Sounds like someone is angry because he was told his presence was not wanted.


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Militia leader Casey Nethercott believes the border needs to be controlled; but he's against the upcoming Minuteman Project.

Sunday, March 20, 2005 1:19 AM MST

DOUGLAS - The leader of an Arizona militia group says he is drawing the line when it comes to a planned monthlong operation by a Californian to bring in hundreds of volunteers to Cochise County to secure the border.

Casey Nethercott said the Minuteman Project led by Jim Gilchrist has been infiltrated by skinhead, neo-Nazi, white supremacists and if any of them trespass on Arizona Guard property he and his soldiers will react and take them into custody.

However, Chris Simcox, one of the co-organizer of the Minuteman Project, said it sounds like Nethercott is missing the media spotlight and has chosen to attack the volunteer group for some media play.

"He's out of prison, he's back in the saddle and he's looking for a way to get some publicity," Simcox said.

Gilchrist said he hasn't stopped laughing about Nethercott's comments that the project is being infiltrated by white supremacists.

"It's people like Nethercott we don't want," Gilchrist said, adding the Arizona Guard leader did not apply.

Nethercott isn't shy about sharing his views on the Minuteman Project.

"James Gilchrist is swinging the door open for every wacko, and wackos are the bad percentage of white supremacists, white power," Nethercott said. "They're racists he cannot control."

Sitting in an office on about a 100-acre ranch, the southern boundary of which is 30 feet from the border, the 37-year-old militia leader said that while he supports Tombstone newspaper owner and Civil Homeland Defense founder Simcox, he believes Simcox has made a bad deal with Gilchrist.

Both Minuteman Project leaders have lost control of the people who are volunteering, Nethercott said.

White supremacists bother him.

"If I see Nazi armbands and skinheads and neo-Nazis 'sieg heiling' and marching down Puzzi Ranch Road, I'll make one call to the sheriff's department," Nethercott said.

Then he said he would arrest them for trespassing on private property because half of the road is ranch land.

And Nethercott doesn't hide the possibility he will counter armed volunteers of the Minuteman Project with his own "special forces trained soldiers."

"If I catch 10 skinheads with guns walking on my property, honestly they will probably be so afraid of what they will see they will probably surrender on the spot. They have no integrity. They're not soldiers. They're cowards," he said.

Unlike those who will be part of the Minuteman Project, Nethercott said his militia group is well-regulated, as required by the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Saying he helps train his militia members to strict standards, Nethercott comes off as a man with a lot of military background.

However, according to records at the Cochise County Superior Court filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center, his military experience is slightly more than a month.

According to part of a 2004 filing by Kelley McNair-Bruner of the Montgomery, Ala., based organization, Nethercott enlisted in the Army on March 29, 1986 and was discharged May 1, 1986, for failing to meet training standards.

Simcox said nearly 900 volunteers are coming to Cochise County to support the project and all have been investigated and vetted. As of Tuesday, 956 have signed up.

Countering Nethercott's comments that the project has been infiltrated by white supremacists, Simcox said being part of the planned operation is the last place such people would want to be seen.

While the project organizers have no control over people who may want to show up on their own, those who have been cleared will wear special identification cards showing they are authorized members of the Minuteman Project, Simcox said.

The object of the event is not to attack Mexico, but to bring additional pressure on President George W. Bush and members of Congress for the need to control the border.

As for Nethercott, Simcox said, "He's a non-issue."

Gilchrist said Nethercott's view about the Minuteman Project being a haven for racists is out of touch based on the different people who have signed up.

While most of them are of white European stock, nearly 8 percent are minorities. When women are added to the mix, 40 percent of the volunteers fall into the minority category, Gilchrist said.

So far, 31 Native Americans, 17 Mexican-American, three blacks, three Cuban-Americans and two Asians have volunteered, Gilchrist said. Ten are disabled, and 15 are legal immigrants from six nations.

Released after spending "six months, two days and six hours" in federal custody, Nethercott said a Tucson federal jury found him not guilty on three counts of threatening to intimidate and murder federal agents of the U.S. Border Patrol.

It took the jury six hours and 52 minutes to come to the decision, he added.

To Simcox, Nethercott is attempting to rebuild his militia after the break between what once was Ranch Rescue.

Nethercott doesn't shy away from the fact he and Terre Jack Foote and about a dozen other Ranch Rescue people broke off their relationship.

Ranch Rescue supporters were kicked out, he said.

Nethercott still has a Ranch Rescue poster in his office that occasionally is used as a dart board.

During the more than hourlong interview, he said he is looking at purchasing two helicopters. The plan is to purchase a pair of kit helicopters from RotorWay, a Chandler aviation business. Each one costs about $68,000.

He also has "up armored" a couple of pickup trucks and a supporter is trying to obtain three M-60 machine guns.

According to a spokesman for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, private citizens can have fully automatic weapons as long as they comply with the procedures in the National Firearms Act that requires ATF&E to approve purchases.

Nethercott said he spoke with the Cochise County Sheriff's Department about his Minuteman Project concerns.

Sheriff Field Command Rodney Rothrock and Chief Deputy Lance Crosthwait said they met with Nethercott based on his call to them.

Crosthwait said Nethercott explained his views but was advised by him and Rothrock not to do anything, especially in light of Nethercott attempting to have his civil rights restored.

Once his rights are restored, Nethercott said he intends to go to a gun store and buy a weapon. He currently cannot have a gun.

And, once his rights are restored, Nethercott said he intends to run for Cochise County sheriff.

Rothrock and Crosthwait said at no time did they tell Nethercott they supported him and his activities.

Rothrock said he has three concerns about the upcoming April event in which a number of groups have expressed interest either in participating with the Minuteman Project or being against it.

First, there is an unknown about the quality and quantity of the Minuteman Project volunteers, he said. Second, there is not knowing what counterprotesters do. Third, there is what will the reaction south of the border be, the field commander said.

Nethercott said he is taking the Sheriff's Department's advice to not become involved.

"The sheriff asked me to shut down and not take an aggressive approach. I've agreed, but I'll put my place on red alert," he said.

None of his people will leave unless something happens.

Nethercott believes a riot may take place in Douglas because the Minuteman Project is planning two days of protest in the border community.

The only way he and his militia will show up is if something turns violent and it is armed, Nethercott said.

"They can spit on cops, they can burn the American flag, they can defecate on the flag, which I personal would take offense to. That's their first amendment rights, but until they get violent or pick up a weapon, I'm stuck at this place and I can't leave," Nethercott said.

Now, don't think he is just being a nice guy, he said.

"I'm as mean as a rattlesnake but I'm not wrong, I'm righteous in what I do," Nethercott said.

Like many, he said the problem has been caused by federal policies in not controlling the border.

"I said one time the government gets an A for effort and an F for actuality," he said.

In his view, the only way to truly control the border is to put up a wall along the international boundary. The wall should include prison-like towers with armed people in them, Nethercott said.

And part of the program means every illegal immigrant has to be deported, he said.

While he would like to see Simcox and Gilchrist salvage their project, Nethercott said he doesn't think it will happen.

So his bottom-line advice to the project volunteers is simple: "Don't come down here."

HERALD/REVIEW senior reporter Bill Hess can be reached at 515-4615 or by e-mail at