In the community

Texas militia group scraps Vale meeting plans

A Christian-based national citizen group that aims to form “lawful” militias and grand juries in every county in the country will no longer be holding a seminar in Vale as planned. 

Tactical Civics, a Texas group, planned to meet at Chavelita’s Taqueria next month for those interested in a “lawful, peaceful, and permanent solution” in holding elected officials accountable who they believe violate the U.S. Constitution and are criminals. 

News of the group’s intentions for the Vale meeting sparked a backlash, according to Edgar Esquivel, owner of Chavelita’s. He said the restaurant fielded concerned phone calls and visits from customers over the group’s meeting plans.

Esquivel, who said he did not know about the group’s politics and goals of forming a county militia, said he called Tanya Tackitt and Kathy Nelson, the two Tactical Civics Malheur County coordinators, and told them he was not comfortable with the furor the group’s presence brought to his business.

He said Tackitt and Nelson understood and did not want the group’s meeting to impact the restaurant. The county coordinators told him they would find another venue for the seminar, according to Esquivel. 

Tackitt and Nelson did not immediately respond to an email asking if the group has rescheduled the Malheur County meeting. 

Esquivel said it’s common for groups to hold lunch or dinner meetings at his restaurant. Nonetheless, he said he avoids mixing business and politics. 

“The restaurant business is a place for food,” he said. “Not politics.” 

On its website, Tactical Civics describes itself as a private Christian organization that declares that the U.S. is under “Communist occupation” by politicians in Washington, D.C. The group said the country is a “republic of sovereign states” founded on Christian principles. 

Christopher Plummer, a longtime Malheur County resident, said on social media that groups such as Tactical Civics that use terms such as “grand jury” intend to carry out crowd justice via a “militia.” 

“I oppose the idea of religious grand juries followed up by militias,” Plummer said in a direct Facebook message. 

Labeling themselves as grand juries and “lawful militias” helps them skirt federal anti-lynch mob legislation passed last year, according to Plummer.

Emil Wirth, a Vale resident, wrote in a Feb. 21 letter to the Enterprise that he worked for Department of Defense agencies for more than 25 years. Any large organization is bound to have its “bad actors,” Wirth wrote.

“One’s disagreement with a public official does not make him or her a criminal,” he wrote. 

Wirth also noted that the group’s belief that the U.S. is a Christian-based nation is false. “Our Constitution does not specify a religious belief,” he pointed out. 

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