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Posse Comitatus

The Posse Comitatus, meaning “Power of the County,” was founded in 1969 by dry cleaner Henry L. Beach in Oregon and William Potter Gale in California (each claimed to have originated the idea). Members believe that the only legitimate authority is the county sheriff and any power above that is illegal. They object to and sometimes refuse to pay federal taxes. Influenced by the racist, anti-Semitic theology of Christian Identity, the Posse preaches that the founders of the country intended a Christian Republic, and desegregation laws wrongly encourage race mixing. Group members establish churches to which they deed their properties and claim religious tax exemptions. Fearing the government's takeover by a Jewish-led, communist conspiracy, many stockpile weapons and food supplies, and train in weapons use and military tactics. Some, like Gordon Kahl, who shot two federal marshals at a roadblock, have resorted to ...

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