It was just another night on the backcountry roads of Middle America – the full moon was out, shining down on the rows of corn growing in the fields and the host of stars seemed to smile down on me as I was driving home from another day at the stone quarry.
I must have been so captivated by the beauty surrounding me that I lost track of my speed since I noticed a set of flashing lights in the distance – lights that were rapidly headed towards me. With a frustrated sigh, I pull over to the shoulder of the road and wait for the trooper to reach me. I see the police cruiser pull over and two troopers exit the vehicle: one just stands off behind my truck while the other approaches my window – I roll it down and he calmly asks for my license and I oblige him.
It all seems routine at first – he takes my license back to the squad car, makes a call on his radio and then heads back towards me. “Mr. Clemens? Robert Clemens?” he inquires (to which I politely answer in the affirmative). “Well, I won’t cite you for a speeding violation this time” he calmly proceeds to tell me. “But,” he goes further on, “it seems you have a prior arrest on your record. Something about drunk and disorderly conduct, yes?” I tell the officer what happened the night of my arrest – last year my girlfriend dumped me and I dealt with my broken heart the only way I knew how: hitting the bottle – after I got about eight or nine beers in me I lost my better judgment. In a drunken rage I pelted my ex-girlfriend’s front door with glass bottles while accusing her of being a whore (I spent the night in jail for that).
“That’s one sad story” he observes, “but the fact that you’ve had this prior arrest is a cause for concern and I’d like to have my partner over here search your vehicle.” Arrest record or not, I know that they can’t just search my truck – I tell the trooper that unless he has a warrant he has no justification for that.
At first, he politely asks me to reconsider my position – “Mr. Clemens, I know how you feel, but it would make our jobs so much easier if you just let us take a look” he claims. Once again, I tell him that he’s not going in my truck with no warrant: now his tone becomes more hostile – “don’t give us any trouble, kid. Let us conduct the search and you’ll make things a lot easier on yourself…”
I tell him that I have rights as a citizen and that he can’t just search my truck because he wants to – upon hearing this the trooper loses his temper. “GET OUT OF THE FUCKING CAR!” he screams at me before he breaks my window with his baton. As I’m reeling with shock over the explosion of auto glass that poured into my lap, the trooper pulls his gun and sticks it in my face – “I SAID GET OUT OF THE CAR” he continues to bellow at me even as I regain my composure.
Not wanting to tempt the crazy man with a gun any further, I exit the truck with my hands up and ask him to calm down – the trooper responds by kicking me in the ribs and taking me down to the ground. “Search the truck” he instructs his partner, who immediately proceeds to go through my tool kit in the bed of the vehicle. After carelessly throwing the contents thereof about and finding nothing, the trooper’s partner decides to “discover” a little “contraband” of his own – reaching into his pockets, he pulls out a sandwich bag containing meth (or what looks like meth to me anyway – I’ve only seen pictures of it in videos…) and decides to charge me with “possession.”
I attempt to raise my voice in protest, but to no avail – I was immediately cuffed and carted off to the station to stand trial for the crime of asserting my rights…
Over a month has passed since that night and I’m presently out on bail – in spite of the fact that my drug tests came back negative, this incident cost me my job (since my employer has a “zero tolerance” policy for drug use – meaning that even being *suspected* of using was grounds for termination) and I have been put in the unfortunate position of having to live with my father until my name is cleared. Of course, this is going to be an uphill battle: the dash cam footage of the incident that night has (very conveniently) been “misplaced” and both of the troopers claim that I threatened violence and resisted arrest – that the measures they took to “subdue” me were justified by the circumstances and that an ounce of meth was “found” in my truck.
Right now the only thing I have going for me is the fact that my father and his old military buddies don’t trust the government and are conducting their own investigation of that night’s incident – the New Sons of Liberty have been making inquiries all over the county into the character of the troopers that brought me in: Henry Donavan (the one who actually pulled the gun on me that night) and his partner Danny Maxwell – apparently I’m not the first guy to get this kind of treatment from them (at least half a dozen other people brought similar complaints of brutality against them – yet somehow they manage to elude any kind of disciplinary action) and they’re going to find out why that is.
As for me, since I lost my job. I’ve been taking whatever odd jobs I can get for some quick cash – repairing fences, painting barns and even shooting some coyotes that were picking off some local shepherd’s flock (allowing me to knock the dust off my shooting skills – I can’t tell you how good it felt to release some of that frustration with a few well-placed rounds onto a coyote with an AR-15…). It’s not much, but for now I can cover the damage done to my truck those bastard cops did! In fact, I just got the window repaired and am now headed back to the house: I’m hoping that dad has some good news about those sons of bitches when I get there…
As I pull up the driveway I notice three other vehicles (two trucks and a converted SUV) parked alongside the house – my father’s militia buddies have come out in force today. I wonder what news they got for us as I head inside: I see three of them polishing a stack of guns in the living room as I enter – and as I go towards the kitchen I see close to a dozen gathered around the dinner table with dad involved in discussion. As I set foot in the kitchen all conversation ceases and my father looks at me with a grin on his face like I haven’t seen in a long time; “We got the fuckers” he states with glee in his voice.
I take a seat and ask him to clue me in on what has happened and what I hear is shocking – apparently one of my father’s buddies came across an individual that Danny Maxwell had been seen with on multiple occasions: at first he suspected that this man was being blackmailed for some reason or other (a justified suspicion, as several people citizens that filed complaints against these officers suddenly recanted later…), but it turned out that this fellow was an unexpected godsend – he was Danny’s lover! Needless to say, with this piece of information we were able to secure his cooperation against Henry Donavan (hell, he even got the “misplaced” dash cam footage for us!).
But it still wasn’t enough – even with this evidence the state troopers won’t arrest one of their own. And that’s where our part in this begins…
It’s now Sunday morning outside the home of Henry Donavan – a small cottage just outside of town, surrounded by woodland with a few smaller buildings standing adjacent (probably a garage and a tool shed – from the looks of them). The brute trooper attends church at 9 am every Sunday (probably has a lot of shit to wipe off his soul – or perhaps he’s just a man of appearances…) and always returns home by 11: this two hour window has given my father’s militia plenty of time to set up some sniper’s posts in the trees and even camouflage that armored SUV – we aren’t expecting Donavan to put up much of a struggle, but dad wants to be sure that he doesn’t have back-up with him today (he has a habit of taking unusual preparations).
Father and I, along with two militiamen (dressed in full battle gear), are presently waiting in my truck (which is parked about 100 feet from the driveway) for the bastard to finally show his face – I ask my dad one more time just what I have to do for this to work. “You are the one who witnessed this man committing several felonies against you, yes?” he asks pointedly – “that means that you are the one that has to make the arrest. My boys and I can assist you, but you have to be the one to bring those charges against Donavan. So what are those charges?”
I close my eyes and try to recall the list of crimes that were committed against me – assault, vandalism, false arrest and imprisonment and conduct unbecoming of a peace officer. “You got it” my father states pointedly “and we can only make this work on a day that he’s off-duty – today the peace officer is just another citizen and we’re here to remind him of that.”
Just as we were finishing up this conversation I see an old muscle car pulling up to the house – the vehicle parks in the driveway and Donavan emerges from it, apparently he’s alone. In what I presume is curiosity, he proceeds to walk towards the truck (which is in plain view): at this point we exit the truck’s cab and move towards Donavan.
“Henry Donavan” my father shouts while we are still a ways off, “my son has something that he wants to say to you.” Donavan is apparently unperturbed by this statement as he continues to march towards us – we meet somewhere between the two vehicles (no more than 75 feet from the house) and at that point I announce the purpose of our visit: I formally declare that he is under citizens’ arrest and recite the list of charges being brought against him – once I am through informing him of his status, a smirk of contempt appears on his face. “I thought you might try something like this” he states with an aura of malice in his voice, “but seriously, I thought you would have brought more than just a couple men for back-up.”
At this point he reaches for a beeper he has hanging from his belt – with the push of a button about a dozen men in black come swarming out of the house and the two adjacent structures as well as an unmarked van from what I figured was the garage. Within less than a minute the men in black formed a semi-circle around us, the van pulling up behind them: “don’t think that I haven’t been keeping tabs on your soldier pals as they went around the county looking for leverage” he boasts “the DHS has had its eye on you for some time and has classified your little gun club as a potential gathering of terrorists. When I mentioned that your ‘New Sons of Liberty’ friends were involved in this little spat between us, Homeland Security jumped at the chance to bust your little pretend army.”
All manner of thoughts are racing through my mind right now: “terrorists?” Who do they think we are? A bunch of ragheads mining roads? Some Black Flag lunatics ambushing National Guard troops? We’re loyal American citizens for fuck’s sake!
As I’m struggling to comprehend what’s going on, my father tries to diffuse the situation – “you are men of the law” he states as he addresses the DHS agents. “What we are doing here is perfectly legal – not an act of terrorism. It is our intention to see this man brought before a court of law and answer for his crimes: will you assist us in bringing this corrupt cop to justice?” he calmly inquires of these men. They make no reply other than to train their own weapons on us…
“Be advised” he continues, “the use of force against us is tantamount to obstructing justice – by denying us our right to arrest a corrupt official you are breaking the law!”
“You don’t get it: I *am* the law” Donavan scoffs. “These men will now take you into custody and I will get a huge promotion off your asses – now drop your weapons lest things get ugly.”
“You had your chance” my father mutters as he raises his hand – immediately afterwards a shot rings out and one of the DHS agents gets a hole in his head. Commotion immediately follows as we make a run for the truck. As sniper fire pours down on the DHS from the woods, most of the agents respond by firing randomly into the trees – but a couple of them have the wherewithal to let off a few shots in our direction. Once I’m behind the truck, I look around and see that my father is here beside me and that he has a wounded militiaman with him: no sign of the other one that was with us.
I raise my head up from behind the truck and see the DHS agents retreating behind their own van – leaving the bodies of three or four of their own behind. I look out to my right and see the other militiaman: he’s face-down and surrounded in a pool of his own blood. It’s only at that moment that the reality of the situation hits me like a ton of bricks; that there’s a real chance I could die today!
I quickly duck back behind the truck and my father yells at me to put pressure on the militiaman’s wounded leg – I put my hand over the seemingly endless fountain of blood while dad ties off a bandage to stop the bleeding, then he grabs his rifle and begins returning fire on the DHS. With father keeping the DHS busy I get a canteen from the wounded man’s web gear and raise it to his lips. For a moment he attempts to sip the fluid within, but then passes out from the blood loss – I turn to my dad and tell him without an IV to keep this guy hydrated he won’t last much longer. He ducks his head down behind the truck after firing a suppressing volley and turns to me; “we can’t give him an IV under fire, so we need to finish this fight – now take that rifle and cover me!”
I had never actually been in a firefight before – I know how to shoot but I’ve only killed wild animals, never another man. Well, I guess there’s a first time for everything: I raise my head over the front of the truck and squeeze off a couple rounds at the DHS agents behind the van while my father makes a run for the trees to draw some fire away from us. I continue the cycle of raising to shoot and taking cover until I hear the sound of a massive engine – I turn towards the trees where dad had taken cover and see the armored SUV coming up behind him. He allows it to pass by and takes a position behind it while the SUV soaks up fire; giving him time to climb aboard.
Immediately afterwards the engines roar once more, the tires screech and the SUV makes a head-long charge towards the unmarked van – instantly toppling the vehicle and crushing many DHS agents underneath! A couple of men with Saiga-12 shotguns exit the SUV and immediately gun down the few agents that try to flee: and just like that the firefight was over.
My father took out some medical supplies from the SUV and tried to get some fluids into the injured man but it was too late – he bled out before father even got the needle out of the packaging. After a brief pause of silence for the fallen he gives orders: “we don’t leave our dead behind – put them in the truck” he tells the men before he began muttering to himself. “How do we explain this to their families?” he states in a melancholy tone as he buries his head in his hands: “this was supposed to be an arrest, not a bloodbath!” At this point he breaks down in sobbing.
I leave my father to his grief and investigate the scene of the carnage myself – within the piles of twisted bodies I find Donavan, still conscious and barely hanging on to life. I hear his groans of pain and unintelligible mutterings: perhaps the last pleas for mercy from a dying man, a prayer for forgiveness of sins or maybe even a curse directed at me – at any rate it doesn’t matter. People are now dead on account of this man. I won’t forgive that; I take my rifle, press it against his forehead and see a big grin flash across his face just before I put a 5.56 NATO round into what’s left of his skull.
As I turn to walk back to the truck I get the feeling in the back of my mind that this is a watershed moment – that things can’t go back to the way they were before…