Location: Livingston, Montana
While not an official People’s Rights leader, Roger Roots has played a significant role in the group. Roots is especially close to Washington People’s Rights figure Kelli Stewart. Together, the two took the cause to both Portland and Idaho. Stewart has posted Roots’ videos on both her Facebook page and that of People’s Rights Washington. In Idaho, Roots was photographed promoting a key People’s Rights recruitment tool. Stewart also noted that Roots was “doing legal research for Sean Anderson’s case,” referring to the Idaho Area 2 assistant involved in a shootout with police in July.
Roger Roots is an attorney licensed to practice law in Rhode Island (but not in Montana where he lives) with a long history with so-called “patriots” and the white nationalist movements. He’s also a perennial, if not successful, candidate for statewide office on the Montana Libertarian Party ticket. Roots participated in the legal defenses of Bundy Family members when they faced charges from their armed standoffs in both Nevada and Oregon. Since Roots wasn’t admitted to practice law in either state, he ended up serving as a paralegal in both cases. In 2018, Roots joined Kelli Stewart and Matt Shea to support Steven and Dwight Hammonds, the convicted arsonists whose illegalities on BLM lands spurred Ammon Bundy to the armed occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge two years earlier.
Roots’ contribution to the Bundy defense included his longtime involvement with the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA), which pushes the “jury nullification” theory. Jury nullification encourages jurors to ignore laws they don’t like and set defendants free, even if evidence proves guilt. Jury nullification, and FIJA, have been mainstays of the militia and white nationalist movements for years. FIJA distributed fliers in Mississippi supporting Byron De La Beckwith when the white nationalist was on trial for murdering a 1960’s civil rights leader. FIJA has also rallied support for militia members facing criminal charges.
Roots’ involvement with the Bundys was just the latest in a history filled with supporting militia and white nationalist causes. Throughout the 1990s, Roots frequently popped up around the white nationalist movement in Montana. He was an associate of John Abarr, a Klan organizer in Montana and Wyoming. In the early 1990s, Roots authored the pamphlet Whites and Blacks: 100 Facts (and One Lie). Among other things, the pamphlet stated whites are more intelligent than people of color and suggested they should be classified as a different species, and that Adolf Hitler was a great white man.
Roots also supported anti-Semite Red Beckman during Beckman’s battles with the IRS over income tax evasion. Serving as a correspondent for The Jubilee, Roots frequently wrote articles supporting Beckman. The Jubilee was a Christian Identity tabloid based on the racist pseudo-theology claiming people of color are subhuman beasts and Jews are the literal children of Satan. Also for The Jubilee, Roots wrote an article defending former Waffen-SS member Hans Schmidt during his legal troubles for, in Roots words, writings “that were critical of Jewish and Masonic control over the institutions of the Western world and which pointed out immense errors of fact in the official ‘Holocaust’ legend.” Calling the Holocaust a “legend” is, plain and simple, Holocaust denial.
Roots now claims that he no longer holds racist views. In an affidavit he sent to the Montana Human Rights Network in 2008, Roots stated he has “no involvement in the white supremacist movement” and has not “spoken or written a racist statement in years.” He also said, “I do not endorse any opinion I expressed during my twenties.”
However, the same year Roots sent MHRN the affidavit, he represented Rudy Stanko in a Nebraska lawsuit. Stanko is a self-proclaimed reverend of The Creativity Movement, a neo-Nazi group with a history of violence.
In 2014, Roots created the online Lysander Spooner University. Roots described the venture as “the first truly antigovernment university” and is “everything that contemporary government supported universities are not.” Its small list of faculty includes two people with direct ties to the Bundy Family and their standoffs with federal agencies.
During his Jubilee tenure, Roots also engaged in the practice of masking hardcore white supremacy behind names commonly deployed in his current movement. In one Jubilee article from around 1995, Roots referred to Rudy Stanko as “a nationally known Constitutionalist researcher and author.” In a 1998 Jubilee article, Roots referred to several participants in the Christian Identity-led Montana Freemen, known for their armed standoff with the federal government, as “patriots.”
Finally, and of particular importance given the ubiquitous occurrence of libertarian themes in the People’s Rights network, Roots Lysander Spooner University promotes ideas that provide a framework for a radical assault on the capacity of the federal government to address inequality, offering courses that refer to both the minimum wage and Social Security as “evil.” An article on the “university’s” website bemoans that internet “filters classify free market writings as ‘hate speech’,” specifically referring to an alleged blocking of content by Murray Rothbard. An important paleolibertarian figure, Rothbard once defended national socialist David Duke as a “right-wing populist.”
In July 2020, Roots helped organize a roadshow called “Rage Against the State” in Montana featuring numerous Bundy supporters to stoke anger at public health measures. Among the speakers was Nick Ramlow (the leader of People’s Rights in Montana) and Ryan Payne, who directed the militia forces supporting the Bundy’s during their standoffs in Nevada and Oregon.
Before first coming to Montana decades ago, Roots was convicted of a felony for a weapons charge that led to 20 months in prison. While living in Montana, Roots has lost numerous runs for statewide office. In 2020, Roots is running as a Libertarian for Montana Auditor.
Notable Facebook Likes: People’s Rights Washington, Fully Informed Jury Association, Bundy Ranch, Redoubt News, Shaeffer Cox, Montanans for Limited Government, Mises Institute, Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, Gavin Seim for Liberty, Young Americans for Liberty.
 Stewart, Kelli. Facebook. April 21, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=796718684065255&id=100011813922844; Stewart, Kelli. Facebook. July 28, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/100011813922844/videos/862295884174201/; Roots, Roger. Facebook. August 29, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/roger.roots.90/posts/909264879560338.
 Roots, Roger. Facebook. August 29, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/roger.roots.90/posts/909264879560338.
 Stewart, Kelli. Facebook. July 27, 2020. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=861649184238871&set=a.130705057333291.
 Stewart, Kelli. Facebook. June 22, 2018. https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=838308853239571&id=100011813922844.
 Fully Informed Jury Association. FIJActivist. Winter/Spring 1996.
 Montana Human Rights Network. A Season of Discontent. May 1994; Montana Human Rights Network. “Jury Denies Racist’s Unfounded Charges Against Network.” Newsflash. September 1997.
 Associated Press. “Former Montanan says past cost him college post.” Billings Gazette. November 1, 2004.
 Montana Human Rights Network. “Right-Wing Roundup: 2008 Primary Election Season.” Network News. July 2008. https://www.mhrn.org/publications/humanrightsnetworknews/0708.pdf.
 Zeskind, Leonard. Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream. New York. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux. 2009.
 Roots, Roger. “Jailed in ‘Democratic’ Germany.” The Jubilee. March/April 1998. Vol 10(4), p.7.
 Montana Human Rights Network. “Right-Wing Measures Trying to Qualify for the Ballot.” Network News. May 2012. https://www.mhrn.org/publications/humanrightsnetworknews/May2012.pdf.
 Andrea Parker and John Lamb are listed as faculty members: Lysander Spooner University. “Andrea Parker.” October 6, 2020. http://lysanderspooneruniversity.com/instructors/faculty/andrea-parker/; Lysander Spooner University. “John Lamb, Professor of Communications and Journalism.” October 6, 2020. http://lysanderspooneruniversity.com/instructors/faculty/john-lamb-professor-of-communications-and-journalism/.
 Roots, Roger. “Rudy Stanko Charged with Assaulting an Officer – In Court!” The Jubilee. Vol 7(3).
 Roots, Roger. Five Freemen Convicted, One Acquitted in Federal Show Trial. The Jubilee. March/April 1998. Vol 10(4). On the ideology of the so-called Montana Freemen, see. Burghart, Devin and Robert Crawford. Guns & Gavels: Common Law Courts, Militias and White Supremacy. Coalition for Human Dignity. 1996; Leonard, Zeskind. Basis of Freemen’s Philosophy is Racisim. Southern Poverty Law Center Intelligence Report. June 15, 1998. https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/intelligence-report/1998/basis-freemen%E2%80%99s-philosophy-racism.
 Lysander Spooner University. Courses. Aug. 20: New Course at MSU Catapalooza 2015: The Evils of Social Security. http://lysanderspooneruniversity.com/courses/courses-for-2015/new-course-at-msu-catapalooza-2015-the-evils-of-social-security/; Lysander Spooner University. Courses. Aug. 20: New Course at MSU Catapalooza 2015: The Evils of Social Security. http://lysanderspooneruniversity.com/courses/courses-for-2015/new-course-at-msu-catapalooza-2015-the-evils-of-social-security/.
 Lysander Spooner University. Free market writings increasingly censored as ‘hate speech’ by internet filters. http://lysanderspooneruniversity.com/2016/10/free-market-writings-increasingly-viewed-as-hate-speech-by-internet-screeners/; Rothbard, Murray N. Right-Wing Populism. The Rothbard-Rockwell Report. January 1992. https://www.unz.com/print/RothbardRockwellReport-1992jan-00005.
 Rage Against the State. “About Rage Against the State.” Rage Against the State website. Undated. Accessed October 6, 2020. http://www.rageagainstthestate.com/about; McDermott, Ted. “Freedom Fighter.” Missoulian. June 12, 2014; Bernstein, Maxine. “Judge grants early end to Oregon refuge occupation ‘architect’ Ryan Payne’s federal supervision.” May 18, 2020.
 Mencimer, Stephanie. “Bundy Legal Team Includes a Birther, an Alleged Ponzi Schemer, and an Ex-White Supremacist.” Mother Jones. November 7, 2017. https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/11/bundy-legal-team-includes-a-birther-an-alleged-ponzi-schemer-and-an-ex-white-supremacist/
 Ragar, Shaylee. “State Auditor Candidates Compare Resumes During Weekend Debate.” Yellowstone Public Radio. September 9, 2020. https://www.ypradio.org/2020-elections/2020-09-09/state-auditor-candidates-compare-resumes-during-weekend-debate.
Inside the Far-Right People's Rights Network
A Special Report of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights and the Montana Human Rights Network
Copyright © 2020. Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights.