Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Convictions and the FBI

I ran into a man the other day at the Steak Pit in Selma that reminded me of something that happened to me a few years ago. He was spouting off about some government cover-up. With all people like that, a lot of what they speak is truth and logic. Some of it is purely personal convictions. You have to watch yourself, or you'll find your emotions and even your life caught up in it all. You have to be able to put personal convictions aside, and view the situation logically. Trust me, I know this now.

In September or October of 2003 I went to a pork roast for the Libertarian Party of Alabama down in Troy. It was pretty cool. A lot of smart, well-informed people were there. It was there I met Floyd Shackelford, a self-employed, wealthy, computer programmer with a wonderful family and a very nice place. Floyd had run for the Senate a year earlier. The pork roast was being held at his house, and he had a lot of property and cool things to do.

In the evening, as everything settled down, we had a few beverages. Most of us sat around discussing politics. After a few kudos were given to the more active party members in attendance, Floyd began talking about some things that were close to his heart. One of which was the Mutual Defence Pact Militia, or MDPM. He explained how property taxes were a type of extortion, and I agreed. He gave examples of how people had been evicted from their houses, farms etc... for nonpayment of property taxes. He told me that the MDPM was trying to get enough people together to stand up for those who couldn't afford to pay their property taxes, but who had owned their homes. It sounded good to me, so I signed up. MISTAKE.

The same day I was signing up for this group, the founder, Rick Stanley, was being arrested in Colorado for a gun law violation. Floyd Shakelford was made the new leader of the MDPM. I didn't find this out until I went home and looked up the group on the internet. I couldn't believe it. After the initial shock, I tried to let it slide from my memory that I had signed up for this group. It was brought back screaming to the front of my mind when I got a late night call from Floyd Shackelford asking if I'd go up to Maine to defend Dotty LaFortune against the government. I was familiar with her story, but didn't believe she was totally in the right. I bowed out as gracefully as I could, making several excuses. He sounded very disappointed. I felt bad.

I didn't feel bad for long. I'm not sure if it was the next day, or a few days later that Floyd sent out an email indicating he had been visited by the FBI. They informed him he could be tried for terrorism, or treason or something like that. That made me feel a little better about not agreeing to go to Maine, but it made me worry. If they knew Floyd was emailing this info, they knew to whom he was emailing it.

As I left for work the next day, I noticed a white van parked on the road that runs parallel to my driveway. I didn't think that much about it at the time, but when it stayed there all week, I began to get suspicious. I didn't know if it was my paranoia, or some government agency trying to scare me. I wanted to find out why that van was there, and if it was the GOV, I wanted them to know they had no reason to try to scare me, as I wasn't about to do anything but watch TV and play music. Frustrated and worried, I hopped in my car and drove over there. I slowly rode by and tried to make out anything in the very dark driver's window, but couldn't. The next day the van was gone.

An article about the MDPM appeared in the Selma Times Journal the next day. It seemed to be gloating over the defeat of the militia in Maine. I thought it was funny. I know that I'm the only person in Selma that was a member of this militia, however shortlived my membership was, but someone deemed it necessary to run this article from Maine in my local paper. How stupid and wasteful.

I went to Floyd's again the following year for the pork roast. Not a word was mentioned of the militia. It's a sore spot for me, so I would imagine it was an extremely sore spot for him. We ate, but I noticed I didn't really feel as welcomed as I had the year before. It was probably just me feeling a little guilty, but maybe not.

I rarely think about it anymore. I still feel like I'm being followed sometimes, and suspicious nutjobs always come up to me, it seems, giving their government conspiracy theories. I let the guy at the Steak Pit talk his talk and said "Uh-huh" at the right places. He was harmless. Just a Dale Gribble wanna-be, I suppose.