If there was ever any doubt that right wing activism in the United State is fragile, one simply need to read the controversy surrounding “Shut Down All Ports.” A simple idea put forward by a self-proclaimed disabled “house wife” from California and a shunned militia member from Texas, SDAP seemed to be doomed from the beginning. While shutting down ports is not a new concept, SDAP took the brunt of betrayals, backtracking, and pot-shots from the media as though it was some farfetched notion worthy of scorn rather than review. Through all of it, the founders remain staunchly dedicated to their cause, and in two days we will know what their perseverance will yield.
The history of SDAP begins with militia organizer, Barbie Rogers. Rogers is the owner and operator of the “Patriots’ Information Hotline” a communication hub for militia heading to the southern border. Rogers teamed up with Rob Chupp, a small business owner and former “Camp Lonestar” militia member from Indiana. It is not clear why Chupp and Rogers started SDAP, other than to say it was probably due to Rogers’ success at organizing the initial militia response to the southern border.
SDAP’s web page was submitted to Go Daddy on or about 8/8/14 and on 8/11/14, Rogers created the Face Book page. The first several members of the Face Book group comprised militia members from Arizona’s largest groups, Arizona Praetorian Guard and Arizona Border Recon. Stasyi Barth was one of the pages’ administrators and quickly became the groups’ co-leader. Barth would go on to administrate the group’s official web page and grant media interviews, often with Chupp.
By 9/11/14, several media outlets were reporting on the group with many claiming law enforcement were receiving briefs on the group and their intent. Barth and Chupp were very open about their intent to clog every port of entry from California to Texas. The methods were simple; drive the largest vehicles you can onto the roadway near the port, park them, and walk away. Barth listed several demands on the web site including the release of jailed Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooresi, a cessation of benefits provided to illegal aliens, a plan to completely seal the southern border, and many other common demands by anti-illegal immigration groups. In short, SDAP was nothing spectacular and probably would have come and gone without notice if it had not been for serious setbacks.
The first was the announcement by the Southern Poverty Law Center that SDAP was anti-government. It is understandable that with so many members of SDAP originating from large militia groups, SLPC would label them anti-government, however the term is toxic enough to render anything to which it is attached dead on arrival. The second crisis to hit SDAP was their ironic public denouncement of militia. Barth took great pains to clarify that SDAP was not part of the growing militia movement. In doing so, she alienated much of her base and lost credibility with the public especially when Chupp and Rogers were very public members and supporters of militia. The third crisis to hit SDAP was the breakup between “Camp Lonestar” and the duo of Chupp and Rogers. “Camp Lonestar” was the largest militia operating post in Texas and enjoyed direct support from Chupp and Rogers. Details are unclear but “Camp Lonestar’s” de facto commander, KC Massey, denounced Chupp and Rogers and even went so far as to accuse both of them of theft. The final blow to SDAP came on 9/18/14 when Andrew Tahmooresi’s mother requested they no longer fight for her son. Barth was forced to remove his name from her site, and rework their mission.
When September 20th arrives, Barth, Chupp, and Rogers will see the fruits of their labor. It is very likely they will still see supporters arrive at various ports of entry, however it is unlikely they will see the turnout they expected. Shutting down ports of any type requires detailed coordination, a solid plan, and dozens of willing people. Occupy Wall Street partially succeeded in their mass port closures in 2011 because they had a very willing activists and they capitalized off the pro-labor movement. SDAP is truly alone in the right wing activist world and does not have the support of the general public or the militia. In the end, if the group is unable to accomplish their mission it will be due to their own missteps.