According to the Associated Press, the Bureau of Land Management will assess the damage caused in Utah by this weekend’s ATV protesters and seek to charge nearly fifty people who took part in the event. And whereas the protesters refuse to recognize the federal government’s lawful responsibility to protect Recapture Canyon, grassroots wilderness and conservation groups are encouraging the BLM to follow through with criminal sanctions.
Great Old Broads for Wilderness, a Colorado-based group that opposed the ride and believes the trail should remain off limits to preserve the ecology and artifacts, called on federal prosecutors to send an important message and level charges against the protesters.
“It’s not appropriate to break the law, do an illegal ride and go into the canyons with weapons,” executive director Shelley Silbert said. “That’s very different than a non-violent, civil disobedience protest.”
So-called ‘patriot militia’ and sovereign citizen movements are characterized by a rejection of nonviolence as well as the outcomes of the Civil Rights era. Whereas nonviolent activists know that they will be arrested, and accept the consequences of their lawbreaking in advance, we doubt any of Saturday’s riders will meekly submit to justice that they already consider illegitimate. Instead, every arrest or warrant will produce further indignant outrage at ‘federal overreach,’ the term that armed ATV riders seem to use most often as excuse for their trampling of an important Native American heritage site.