The group that tried to take over the grand jury and town of Madisonville, Tenn., earlier this year received a prominent place in Time magazine’s cover story this week, “Locked and loaded: The Secret World of Extreme Militias.”
“A small but growing number of these extremist groups ... are subjects of active criminal investigations,” the Time article states. “They include militias and other promoters of armed confrontation with government, among them ‘common-law jurors,’ who try to make their own arrests and convene their own trials, and ‘sovereign citizens,’ who respond with lethal force to routine encounters with the law,” states the article.
The examples used to make the point were U.S. Navy veteran Walter Fitzpatrick, of Sweetwater, Tenn., and self-proclaimed militia member Darren Huff, of Dalton, Ga.
Fitzpatrick thrust his way into the grand jury room of the Monroe County Courthouse on April 2 and tried to make a citizen’s arrest of the grand jury foreman on the grounds that he had refused to indict President Barack Obama for treason. Fitzpatrick was arrested.
In May, Darren Huff, of Dalton, Ga., also was arrested after traveling to Madisonville with other armed men to “take over the Monroe County Courthouse.” His aim was to free Fitzpatrick and make citizens’ arrests of the court officials who had charged and were prosecuting Fitzpatrick, according to Huff’s indictment and his own account in an interview posted online.
Both men have been indicted by the Monroe County Grand Jury. Fitzpatrick is charged with riot, disrupting a meeting or procession, retaliation of past action and civil rights intimidation.
Huff is charged with riot, disrupting a meeting and retaliation for a past action.
Both face trials in December.
Huff also was indicted in July on federal charges of carrying firearms across the state lines with the intent to incite a riot.
On Tuesday, Fitzpatrick said the Time article portrayed him and Huff falsely.
“Barton Gellman’s mendacity has become a DNA marker characteristic of the work being printed in Time magazine,” Fitzpatrick said. “I’ve never spoken to Gellman. I’ve never met Gellman.”
Time Magazine spokesman Daniel Kile said “Time fully stands behind its story and Barton Gellman’s reporting.”
Fitzpatrick said he is not and has never been a member of a group known as American Grand Jury, mentioned in the Time article, but is a member of the newly formed Patriots Union.
The Patriots Union website says the group is “designed to confront all of the other corrupt ‘unions’ — corrupted lawyers and anti-American international socialists who have collectively destroyed the freest most productive society on earth. ... The U.S. Patriots Union is for American citizens who are fed up with the destruction of the American Dream and are ready to do something real about it.”
Monroe County prosecutor Jim Stutts did not return calls seeking comment.
Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...