McLaren rarely seen since late '96

The Dallas Morning News/April 28, 1997
By Thomas G. Watts

2 other factions of Republic movement distance themselves from leader

Richard Lance McLaren has been the most visible representative of the Republic of Texas movement since it declared in 1995 that Texas is still a Republic.

To his followers, however, he has been largely invisible since last fall.

They have seen him in newspapers - including the front page of The New York Times - and heard and seen him on television. Mr. McLaren's phone and fax machines have been busy.

But Mr. McLaren has been holed up in his self-styled embassy in a rural subdivision called the Davis Mountains Resort, near Fort Davis in West Texas, since late last year. Federal and state warrants for his arrest on contempt of court charges have been issued, and Mr. McLaren warned that any attempt to arrest him would be met with violence.

And many of those agreeing with his theory that Texas has always been an independent republic have taken that theory and gone their separate ways.

There are now three factions of the Republic of Texas movement, each headed by its own president and cabinet. Mr. McLaren remains the chief ambassador and foreign legal officer of one of the factions.

On Sunday, the other two groups tried to distance themselves from his actions in West Texas.

"This is the dumbest thing I ever heard," said David Johnson of Odessa, the president of one faction that split from Mr. McLaren last fall.

Mr. Johnson said of Mr. McLaren's "Defense Forces" that reportedly held two people hostage: "Most of these guys are real harmless. They sit around and drink coffee and shoot off their guns. For this guy to do this is real dumb."

Archie Lowe of Rice, Texas, the president of the other faction, could not be reached, but his group put out a message on its Internet Web site Sunday.

"It appears that Richard McLaren and those acting with him have gone completely off the deep end, disregarding the very laws that he claims to uphold," the message said.

"These actions are another in a long chain of unlawful acts by Mr. McLaren, culminating today in the kidnapping of a Texas citizen on nothing but hearsay," it said.

Both groups said Mr. McLaren has been stripped of his authority - one group acting last fall and the other on March 22 - and does not represent the Republic.

Meanwhile, Republic members of the McLaren faction disagree.

His group issued a faxed press release that two arrests of Republic citizens were a "violation of international law."

"Republic of Texas Defense Forces have captured and are holding two State of Texas agents," it said. "At present, the resort has been sealed off by units of the Republic of Texas Defense Forces."

Mr. McLaren has been saying for more than a year that a state of war existed between the Republic and the federal and state governments.

In the past he has been careful to insist that it was a paper war, but public officials and his fellow members of the Republic movement have expressed concern that the rhetoric could evolve into a shooting.

And it was largely for those reasons that the other two factions have broken away from his policies in recent months.

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