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By Laura Adelmann
There have been rallies in Washington to restore America to its constitutional republic foundations by truckers, bikers, veterans and others. They all met, campaigned, and then returned home.
But a new rally is going to feature a different type of participant, more dedicated, more committed and more diligent.
Because they don’t have plans for their event to end, to return home and let business run as usual.
Sylvester Bland is one of those. He is preparing his wife and family to carry on without him, whether he’s gone weeks or months or longer for a unprecedented Washington, D.C., rally starting May 16.
The Riverside, Calif. pastor is responding to U.S. retired Col. Harry Riley’s declaration of Operation American Spring, a call for 10 million patriots to descend on Washington and for at least a million to stay until Barack Obama and key U.S. leaders they consider beyond the pale resign.
Riley said the goal is to remove “corrupt” leadership from the government, those who violate the Constitution and Bill of Rights, including Vice President Joe Biden, House Speaker John Boehner, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid and Attorney General Eric Holder.
“The out-of-control government leadership must be stopped,” Riley wrote on his Patriots for America website, where he launched the campaign for the rally.
Riley spent more than 34 years in the U.S. military, with tours of duty around the globe. He received the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal and other honors.
He’s been active in several other efforts, such as the 2007 Gathering of Eagles, and has been effective enough so that leftists have come out to attack him.
He is calling for the restoration of constitutional government, rule of law and freedom from “despotic and tyrannical federal leadership.”
Examples are many, ranging from spying on Americans to Obamacare’s invasive demands, he said.
The hope is that once incumbents are ousted, the Senate would elect new majority and minority leaders, the senior Republican House member would become the new speaker, and House representatives would elect a temporary president and vice president.
There might even be charges.
“What we have in D.C. right now is a lawless condition,” Riley told WND. “The executive (branch) does exactly what it wants. It creates laws, ignores laws, and writes thousands of executive orders.”
He said corrupt and criminal leadership “must be removed.”
“When some greedy, self-serving occupant of the White House or Congress…is threatening our existence, our freedom, our liberty, our Constitution, our life resources, our America, then we fight back to destroy the threat, and there is nothing immoral or illegal about it,” he wrote. “When the government becomes lawless, then ‘we the people’ no longer are obligated to follow the government.”
Riley writes on the Operation American Spring site that “There is not much time and the only planning necessary is to select a starting date, which we have done, and then show up in Washington, D.C., on that date, and plan to stay for the duration.”
He warns there will be dangers associated, but the plan already is drawing attention and energy from patriots around the country who share concerns America is being transformed into a socialist entity that looks vastly different from its history.
“We are not members of any particular group,” said Geoff Ross of Florida, a retired Navy senior chief helping to organize the movement. “We’re just Americans that are sick and tired of being trampled on and abused by a tyrannical government.”
He said participants want to bring attention to the Constitution and “are not leaving (the president’s) front doorstep until he resigns, steps down or is impeached.”
“We don’t recognize politicians that will not uphold their oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Ross said.
That’s already been illustrated with the decision by Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama to discontinue enforcing or defending the federal Defense of Marriage Act. U.S. attorneys then followed suit.
Bland decided to join the movement to stand up against the nation’s moral decline, and he said more people need to come aboard.
“It seems the bigger our country gets, the more it puts people in bondage,” Bland said. “We need to go back to the foundation of America, that’s the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
He’s planning a train ride to D.C, toting supplies like a sleeping bag, camelback water supply, clothes and waterproof boots, then he’ll wing it when he gets there, possibly sleeping on a sidewalk or tent if one is available.
“I’m really doing this whole thing by faith,” Bland said. “I’m trusting in the Lord; I believe He’ll supply all my needs.”
He said people have just have had enough.
Terri Linnell, a California wife, businesswoman and devoted mother, agrees.
She has been waiting years for patriots to oppose the growing tyranny in Washington and although her family is struggling financially, they agreed taking a stand for freedom outweighs the loss.
“It’s worse if I don’t go,” she said. “We can’t let our government continue to run roughshod over us.”
Linnell plans to book a hotel, possibly with others, and stay as long as she can. She may return later to continue the pressure for leadership resignations.
“We are giving up a lot of things as individuals,” she said. “But there’s this saying: The harder you push us down, the stronger we’ll stand up. That’s so true. That’s really what patriots do. We’re pushed down economically, emotionally, and we’re told we can’t even go there and do a protest because of the anti free-speech bill. This is the first time in the nation’s history we’re not allowed to protest! We’re going anyway, and we’re doing the right thing.”
Chris Blystone, a self-employed father of four, is helping organize Texas patriot teams of 50.
He has put his information technology business on hold, forgoing income by referring customers out, to pour his energies into planning to help his teams.
“This is bigger and more important,” Blystone said. “If we don’t do this, I won’t have a business anyway.”
Each Texas team is to bring recreational vehicles to ensure access to basic necessities.
Donations for the trip are pouring in: American Legions across the state are loaning teams tents that sleep 35, churches are donating vans and buses, mom-and-pop gas stations have given them gas cards, a printing business donated signs and an RV.
Blystone has secured use of a 40,000 square-foot Maryland warehouse, enough to house about 2,000 cots.
Two former car dealership lots have been donated for camp sites.
“All of these locations have fresh water,” Blystone said. “And the warehouse has plumbing and bathrooms. It’s not enough for 2,000 people, but it will help.”
While he has arranged these areas for the Texas teams, each of them will be independent, self-reliant and self-sufficient, a point Riley has emphasized since announcing the operation.
“This will not be a catered event,” Riley told WND. “We’re not going to hold the hands of every person who goes to Washington. People have to bring their own water and food. They can have portable urinals … and dispose of that properly. It is not going to be an easy event. Washington is going to be shut down.”
To prepare as a team, Blystone recommends groups take on smaller training operations to build relationships and unity.
Blystone’s team recently traveled across country to delivered two semis of bottled water to West Virginia, where a chemical spill devastated the water supply.
After a 36-hour sleepless drive, the team bunked at a small Wesleyan church that provided them with food and shelter as they were headed back Saturday night. The pastor invited Blystone to share his mission, and the following service ended with members gathering at the altar and clutching the American flag.
That church, now, is planning to attend the really.
“Every single one of them will be there,” he said.
The people of Madison, W.Va., where Blystone and his team delivered water, also are opening their doors to Texas patriot travelers, allowing them use of their city hall, police department, fire department facilities for a place to rest.
Richard Peeples, of New Hampshire, also is taking time off work in the Defense Department to join a group of patriots traveling to D.C. in an RV and camping once they get there.
He said it’s time to take America back.
Riley agreed, adding that individuals in power are “dragging our nation into the abyss. They’re betrayers, deceivers and self-servers, that’s basically all they are.”
He said Congress has abandoned its responsibility as oversight of the executive branch, and without change things will only get worse.
He said it will only be another couple generations before Americans won’t even know the precious freedoms that have been lost.
Riley said the situation demands a strong response by patriotic Americans, who appear to be rising to the challenge.
Rick Stralow, an Air Force veteran leading an ever-growing contingent of patriots to American Spring, said although some have expressed fear of the government’s response, interest is growing in the movement.
“I don’t have to convince anybody,” he said. “They’re coming to me.”
Riley’s plans seems to align mostly with what another retired military leader, Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, has advocated.
As WND reported, Vallely said it’s time for millions of Americans to “stand up” to a federal government that is “conducting treason … violating the Constitution, violating our laws.” He’s calling for marches, a legislative vote of “no confidence” in President Obama and congressional leaders, even citizen arrests – drawing inspiration from the 33 million Egyptians who stood up to their government and removed Muslim Brotherhood officials from office.
Riley explains his inspiration comes at least partly from Georgetown Professor Jonathan Turley’s recent congressional testimony.
The liberal professor has represented members of Congress in a lawsuit over the Libyan war, represented workers at the secret Area 51 military base and served as counsel on national security cases. He now says Obama is a danger to the U.S. Constitution.
He was addressing a House Judiciary Committee hearing Dec. 4. Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., asked him: “Professor Turley, the Constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It’s about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president’s unilateral modification of act[s] of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?”
Turley replied: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power.”
Congress already is addressing charges that Obama is violating the Constitution.
WND reported when Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Obama’s actions have reached “an unprecedented level, and we’ve got to do something about it.
"Assume that a statute said you had to provide two forms of ID to vote. Can the president require three forms? Can the president require one form? Can you suspend all requirements? If not, why not?" he said. "If you can turn off certain categories of law, do you not also have the power to turn off all categories of law?"
Gowdy cited Obama's decisions to ignore certain immigration laws, even though Congress did not approve the changes. He also cited arbitrary changes to the Obamacare law and Obama's "recess appointments" of judges even though the U.S. Senate was not in recess.
His proposal is for Congress to take the White House to court over the president's actions, through a resolution proposed by Rep. Tom Rice, R-Ga., that would authorize the House to sue the Obama administration. It has 30 co-sponsors.
Rice said that because of "this disregard of our country's checks and balances, many of you have asked me to bring legal action against the president."
"After carefully researching the standing the House of Representatives has and what action we can take, I have introduced a resolution to stop the president's clear overreach," he said.
A Fox News interviewer asked Gowdy if Obama could refuse to enforce election laws.
"Why not?" asked Gowdy, "If you can turn off immigration laws, if you can turn off the mandatory minimum in our drug statutes, if you can turn off the so-called Affordable Care Act – why not election laws?"
WND reported that it was at the same hearing that Michael Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies for the Cato Institute, said there is "one last thing to which the people can resort if the government does not respect the restraints that the Constitution places of the government."
"Abraham Lincoln talked about our right to alter our government or our revolutionary right to overthrow it," he said.
"That is certainly something that no one wants to contemplate. If the people come to believe that the government is no longer constrained by the laws, then they will conclude that neither are they."
Cannon said it is "very dangerous" for the president to "wantonly ignore the laws, to try to impose obligations upon people that the legislature did not approve."
Several members of Congress also contributed their opinions in an interview with talk-show host Sean Hannity.
See the Hannity segment:
Find out more at Operation American Spring.