Yesterday, CNN's Anderson Cooper marked the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City with a segment on "the rise in rhetoric from groups on the political fringe."
CNN's Drew Griffen interviewed Parkville native Catherine Bleish, executive director of the local Liberty Restoration Project, which has staged protests in Kansas City against the use of red-light cameras, and most recently, against full-body scanners at the Kansas City International Airport.
Griffen described his meeting place with Bleish -- Brave New Books in Austin, Texas -- as "subterranean." It's down a set of stairs, sure, but Griffen was playing up the ominous subtext. So-called patriot groups like the LRP have been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as potentially dangerous because of their support of gun rights, racist rhetoric and attachment to conspiracy theories.
Bleish told Griffen that she fears the expansion of the federal government and feels safer by standing up against governmental intrusion into the personal lives of U.S. citizens. Griffen tried to bring out the kooky when he asked Bleish about "FEMA camps." She knew what he was talking about -- H.R. 645 was a bill, introduced in January 2009, that sought to create six internment camps on U.S. soil. Griffen also asked whether Bleish thought President Barack Obama was an American-born citizen. "I don't know," Bleish responded coyly, "but everyone should question that, too."
A recent post by Bleish on the LRP Web site announces that she's leaving the group after this weekend's big event. The LRP's "End the Fed" protest is Saturday, and the group will celebrate its two-year anniversary later that night at Gusto Lounge.
After that, Bleish will go back to Austin, where she's finishing her master's degree in public administration, writing two books, working on a local school board
election and getting her AM radio show, "Rise Up," back on the air.
She's also dedicating herself to the Operation Defuse
movement, which seeks to "empower the public so they may better
understand the police/surveillance state by educating them about fusion centers and the role they play in both militarizing and federalizing our police forces."
"I will still have my LRP e-mail address and phone number, and will still be an 'official' member and representative of LRP, I just have to shift my focus so that I may stay sane moving forward," Bleish writes.