, it's I think the the the other kind of aesthetic similarity I think is that I think we actually are seeing some of the some of the recent terror Graham stuff also take cues from not only like a ISIS and Islamic terrorism, but also some of the types of anarchist writing that have that have uh has gotten more popular since you know uh E. L. F. Type stuff like where I think we're seeing some of some of the aesthetic sialings feels very reminiscent of like early crime think. Um, some of it some of it is is similar to things around um the types of like ecosabotage manuals that that were that were very popular in the 90s and 2000s. Um, you know, some of the techniques are very similar because both eco terrorists and acceleration accelerationists Nazis both find value in attacking things like power and uh power power substations. Um, or you know burning down 5G towers. That's a big emphasis of this recent like almost 300 page uh manifesto and in instruction manual they focused a lot on how you know in early 2020 regular people felt inspired to burn down 5G towers people who are not otherwise extremists and how how do we get people who are regular people to get to that point where they're willing to a damage public infrastructure and that's kind of a lot what a lot of what that 300 page kind of manifesto slash manual tries to talk about. Um, anyway, it's uh, if we want to end on on a hopeful note, I think I have at least sort of the small bright spot for us. Um, it's in the original um, affidavit for the search warrant into Liam Collins, the the head of the camp lejeune cell. Um, so in that original affidavit for the search warrant, um, in his case, the FBI agent writing the affidavit says that they first started looking into Collins because he was doxed in the iron march leeks. Yes. So they were, we were reading those doxes and they said, Oh, wow, a marine who's a Nazi. We should talk to him. So you know, when doing this work and identifying these people from these leeks and sort of the slog of picking through like maybe this guy's a fucking nobody, but we will identify them as their communities can keep an eye on them. That work matters. That work made it into newsweek and it made it to the FBI. It's a weird filter system. But eventually this guy got caught before he committed a massive nation-wide act of terror. So keep doxing Nazis in works in a similar incident. There was an officer of the Lathea police department that joined. I believe this, this exact same terrorist cell that was then doxed by he was he was doxed by anti-fascists and then he turned and snitched on his felonautsies. Um, right. So the investigation opened because of a dox and they got a powerful cooperating witness because of another dox. It makes them nervous. If eyes are on them, they can't conduct covert operations. So keep doxing your local Nazis. No, I mean, like it can it can literally be like in terms of these cells planning to do assassinations of people. It can actually save people's lives if these people are actually serious and are willing to to carry out their plans that they are, you know, actively training for, actively preparing materials for. Um, this type of work is is some of the most solid anti-fascist research that people have that people have done. It absolutely saved lives. Yeah. I've no doubt about that. We'll continue to save lives. So dox Nazis and, you know, if if you're drunk out in the woods and one of your buddies says, Hey, why don't we shoot a power substation? Don't do it. Just shoot cans. Just shoot cans. Stop signs. It's the American pop signs. Expired fire extinguishers. Those are fun to shoot. Let me tell you. They're gonna make all of the anti-sid people turn off this podcast in a fit of rage and then we like to do this kind of kind of so. And then have a moral crisis. Yeah. To the anti-sid people who have built a radio out of sticks. I realize that podcasts don't come out through the radio. Traject. Anyway, the episode so far. You think Robert. It's gifting season and you have no idea what to get that special cook in your life. Wanna know what I'm giving this year? Meter. A smart, meat thermometer that keeps an eye on your cook and even alerts you in the meter app when it's ready to come out of the oven. Oh, and it works on the grill too. Meter makes meat juicy and perfectly cooked every time. So add meter to your list. It's the perfect gift for the perfect meal. Use code iHeart10 to get 10% off at Enjoy on the court action like never before with Beth MGM, an authorized gaming partner of the NBA. Sign up today using bonus code champion and your first wage risk free up to $1,000. 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I just wanted to explain why you're only going to hear my voice in the first episode, but you're going to hear garrison in the other episodes as well. And that's because I went to tonight's unicorn ranch twice, once you're in a period that we're going to call the siege, and once again in the summer of 2022. And so the part that only I experienced, only I'm going to talk about. We felt that was the most honest way to do it. I hope you enjoy it. I have worked on this for a very long time. Parts gravel pass in southern Colorado in the winter. It's not where you'd expect to start a story that's fundamentally about the internet. But it's where our four wheels lit a rental car in the spring of 2021. If you remember back then, Biden had just been inaugurated. Some chads had stormed the capital, and vaccines were gradually being administered across the country. Less remarkably, Frontier Rail lines were taken forever to find my damn bag, and I was trying to get there before dark. About a week before it seemed a tweet, I followed this nature's unicorn ranch because I grew up as a farm caterer, didn't really slide quite as easily as others did into the super macho stuff. And I certainly didn't slide anywhere near conservative politics. What the ranchers were doing, building a queer haven at Anacostyle Packer Farm in Co-op inspired me. I've been missing country life a lot during the pandemic, and I wanted to get out onto the ranch. But that wasn't really why I was driving in an appropriate rental car through a white out. I was doing that because I'd seen this tweet, and that tweet said the ranch was under attack, and they needed help. The Tenacious Unicorn Ranch is under attack by local bigots in militia. They have threatened violence publicly to us, and those that help or associate with us. They have encroached on our property, armed at night with the intent to harm those of us that live here. We need help. That's where this story starts for me. It's where this story starts for a few characters you're going to hear this week. But it's not where the story really starts. It starts with Nellope Logan, a wheel-call penny, working at a big box store and dealing with increasing transferbia, both online and in person, in the early Trump era. Penny's a veteran and a country girl, and she was looking to get out of the city. Along with her partners, Ken Jen, she decided to rent some land and set up farming rescue dalpacas. So we started in Livermore, Colorado, which is on the whole entire other side of the state. It really was a reaction to what was happening to the queer community, not only locally, but kind of what we were seeing nationally, about two years into the Trump presidency, where things were just getting really bleak and dire for the majority of people that we hung out with. We were originally going to try to just make a bus that was road worthy and we could live in and just kind of be nomadic, but we couldn't really onboard and help other people that way. That was really just a good idea. It would have been hard to have the cats we have on a bus. Even at that point, we had four cats. So it was two, three cats, whatever. There was two at the time, but still too many for us. Well, yeah, dogs and whatever. So I had always wanted to do a homestead and I grew up farming and ranting, so it was very natural for me. So we found a ranch that we could rent in Livermore, and me, Kat and Jen, just kind of set out to start somewhere. That was a haven for queer people, but also a home for us, you know. It turned out the United States didn't something given our packer crisis. The animals were once extremely fashionable and heard to pop up all over the West in the 1980s. Now, that generation of alpaca ranchers are aging out of the hard physical labor that makes about every day on a ranch. And their apacas are often left to their own devices. The unicorns, as the people in the valley call them, adopt these alpacas, which are often neglected and care for them. They refeed them slowly, so they won't die from the bloat and become from refeeding too fast. And they sell their fibros yarn. Gradually, with a ton of hard work and a growing community, they built their ranch into a sustainable operation. But as the herd grew and their unfortunate rental agreement became clearer, they decided they needed a different ranch, and so they moved across the state to Westcliffe. And it was a rented ranch that we were trying to rent to own. We thought we were renting to own, actually. And then that rut got pulled out from underneath us. When we went to purchase it, they were just like, no, you haven't been renting to own. You've just been renting and we went an additional $100,000. So it was like, yeah, great. We had to move right as COVID was getting bad in America. So like March of 2020, that was fun. It was the worst and best move all at the same time because the roads were fucking empty. Like quarantine was in full effect, so the roads were empty. So we were traveling with trailers full of animals on empty roads. And then after the restrictions lightened and we got used to what the normal traffic flow was, we were like, fuck this. But it was cool. Like having everything shut down. We couldn't, like, the big problem was we couldn't rent anything because every rental place had shut down. And so really it was like that beginnings of like the community for us, right? It was like we'd have friends and, you know, comrades to help. Social media. Yeah. And everybody really stepped up and helped with that move. So it was cool. Westcliffe's where I met them. It's a beautiful town in the Sangre de Christos. In the summer, it's full of tourists taking weekend trips to the mountains and eat nice cream. And in the winter, it's quiet, snow covered, beautiful and absolutely freezing. In March of 2021, I drove through the town on the afternoon and what I figured was an inconspicuous map. Everyone else who visited the ranch that month picked up a tail. Aside from a few strange looks, I think I got through okay. I took a long, lonely winding road through the valley and then turned down a dirt road toward the ranch. Penny met me at the gate in a plate carrier with a rifle. We briefly hugged and then I quickly parked my car outside the dome that the growing queer community at the ranch called home. It was a profoundly strange experience. Inside the house was full of warmth, conversation and laughter. People enjoying each other's company and enjoying being out of the biting wind and snow. Outside was cold. We wore plate carriers and the ranchers carried long guns. I carried a camera, a GoPro and an iFAC. And then, dressed in battle rattle, we broke the eyes on the alpaca drinking tanks and tried to stop the recently adopted animals from refeeding too quickly. I walked and talked with Penny and Jay, another of the unicorns whose story will get you later. About the stress that the increasing threats to them had had on them. But first, we met the animals. We have sheep, we have goats, we have, of course, alpaca, we have ducks and chickens, day to day dog rows. Lots of dogs. Five perines, which are livestock, guardian dogs and a couple of blue healers, rescues. And my dog starbuck. And oh yeah, eat cats. But the vast majority are the alpacas. Yeah. It might sound idyllic and in many ways it is idyllic. But the work on the ranch never stops and sick our packer, in the turning to almost constantly. Even during the siege, which we will get too soon, I promise. There was a lot the volunteers could help, but animal husbandry wasn't on the list. So even after long nights patrolling their ranch, cold and afraid, Penny and Jay often had to take it in turns looking after old animals with bloat. It's a labored to breathe. Here's one that I recorded. Can you set that down and help me stand to her up? Because we're just going to see if we can get her to walk. Right, I feel the front. Okay, I know. There you go. There you go. There you go. There you go. I feel so repurping. Good. Next up, bacon, son of a- There. Got a walk, baby. That's part of this. I know. That's part of this, bro. Okay, okay, okay. Oh, baby. We can't do that. It's all right, love. It's all right. Well, if you're not going to walk in my life, I gotta do this. I know it hurts. Yeah, okay. Let's get you on the cruise. Yeah. There you go. It's okay. There, that's a good bird. Yeah. Sound like that was a little bit more movement. Yeah, I'm going. The feeling that they probably didn't even start asking for help until the weakest of their herd was actually dying in the old field. The story about how we got from a thriving and happy ranch community, built on the anarchist principle of mutual aid and solidarity, to what the unicorns called the siege. If the story that's about lies, bigotry, and the internet, but it's hard to think about those things too much at a ranch because in the two trips I've taken, I felt nothing but incredible sense of love, solidarity, and supportive community. If you've engaged with the story of the ranch at all, perhaps following tonight's unicorn ranch online, it's probably because of the siege, but I don't want this to be a story that's just about guns, bigotry, and community defense. I also want it to be a story about how, long before the siege began, the community at the Tunisian Unicorn Ranch realized that nobody was coming to save them, and so they decided to save themselves. Yeah, sure, they want to kill us, but we're the ones with the victim. Yeah, but when we call it out, you know, IE, hey, stop killing us. Not even like, fuck you, just hey, like could you just like lay off the whole killing us thing? There's like, fuck it, this is teaching us. Right, you said not kill us. You fucked him, fuck it. Unapp, like, fucking unsympathetic victim screaming, tranning, like, fuck you. All right, so no, because the answer, no, you can't stop killing us. Good, good. Maybe time to get comes now. The day I slip-slip my way across hard-scrabble past in my not-so-trustiness and almyra, was the same day that a gunman walked into a supermarket and bowed a collar rider, and killed 10 people with a Mayr pistol. My social media feed was filled with the sadly all two common reactions to his all-too-common mass murders that happen in this country. But the next day, I saw people flooding gunshots in a fear that the state would begin enforcing stricted gun control laws. It didn't. I said it this draft another young man with another gun, has walked into a gay bar in Colorado Springs, about an hour from the ranch. It's an intensity conservative city that hosts focus on the family. You'll know by now that the club Q shooting result in the death of five people, including two trans people, and it's your 21 more. I'll be honest with you, it felt a bit weird driving through Colorado to write a story about guns what was broadly positive. And in a sense, it still does today, but the reason this story about guns is positive really has very little to do with guns and everything to do with people. It's really a story about solidarity, what that is about AR-15s. But some people will never get past the AR-15s enough to see that. In case you missed it or you caught one of the reports at a time that seemed to skim over the fact that the ranch is around, we should give an account of the siege up top here so you understand what happened. Understanding why it happened, that's another episode. So for now, just understand that some boomers log into their social media, and the queer elimination rhetoric we've reported so much about, overlapped with their small community in a valley in the Sangre de Cristo mountains. And this was a result. Think started as they often do these days online, but a throwaway comment about a parade in town. The girls didn't really know that they'd moved into the Redis County in Colorado. At a time, Lauren Boba was their congressperson, but soon they started to get an idea of what some people, pretty small minority of people as it turned out, thought about them. So it started on Facebook, like honestly, like we started seeing more comments and people getting weird about it, and then there was literally to this day, I will still say it was a fascist fucking parade. You're talking about July 4, 2020. July 4, 2020. They did a fascism. Like the local fascists did a fascism. And we observed this by accident because we were like, oh a parade, that doesn't sound interesting. But we did go into town to get some coffee and ran smack into a fascist parade. And fascist in what sort of like is so is that very things made you read the fascist? And fascist in the most like direct way, like there was Christian nationalist flags, 3% or flags, Confederate flags carried by armed white people screaming about the government and the Libs and the queers. Like it was a they did a fascist in the photos. There's that one guy with a shirt that says, I know things and own guns or something like that and shoot things. Yeah, I know. I know and shoot things. Yeah. And so like it was a overtly hard right sponsored parade that was supposed to be like hard like that. Like it was like set up as a protest because of the covert restrictions they weren't letting people have a parade. And this was their answer to that. And so really all we did was call that out on Twitter. We were like, well, like there's a fascist parade in Westclifton. We'll come back to this parade next episode. It's organized by a local newspaper, which is to be perfectly frank, the most bachit crazy boom of brainworm thing I've ever seen at print. It was an open carry event where malicious from across the US come to open carry unloaded guns for reasons that we can't really pin down. Soon the unicorns calling out the parade on Twitter set keyboard fingers clicking. I've said fingers here, but these people give off a distinct single finger typing vibe if I'm honest. We started the first thing that we noticed was the tails. We started getting tailed from points that everybody that we were very public about frequenting like Peregrine coffee and chapies. We started getting picking up tails from those points routinely. And that so like people like following you. Yeah, yeah, not very completely in the same three vehicles. And they wouldn't just follow us. Anyone that they figured out knew us. Yeah, anybody that announced on any social media platform that they were coming to see us, they would then follow. And then it really got, it became super into the physical world when nine news. Well, nine news did a piece on us in which the sheriff's department came up because they were mass reporting us for animal abuse. A lot of the harassment came from a website you're probably familiar with now, but maybe you wouldn't have been back then. It might have been kiwi farms and locals. You don't have to say their names. Yeah, if we could buy. So, no, I just like, yeah, well, but it's one of those things where like cis people don't even know that kiwi farms exist. And more people need to fucking know because it's it's ridiculous. They already harass us. We've done a couple of episodes. I don't want to give them attention, but like, I don't know, whatever you think is best. That is worth mentioning. Yeah, it's an entire forum dedicated to harassing trans people that get any sort of popularity. Rooting their lives as best they can with the stated goal of making trans people kill themselves. Yeah. And it's there's a lot of members like like like notable turf. So part of it, like like, like everyone has found this website now and it people need to know at least existed. Yeah, it's a truly awful cesspool of they spend all of their time obsessing over trans people. It seems like it's worth naming them, but please save yourself a time and don't click over there. It's nothing good. Soon things got more real. A local news reporter who covered the ranch got a parcel with a white powder in it. That powder wasn't deadly, but it was a real threat. Soon that threat came to the ranch. The 90's reporter thing happened and then we started getting like warnings from people that were monitoring chat rooms. Like they were like, oh, hey, like the chatter about y'all has skyrocketed and like it is blatant like people making plans to burn your home down and kill you. Like and locals started warning us that like, hey, this has happened before you got to get ready. This is real. Don't have run out. Run out. Other people out there. Yeah, like don't be pretentious about this. Like we're being serious. And so me and Jay started for about two weeks. We were walking patrols around the perimeter. The unicorns were afraid. So they took steps to defend themselves. Lots of the people at the ranch like Jell and Kat who you can hear in this interview didn't want to carry guns. Penny and Jay had some military experience and they knew how to use and carry guns. So every night they set out walking the perimeter to watch for intruders. On their property line patrols, they realized that there were people out there the night looking back at them. That night is when me and Jay came back from that and put out a very hot heartfelt cry on Twitter. Like we don't know what the fuck to do. We were terrified and any help would be amazing. They were armed at this point, but they weren't ready for a gunfight. That's a very different thing. Sadly though, the gunfight they weren't ready for wasn't going to wait until they were. Yeah, armed, rudimentally armed by the way. Like Jay had a hunting rifle. No, a shotgun at that point. Yeah, yeah, that was that one. And I had my Springfield AR. And so we scared them off, but like that made it like clear and present for us. And so we put a heartfelt call out on to Twitter. And although it was up here like the next day and caught people on the property that night, like it was armed people on the property, multiple people. I'll do arrive the next day. Spirt on by that same tweet I'd seen. This isn't his voice, but they are his words. We won't say too much about him, other than that he has significant experience with this kind of thing. And he spent his own time and money to drive across the west, to help some queer folks he'd never met. We just wanted to raise our packers and be left the fuck alive. I saw a post on Twitter from someone else boosting the original Tn. unicorn ranch plea for help. I reached out to them and after some back and forth and letting them vet me, we agreed I would drive down to help them out. I took a little time to do some map studies of the area and confirmed some suspicions about local law enforcement. The sheriff at the time had publicly spoken at and supported Oathkeeper's rallies as a keynote speaker alongside steward Rose, as well as other prominent Oathkeepers and 3%ers. The cops haven't ever been much of an option in keeping marginalized people safe, but this was on a whole other level. I called some people to tell them I was heading to its nation's unicorn ranch for accountability's sake. At the time, I was binging an unhealthy amount of letter Kenny, and one of the mass me why I was driving six to seven hours to help total strangers. The first thing I thought was, when a friend asked for help, you helped them. Other gave us his account of what happens. Again, for everyone's safety, we're not going to use his voice, but that night he patrolled the perimeter after nearly being run off the road on the way to the ranch. He said at first what he saw to tweet, he thought Penny and J were of reacting. But after that tail and after what happened that night, he knew something very strange was going on. So on arrival at the hard pack road off the highway, there were two cars on the other side of the highway from the intersection, backed in with their headlights off. There was an old Durango and a truck that I couldn't make the model of on the other side of that Durango. Once I turned down the road, probably 200 yards after turning, I looked back and saw one of them turning their headlights and started gaining on me until they were tailgating. I started to slow and pull over to see if they would pass, and they slowed and stuck with me. I had a suspicion about the two cars initially, and this was confirmation. I can't really say how fast we started going, but I know it was significant enough that I was starting to oversteer and lose traction on the back end of my car on turns. I knew Penny and the rest were waiting at the property gate, so I signaled Penny to say, hey, I got a tail, keep the gate locked, you'll see me driving by. Tell me what vehicle is following me? The vehicle slowed down as we approached the gate, so it appeared they may have been anticipating me to do the same. Once I passed the gate, they continued to follow. It turns out it was the drango, which I later found out had been doing drive-by's of the property the past couple of days. The Durango quickly realized what all though is doing, and pursued him past the ranch. Further down, that snowy dirt road. After I passed the ranch, I accelerated a little more to create some distance and drove to a spot that I had seen on the map on the way down that looked like I could effectively turn around with that extra maneuvering. As I turned around, they had closed the gap and started to slow. Once they were pulling up next to me, I turned my high-loom and carry light on them to at least disorient or over-stimulate them with bright white light and try to catch faces. The windows had a dark tint, so it was not feasible. My other goal was trying to convey, I see you, and I have the advantage without actually visually threatening them. The driver had been rolling their window down until I put that light in the window, then immediately stopped and rolled it back up. At that point, it was apparently enough to make them decide it wasn't worth it and take off. I legally carry a sidearm with me the majority of the time and had it on me. I had my hand on it but didn't feel the need to draw during that encounter. In the two minutes since he turned off the hardtop, all those ideas about what he was in for had pivoted or my sister's fastest is codded and that pull out. Earlier on while driving to the ranch from my house, I had the thought, you know, this is probably bullshit, and a bit of an overreaction on their part, so maybe at least I can de-escalate some of their anxiety and give them some rest. This will probably just be a lot of nothing. Clearly I was mistaken, and after that encounter, my mind was very much reoriented to the present reality. Driving through the gate, I had to prepare myself to the new possibility of actual exigency, and I thought, oh shit, there's something to this. Well, Peter Pat or Motherfuckers. I would have sent a message to Penny, saying he was free of his tail, and she opened up the gate. Quickly he drove up the same dirt road I did a few days later to the dome, where the scared and steep deprived unicorns were hiding from the cold, and from the same people who had just tailed him down the dirt road. Once at the house, we made introductions, and I explained that a trusted source had boosted their call for help, and I was willing to drive over to see what, if anything, I could do to offer them in the form of assistance. They gave me situational awareness of the property, who lived there, etc. Then went over what had been happening up until my arrival. The local harassment, people following them and doing drive-bys of their property, the Kiwi farms' threats of, quote, burning them out of their home. They had also mentioned there was a probing incident a couple nights before, that had really set them off when they caught another unknown individual probing their fence on the southern side of the ranch. They detailed how they hadn't slept for almost 48 hours since that incident, which had prompted their call for help. I could tell they were just done mentally, emotionally, physically, but still keeping it together. So I said something to the effective, you done a great job, go get some rest, I'll stay up and take the watch. That was around 9pm. The crew went to get some deserved rest, and I got ready to go out. Before stepping back outside, I had to ask myself, what the actual fuck is going on? I walked outside, grabbed my rifle in plates, put on some extra layers of warm clothes, and got ready for what turned out to be a long night. Quickly, as a unicorn slept, I had to go to work making a plan to keep the property, and the people there, safe. Having never been on the property, I went ahead and to the best of my ability, in the dark, started estimating distances, high, low ground, points of opportunity, weakness, cover, concealment, hazards, and any other unclear backdrops, but the other residences that I had needed to be aware of, that all came into play later. Based off what I found, my best guesses, I started working a patrol on foot, covering the areas I thought were vulnerable, and most likely for incursion. The roadside seemed like the most likely point of opportunity for them, since there was no barbed wire, and a single low wire fence being the only barrier to entry on the property. Pretty quickly things got weighed. At around 2130, I heard the first vehicle pass by. There was decent moonlight at the time, and I could see that it matched the shape and size of the Durango. They were driving by with their lights off, slow rolling, and had made a stop about halfway down the property line on the roadway. They repeated this multiple times, so this kind of confirmed my theory they would go for the easiest point of access off the roadway. The drivebys continued sporadically, and twice from high point on property, I watched them turn their headlights back on, heading toward the highway, and stop on the hard pack, where another vehicle could be seen sitting with its headlights on. All those pretty experienced in this scenario. So it's Paul, another of the defenders who came a few days later, and it's not my first rodeo with these things either, but that doesn't mean it wasn't scary, for all of us, but especially for Aldo, who arrived first and was patrolling a small farm he'd never seen, facing attacks from an unknown number of armed assailants. I can't remember how many times I wish I had my NVGs with me for better situational awareness, but they had been set off for repairs, so I relied heavily on the moonlight, which there was a decent amount of. Not ideal doing a foothold on your own and the dark with an unknown number of people. Multiple times I thought, I should get one of them up, there's way more ground that I can safely cover. I don't know the terrain well enough, and doing this alone is fucking dumb if this turns bad. But of course I ignored that intuition and told myself, okay, I'm overthinking this right now. These dudes are just trying to fuck with the queers, and this is purely intimidation. I'm just gonna keep working the vulnerable areas, watch them play their dumb bullshit games, and let this nation's unicorn ranch folks rest. Besides, at the time, I didn't know that this nation's unicorn ranch folks before that night. While they did great with what they had available to them, I had no idea how they would respond in a shit hit the fan situation. What their personal capabilities were, if they could be relied on for team movements and didn't want to risk relying on someone running on fumes. So I said, fuck it, it'll be fine. His fears, as it turned out, were more than justified. A little before midnight, Cloud Cover came in while I was walking along the West Fence Line, and saw what I assumed was a dim flashlight or a cell phone light flash about halfway along the North Fence Line by the road. And about 15 to 20 seconds later, another flash, making me think that they were moving west towards the ranch gate. It was the first time I noticed anyone on foot, so I started slowly working my way down quietly to see if I could get closer for a good visual on who it was walking the roadway since the moonlight went away. I stopped about 40 or so yards from the gate, squatted down low to reduce my profile, and just watch. After about 10 minutes, I heard quiet voices, and then a very distinct, url, from the man that appeared and turned to call out after he activated the gate's motion sensing light. I remember I had to stop myself from laughing, from them not only having such shitty discipline, but also what was a perfectly comical chud name. I stood up and watched another dude come out of the dark into the light of the ranch gate, who very much had the build of an url. The first guy began lifting and pulling at the gate lock and chain, while url was trying to cover the motion sensing light. They stood at the gate, and I could hear them whispering for about a minute before I got annoyed at just how dumb they were, and how they didn't notice me creeping closer to them while they were doing all this. Finally, from around 15 yards, I went ahead and lit up the two males on my flashlight, who both had their faces covered in no visible weapons. And a fairly sarcastic voice, I said something to the effective, hey, what are you idiots doing? Stop playing with the gate, go away. It worked. I didn't really feel I had much recourse other than to give a verbal warning at that point, because they were still technically not on the branch property, and they had not made any visible attempts to trespass, or do any property damage. Both of them ran off in the most awkward, non-athletic way you could think of. I didn't see anyone else in the area, so I approached the road to watch them jump into a car and drive off. I kind of laughed to myself, and remember saying out loud, cut, you guys are impressively stupid. Okay, they're probing the property now. I realized these guys weren't working at a higher operational capability. I also felt a little more comfortable that even though I didn't have my NVGs to work in the dark environment, they didn't either. After staying out for another 30 minutes to make sure they were taking a break, I went back inside to warm up for a few minutes, get some food, change my socks, after it seemed they had maybe gone and reconvened after they got caught trying to tamper with the gate. I turned off the lights inside the house that were visible from the road, so I wouldn't be visible, and also just to see if that might make someone tempted to believe that the nation's unicorn ranch folks had turned in for the night. Things required for the next hour or so. While out walking close to the east fence line toward the road, I remember a fox letting out a scream from less than a hundred feet away from me. That honestly was more startlingly all the other events in the night up until then. If you haven't heard of fox screaming, it does indeed sound like someone being murdered in the most brutal way possible. I heard a fox, probably the same fox, a few nights later on the ranch. Even in the midst of the siege, it was still a working ranch, and so it's well if protecting people from violence, their ranchers, and their pretty and mountain dogs, also had to make sure they were protecting the chickens from foxes. Sadly though, foxes weren't the only visitors that night. A few hours later, a much more serious threat emerged. The night continued to be quiet for the next while, and I decided to move along the east side of the property line. The cloud cover broke around 2.15, and I could see some movement and hear low voices again. I got low and held my position since it was fairly safe, it could make out two figures walking towards me inside the property boundary. I waited until they were about 30 or so yards away, and I was pretty sure there were no others working flanks before using my rifle light to begin the process of PID and figuring out if they were armed. As soon as I saw them, I noticed they were both armed, one with an AR with no optics, and the other with an M1A with optical on it. I realized that while I had the high ground, I was not comfortable with the backdrops due to the house across the road potentially being in line with my firing position, and started shifting to a safer spot in case the confrontation escalated into an engagement. I called out my first command while moving to a better position to their left side. You are trespassing on private property, slowly place your weapons on the ground and show me your hands, do it now. The two men frozen place, but did not comply, and I recognized in that moment that these were two different men than who I had seen earlier. I called out again, drop your weapons or I will fire on you, do it now. As soon as I finished that sentence, they both looked at each other with their rifles and low ready, turned to the right and ran. I pursued them so that I wouldn't lose the advantage I had, and to make sure there was no way they could make it uphills towards the house, or get into a more advantageous firing position if they decided to turn on me. While parallel to them, so I could keep on the uphill side, I called out, stop and place your weapons on the ground. Realizing there might be others out there watching my light move, I turned it off so I wasn't such an obvious target, and made short bursts of the two men fleeing so I could maintain a visual on them. It wasn't an ideal way to handle it, but this was all an incredibly unideal situation to begin with. After sustaining a fast paced run over uneven terrain and somehow not falling on my face, I realized we were moving toward the fence line, and quickly looked around with my light to make sure no one else was waiting for them and also armed. At that point, I turned my light back on them and they both pivoted directly to the fence since we were still some distance from the gate where it appeared they were heading toward. The first one with the M1A pushed the fence down and hopped over. The second one panicked, and with both hands tossed as AR across the small ditch on the other side of the fence, and I watched it fly halfway across the road while he struggled over the fence. He scurried over and kicked his rifle across the road before picking it up and disappeared with the other male until the small ravine on the other side. I realized I was disadvantaged where I was located and repositioned to a small rocky mound nearby so that I could at least get prone and have some cover if they decided to fire on me. I laid there and recovered my breath for a minute or so, walking to see if anyone else was out there, and then moved toward the house to make sure there weren't other incursions I may have missed while occupied with the other two who disappeared. After trying and failing, for a second time, it seems that the local bigots took a break for the evening, but out on the unicorns couldn't. That was it for the rest of the night. I did go back down and find their entry point where the fence had been newly damaged and bent inward and tracks leading over the patchy snow from the roadway. Then I walked back to their egress point where the fence had been bent outward. Everything that occurred that night was clearly a hostile incursion, and they demonstrated intent to harm others on their own property, the only reason that didn't happen is because we were armed and prepared. I think they realized at that point that the ranch was not a soft target, and the occupants these men painted as weak were in fact hard people willing to protect themselves and stand up against their aggression. More importantly, the residents of the nasioseunicorn ranch just wanted to be left the fuck alone. It's gifting season and you have no idea what to get that special cook in your life. Wanna know what I'm giving this year? Meter, a smart meter mommatter that keeps an eye on your cook and even alerts you in the meter app when it's ready to come out of the oven. Oh, and it works on the grill too. Meter makes meat juicy and perfectly cooked every time. So add meter to your list. It's the perfect gift for the perfect meal. Use code podcast 10 to get 10% off at meter dot com. E-Base team of luxury authenticators are making sure you never get faked over again. 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Based on the celebrated and critically acclaimed novel by Octavia E Butler, FX's Kindred centers on Dana James, a young black woman and aspiring writer. Dana begins to settle into her new home in Los Angeles and is violently pulled back and forth in time. She emerges at a 19th century plantation, a place intimately linked with Dana and her family. The clock is ticking as Dana struggles to confront secrets she never knew ran through her blood. FX's Kindred, all episodes now streaming only on Hulu. It was a couple of days after Aldo had its run in with the locals when I arrived. I've run was on edge, therefore we went it was with guns. So remember there was a point when I was here which was like a week or so after the Aldo round those guys off that like we were going out somewhere and so folks like well can someone who is comfortable using a gun stay behind. Right. That's what it was at. Yeah. Yeah. It was yeah. It was not all of us like want to or can like I can't I'm too scared of guns like I recognize that they're very important. I'm glad I I'm surrounded by people who can like defend me but and I think that's important to like allow space for that to. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. What Kat is saying there is really important. Not just for this story but for folks listening to this and thinking oh fuck I need to get guns. If you want to get guns go ahead and get them if you can safely and legally but what you need is community. Everyone at the ranch works hard every day to keep their project going. Sometimes that's with a gun. Most of the time it's with a sack of crunchy alpaca food or sometimes with a keyboard. The community that sustains the ranch is much bigger than the people on the ground and it's a great illustration of the power of solidarity to sustain a project which in times like today's the world really needs. Today hundreds of queer people visit the ranch every year for hundreds of different reasons. Kat takes care of the ranch of visitors and manage his social media. Jen helps administer a Patreon account for the ranch complete with daily alpaca photos and updates on events. When I arrived at the ranch in 2021 it became pretty clear that I wasn't the only one who'd seen the tweet. Paul and Al though both have backgrounds in combat arms. Both of them fought in wars they now don't think were a great idea and both of them were willing to use skills the state gave them to protect people who the state wouldn't. Paul, like Al don't I, came because of a tweet. I saw Al don't tweet like a stop sign or something and it said you know a few years ago I never would have imagined being on like a transgender anarchist alpaca farm but here I am and I think I DMed him or something I was like what the fuck are you talking about. And we ended up signal chatting and he explained what was happening and what had happened the day he was there or one of the days he was there and I was like oh well that sounds super fucked up. Hey I'm gonna book a flight. Before I'd left they picked up another tale. We went into Westcliffe the closest town for something I think just to the gas station and when we when we came back down at the query down by the airport which is like three or four miles down the road towards the town two to three vehicles pulled out and started following us and one of them pulled down the road the ranches on and we just drove straight and then they followed us and we turned around two or three roads down and then the third vehicle that had been waiting now was waiting for us to come back and pull in. So like they were trying very hard to tell anyone and get like identifying. When I arrived Paul and I slept in the guard trailer. Well I slept. Paul stayed up all night walking patrols and keeping an eye on the fence line. If you're familiar with Hey Duke and Edward Abbey's eco anarchist novel the monkey range gang that's a pretty good way to envision Paul or be it without the misogyny and racism that makes it pretty hard to have any respect for that book or his author. Throughout the night I checked in on Paul it wasn't a large trailer and when I did I'd look through his night vision at the strange movement in a field around the ranch. People seemed to huddle behind a pickup and they used to headlights to try and blind us. Night vision doesn't really work that way anymore but they moved around throughout the night thinking that we couldn't see them staging different areas on the ridge above us with the commanding field of view and presumably a field of fire as well. We assumed they were trying to watch us as we sat there watching them. It was actually pretty fascinating. So a house that happens to be visible from the or another property that's visible from from the hilltop the ranch was on here. Like every evening it would start to get dark out and then like 15 or 20 cars would show up. Oh yeah it was like 15 or 20 cars. Which has never happened since. Yeah. Yeah. So like 15 to 20 cars would show up and I can't remember what precipitated it but the second night I was here. Oh I know what it was. Somebody walked their dog and I happened to kind of meet them down by the gate because they were walking up the road. It was like two o'clock in the morning during a blizzard and I was like this is very unusual. So I met them down there and I happened to have like night vision gear and they it was obviously like from them because from that point on they would actually point vehicles at the ranch with their headlights on the entire night from some properties that are closer to the highway. Which like is semi effective it makes this bloom for 15 feet around that vehicle but then everything else you can just see so it didn't matter. Inside the house it got harder and harder to move over the course of the next few days a support came flooding in. There were thousands of round the van munition plate carriers plates the kind of stop bullets and boxes of first aid supplies. One day Paul and I sat around stating first aid kits and wrapping and preparing the products to make them easier to use. People messaged every day volunteering to help and we looked them up using some background check website so you often use full work to check that they weren't sure to try to infiltrate the ranch. The amount of support that we've seen is largely absurd like I would have never guessed that like people would have come out this hard for us. It must be nice to know that like everybody fucking wants you to succeed. Right? Yeah it is like it gets us through but you can't troll me. Yeah no there are no haters that can get to us because of how much support that we know is out there not only locally but it is. I mean internationally right? So it's like internationally like we have people from all over the world that it's like taking a moment to be like what can I do? Like what do you need right now? And that is just like you can't troll that out of me. But there is nothing you can say that can be like yeah but also I've got 12 people who would kill you for me. So I don't know. The ranch became something of a course celebra on the arm left. The outpouring of support was incredible. In March of 2021 we all probably felt a little bit helpless. A summer of uprising and revolt had yielded a new geriatric white dude in charge. COVID was still raging and the cops had shown less anger at thousands of children storming Congress than they did at kids holding black lives matterplatoids in the street. In a time when it was difficult to feel powerful the ranch openly defined attempt to scare the men of the valley gave people a sense of success and they were more than willing to show up and help. So yeah I want to talk about that because you guys attempted to basically stock up on firearm at the time in American history when that may have been hardest and most expensive. So it got you through with a lot of people from all over the internet showing solidarity. From all over the world. It was literally all over the world. Any fascist organizations. Yeah we got sent plate carriers. People did runs for ammo. Like people would like buy ammo or organize something and get ammo and food and things and then just drive up drop it and leave because you know not everybody's ready to be in like an active zone where you could get shot but they would do runs out to drop stuff off for us. Like it was crazy crazy. But that solidarity wasn't just on the internet. It was in the valley as well. Even before the attacks on the ranch began the unicorns knew they were coming. They knew because people told them and people told them because they cared about them and wanted them to be safe. They cared about them because from the outset the unicorns had made themselves an important part of their community. When the counties stopped recycling waste that could be recycled the unicorns stepped up and volunteered to do it themselves. On my first trip I joined Penny and J for a long drive into Canyon City with a rickety horse trailer full of old beer cans and a truck with a struggling transmission. The money they get paid to recycle the cans is less than the gas they spend getting there. But it's an important thing to do so they do it. Hey Garrison here. Now that we have talked about how the siege happened we need to explain why. At the start of this series we said that this was a story that was about the internet and it is. It's a story about how the internet has allowed a section of the American right that's always existed to develop links and gained both power and coherence in the last two decades. Thanks largely to online organizing. The story of how these groups got where they are is a long one. It starts with talk radio with Rush Limbaugh and then with Glenn Beck and the gradual drift to Fox News from bad journalism to outright barking for genocide seven nights a week at prime time. The story that we can't tell here not in its entirety but we can show you a little of what it looks like when that rhetoric leaves the forums and Facebook comments and lands on the ground in a small town in Colorado. There are two versions of the truth in West Cliff. There's the one that most of you are going to hear and then there's the one that you can find George Gremlich purveying in his local newspaper The Sangri de Cristo Sentinel. The Sentinel is probably best summarized as a print version of the Facebook comments from some of your older relatives that you've hopefully long since you did. It's the guy who doesn't know when to stop booming on about Obama at the Thanksgiving table but in a stream of consciousness unedited print format. We're going to let George lay out what the Sentinel is about in his own words. We didn't get much joy out of trying to speak with him and not for lack of trying. I approached his office numerous times, knocking on the door and trying to have a good old chat with George but luckily he did go on the record for the Texas TL in exile podcast. This kind of spectacular programming to White Dudes shooting the breeze is certainly a tried and true recipe for success in the podcasting space but you could be forgiven for not having heard of this particular podcast before because even though we knew about it, it took us forever to even find it on the hit podcasting app Rumble. We moved to Custer County from the Adirondack Mountains in New York about 12 years ago and the Lysadire were basically political and second-emed refugees. We had a couple of friends who had moved to Southern Colorado and they said that the most conservative county, maybe in the state, for certainly in Southern Colorado is Custer County. It's about an hour and a half south of Colorado Springs, high in the Rocky Mountains, population 4,500, a ranching community, stunning views, just simply beautiful. Dudes Mall, Pals, right in the middle of the county, each with about 5,600 people in it and hardcore conservatives. I'd say 65% of the county's registered Republicans. But even in his conservative paradise, George found that most folks couldn't live up to his high standards for political engagement. If their Obama got elected, his first term, slowly over that 40-year period, interest in the Tea Park and Stuck at the diminishing is Obama was destroying the country. After he got elected the second time, we had our first meeting since his election in January and normally at that point, after four years, we're again 40-60 people showing up. At that meeting only 12 people showed up. And it was doom and gloom. Obama is destroying the country, nothing we can do, blah, blah, blah. We started talking local, we got to keep Custer County red and the fact came up, which has been a problem in the county forever, was that the local newspaper and the only newspaper in the county was extremely liberal paper. And we have done research over the years, and we found out that across rural America, this phenomenon was common, that rural counties attended to have liberal papers. And it just because the liturant candidate to that media, and they know they could have an influence on the population via that. So the meeting was over, we went home and on a way home. I turned to you guys, we're going to start a paper. So next day, I spent a whole day building a business plan on how to start a Christian conservaton newspaper in the rural community. Now, we couldn't find the research that George is talking about. And that's probably because it's not true. What we can find is that 1300 largely small newspapers closed in the past 15 years. To learn more about the newspaper business in Southern Colorado, we spoke to George's arch rival, the publisher of the only other publication in the West, or at least the only other one in the valley. Jordan Hedberg, you are the editor of the owner and publisher. I could barely spell my own name, so the publisher of the Whiteman Tribune newspaper. Jordan and George aren't exactly best pals. Largely thanks to George's attacks on Jordan and his publication. We ask Jordan to give us a sense of the competition in the local media market. And for his overall thoughts on the Sentinel. I think it's just lies. I mean, that's the problem with the Sentinel. I don't see the media spaces as zero-sum game. If somebody wants to have a openly conservative newspaper in this town, I think there's plenty of readers. It doesn't really compete with me because we do just community news. And we always have since 1883. So we've been here for a little while. But I don't see it as a zero-sum game until you start lying about things because you're in what you perceive to be a power struggle. So that's the problem with the Sentinel. There's no problem with the Sentinel overall other than that they like to tell lies to kind of justify their existence. Yeah. Jordan's take on the founding of the Sentinel whose logo prominently features a bald eagle on the cover if you hadn't quite picked up on the vibe yet was a little different. You know, they got started in their minds during the T-party movement to combat hyper-liberal newspaper. But they only labeled the Tribune that because they needed an enemy. You know, they were very whipped up about Obama getting elected. And at the time, there had been that Aurora shooting. And so the real reason they really got started was when Karo put a assault weapons magazine band into place. So you couldn't have anything that could fire more than 15 rounds after the Aurora theater shooting, which was I guess 10 years ago this week. So that was one of the big things that really got them started was what they felt like an attack on weapons. But they did it in a community that's very, you know, pro-second amendment. I mean, at the time it was probably 60% Republican. These days it's 50, but still majority. Even the moderates and most Democrats probably have guns and are okay with the idea of that. But they had a much more militant style saying, hey, we should be allowed to arm ourselves with whatever. But again, they still had to create a bunch of lies locally saying that, you know, at the time, it was the former owner that the Tribune was hyper-liberal communist, you know, against guns, which wasn't the truth. Gun rights and the threat of gun convocation have been a constant source of profitable panic for agitators on the right for decades now. And Westcliffe, there doesn't really seem to be much controversy about guns. People who want them have them and people who don't, don't. Am I drive from the airport to the ranch? I stopped at a couple of gun stores. And I seen people lining up by magazines, guns and other things that they'd worried about the government banning, which seems a very odd reaction to a mass murder in your state. But once I got to rural Colorado and passed Manteek's gun room, there wasn't really any of that. It was just some old dudes impining about the relative value of different big-bore revolvers and the N.S.K.S., which have been entirely violated by someone's attempt to make it more modern. George, apparently, has seen an earlier mass shooting in Aurora as an opportunity for the liberals and rhinos he so loathed to take away his guns. And an opportunity for him to take a stand against him. He decided to take a stand that a place where no one really disagreed with him. And against a thing that wasn't really happening. But nonetheless, he decided to rally the troops and hold, well, we'll let him describe what he held. About six to seven years ago, T.L. the lives in Colorado and never passed the gun was and one of them was the magazine limitation. And before there was no limitation and they passed forward so you can't have any new magazines with this more than 15 rounds in it, but they all went to grandfather. Now, during this, the legislative session, as you remember, the whole state was up and arms about this. I mean, it was demonstrations and damper. I mean, we were pissed off and the S.O.P.s passed it. So, Westwood had a delightful parade that we actually took over the settlement of over a couple years. And there's usually maybe 25, 30 clothes in it, entry, you know, things from goats or horses, who know? Hold on, George, let's dwell on that for a minute. When I mentioned that I came down there and then you had like five or six hundred people in this parade, I think it might have got glossed over how big are these towns to start with because it's basically a combination of silver cloth and westclip, right? Yeah, each town has about 500 people. Right, out of 500 people. Out of a total of 1,000 people, I mean, you can describe it, but describe that to the listeners for a little bit about what that parade looks like versus how many people are on the sidewalk. Yeah, yeah, so normally in the Peat Party had an entry and we usually had maybe 15, 20 people marked down with you know, cats and clothes and stuff. But that, those gun laws, the Mac man, I mean, just energized the settlement tremendously. So, we decided a couple of months before the life force. We were going to turn the Peat Party parade entrance into a second amendment protest entry. So, we printed up wires and we innovated Southern Colorado, every gun shop, port shop, everything with thousands of wires come to the westward life force thing and tell them what part to go to, what place to go to and protest, these BS laws and stuff like that. And so, so that morning, the police parts of Denoclott, we set up shop in front of we told the parade organizers, we might have some more people coming so we had a deal where we could set up and we set up there and we had a couple extra, we have three of our guys there to check guns. We said, you could bring long rifles, no magazines, they got to be clear, shoulder carried only, pulled through pistol, you know, and we had all bunch of people to check for safety and stuff like that. And so, we had no idea how many people were going to show up and normally it is 25 entries and maybe 150 people in the parade, maybe 200 total. And all of a sudden, the on main street where I was filled was around 830, there was a traffic jam that went down like a mile, both ways. And people were turning into our popular deal there and going nowhere else and they kept coming and coming and coming and coming. This went off our tower in a half, the sheriff's are freaking out. We had over 500 heavily armed citizens there that morning with about 25 military trucks of doucin' a half keep. We had a Korean war hat for act there with a 50 cow on top for that. Children, the Tribune Publisher. So things a little bit differently. So, but right before the Sentinel got started, they were like, hey, we're going to advertise and they did it all across the state. They said, bring your big black evil guns to Custard County. And the problem is, is, you know, that was the issue. This is a family event. And so ever since then, so what happened was in response, the Republican town council and the Republican chamber of commerce all said, we're not going to have a parade. We can't have a bunch of randos showing up right after the Aurora theater shootings carrying massive amounts of firepower. Even if you claim it's unloaded or whatever, we just can't have that for a family event. And so the thing is, is they took out a permit and did the parade themselves. So that's really how things. So fourth of July for them is sort of their anniversary every year. You know, they're very, they really consider that whole thing to be that way, but that's really what happened. And it's a conservative area. There's no bravery marching assault rifles through Custard County. Now, if they'd done in downtown Denver where guns are banned or these those types of guns, at least you could say they had a backbone. Yeah, you're taking us down. It's not MLK going to sell. So the problem with the sentals, the lives, you know, if they're just a conservative paper, fine, they're allowed to have their opinion, but they tend to tell lives constantly. Yeah. George had miraculously managed to turn a mass murder into a sort of pseudo victory parade for a culture war that he was fighting every day with his newspaper soon enough and largely thanks to this parade. The culture war would be opening a whole new front on this finacious unicorn ranch. Of course, the Sentinel has opinions about the ranch and transfer in general. When we arrived in Westcliffe, Garrett and I grabbed a coffee at Paragro and Coffee Roasters, long term friends at a ranch and supporters of me staying up all night with Paul and an up all day with Penny and Jay. We also grabbed a copy of the Sentinel from the dispenser, pulled up a chair and started the live reading. Even after a year of me being aware of their rhetoric, it did not disappoint. So I just, I just searched the word gender on the Sentinel's website. We got an article on social emotional learning, which is basically the alright trying to rebrand their like critical Royce theory shit, but make it even broader. And we do have an article from January of last year called Me to the Gun Toting Tanishis Unicorns and Happy Valley. Let's click on that and see what the Sentinel has to say. What is this guy's name? The Eric Siegel? Yes, High Country New. Oh, what have done there? Just plays, plays Royce, and be some High Country News. Oh, so they just stole this from somewhere else. If we're stopping here to point out that the Sentinel does this a lot. It's not clear if they have permission or not, but they seem to dedicate at least half their print praises to aggregating content that is mostly from the far right of the internet. Notable examples include a really spectacularly racist piece on anti-material rifles, which we will not read. And numerous far right commentary sites were turned shreds of news into a thousand words of panic, rung or an opinion. Anyway, let's see what they have to say about the pretty good article that Eric Siegel wrote about the Unicorn Ranch for High Country News. Note, the Sentinel is predominantly featured in this article, negatively, of course. Holon to your cowboy hats, fellow patriots, this is one wild ride. For the first time ever, we are warning our readers that the article below is very, very disturbing. In many aspects, it may not be appropriate for some folks or children, our apologies, but the citizens of this wonderful county need to know how the county has been portrayed. So, I guess the article is kind of a... It's a great to be both, to be both. Yeah, so they do have an edit at the bottom that the Sentinel wrote based on the article. Well, folks, the veil has been lifted. For those of you who haven't seen or experienced left-wing fascism, here it is. From Biden to Polis. And all the way down to this hypocritical bunch of hate-filled xenophobes, they are all the same. Felt with hate paranoia, self-righteousness intolerance, and the desire to rule the control and obsess with violence. Their radical, narrow-minded view of the world and our rule community is the only allowable viewpoint. All of a sudden, the citizens of Custer County are fascists and Nazis. This fascist rhetoric, the George, himself a transplant from outside the valley who has tried to transform local politics, it's referring to, is what sparked off the confrontation that brought me Aldo and Paul to the ranch last year. Yeah, so that one wasn't even a parade, what it was was a protest on the Fourth of July because during COVID, they weren't doing any great things. Right, these things. Yeah. So they just did this as a protest. Right. And so the sheriff and everybody... I mean, you couldn't just distinguish it from a Fourth of July parade, except there wasn't. I don't think the fire department and stuff took the sheriff's office and the fire department didn't take part. It was really a bunch of people with on horses, marching guns, stuff like that. But the flags were a little more disturbing. Most of the American flags were replaced with 3% flags or the thin blue line flags. There was a couple of Confederate flags. Always fun. I still can't figure out the Confederate flag. I still can't figure out the Confederate flag. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Long way south. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, but there is that lost cause myth that does take place here. Yeah. And, and, and you know, they'll say it's not a racist flag, but it absolutely is. This was the parade the unicorns called out. And this was what put them at the center of Graham Litch's conspiracy riddled hate machine. Jordan gave us a little more insight into exactly who those fascist groups were. The people that the Sentinel brought to town for their little protest parade. George Graham Litch is a member of Oath Keepers. We've been really confirmed that through not only himself, but Thompson Raiders had an investigative reporter that confirmed that for us. So Oath Keepers is a big one. 3%. You'll see some of those shirts around. The two of them are kind of synonymous. None of it's super organized. You know, it's kind of like saying that Antifa's super organized. It's very decent. Thank you. I agree. The problem is is that they do write extreme things. And I think people like myself and then, you know, definitely the unicorn ranch suffers because they they they can't really spread their message without an enemy. And you were asking earlier how how much influence do they have? Yeah. Not a lot. They have about 800 subscriptions from what I can tell. Okay. Some receipts accidentally got put in my box versus theirs. Because we're the wet mountain publishing company. Yeah. And they're the mountain publishing. Yes. I saw it. Yeah. Post office at all. They're glory occasionally. Give me a win. But, you know, they're 800 to maybe a thousand by their own own numbers. The centenials stance on vaccines will definitely not shock you considering everything else we've said about George and the centenol thus far. So this comes from market Effectiveness of primary infection against severe critical or fatal COVID-19. Reinfection was 97.3%. Irrespective of the variant of primary infection or reinfection and with similar and with no evidence for waning. Similar results we found subgroup analyses for those less than 50 years of age. Got it? No. Let me explain it. If you got COVID-19 lived, you're more than 97% certain. Very narrow confidence band protected against a severe or fatal ED in hospital or dead second infection, even though coronavirus is always mutate. I'm just going to check really quickly if that's what they're saying. And normally, yeah, they've quoted this sort of out of context. And there is no evidence of protection ever goes away. That is not what the quote sets. If you look at the jab, I think you get the picture. It's pseudo science, babble, transphobia, and general boomer anti-wokeism. Oh, there's a piece here. I've said it's about the US army is really struggling to recruit right now, right? Imagine you're an 18-year-old white Christian male in Georgia with a family history of military service. As you progress through your teen years, you watch Confederate statues being torn down. A military base is being renamed. Endless media and elitist demonization of your culture is racist and deplorable and backwards. A military and civilian leadership that thinks diversity and inclusion, i.e. fewer white men, is the best thing since light bread. Would you volunteer? Identity politics works both wave. Trash my tribe and I won't associate with you. Let alone risk my life. Shouldn't be a shock then that those expressing a great deal of trust and confidence in the military drop in 70% in 2018 to 45% today. That's why I know I want to join a military because we are not doing enough Confederacy. Wow, there's a whole piece on how to protect your wealth, but oh well no, there's a whole section of this called the Second Amendment Corner. Okay, interesting. There's a picture here of a bunch of ATF agents, obviously armed and in plate carriers, and a pride flag. This is a joke. This is a funny. It says corporate wants you to find the difference between this picture and this picture. And then it says they're the same picture. So I guess the ATF are out there enforcing pride. The little meme comic that we'd seen was frankly bizarre. The two pictures on this comic were an ATF visit. This particular ATF visit got hyped up all over the right wing media as a raid, a gun grab, etc, etc. In fact, what happened was a dude purchased a lot of guns and the ATF came by to check if he had sold any of them. It's not routine, but it's not super uncommon either. Anyway, on one side was a photo of the ATF agents in plate carriers with rifles, and on the other was a pride flag. Because apparently in Custer County, the existence of queer people is a similar oppression to the people who did Waco coming to your door. Jordan has also noted this turn in the rhetoric of the Sentinel. For two years, their sole purpose was to rail against COVID restrictions. Now with many of those gone, along with 22 people from the county where the average age is 60, they've pivoted to culture war topics when election fraud and COVID don't seem to have stuck. Now it's just we're against, it was all the big life. The election was stolen. You critical race theory even though it's a bunch of crap. And unfortunately, the unicorn ranch, if there's, in the past it was more against anybody that was gay, but there's not many of those in the community more because they kind of got run out. From the Sentinel you were seeing like it just conserves in general really hostile. Yeah, but now it's totally on the trans. Yeah. And again, it kind of fights back against the conservative upbringing that I had, which was as long as you're not interfering with me, then there's really no conflict. We've talked about queer exterminationist rhetoric before. And it's very evident that what we are seeing here is a version of that. Fortunately, George doesn't seem to have stuck the landing, but it doesn't mean that this stuff isn't dangerous. It goes without saying that the unicorns weren't trying to trans anyone's gender from their ranch. They were just trying to be left alone. It's not their actions that people disagreed with. It's their mere existence. And sadly, while the attack on the ranch might have failed, other attacks on queer folks haven't. And that makes havens like the tenacious unicorn ranch even more important today. Next episode we're going to talk about what brought people to the ranch and how to make a queer home in rural America. It's gifting season and you have no idea what to get that special cook in your life. Wanna know what I'm giving this year? Meater. A smart meat thermometer that keeps an eye on your cook and even alerts you in the meter app when it's ready to come out of the oven. Oh, and it works on the grill too. Meater makes meat juicy and perfectly cooked every time. 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This episode is sponsored by FX's Kindred, the original series only on Hulu. Based on the celebrated and critically acclaimed novel by Octavia E. Butler, FX's Kindred centers on Dana James, a young black woman and aspiring writer. Dana begins to settle into her new home in Los Angeles and is violently pulled back and forth in time. She emerges at a 19th century plantation, a place intimately linked with Dana and her family. The clock is ticking as Dana struggles to confront secret she never knew ran through her blood. FX's Kindred, all episodes now streaming only on Hulu. The Ranch in July 2022 is a very different place to the one I've visited in March of 2021. For one thing, it's not so cold that my water bottle freezes every night, but more notably there's less tension in the air and no one's wearing a plate carrier. Not everyone who is there for a seat stayed. Some of them had only been visiting, or they'd found other places to live since then. But Penny, Cat, Gen and Jay have been constants on the ranch since 2020. Something I've struggled with so far is giving a sense of just what a welcoming and friendly place to today's just unicorn ranch is. It's a thing I haven't really stopped thinking about since I first visited, and I think that a lot of folks have been looking for for a very long time. Even in the worst time to the siege, when Penny and Jay barely slept, when Alito was out running off-chord with guns, or when Paul and I were sat up all night absolutely destroying the Costco's night mullage that Penny had prepared for us, people always seem to be laughing. When we sat down to talk about the siege, we started off by laughing. It's a difficult topic and it was a scary time, but I guess it's easier to laugh about it a year later when you know everyone's okay. Well, let's go over everyone's legal names, date of birth, social security number, maybe your four digit, what? Farum zone, legal or otherwise? Yeah, list of fears, that sort of thing. Any kings? Lots. Our own past 45 minutes. I sure list it. Kings like Don't Have. We don't want this to be just a story about the worst week the ranch ever had. We wanted to be a story about a community that overcame adversity and is thriving. That community extends way beyond the dome which is Unicorn's core home, and even beyond the valley that they live in. But we should start with that valley, because even at the peak of the siege, it seems like most people are on the Unicorn side, or at least they just wanted to leave them alone. It was because of warnings from other people in the valley that they knew to patrol their perimeter at night. Had they not been there, this might be a very different story. A year later, everyone in the valley values are Unicorn's being there. During the few days we spent there this summer, we visited neighbours for drinks, we went into town for donuts and coffee, and dropped it on Jordan, the Tribune publisher, at his ranch. It's not only the Unicorn's of pariahs sitting up in their house surrounded by guns and afraid of what's coming next, they're active members of the community and they're very welcome. There was a time when this community wasn't as friendly to queer people, but they've always been here. I spoke to Penny about this last year, while we drove to the recycling centre in the next county to recycle wethlifcans. Yeah, like we're doing the same thing y'all are doing, like you can not pick up on that. Yeah, not to mention also that there are queers here. Yeah, we're not the first wave. Like yeah, it's like we're not breaking any fucking mold, like you don't even mean like it's we're definitely loud. We're not like we didn't like get cow-towed and fucking like bent over and like told to shut up our whole life. So we're definitely like fuck you are queer. And they don't like that. Yeah, that makes all good old boys uncomfortable, and I get it. Also fuck you. Yeah, no, we're gonna be who we are living the way we want to. Like if you can hang two Trump flags and a Confederate flag from the back here truck, and drive down Main Street, scream and fucking horrible hateful things, and feel perfectly justified in doing that, I'm gonna just be queer. Like I'm gonna go ahead and be as loud as I want to be. Like obviously you think it's okay to have personal expression. Yeah, like that's pretty much the feature right there. Right, you really really think it's okay. So I'm gonna go ahead and take you up on that. I think. They have this like, I don't know, like if you have some kind of like don't ask, don't tell. Yeah, well that's what they keep saying does, right? It's like well you don't have to be in our face about it. Like my fuck, I'm just living. Like I'm not like, you know, I'm not coming into your home and humping your couch like I'm just being alive. Like it can be easy, especially if you only connect with the royal places through the media to see cities as queer spaces. And the country side is unfriendly to queer people. Well politics in Royal America can be pretty bad. It's never really been true that queer people don't belong there. The unicorns pointed this out. Historically, if you know anything about history, like country spaces are queer fucking spaces. Like we're the ones out here doing the actual work while fucking old fucking cis white men just collect money from doing shitty ranching that damages animals damages the earth. And fucking does not build community or help anybody but themselves. We are integration into country spaces is so fucking important because we bring heart and empathy and all these things that capitalism is stripped out of these areas. We bring that back and we've always fucking been here like fuck off. Real cowboys were constantly fucking constantly. They fucked a lot. And they were mostly like black and brown people. Yeah. Yeah. It wasn't white. The West was not white. And by the way, like we have said this before and we'll say it again, nature is inherently queer and we be fucking belong here. Like we fucking belong wherever the fuck we go. Like that is a queer space. There is no like hard line that country spaces are for cis people. Fuck that. Like we belong here. We've always been here and we're really good at it. After the siege and its coverage, everyone knows that the unicorns are low tier queer icons. But there are only parts that are called queer community and they have other folks over for game nights once a week. They told us one story about Pride Month in Westcliffe this year. And thankfully it didn't involve the ATF. There was a really adorable during Pride Month. We went to Family Dollar which is like one of the few stores in town. And I guess we were talking to the manager who was checking us out. And he mentioned like, oh yeah. I have a gay and a trans work in here. I love y'all. And it was a little embarrassing but the heart was there. It was very close. You just added two of your points. But the point is like even Family Dollar in middle of nowhere, Westcliffe has two queer employees. Like, you know, yeah, everywhere. Queer people had always been in the valley. But it had become harder to share who they were with their neighbors in recent decades. They never stopped existing but they stopped being safe. Yeah. I mean, we're connecting with a lot of queer people that have lived here for a long time. Yeah. The fact that a community is so hostile that their queer community has to be closeted does not mean that the queer community isn't here. It just means that a lot of assholes are here. Don't ask Don't tell an institutional version of closeting is something that Penny is very familiar with. She was in the army as a Calvary Scout while the policy was still in place. If you're not familiar, don't ask Don't tell was a military policy that was in place 1994 until 2011 under the policy anyone who wasn't straight was to remain in the closet. And in theory, they were protected from discrimination. But if they came out as gay or by or trans or otherwise queer, they could be discharged. Queer people were not even allowed to talk about anything related to their queerness because doing so, quote, would create an unacceptable risk to the high standards of morale, good order and discipline and unit cohesion that are the essence of military capability. Don't ask Don't tell a fucked up policy like I had a boyfriend and a girlfriend when I was in the military. And I definitely was like, this is my best friend of in Germany and he comes over and sometimes spends the night because we're best friendos. I don't know, it was really, really damaging. It was just really, really damaging to like 100% not be able to be yourself. But then also like be able to leave post and have a secret life where you were yourself, you know? And then when you go out with the guys, there's always those weird moments where you do run into other gay locals that you have known and you've had deep conversations with in other contexts and just have to be like, no, don't talk to me, let me don't know each other. Which is I'm sure damaging for them, you know? Like that can't be fucking normal, like I don't know, that's weird. And then on the throw on top of that that you're also a girl, like you know what I mean? So you're pretending to be a gay man who's straight sometimes around certain people, but really you're a gay, you're a bisexual woman, pre-surgery and with the wrong hormones. And so it just ends up being a soup of just like compartmentalization to the point where you just like forget people and then they show back up and you're like, oh yeah, like you're from this quadrant of my life. Like I don't know, it's not healthy. It doesn't do good things. Don't ask don't tell had pretty devastating consequences for the mental health of thousands of service people. The National Transgender Discrimination Survey found that 20% of trans people have served in the military over twice the rate of cisgender people. But until very recently they weren't even allowed to do so openly, not being able to be yourself with people that you're expected to risk your life for isn't really conductive to good morale or indeed quote the unit cohesion that is the essence of military capability. There's no doubt that being familiar with guns, something they gained from military experience did help the unicorns. But it's not the only thing that helped them. Sometimes, especially on Twitter, where things seem to get reduced to simple terms to fit into the discourse of the day, the tenacious unicorn ranch story has been reduced to a story about guns. Undoubtedly, guns are a part of the story. But they would have been useless without community and solidarity. That is something that the unicorns at the ranch have taken to heart. A year later, they're doing mutual aid work with the Lakota people on the Pine Ridge reservation, driving truckloads of donations to them every few months and using their internet presence to get donations. If we want to look at this story as an example of anarchism in action, then it's important to remember that if we want a world where the state is not the only entity with the ability to do violence, then we should also want a world where it's not the only entity responsible for caring for people with unmet material needs. Alongside ranch work, Penny and J also make ends meet by working construction jobs on local buildings. Something that George from the Sentinel is very proud of and that other local residents are beginning to regret, is that Custer County doesn't have a building code. Here's a snippet of his conversation with TL about that. And one example, TL is that this county is so free we don't even have building codes. If you go into this, here you can build yourself a shack with twigs to live in. That's the way it is here in my little bird good, Texas too. Did you really need them? Do you really need them? I mean, that's something I think should be attacked in other ways, but going ahead. That's one of the things that make Custer County and one of the reasons I moved to this one. Yeah, yeah. I mean, building codes basically are causing crisis to, uh, to, uh, to become unreachable for the middle class. The problem with this conservative utopian vision is that it has resulted in a lot of residents getting ripped off by less than upstanding builders and now left with their homes falling apart. That's where Penny and J can step in and make a decent side income, drywalling and finishing buildings that well, often are not very old are already crumbling. Like we've always said, this community is 99% awesome. And that has held true. We, uh, we do contracting work. Because there are no, um, building codes in Custer County, as opposed to what like, the libertarian ideal of no building codes is, it actually just means that there's a bunch of shoddy houses that need repaired constantly. Um, and we have construction skills. So we're in people's homes, repairing them and, uh, doing work for the actual people of the county daily. Um, we frequent businesses up here because we're all about local support. We build community, um, gleefully, we build community like we really enjoy it up here. The community now is a little smaller than when James first visited. Currently, five people live at the ranch full time, but they still have a couple of trailers open to trans folks in need of a safe place to stay, or you know, visiting journalists. Looking for a safe place to stay is how Jay first came to the ranch. Like a lot of us, she had a difficult time at the start of the pandemic. The world was changing and it seemed in May of 2020 that America was as well. For a lot of people with less progressive parents, the BLM uprising presented a difficult choice between family and community. Jay was one of those people that had to face that choice. So basically, um, I was living in Dallas, working retail, uh, living in my car when the pandemic started. And so I was furloughed. Luckily, Texas is actually surprisingly good about unemployment. So I, you know, had that. Um, was my parents are retired from the military around there and when the BLM uprisings happened, uh, I participated, you know, did some things. And basically my parents were like, uh, you either can stay here or not be associated with antifa or, you know, you can't stay here if you're associated with antifa. And so I was like, okay, I'm, I guess I'm leaving then, which is fine. Um, there was a lot of tension there anyways. Uh, wasn't good for me. So, um, I, because of the unemployment, I was like, okay, I, you know, for once have some resources, I can just kind of, you know, I'm already living in my car. I can just kind of travel around for a bit. Why not? And um, I think I just posted on Twitter like, uh, trans, commune win, you know, as, as probably most queer people have. And, uh, one of my permaculture mutuals actually was like, hey, have you heard of this place? It's not far from you. And posted a link to, I think it was the bice harder cult. Yeah. And, uh, I sent a message and, uh, with a bunch of questions about it and making sure it wasn't, you know, like, transmedicalists or anything like that. Which is always like, what you want to see when somebody contacts the ranch and about coming up, I wafer for an in-depth breakdown and a lot of questions to I'll just show up and figure it out. In case you're not familiar with what a transmedicalist is, we'll let Paul ask that question for you. And we're going to play this not to make Paul look bad. We're playing it for you because I think it's important to see what kind of space the ranch is. It's not one where you can't get things wrong. It's one where you can ask if you don't know something. And because everyone there had shown that they're willing to risk life and limb for one another, they assume that you're asking it because you care about them. And you want to know how to say things in a way that won't hurt anyone. What the fuck is a transmedicalist? Someone who thinks that so primarily, oh, well, you can't, so this is, does not describe any of us, but a transmedicalist is someone who, uh, first and foremost thinks that all trans people should be on hormones. All trans people should have surgery. All trans people should strive towards. Or not trans people. And they don't believe in, yeah, and they don't believe in anything but the gender by any way. Basically, if you don't want to transition directly from like a male to a female or a direct female to a male, like you're not, you're not a real trans person. Yeah, they think those trans people are making it worse for other trans people. Okay, so like, so like that was my next question. So like are non-binary? Yeah, they hate those people. They think they're faking. So, but like do they say they're not trans and what's the main difference? Yeah, yeah. They often call them trans-trenders because it's like a popularity contest, they think. Okay. So yeah. Okay, sorry. Yeah. And those people suck. Jay has found a home at the ranch now. And just like everyone else there, she's a part of the family which takes care of one another. It was actually really funny because Jay showed up and the assumption I thought was that she can stay for a little bit and then you just didn't leave and it was great. Yeah. Like you're not gonna problem. It was like, oh, Jay Stan, let's get it. It was very natural. It works out. This is exactly what, you know, a lot of queer people talk about online, which is, yeah. Well, and Jay brought a passion that we hadn't seen with a lot of people that had come up. A lot of people had come up with this like, yeah, we'll just see what it is or whatever. But Jay came up with like knowledge about theory and like had studied and was really like conscientiously a part of this project, which was huge. I mean, for me, like part of what Jay has been able to help with is organizing the moving of animals to different pastures. James was at the ranch last year when they were replacing their old fence and planning out their fields. I'll tear down this ready-ass fence and this back fence here as we build the new kind of structure for the girls out in that field when we're doing the fence heightening. So it's not only security increase, but we're also, we'll fence off the driveway and then the girls watch the babies that mom was actually get access all the way down the driveway and up this hill a little bit. Hey, babies, come on. Yeah, we'll just structure our fields a little bit better. And then the girls will have two pastures, which is kind of huge. We can rotate them into that. You can start actual permaculture or is it permaculture? I mean, it's regenerative in this context. It's like regenerative agriculture. Thank you. That's what I was looking for. You can also like permaculture people do it too. Yeah, but what we're doing is we're, it's both really. We'll be doing both. Okay. Yeah. So you can use either... Jay's our experts. Okay. There's definitely an industry like, oh regenerative agriculture is the new thing, but it's still capitalism. It's still exploitative. But there are also people doing real regenerative. You don't have to do it. Yeah. Talking with Jay, it's very evident just how passionate they are about these topics and how things like biodiversity and regenerative and permaculture processes tie into many aspects of the ranch itself. The capitalist project is homogenization and simplification. The entire goal is things like monocrops. The entire goal is, you know, the gender binary and controlling the reproduction of labor. Controlling cis women and queer gender expression is a big part of that. Like you can't have those things and have a capitalist and white supremacist environment where you can extract from the earth and from labor. That is such a key component of this whole, like, you know, western project or whatever you want to call it. And nature doesn't care. Nature is queer. Nature, like nature is just exists. Fun guy have thousands of sexes and genders. Yeah. And that's fine. In fact, that's man's. In fact, like, the part of the point of nature is biodiversity because that is the most effective method for actually iterating and testing what works and surviving. And surviving. Yeah. And we're by modal, by the way, not by an area. Like, and, you know, if you need to look that up, you can go ahead and do that. Yeah. And get off. And permaculture in particular, you know, one big problem with permaculture is there's a lot of white people who use the practices and don't acknowledge that it all comes from indigenous cultures. It all comes from indigenous lifeways. And they make a lot of money by not saying that, not, you know, so that's important to address. Permaculture has its, you know, value. But if you're not learning from indigenous people and giving back to indigenous people, you're doing it wrong. Just because the immediate threat of armed men breaking into the ranch has gone away, it doesn't mean that they still don't have to be careful. In April of 2021, after the siege was over, the then sheriff Shannon Byerley claimed that one of his deputies went to the ranch to ask questions about a road traffic accident that one of the ranchers had been involved in. He claimed the deputy was met by armed and uncooperative ranchers who barred the deputy from entering. Bodycam video obtained by Reuters, thanks to a public records act request, shows nothing of the sorts. The deputy met a single person not visibly armed who was polite and courteous. In subsequent interviews Byerley acknowledged that he had been mistaken in his account. But we'll let you hear Jay's account of the events that day. So my Chevy Blazer had been sitting over the winter. It had a bad alternator. We finally got the money together fixed to replace the alternator. Looked it over, everything seemed fine. And I was going back to Texas to grab some stuff and bring it back. And went around a apparently black ice corner. And I'm pretty sure what happened was my entire pop to around. I was only going like 35-40 because there's ice. It's still really in the morning. Yeah, it was like four or five o'clock in the morning or something like that. I'm pretty sure what happened was my entire pop. And then my Blazer proceeded to tumble. You had a roll over. Roll over into the, luckily not a ditch or anything, just on the left, the south left side of the road. And so I called Penny and got picked up. Yeah, we take care of our own. We're not going to call the cops. It only was you. No reason. And then I was like, okay, let me look at towing around the area. The local towing company, which is just like a small family owned. John Guy. One guy basically. They on their Facebook like business page, they said they opened at like nine or ten or something like that. So it's like, okay, so it's going to be on the side of the road until then. That's fine. I'll call and I'm going to go to sleep until then because I was just in a roll over. You're probably can cost like yeah. Yeah, probably whiplash. Yeah, totally. And then so I was in my trailer and I suddenly in my PJs and suddenly get a call from dispatch. And they're like, there's a deputy at your gate. You know, can you go blah blah blah. So I was like, okay, I took a vehicle down in my PJs. I didn't I didn't have a pistol in the car or on me. I basically just, you know, as you do with cops, as any sane human does, answer to the extent that you're legally required to be polite. But also like, I'm not going to invite you on. I'm not going to be your fan. You don't need to be your not my friend. Yeah. But you answered my office. And he, he, you know, he did the usual like, you know, where you, where you're drinking. And I was like, it's like five o'clock in the morning. Like, it's like six o'clock right now. Like, I was going back, I was driving back to Texas to pick up stuff. I was starting a road trip. That's not when you like get blitzed. Yeah. And so he gave me his card and left. And I was like, okay, that's, you know, that's fine. That was weird. But and it was weird to me too that like they apparently have some kind of relationship with this towing guy. Yeah. Where because they didn't even ask me like, hey, do you want to go to this place? They just towed it before they even contact me. Yeah. And so either you bring the title over, to sign it over to the towing person, or you pay him like four or five hundred dollars out here to bring it back here. So that's what actually happened. But then for some reason, the local sheriff started telling a very different account of what took place outside the unicorns, the driveway. So that was the starting. That was the actual incident. Then, by early, the sheriff started getting interviewed. And in those interviews, he would say they there was six of them. They met us at the gate armed. We're extremely hostile to the point where my, my sheriff felt in my desk. He felt fear for his life and had to retreat back. And he might have felt fear for his life. But he also said we don't go there anymore. But he said on record, we don't go there anymore because it's too scary. Oh my god. And so that is setting us up to be killed. That is setting us up to be marked by the police. It's like, you know, this is Kiwi farm says this all the time. Yeah, yeah. This is Tranny Waco. Yeah. And that is the setup for it to become that. And so because then now all of his deputies are just ready to shoot us on site because we're dangerous. A reporter from Reuters was looking into the incident and heard the conflicting stories from the sheriff and the unicorns. But she thought of an easy fix to definitively know what happened. She just foiled the body cam footage, which proved unequivocally that they were lying their fucking ass off and we were telling the truth. And Byrlie retired this year. I don't know. Well, and she when she foiled it, she went back. Oh god, yeah. And Byrlie was like, can I remove my comments from the doctor? Because she asked she like, I don't know if it was a follow up interview. We have any additional comments. And his additional comments were, can you please remove my previous statements from the record? And she said no. And she infatically said no and then published it internationally. This wasn't the first suspect incident regarding the local sheriffs. When Paul was at the ranch in the immediate aftermath of the original siege, he witnessed cops hanging out with the group of people who were actively harassing the ranch. I was here for a week. At one point, there were like 15 to 20 cars at a chud ranch, which it's up to you to release that location. Right. We just call it chud ranch. Yep, but it's the ranch of Chud's. You can you can visit you can see it from the ranch. You can you can see it from here. And there were two sheriff's deputies sitting at the curb. Yep. The entire time as those cars pulled in there. Yep. And they were protecting our asses. Yeah, well, they were sitting there side by side talking to each other while the cars pulled in there. You probably have said this before and I just don't remember. Yeah, I mean, it must have been 20 of them. So the other end of that is then when it got publicized, the sheriff then said, oh, we don't we don't know anything about it. Like they didn't contact us. We didn't. Yeah, they tried to verify the statements made in the media about threats against the ranch. Exactly. And these were just hanging out at the fascist. Well, and they were super snooty about it. They made it sound like, well, the nation of Corn Ranch clearly doesn't want to be part of our community. Yeah. So I hope that that that seemed to be the implication. Sheriff Byerlie who spoke at a 2015 Oathkeeper's rally has since resigned as sheriff. But for understandable reasons, the unicorns still don't dial 911 when they feel in danger. Instead, they reach out to Paul to Aldo and a network of community members who helped with their security both online and on the ground. They also routinely trained with firearms and have added a much more serious fence to the property than the one that the intruders climbed over in 2021. Right after James and I's most recent visit this past summer, Kiwi farms started being in the news a lot more due to a campaign attempting to take it down. But as the hate forum entered the discourse again, the unicorns said started noticing cars driving past the ranch repeatedly, something that Paul, Aldo and James observed during the siege. And now in just the past few weeks, trans people have been killed in a nightclub just an hour away from their house, just a few miles away from the bar where we met them this past summer to celebrate at Jay's birthday. Tomorrow we'll talk about what those threats mean for the ranch and where they are now. It's gifting season and you have no idea what to get that special cook in your life. Wanna know what I'm giving this year? Meter, a smart meter thermometer that keeps an eye on your cook and even alerts you in the meter app when it's ready to come out of the oven. Oh, and it works on the grill too. 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So rest assured your Rolex moves just like a Rolex should and that color way on your Jordan royals will always be on point. The details inspected the fakes rejected. And sure your next purchase is the real deal with eBay's authenticity guarantee. Everyone deserves real visit for terms. This episode is sponsored by FX's Kindred, the original series only on Hulu. Based on the celebrated and critically acclaimed novel by Octavia E. Butler, FX's Kindred centers on Dana James, a young black woman and aspiring writer. Dana begins to settle into her new home in Los Angeles and is violently pulled back and forth in time. She emerges at a 19th century plantation, a place intimately linked with Dana and her family. The clock is ticking as Dana struggles to confront secrets she never knew ran through her blood. FX's Kindred, all episodes now streaming only on Hulu. On our drive down from Denver to Westcliffe, we were first going to meet up with the unicorns in Colorado Springs for a little birthday dinner. James and I arrived a few hours early, so I had the bread idea to stop at the headquarters of the Evangelical Media Organization, focus on the family. I hadn't been there since I was a little Christian kid, so I was curious what it would be like for me to walk through now. What was it like walking through their little headquarters in the welcome center? That was f**king bonkers. So we went in initially, I was gone into the bookshop and I found a book that told me that holding hands is for play that was called Sex in a Marriage. I've seen a book with a pink triangle on the cover that is about LGBTQ people which is deeply troubling. Well, it's about men struggling with their sexual identity. I see. And the way to stop that struggling is that genocide. Queer elimination of Stradaric hasn't just been confined to Christian bookstores or the internet. In November of 2022, it once again became very clear how this kind of non-stop 27 hate speech being beamed into everyone's homes impacts them. On the eve of transgender day of remembrance, as Club Queue, a gay bar in Colorado Springs, was preparing for an all-h's strike show, a 22-year-old shooter walked in and killed five people, leaving 25 more injured. The shooter was ultimately tackled and pistol whipped by a US Army veteran Richard Vieiro and stomped in the face by an unidentified trans woman. A few days after the Club Queue shooting on so-called Thanksgiving, the focus on the family headquarters was defaced, leaving behind a graffiti message pointing out the organization's culpability from pioneering the kind of gay exterminationist propaganda that the modern conservative right is embracing. The message left on the property that James and I visited just a few months prior, red quote, their blood is on your hands. Five lives taken. Way back in 2020, I put together a behind the bastards on focus on the family and their founder, James Dobson, and I've covered focus on the family's increase in anti-trans propaganda earlier this year on this very show. After the graffiti was left on their headquarters on Thanksgiving, a statement was released by the Colorado People's Press. I'm going to read a few parts of that quote, it is no accident that the Club Queue shooting happened in Colorado Springs, a city steeped in homophobia, transphobia, and white supremacy. It is no surprise that somebody did this in this city that is home to such a hateful organization as focused on the family. If you visit the website, you will see them eagerly display their desire to rid the world of all queer people. It is important to us that you understand why focus on the family must be held accountable for the ramifications of their hateful theology. You have likely seen the onslaught of anti-trans legislation, of which focus on the family is a huge proponent, both in funding and propaganda. Focus on the family's goal is to eradicate queerness. Two of the five people killed in the Club Queue shooting were trans people, and in the days after the attack, figures on the right continued to call for attacks on trans people and drag queens, using their familiar language of groomers and grooming, while of course completely ignoring multiple figures within their own midst who have very well documented relationships with people convicted or suspected of sex crimes. But obviously evidence or logic doesn't really make a difference in these types of situations. What's happened is that a handful of figures on the right have decided that they can gain power, influence and money by whipping up hatred towards queer people. With this hate has come an uptick in violence, and this only makes queer havens like the Tenacious Unicorn Ranch more important. Last month in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after a donut shop hosted a drag queen and queer art event, a man in a mega hat smashed the windows of the store with a baseball bat and threw in a Moltov cocktail. The attacker also taped a note with Bible verses and homophobic and transphobic slurs on the window of a neighboring shop. This wasn't the first time the store had been targeted, and this attack happened a day before the shop was set to host another drag art event. On December 3rd, a right-wing activist and former US Army Psychological Operations Officer claimed on Facebook that God had caused a power outage in more county, North Carolina, in an effort to shut down a drag show that was currently taking place in a local theater. Earlier that same day, a holiday-themed drag show in Columbus, Ohio, hosted by a Unitarian Universalist Church, was canceled due to threats and protests outside by proud boys, Petriot Front, and a number of unidentified armed men in Camo. Petriot Front chanted blood, liberty, and victory while the proud boys chanted feds, feds, feds, back at them. Despite their disagreements, the two groups seemed perfectly fine working together to shut down the drag event. The Nazi group White Lives Matter, Ohio, was set up a few blocks away in their skull masks and were seek-hailing to drivers passing by. After it became clear the drag show was not going to take place, the groups moved to a busier, more visible street to wave their groomer signs. A few dozen Petriot Front members stood chanting outside of a Chipotle, as a Christian Dominicanist flag flew behind them. On December 7th, someone fired a gun through the window of a bar in Renton, Washington, after threats against the bar were posted online for hosting a drag queen's story time. Just a few days ago, on December 13th, the FBI designated Extremist militia group, named This is Texas Freedom Force, showed up armed with guns outside of a Christmas-themed drag show in San Antonio, Texas. Other right-wing groups like the San Antonio Family Association and the fascist Petriot Front also had numbers present. By the end, the crowd protesting the drag show was greatly outnumbered by people showing up to support and defend the queer event, some of whom also showed up armed. Some things that was mentioned across the multiple interviews we did while visiting the ranch is the idea of microcosm and macrocosm. The tenacious Unicorn Ranch story and the threats of violence that they have faced really does embody a microcosm version of the transphobic and queer elimination rhetoric and genocide campaign that the country as a whole is experiencing. It's just that this local manifestation of it happened to be on an alpaca farm, as odd as that may be. Is the I like Union Collins, they're like a mythical animal. Yeah, they're just kind of like, wow is this real? Yeah. It's like a fucking time time. What's going on here? They just look so smuggler-ball. Yeah. They just want to snuggle them. And the way they walk like that, they're like, crum- You're a crum. You're a crum. Yeah. When they do a trot like in their head, like in the middle of the wall, it's kind of funny. This is clowns-ass. He's an asshole, but he's a really good dad. Yeah. For this last episode of the series, we want to give you a sense of what regular life is like at the ranch. Now that it's been almost two years since the siege, and people have had time to process, grow and adapt. One thing that's growing is the number of alpacas. We have 196 something like that. With a reason Crea's born, we have 196. So about 196 alpaca. Let's talk a little bit about alpacas. I think they're interesting, right? You came into most of your alpaca as rescues. Yeah. Yeah. So at the original ranch, we purchased a 10 alpaca, but it was like a rescue purchase. The only way that we could get them to give them up as if we paid money for them, but they were all- like they needed new homes. That was all- from really lovely people. It was just like these weren't alpaca they wanted. And then we learned really quickly that there's a problem in America with alpaca ranchers aging out of being able to take care of these really massive herds that they've built, and either euthanizing or splitting up herds, which is both things are not great for the health of the alpaca. Especially euthanizing. Yeah, very happy. Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Documented. That's a story. Yeah. But so we found really quickly that there is a- as a rescue, we were able to help more animals and afford animals, you know, like- because we were on the acres that were on, we could take an entire herds and not break them up, which is a big deal. And so our first intake of rescues was 76 alpaca from a really great couple in horse tooth that was retiring, really great animals, hearty, really quality fiber. And we just kind of have been with that model ever since as a rescue. And the way you- like sustainable as a ranchers in addition to working outside is selling the fiber, right? The fiber from the animals. Yeah, both sheep and the alpaca provide fiber that we then turn into- really what we do is turn it into yarn and then sell the yarn. We've never needed to go beyond that because we've always sold out of our yarn almost immediately. Speaking of sheep, here is a nice little clip of James, falling over some of the door sets. There is a- yeah. Nice looking sheep. Right? Little baby door sets. Little mobs. I mean, some of them that are mixed with- I remember with the black face. It's got black face. Yeah. And they're- they're a really lovely mix. Yeah, that's a nice combination actually. Pretty rugged sheep. I'm not big and just rugged like they put up with everything. Yeah. You can see their coats are just like bread, like they're just- They're doughy, yeah. I love it. Yeah, the door suits have a nice thick fleece and they're like, well fleece on the head and the neck. Yeah, and they make really good. We mixed it with our alpaca yarn this year. Now it's a wonderful yarn. It's really rough thinking that there's people that are just like fucking alpaca farmers. Like the whole world. What's going wrong in your life? Are you so angry at someone for looking after these fleece animals? Yeah, like the big thing was there was that moment where like they had the Nazi braid in town. And that's what really like- we call them out on it and that's what started the animosity. But like it was a braid of Nazis. Like I don't feel bad. Like you're in a meeting like- Yeah. It's weird that they took it to the level of, oh yeah, we're working a burn down your house and kill you all. That'll show you. Yeah. It's like, yeah, it'll show us that you're Nazis. In our conversation with Jordan from the Tribune, as somebody who was born and raised in this area, she gave us his perspective on why people may have thought they could get away with attacking the ranch and how there has been this cultural shift in recent years to allow this kind of reactionary militancy. You know, again, I don't take it as anything super organized other than a bunch of these individuals that had already been sort of organized deciding to do something really stupid. Yeah, incredibly stupid. And knowing that the sheriff and a lot of other people wouldn't take it that seriously. That's what I wondered. Yeah, they thought they could get away with it. Has there been a history of that, like, have they done, has that sort of thing happened in the valley? In the past, I mean, there's been plenty of just, as I said, but, you know, but usually that stuff wasn't condoned, so eventually they get caught. You mean, in terms of like, like, pressure, like, getting people out of it? Or minorities, you know, in the past, there was, there was always some of those types of things, but it also wasn't condoned or even excused, even against most, if it came out, then those people were shunned and shamed even by Republicans. But these days, it's much more like, well, well, look the other way, you know. Yeah. Now it's tipped the other direction. Thankfully, so far, the efforts of these few individuals to harm or pressure the unicorns out of the community have unequivocally failed. And in some ways, just made stronger bonds. Yeah, they wanted you to leave. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, all of it was designed to make you so afraid you would go away. Yeah. Yeah. Like, yeah. Terrorism. Terrorism. It doesn't happen, right? So you're a year in change, a year in a half, almost. Yeah. Two years in this location. Yeah. Two years in change. And a year plus since the race is peak. Yeah. And how are things now? Great. I think at this point, people legitimately love us, like locals. Yeah. People call us the unicorns and everybody knows who we are. And it's not in a bad way. Like, it's really, we feel at home here. As of the timing of their initial move over to Westcliffe, it made local community building kind of challenging. And little did they know that they would crucially need community and support in the month to come. So because it was during the pandemic and everything was on lockdown, we didn't establish a lot of community. We, Annie moved in, who was somebody we knew down in Berthid, which was very close to us. And so she moved up here at the exact same time we were moving up here. So we did have somebody that we could talk to and interact with, but they were just as new to the areas we were. And I mean, honestly, setting up a ranch and moving from one location to another, when you're talking about multiple hundreds of animals. And at that point, we were six people. We were very self-focused for the first six months we were up here. So our general sweep was they have Shakespeare in the park and it's a tourist town. So it seems great. We moved here because we could afford this house and no other house in Colorado. And then, and then it slowly started to become apparent that we've moved into a very red area. But again, there wasn't any overt signs upon arrival. Like, everybody was cool. And honestly, like, people are still pretty cool mostly. 99% of people are cool. Yeah, it's the 1% of people that suck. Yeah. As things have steadily stabilized and settled into a version of normal, the unicorns have been getting more involved throughout the local community. A little while back, they stepped up to assist with recycling for the county. We stepped up for a small period of time when the recycling company that was handling the county's recycling folded. We stepped up with our horse trailers and just collected recycling and drove it to a facility. Now there's actually a facility in the Westcliffe landfill that does recycling for this county and the neighboring three counties. And that was a building that we designed. The person who's running it, Rocky Mountain recycling, Johnny's her name, amazing people. They're doing great things and we're glad that we could help in whatever we could. It just became a government project. And that's when we stepped out because that's not really what we're about. But yeah. And as socialization has been able to get more possible since the pandemic, the unicorns have developed ways to connect with the existing community of queers and weirdos in the area. Jen put together like a weekly game night and it's like slowly growing. We're bringing in queer people to play board games and stuff. Yeah, we've got four different people from in town who, you know, otherwise don't really have a connection to their edge coming in to play a board game or maybe magic tonight. And I have a slight suspicion that's going to keep growing. What are we playing tonight? It might be Arkham Horathurdishian or it might be Mysterium or it might be magic. Okay. It's magic because I would love to beat everyone here in the game. Oh my gosh. You should play with us. Yes. That'd be so fun. But yeah, even little things like that like and it's just some ways to build community. Yeah. It's important because we need to be here when like if it gets really bad. On the macrocosm scale, things do seem to be getting bad. When we talked with Jordan about how George from the Sentinel was targeting the unicorns, the conversation segwayed into how there's been this shift from economic conservatism to this rising brand of far right Christian vanguardism. I think if I was to classify some of the movement you see in conservative America right now where it all starts to make sense is that in the past conservatism was always trying to push against sort of this idea of revolution or progress or too fast. You know, they always go back to the French revolution that's where the left and right kind of started. Saying, hey, if you move too quickly with progress, everybody gets their heads chopped off, you know, so that was kind of conservatism, which is we don't really believe in anything necessarily. We're just going to hold the tradition and just kind of be saying no a lot. But at the same time, that's how conservatism was here until the Soviet Union fell. And then all of a sudden something switched, which is we have the system that won. Our system should spread across the world because of every day, buddy did American style capitalist democracy. We would enter this weird and Randian utopia for you market street. Yeah. Well, end to history, but on a conservative side. Yeah, exactly. That's exactly what it was. But the problem is is 2001, particularly here, pushed it over. It went from like, okay, maybe we're actually going to try to push this on other countries. And really what I called the alt-right or the conservative right now, they got bit by the utopian bug, which is if everybody is armed with the teeth, if everybody lives the way that they dictate they should live, which is some weird and Randian version of life and morality, then we'll enter utopia. And so if anybody stands against you as that profit, you are the enemy. So that can be that's why the right now turns on themselves all the time is anybody stands against them is the enemy. The liberal stops utopia is there definite. Anybody that stops utopia? Yeah, you have to go through liberal or communist. You know, and I think if you look at it in that lens, the world makes a lot more sense. I don't see very much utopianism at all on the left anymore. Whereas on the right, it's everywhere. Yeah. So it's one of those weird political things that's flopped the other direction. Now just in different words, different ways, utopianism is on the right now. They also need to have some type of conflict. They need to have a purging episode. You have to purge everybody that's on the other side to enter utopia. And that's why Christians are really into it. They read the book of Revelation. We have to have the civil war. We have to purge all the leftists. Because on the other side, we enter the kingdom of God. It's the millenarianism. It's the exact same thing. It's absolute millenarianism. And that's what we're facing here. The frankly, the same thing. If I was to sum it up, that's how I'd say it was. It's definitely millenarianism in the local form. If we are going to look at the tenacious unicorn ranch story as a microcosm of transphobic violence, then I think it should also be seen as a case study of the invaluable role, solidarity and community, have in resisting the concerted effort to harm queer people. Back when the siege was just starting, simply feeling able to go to sleep because people were willing to show up for you is just one example from this story that's a powerful display of the values. Many people claim to have, but seldom implement. We were exhausted. And so to have people show up and be like, you will be safe tonight. Lay down, get sleep and trust it enough to sleep. Like, because it was incredible. It was incredible. As the unicorns continue to make connections and become a known staple of the larger local community, it's made organizing any harassment against them more difficult. I bet a bunch of those people who hate us have tested the waters with their friends. Like, all those unicorns and they're like, what, they're cool. Oh, yeah, that's what I meant. I bet that they're all constantly because they keep making friends. But that's been our ongoing precautions because it hasn't, the animosity from that group hasn't gone away. And it does resurface every once in a while. Like, some people threaten to kill our dogs a little while back and things like that. So the same people were not sure. Possibly. Yeah. No way of confirming or denying. Yeah. Nowadays, some security measures have been integrated into their everyday lives, thanks to support they've gotten from strangers. We definitely have cameras. So we had to go find me where people amazingly kind of like through a large amount of money at us, which afforded a better fence and cameras everywhere on property. So that and things like your, yeah, better gear and upgrades and stuff like that. So we kind of are an ongoing, keep a safe mode, but like cameras and guns. That's how we do it. And I do, I really do think like we showed the shitty people this town, like, don't fucking mess with us. Well, we showed reason and that we showed what we showed was that community matters. And if you aren't a shit heel, community will show up for you. The day after the club queue shooting, once again, the ranch posted a tweet asking for people to come. This time they didn't need help. They wanted to offer it. They're only an hour or so away from Colorado Springs and they wanted to offer their home as a place to heal, to talk and to begin moving forward as a part of the community struck by violence and hate. In addition to a home for the ranchers and the animals, the ranch also provides emergency housing for queer people who aren't safe wherever they currently are. There have been lots of residents at the ranch in the four years they've been operating. Some of them come briefly and use the stability to get set up with a fresh start in some place. Some others intend to stay but find the country life isn't for them and some like a J become permanent fixtures on the ranch. The term you've kind of used a lot to describe this place is like a queer haven. Yeah. And the past year definitely there's been a pretty volatile increase in transphobia and queer phobia, even like a research in subheopopobia. So as this type of stuff is happening as we're seeing more kind of rhetoric around like a queer genocide or queer exterminationism, how do you see this place and you know possible places like it fitting in to kind of how the world seems to be going? Yeah. So what we've seen aside from people wanting to come up here and live permanently, we've put that on hold right now because we're just kind of in a space like we don't have the space to like facilitate, but what we have found is something that we are as a haven. The thing that we do that's most important is groups of queer people will come here for a recharge and to feel like it is recharging to spend a week up here in community with other queer people with no burden from the outside and just being yourself. Building connections in network. Yeah, and like kind of reigniting your fire for revolution and for you know, and kind of I don't know like I don't know like touching base and realizing that like the community is still big. It is still growing. People are still standing strong being able to come up here and really invite that for a week or two has been from the letters I get really important to people. And so that is what we like deliver routinely. We do also like emergency like save people when we can like if you're just got kicked out on the street, you don't know what to do, but you can kind of like you have somewhere to go, but you can't get there yet. We are a really good way station for people in that position. You come up, you know, touch grass for a week and then go back out into the world like I'm given you know climate collapse and encroaching fascism, which if you don't get then you need to probably study your history. Listen to this podcast more often probably. Yeah, probably. There's going to be rainbow railroads. There's going to be a lot of bad things happening. It's going to happen quickly. We'll still be here. We're trying to grow to a size that like can help people more directly. Well, but also we are already still here. Yeah, we didn't grow. We'd still be here and we could count on us. I don't know what I mean. But the networks that are set up like being able to quickly get people out of the country, being able to quickly get people to safety from anywhere in the country. That's what we have been focusing on. Watching much like we started in response to the violence that was that was ratcheting because of the Trump administration. We haven't lessened that. We are setting up networks and possibilities to get people safe from very unsafe situations in this country. That's where it's going. Fucking everywhere right now. That networking has, we've found not only bolstered people, but it's really important. The need for places like these is growing just as quickly as the manufactured panic around the drag shows. In response, the unicorns have decided to expand to another property in the valley and one in Boulder County. These properties will allow them to serve a larger community, to grow crops, have horses and increase the amount of emergency housing they can provide. The unicorns have launched a new go fund meet to help cover some of the starting costs to get the new locations up and running and begin farming operations. The additions would not only be providing more housing and income, but also add the ability to offer support groups and host queer events that are safe and accessible to folks in and around Boulder County, Colorado. We've had some really intimate conversations with some queer people that are like, you know, like what you're doing is kind of keeping me going. So it's, it's, it's, it matters to be people. It's pretty fucking seriously because it's why we weigh everything so heavily because it's like, look, we can't fail. Yeah. Like, people, people put that much faith and like believe in what you're doing. You can't, you can't let them down. Like we've said from the beginning, like this project isn't about us. Oh, yeah. Like this project is about the community and giving us a strong hold of just fucking hope. Instead of walking away from this series, thinking, oh, I'm going to go move to the ranch because I guarantee there's not enough room for everybody listening even with the ongoing expansion. But people should take what we've learned from the Tenacious Unicorn Ranch and apply it elsewhere wherever you are. You can apply this example with all of its ups and downs to perspective havens across the continent, whether in cities or in the country. Building queer zones doesn't need to take form as a completely isolated, closed-off commune. As we've seen here, having connections and fostering community with those around you is a crucial part of maintaining a livelihood beyond just mere survival. While this has been a story about the internet and how it provides both positive connections and a medium for some of the worst bigoted hatred and a story about guns, both how they have been used as a tool to protect trans people and rural Colorado, as well as being part of the original threat to trans lives and now a seemingly increasing one. But if there's one thing that I hope people can take away from this story, it's how all of these positive aspects are meaningless unless people are willing to demonstrate solidarity and work towards building a community that's capable of ensuring a queer haven like the Tenacious Unicorn Ranch is able to continue despite threats from queer exterminationists. If you want to keep up with the ranch, you can find them at where you can also find their Patreon and the GoFundMe page for their expansion. You can find James at JamesStout and you can find me at HungryBotai. See you on the other side. Hey, we'll be back Monday with more episodes every week from now until the heat death of the universe. It could happen here as a production of CoolZone Media. For more podcasts from CoolZone Media, visit our website or check us out on the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can find sources for it could happen here updated monthly at slash sources. 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