On January 26, 1968, the FBI arrests seven members of the Minutemen, a right-wing paramilitary organization, for conspiracy in their plans to blow up the Redmond City Hall and power stations, and to rob four banks. Agents seize 10 Molotov cocktail firebombs, nine sticks of dynamite, blasting caps, face masks, and three pistols. A total of nine men, including national Minutemen leader Robert Bolivar DePugh, will be convicted in the scheme, which they claim is "an organizational rehearsal" ("7 Are Convicted ...") for the time when, in their view, Communists would take control of the United States.
Veterinary pharmaceutical manufacturer and businessman Robert Bolivar DePugh of Norborne, Missouri, organized the Minutemen in 1960 in response to his fear that Communists would take over the United States. He named and patterned the group after the colonial American militia. A year later he claimed a membership of 25,000, employed as members of "combat teams," "intelligence or espionage work," and in "communications, weapons, or medical" ("Minutemen, Upset ..."). News reports set national membership at a few thousand.
DePugh published a monthly magazine, On Target. In 1966, he organized the Minutemen as the Patriotic Party to run local and Congressional candidates in the 1968 election. Later in 1966 and in 1967, he was convicted of federal firearms violations and conspiracy, but was released on bond pending an appeal.
Plans to Bomb
With the assistance of Henry Edward Warren, the FBI kept the group under visual and electronic surveillance until January 26, 1968, when the conspirators were arrested in Lake City and in Bellevue as they were preparing their assault. Seized at the time were guns, dynamite, masks, gasoline bombs, rubber gloves, maps with escape routes marked, floor plans of targeted banks in Redmond, and even brass knuckles.
The group had planned to disable police response by bombing the Redmond Police Department and a power station in Redmond. Tipped off by the FBI as to the exact date of the attack, city officials quietly evacuated City Hall except for a skeleton staff in the police offices.
A Federal grand jury at Seattle charged the following men with conspiracy:
- Kelley E. Delano, 24
- Duane I. Carlson, 35
- Milton J. Dix, 34
- Jerome Riemart, 43
- Mervin Henderson Sr., 57
- Joseph Hourie, 20
- Ervin J. White, 41
The grand jury also charged DePugh and his "executive assistant" ("Minuteman Chief ..."), Walter Patrick Payson, with conspiracy in the same case, but both DePugh and Payson went into hiding. The original seven went to trial in Spokane because excessive publicity in the Seattle area tainted the jury pool there.
Warren testified against the defendants and described the plot to net between $87,000 and $100,000. Each participant would receive $1,000 plus $100 a month while in hiding. "However it was later decided that we would use Molotov cocktails to start two diversionary fires. We also planned to acquire either chloroform or ether to put everyone in the police station and banks to sleep" ("7 Are Convicted ..."). Ervin White testified that what Warren said was true, but "That the entire scheme was merely an organization rehearsal" ("7 Are Convicted ..."). On June 22, 1968, the jury found all seven defendants guilty.
DePugh and Payson remained at large until they were arrested near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, on July 13, 1969. DePugh was sentenced to a total of more than 11 years in prison and was paroled less than four years later.