In light of a Missouri law enforcement training memo that incorrectly lumps legitimate political policy organizations with violent and extremist militia groups, the Missouri Libertarian Party has requested meetings with state officials in hopes of working with them to correct inaccuracies while protecting the safety of law enforcement officers.
The Libertarian Party hopes to be part of a solution that will address widespread concerns about the now-public "Strategic Memo" issued by the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) and the Missouri Highway Patrol (MHP) as a law enforcement training document. The document claims to track "trends" in extremist militia activity in Missouri.
Today, a representative of the Missouri Libertarian Party reached out to the offices of Governor Jay Nixon, Department of Public Safety Director John Britt, MIAC Director Van Godsey and Colonel James Kethley. At this point, all state officials who have been contacted have either not responded or declined to meet.
"It's disappointing that our requests for a simple meeting to discuss how we can help clear up the mistakes in the memo were rejected." stated Missouri LP Spokesman Mike Ferguson, "We are against political violence and want to see our law enforcement officers safe, just like everyone else, but maligning people who simply want to be involved in the political process alongside those who truly are dangerous is not going to make us safer."
The memo was issued on February 20th of this year and lists some "motivators" of dangerous militia involvement. That list includes, among others:
- Opposition to gun control legislation
- Opposition to President Barack Obama's "Universal Service Program" that was discussed during the presidential campaign
- Opposition to income taxes
- Opposition to illegal immigration
According to Ferguson, almost anyone who voices an opinion that is in dissent to current policy could be profiled by law enforcement unless these training policies are changed. "Does this mean people who attend 'Tea Party' protests against government taxing and spending policies fit the description of someone who might be involved in subversive militia activity? This memo seems to indicate that."
Among the problems with parts of the memo are that it includes a wide range of legitimate political activism alongside racist, violent extremism and trains officers to beware of healthy political discourse as part of the effort to track potentially dangerous activity.
The memo includes in it list of "political paraphernalia" that could indicate ties to violent, extremist militia groups are materials that support Republican Congressman Ron Paul, Paul's Campaign for Liberty (a Republican political action group), former Libertarian Presidential nominee Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party, among others.
After drawing attention to the wide range of political activity, speech and materials and making no distinction between those involved in legal, peaceful efforts and those involved in potentially dangerous and violent groups, the memo warns law enforcement officers "You are the enemy" of those being described.