L. Neil Smith's

Number 19, December 1, 1996

The Tender Mercies of Janet Napolitano


Would You Like Your Viper Rare or Well-Done?

By Fran Van Cleave

Special to the Libertarian Enterprise

         Here in Phoenix, we held a "Save The Vipers" rally last Sunday, November 17. We had a number of great speakers -- Vin Suprynowicz, Rick Tompkins, Ernie Hancock, Mike Dugger, Dick Sherrow, Mike Johnson -- and though we only got a crowd of about a hundred and fifty, we got to talk about important issues, and we got news coverage, too.
         Discouragingly, we made scarcely a minute's worth of footage on the news that night, on account of the riot that broke out in Joe Arpaio's tent city jail. Apparently it all started when a guard harrassed a prisoner who was entering a J-John. In one of those strange coincidences you sometimes hear about, the riot began at 2 P.M., the time our rally was scheduled to begin, and ended at 5 P.M., the time our rally was scheduled to end.
         I for one would never suggest that the "Toughest Sheriff in America," who mysteriously disappeared for three days when the Vipers were brought into his jail, would have anything to do with orchestrating such an event.
         I will suggest that one of the reasons the Vipers considered making a plea was that if they went to court, they would have to be housed in his jail again rather than in Florence, and they don't want to go back there.
         Can it be so bad that they would surrender their day in court, their big chance to tell everyone what happened? Well, no. But they're weren't going to get a chance to tell anyone their side of the story in court, especially if it meant citing anything from the Constitution. Judge Carroll said he wouldn't allow it.
         I've been told that our tiny rally so angered the Feds, the very next day they increased the sentences by a year. What-ever the reason, they did increase the sentences in the counteroffer. Dean Pleasant told me that Janet Napolitano became so angry when Walter Sanville said he wasn't happy about the plea agreement, Sanville became the only one for whom she would not recommend the low end of the sentencing range (in Sanville's case, it would have been 37 months). Dean also told me that the Vipers must all plead, or none can plead, and that all must sign the government's "statement of fact."
         He does not know if they will be allowed to read this statement before or after they sign it.
         Dean wanted to fight this, but because of provisions in the '94 Crime Bill, he would face a mandatory 15 years just for the unlicensed Tommy gun -- a charge which until now meant only 2 years, on average, for failure to pay a $200 tax. The plea will give him "only" 57 to 71 months, of which he must serve 85%.
         In order to come to Phoenix to discuss the plea agreement, Dean has to be transported with his hands cuffed tightly around a block. His right wrist, broken earlier this year and now incompletely healed, aches for days afterward. Yet he is in preventive detention only, and the guards have had absolutely no trouble with him or any of the other Vipers in the months that they've been there.
         What's going on here? Why is our big, powerful government so frightened of the Gang That Couldn't Bomb Straight?
         Or is it a fully-informed jury they're really afraid of?

Fran Van Cleave is a gun owner, a fledgling science fiction writer, and Libertarian activist. She believes the militia phenomenon to be a mirror image of the '60s hippies, and just as opaque to the mainstream media.

Get your Viperwear(TM) T-shirt: "The Viper Militia as seen by...." Hilarious, sharp 4-color design. Postage-paid with donation of $18 or more to SAFE (memo: Dean Pleasant Viper Defense Fund), 10412 N. 8th Ave. #3, Phoenix, AZ 85021. State shirt size(s) and number of each. Preview the design by visiting http://www.nguworld.com/viper.

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