The American Patriot Council (APC) held a rally Saturday at Benedict Farm Park in the Town of Montgomery. This group is a movement "dedicated to restoring and sustaining a constitutional government in the United States," according to its website
“What we want to do is just share some love today,” said Maria Herb, one of the group’s volunteers. “This is not about sharing hate. We need to start coming back together as people, as friends and spreading the love for our country. And until we do that America will not recover.”
After that, Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher led the Pledge of Allegiance and attendees dined on a number of different snacks. They also listened to patriotic songs such as “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood.
The Montgomery Village Board recently approved the rally and it was originally scheduled to take place at Veterans Memorial Park in the Village of Montgomery. The move to Benedict Farm Park came after some residents had expressed concern that a rally held outside Montgomery Senior Center, the site of early voting, was intended to intimidate voters.
“The location of the pavilion is directly adjacent to an early voting polling station,” said the Valley Central Parents for Social Justice in a statement issued Friday. “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 Gov. 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.”
Prior to Saturday, Chairman of the Orange County Democratic Committee Brett Broge described the event as an “armed militia rally” in a letter to Village of Montgomery Mayor Stephen 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.
APC member Jason Howland denied that any members were involved in the plot to kidnap Whitmer.
“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 posted 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 the law.”
As the rally took place, Orange County residents flocked to the Village of Montgomery Senior Center for the first day of early voting.
“I’ve never seen so many people vote at the Montgomery Senior Center,” said Village of Montgomery resident Tony Geras.
He believed this was a product of the publicity of the rally in addition to Orange County residents being able to vote at any one of the seven early voting sites this year.