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“Sovereign Citizen” Accused of Setting Huge Southern California Wildfire

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Damon Pashilk’s Face Book Page.

COMMENT: The sus­pect accused of set­ting the Holy Fire–the iron­i­cal­ly named For­rest Gor­don Clark–appears to have been a “sov­er­eign cit­i­zen [5] from Kansas.

If the infor­ma­tion in the arti­cle below is accu­rate, it adds to the inven­to­ry of appar­ent male­fac­tors who are influ­enced and/or asso­ci­at­ed with right-wing/­fas­cist caus­es.

The may­hem pro­duced with mass shoot­ings has been exe­cut­ed to a con­sid­er­able extent by alleged per­pe­tra­tors with appar­ent links to var­i­ous forms of fas­cist ide­ol­o­gy:

  1. Patrick Edward Pur­dy [6] was in touch with Aryan Nations and Uni­fi­ca­tion ele­ments.
  2. As dis­cussed in FTR #1011 [7], Stephen Pad­dock was also [8], appar­ent­ly, a “Sov­er­eign Cit­i­zen.” [5]
  3. As dis­cussed in FTR #1003 [9], both Niko­las Cruz (the accused Park­land High School shoot­er) and the Columbine High School shoot­ers were influ­enced by online Nazi cul­ture and ide­ol­o­gy.
  4. Dim­itrios Pagourtzis–the accused San­ta Fe school shoter–was also influ­enced by online fas­cist cul­ture and ide­ol­o­gy, as high­light­ed in FTR #1011 [10].
  5. Jar­rod Ramos–the accused shoot­er of jour­nal­ists at an Annapo­lis (MD) news­pa­per, was a fol­low­er of the neo-Con­fed­er­ate move­ment, as dis­cussed in FTR #1016 [11].
  6. Damon Pashilk, accused of set­ting the 2016 Clay­ton Fire [12] in North­ern Cal­i­for­nia was also appar­ent­ly dri­ven by Nazi ide­ol­o­gy.

[13]We have also not­ed that “wild­fire ter­ror­ism” is among the tac­ti­cal method­olo­gies [14] in ter­ror­ist arse­nals. The pos­si­ble use of wild­fires by the Axis pow­ers in World War II [15] gave rise to the icon­ic fig­ure of Smokey the Bear [16].

“Man Accused of Ignit­ing CA Wild­fire Is Sov­er­eign cit­i­zen with Pos­si­ble KS Con­nec­tion” by Judy L. Thomas; Kansas City Star; 08/13/2018 [17]

The man accused of set­ting the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia fire last week [18] that has scorched thou­sands of acres of nation­al for­est is a sov­er­eign cit­i­zen who appears to have a Kansas con­nec­tion. For­rest Gor­don Clark has described him­self on social media as an “inter­im con­gress­man for Repub­lic for Kansas” and has been involved in an orga­ni­za­tion that believes the U.S. gov­ern­ment is not legit­i­mate, accord­ing to J.J. Mac­Nab, an expert on anti-gov­ern­ment extrem­ists.

Clark, 51, was arrest­ed Aug. 7 and is charged [19] with aggra­vat­ed arson, arson of inhab­it­ed prop­er­ty, arson of for­est, mak­ing crim­i­nal threats and resist­ing arrest. He is being held on $1 mil­lion bond and faces a life sen­tence if con­vict­ed.

The blaze, called Holy Fire, start­ed Aug. 6 in Holy Jim Canyon. It has burned more than 22,000 acres of Cleve­land Nation­al For­est and forced tens of thou­sands of res­i­dents to flee their homes, mak­ing it one of the most destruc­tive wild­fires of 2018. As of Sun­day night, the fire was about 52 per­cent con­tained.

The area’s vol­un­teer fire chief said that the week before the fire start­ed, Clark had sent him text mes­sages [20] threat­en­ing to start a fire and that Clark had run scream­ing through the area. He’d also been involved in a long­stand­ing feud with a neigh­bor and oth­er cab­in own­ers in the area, the fire chief said.

Mac­Nab exam­ined eight years of Clark’s social media posts and deter­mined he’d been pro­mot­ing sov­er­eign cit­i­zen argu­ments since at least 2010.



For­rest Gor­don Clark

Sov­er­eign cit­i­zens say the gov­ern­ment is cor­rupt [22] and out of con­trol, so they do not rec­og­nize local, state or fed­er­al author­i­ty or tax sys­tems. Not all are vio­lent, but in recent years the FBI and oth­er gov­ern­ment agen­cies have come to con­sid­er them a top domes­tic ter­ror­ism threat.

Mac­Nab, a fel­low with the Pro­gram on Extrem­ism at George Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty [23], said that in 2010, Clark was active in the Restore Amer­i­ca Plan, which she said lat­er became the Repub­lic for the unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca [24] (RuSA). The RuSA, she said, is an alter­na­tive-gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion that believes the real U.S. gov­ern­ment ceased to exist in 1871 and that an “imposter” or “de fac­to” gov­ern­ment has been in pow­er ever since.

To rem­e­dy this sit­u­a­tion, Mac­Nab said, RuSA cre­at­ed a sub­sti­tute gov­ern­ment and is wait­ing until the cur­rent gov­ern­ment col­laps­es so it can step in and take con­trol.

Clark was such an enthu­si­as­tic sup­port­er of the RuSA, Mac­Nab said, that in 2010 he trav­eled to the first real gath­er­ing of the group in Col­orado. His Face­book page con­tains a pho­to of a grin­ning Clark wear­ing a shirt with a large sun­flower on it and a nametag that says, “For­rest Clark Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kansas.”

In a notice dat­ed Sept. 16, 2011, and post­ed on his Face­book page, Clark says “I Am A Sov­er­eign Man” and calls him­self a “Kansas free state — Inter­im Rep­re­sen­ta­tive” and “DeJure grand Juror in ser­vice for the Lord, you, our repub­lic, our nation.”

In anoth­er post, he describes him­self as “a gen­er­al contractor/builder, a med­ical mis­sion­ary, and a inter­im con­gress­man for Repub­lic for Kansas, try­ing to save Amer­i­ca for those who are wor­thy & take the time to learn of free­dom. Free­dom is not free.”

It’s unclear why Clark was rep­re­sent­ing Kansas in the alter­na­tive-gov­ern­ment orga­ni­za­tion. Online search­es show he has lived in Ohio and Cal­i­for­nia.

His Face­book posts include push­ing such con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries as 9/11 was an inside job and insist­ing the FBI has mur­dered wit­ness­es in the 2017 Las Vegas sniper shoot­ing that killed 58. The site also con­tains posts about cannabis, reli­gion and numer­ous close-up pho­tos of what he says is skin can­cer on his face and leg. It also sug­gests that he was involved in a dis­pute with a neigh­bor who he says was cook­ing meth.

“Based on his social media pages,” Mac­Nab said in a Twit­ter post, “Clark is a sov­er­eign cit­i­zen who believes in just about every kooky con­spir­a­cy out there, includ­ing QAnon, Piz­za­gate, Jade Helm 15, flat earth the­o­ries, NESARA, Jesuit con­ser­van­cies, shape-shift­ing lizard over­lords. You name it, he believes it.”

Clark appears to have a his­to­ry of finan­cial and per­son­al trou­bles, accord­ing to the Palm Springs Desert Sun [25]. In addi­tion to mul­ti­ple cred­it card col­lec­tion cas­es, he was a defen­dant in a civ­il breach of con­tract case, accused of defraud­ing an employ­er of about $85,000. The law­suit claimed that Clark and his co-work­ers were paid for land­scap­ing work that his com­pa­ny nev­er com­plet­ed, the Desert Sun said.