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Sheriff Warns of Extremists

The Spokane county sheriff has been making public presentations about his concerns with extremist groups. And he isn’t pulling any punches when it comes to one state lawmaker he blames for spreading misinformation.

Sheriff Ozzie Knezovitch has been going out public speaking events to alert people to threats facing law enforcement, and even the country.

Knezovitch has come under fire for militarization of his department, after an armored vehicle was set up for public display. The controversy erupted when a sheriff’s deputy defended the need for the vehicle because of increased violence against police, and specifically a threat posed by “constitutionalists”.

“He wasn’t talking about you and I , the American people that love the constitution, he talking about people that do bad things, that hate their government enough to take up arms and kill people”, says Knezovitch.

The Sheriff says the controversy over that statement has led to death threats to members of his department.

Knezovitch cites a litany of extremist actions that have permeated our region for decades, actions by the group known as the Order that included bombings and bank robberies, as well as the presence of racist groups, like Aryan Nations in North Idaho, and the attempted bombing of the martin Luther King day parade in Spokane.

And he cites the mood in the country displayed by some Tea Party groups, or the actions at the Bundy branch in Nevada, where armed protesters held Federal officials at bay. To Knezovitch, Cliven Bundy is a criminal who owes a millions dollars for failure to pay grazing fees.

And that has also prompted the sheriff to blast Republican state representative Matt Shea.

Knezovitch says Shea has perpetrated rumors of holding citizens in FEMA camps against their will, and of tiny drones that will attach to a person’s body to take DNA samples. He says Shea was at the Bundy ranch for the armed showdown, as well as other events, where the media was not allowed in:

“What kind of representative has to eliminate the media in order for them to talk? That’s not open government. That is in my opinion chilling. What is my representative saying down in these places?”

Sheriff Knezovitch , who says he himself is a member of the Republican party, says the extremists are dividing party members.

The Sheriff says he realizes such talk has made him a target for the so called Liberty groups. But he says their narrow interpretation of the Constitution is the real issue, and their tendency to interpret the current political situation as one that needs to be changed by force:

“We don’t like the direction of the country, we can change it. They gave us a peaceful way to do that. If you want to be a fringe group, and don’t agree with the majority, well then, be treated like the traitors you are”

We tried to reach Representative Matt Shea to comment on this story, but our calls were not returned.

The Sheriff also issued a challenge to Shea, saying he would be willing to discuss any issues in a public forum.

You can hear Sheriff Ozzie Knezovitchs presentation online on Youtube, it is called the Threats we face versus the myth of Police Militarization.

Steve was part of the Spokane Public Radio family for many years before he came on air in 1999. His wife, Laurie, produced Radio Ethiopia in the late 1980s through the '90s, and Steve used to “lurk in the shadowy world” of Weekend SPR. Steve has done various on air shifts at the station, including nearly 15 years as the local Morning Edition host. Currently, he is the voice of local weather and news during All Things Considerd, writing, editing, producing and/or delivering newscasts and features for both KPBX and KSFC. Aside from SPR, Steve ,who lives in the country, enjoys gardening, chickens, playing and listening to music, astronomy, photography, sports cars and camping.