A planned rally by the American Patriot Council, apparently planned for the same time and location of the first day of early voting in the Village of Montgomery, has been moved to a new location.
The rally, originally set for noon on Saturday at Veteran’s Park in the Village of Montgomery, will now be held in Benedict Park on Route 17K. Some residents had expressed concern that a rally held outside the Montgomery Senior Center - site of early voting - was intended to intimidate voters. The national APC organization has planned similar rallies throughout the country.
On its website, The American Patriot Council described itself as a movement dedicated to “restore and sustain a constitutional government in the United States. The APC had advocated for the arrest of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer -- later the target of a kidnapping attempt -- and other governors after they shut down their states to protect against the spread of COVID-19. In recent months, it has held rallies “to encourage armed patriots to unite as a well regulated militia to preserve life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
The scheduled rally, recently approved by the Montgomery Village Board, drew criticism from a number of area circles, including the Valley Central Parents for Social Justice, which called upon Montgomery Mayor Steven Brescia to cancel or at least re-locate the event.
“The Valley Central Parents For Social Justice has learned of a planned even by the American Patriotic Council on Saturday October 24th, 2020 at the Village of Montgomery Veteran’s Memorial Park pavilion,” wrote Lisa Ruiz on the group’s Facebook site. “ This event will be happening on the first day of early voting in NYS. The location of the pavilion is directly adjacent to an early voting polling station. There have been calls on multiple social media platforms for attendees to come armed. Members of this national group are accused in the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor, Gretchen Whitmer, and are also responsible for armed occupations of various state capitol buildings. This creates a situation of voter intimidation and suppression. This also puts the Village of Montgomery Police and Town of Montgomery Police in a difficult position to try and prevent another Pleasant Valley incident where multiple civilians-including minors, were injured.
“The Town of Montgomery leadership, and Town of Montgomery Police, Village of Montgomery Police, and leadership Village were all involved with giving permission to the organizer, Jessie Weiner, knowing that the event would happen on the first day of early voting. The plain truth is no groups or individuals should have been granted permission to have any event, of any nature, during the early voting period, or on November 3rd. . The event is being billed as a “patriotic” event, but there is no higher form of patriotism than voting, and nothing should have been scheduled that created even the possibility of deterring, disturbing, or interfering in any way, with ANY citizen’s constitutional right to cast their vote-regardless of who they are voting for. “
The APC has denied that any of its members were involved in the kidnap plot, according to member Jason Howland who said in an email to the Times Community Newspapers that none of the group's members had been arested.
"The American Patriot Council in no way condones violence as a form of political action. As the public is well aware, any actions taken by the American Patriot Council have been legal and lawful. While we hold the view that many public officials are guilty of a litany of crimes, and it has been our goal to hold these officials criminally responsible, we must do so lawfully," reads a press release posed on the group's website. "It has come to our attention that some other groups have allegedly plotted violence and lawlessness, so, we feel it necessary to tell our members, followers, and viewers that The American Patriot Council believes in law and order across the board and that no American citizen should be deprived of their right to due process of law."
Brett Broge, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Committee, described the planned event as and “an armed militia rally” in a letter to Brescia.
The rally “appears to be a coordinated effort by your village board and the right-wing American Patriot Council to intimidate voters from exercising their right to vote on the first day of early voting in New York,” Broge said.
Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher, reported Friday evening that the event would be moved to Benedict Park, several miles removed from Veteran’s Park and the polling place at the Montgomery Senior Center. Police will be stationed at Veteran’s Park to instruct rally participants of the change and to direct them to the new site. At 5:56 p.m., an automated robocall was sent out to advise village residents of the change of location for the rally.