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America's own 'Kashmir problem': The Republic of Texas! - The Times of India

Mark Potok ()
28 February 1997

Title : America's own 'Kashmir problem': The Republic of Texas!
Author : Mark Potok
Publication : The Times of India
Date : February 28, 1997

Fort Davis, Texas: High in the canyons of the remote Davis
Mountains in west Texas, an armed man claiming Texas is an
independent nation is terrorising neighbours and threatening
federal marshals who want to serve him with a contempt of court

Richard "Rick" McLaren says he has a small army of soldiers and
says militia sympathisers in 22 states are ready to defend him.

Frightened neighbours have started carrying weapons to church. The
Postal Service has halted mail delivery in the area. And law
enforcement agents - wary of another Waco, where 80 people died in
a 1993 standoff with federal agents - have declined to take
immediate action. They say they'll move when they think it's safe.

"It'll get served," says Jack Dean, US marshal for the Western
District of Texas. "It may not be today or tomorrow, but it will

McLaren also is charged with burglary, accused of helping a friend
break into a home in a property dispute.

McLaren, 43, is a promoter of citizens' militias and "common-law"
courts, which claim to be citizens' courts that have greater
authority than established courts. McLaren says Texas is a
"captive nation" that was annexed illegally by the United States in
1845, after ten years as independent country. His theories have
drawn hundreds of supporters around the state and others to join
the "Republic of Texas," of which McLaren is the "chief

Republic officials have claimed the federal government owes them
$93 trillion in "war reparations." Members have tried to pass at
least $3 million in bogus Republic cheques to individuals and state
officials. They have "ordered" Texas Governor George W. Bush to
vacate his Austin office, say they now own the state Capitol, and
warn they'll seize officials' homes as "war prizes."

Many officials say they've been threatened by Republic backers.
Tim Hodges, clerk of Denton County north of Dallas, took his family
into hiding after receiving a threatening letter. The FBI, after
conferring with state officials, is investigating possible threats
and fraud by Republic members.

But what has been more serious is what state Attorney General Dan
Morales has called the Republic's "paper terrorism," hundreds of
fake members have filed liens against their enemies, including
judges, law officers and even Pope John Paul II.

The liens filed in local courthouses can legally tie up personal
property, such as homes. By recording a debt against a property,
liens' prevent a homeowner from selling before spending thousands
of dollars on legal fees to clear the title.

Morales has advised country clerks around the state to reject liens
they suspect could be fake. Last month, a state representative
filed a bill to stiffen penalties for filing bogus liens. Bush has
asked legislators to pass it quickly. A federal judge says
McLaren's liens have cost Texans at least $450,000.

"If people want to say Texas is a part of Mars, that's fine," says
Ward Tisdale, spokesman for Morales. "But once they started
violating the law with bogus liens, we took action." Morales is
suing McLaren and 27 other past and present Republic officials to
stop the liens. Contempt fines started at $10,000 on November 4
and have doubled every day since.

The federal citation McLaren is resisting stems from a racketeering
lawsuit brought against him by a Houston property title company.
McLaren fought the company for years over ownership of land near
his Fort Davis home. In the process, he filed bogus liens against
the firm's other properties.

A judge ordered McLaren to stop filing the false liens. He was
jailed for 35 days this spring when he refused to do so. 'Re judge
freed him after he agreed to quit. He was found in contempt when
he failed to show up for a court hearing.

Seventeen miles from Fort Davis, McLaren is holed up in a former
firehouse he calls his "embassy." Sitting amid squawking
walkie-talkies and blinking police scanners, he talks in rapid fire
sentences spiced with Latin and legal phrases.

In between trips to the copying machine, he discusses his belief in
UFOs. He chats easily about the ways he says business cartels have
suppressed a cure for AIDS and cancer healing drugs.

Then McLaren turns defiant.

"Are they prepared to face the consequences to their lives and
families of following a lunatic judge's orders?" he asks, referring
to the marshals. "I imagine that if they hit us, by the time the
retaliations stopped, there wouldn't be a federal judge left in

Joe Rowe, president of the property owners' association, says the
16 or so McLaren supporters who have moved to the area frighten the
80 families that live there. Rowe, like others, now carries a gun.
"If (marshals) come after him, there will definitely he a gun
battle," says his wife, "Rick McLaren has said that, and I believe

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