Burns Chronicles No 7
What is Brandon Curtiss?
by Gary Hunt
February 15, 2016
I received a phone call from Ryan Payne, shortly after the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was entered by nine people, and restored to ‘open to the public’. Ryan indicated that there was a need for others to come join them, as they were concerned for the safety of such a small crew.
Now, many will question why they might be concerned for their safety, however, we need only consider the last few weeks to understand, as many patriots do, that the federal government tends to solve problems with bloodshed, unless all parties come out with their hands up, and submit to arrest whether there is a real crime, or not.
With the understanding that those who might enter the Refuge, since renamed Harney County Resource Center (HCRC), might find that the government would want to arrest them, it was felt by the Operation Mutual Defense Advisory Board (OMD-AB) that a caveat regarding that possibility be included in a call out.
Upon being advised, through other sources, that Brandon Curtiss, Idaho III%, had secured a 40-acre parcel for visitors to camp on, this seemed to be the solution to an alternate location for those who might otherwise not show up because of the caveat.
However, one of those inside of the HCRC expressed his concern that Brandon (“Brandon” will be used as a collective name for Idaho III% and Pacific Patriot Network (PPN), and the individual, as appropriate to the context), had stated that he was there, along with his following, to assure that there would not be another Waco, and suggested that “he would probably drop his gun and run, should things change for the worse”. It was with this in mind that I sought to contact Brandon, on behalf of OMD, and managed to do so through Pete Santilli, on January 10.
When I told Pete that I was trying to reach Brandon, he said, “just a minute”, and he handed his phone to Brandon. Brandon was cordial in the first part of the discussion, though he was rather assertive. “Any militia that come to Burns are under my command”, he said. That sounded like a sort of militia martial law, and Brandon, with 8 or 9 years of law enforcement experience, but no military experience, has taken command. But, then, I knew this was the “prime directive” when I called for Brandon. He also claimed to have secured forty acres for camping purpose, directly across from the Refuge, though I found out later that it was directly across from the Narrows, about six miles from the Refuge. Perhaps he “secured” it, or perhaps it was a fantasy, as he did not even know where it was.
I had been directed by the OMD-AB to ascertain whether, if Brandon decided to order everyone to go home, would he release those who came under the OMD banner? For him to understand what this question was being posed, seeking a solution, I prefaced it with the “drop guns” concern.
Can I say that I was surprised when he “dropped the phone and ran”? Well, I wasn’t as surprised as I might have been, since the first few minutes on the phone, I was mostly listening, while Brandon appeared to want to both ask and answer his question as well as the reason for my call.
Pete, endeavoring to get patriots to work together, reestablished communications by having Brandon call me. This time, however, it sounded as if we were on speakerphone, and additional parties were present, including Eric Parker and Brooke Agresta.
I tried to explain that I am old school, and when you seek a solution, you must understand the problem. I don’t believe that they ever fully digested that thought, as they spent quite a few minutes berating me, telling me what I said, which is not what I said, since I didn’t have the opportunity, and finally concluded with Brooke telling me that she would destroy me in the patriot community if I didn’t do something (I don’t recall what) in the next three minutes, as she spoke for the next two minutes and then hung the phone up.
Well, that discussion didn’t go to well, so I had to find an alternative for those who didn’t want to risk the possible consequences of staying inside of the HCRC. That, however, would have to be put off to another day.
That was my first ‘introduction’ to Brandon Curtiss, though his name had come up earlier. In a report given by Ryan Payne to an OMD-AB special meeting, November 19, nearly two months before the above incident, Ryan Payne explained some circumstances surrounding the meetings held with both the Hammonds and Sheriff Ward. The report, though second hand, bears out what subsequent events tend to substantiate. The pertinent part of the report can be heard in this 12: 30 – clip, Ryan Payne speaking.
The foundation for subsequent activities by PPN, Idaho III%, and to some degree, OathKeepers, is clearly established.
My next dealing with Brandon Curtiss occurred on January 28, two days after the murder of LaVoy Finicum. Due to the arrests made during the Ambush, I no longer had access to people and information that were necessary to what I intended to write. Though my room was booked for another night, I had decided to return home where I am accustomed to writing. So, I began loading my truck for the return journey.
The evening before, I had written a call out (explained in Stand Up; Stand Down). In that call out, I had recognized the necessity of an immediate response, and that response would have to come from the Harney County area, to be effective. What it said in part, was:
“Attention all Oathkeepers, Idaho Three Percenters, Pacific Patriots Network, especially Brandon Curtiss, Joe Rice, Eric Parker, and Stewart Rhodes.
. . .
You have an obligation to proceed to the Harney County Resource Center (the wildlife refuge), immediately, in order to protect the patriots still there. If you fail to arrive, you will demonstrate by your own actions that your previous statements to defend life, liberty, and property were false.
As I was carrying some things to the truck, a man walked up to me. I recognized him as Curtiss, and I noticed that there were 4 other men with him, all in their twenties or thirties, and 3 of them quite husky. Brandon introduced himself, and as is my habit, I extended my hand. He replied that he would not shake my hand and then accused me of calling him a coward. Now, the circumstances didn’t warrant, in most cases, my attention to exact words, however, my reply was something along the lines that I did not call him a coward, only his action, or lack thereof, would make that determination.
One of the, let me call them, “goons”, was taking video with his phone, so there exists a record of these dealings. So, if I am in error, let them come forward with the entire video.
As I continued to go to the room and return to the truck to load it, Eric Parker challenged me, as well. They tried to block my passage, and I had to walk around them. At one point, I was putting things in the back seat (4-door) and when I turned around, Curtiss had blocked as much of the area between the door and bed of the truck as he could block. There is no doubt that he wanted me to “push” my way through, and then claim that I had assaulted him. However, I turned sideways and managed to slide out and go about my business.
During the course of my coming and going from the room, I called the manager and asked him to call the cops; that I was being threatened and harassed. It might seem ironic to some that I ended up calling the cops on someone who spent 8 or 9 years as a cop, but why not give him a taste of his own medicine?
While the harassment continued, and threats were being made, I heard a voice from behind me saying, “Leave him alone!” One of the beefier goons went up and faced this rather short, wiry guy. When I glanced back over that way, a few seconds later, the goon had decided not to take on the little guy.
The manager walked by and told me that he had finally gotten through to the police. Just a minute or so later, Brandon offered me his hand. I told him that he had his chance, and chose not to take it. At about the same time, the little guy said, quite loudly, “Don’t do it”, meaning don’t shake his hand. I was really beginning to like this guy.
When I had the truck nearly loaded, I went over to see who this supporter was. I asked him if I knew him. He simply replied, “Wolf”. He explained that he was a friend of KC Massey, and it struck me that I had interviewed him when I did the story of the shooting by the BPS agent. I couldn’t recall, at that time what his real name was, and now that I do, I think I’ll just leave it at “Wolf”.
He told me that he had been asked to go to Burns to protect me, though he refused to say who gave him those instructions. So, that will remain a mystery to both the reader, and me but it was nice to know that someone, besides my family, was concerned for my safety.
While still talking with Wolf, the police finally arrived. I explained what had occurred to the officer. In the meantime, another patriot that I had met the night before had been watching from the second floor balcony, and he came down and joined us. Both he and Wolf confirmed what I told the cop.
Meanwhile, other cops were interrogating Brandon and the goons, so that head cop, the one that I had spoken to, went over to put the pieces together. Soon, he returned and said, “Everything has been taken care of. You have nothing to worry about. If there is a problem, call us and we well be here, right away.” I thanked him and wished him a good day.
Meanwhile, the second floor patriot was joined by his girlfriend. I offered to take all to breakfast, but Wolf decided it would be his treat. We went to a local truck stop and had a great breakfast, and a wonderful conversation between real patriots.
Interestingly, my dealings with Brandon Curtiss were not over. On February 4, just after 11:00 AM, I received a Facebook PM from him. It started out, “All bullshit aside with our differences, I am not planning on storming any barricades. That would be insane. This is getting spun up and out of control.”
This led to a rather extended PM exchange, and a phone call (identified in the PM), that led to what I thought would be a resolution of our differences and beginning to work together. It had to do with a conversation that I had earlier with someone who contacted me as he was traveling to Oregon.
The post in question, which will also appear in the PMs, states that PPN “will march through the barricades and through the FBI.” This information was passed on as unconfirmed, but would be necessary for the person to get to the Narrows and be prepared to bring those who were not affiliated with PPN to join them, if it were true.
My team continued to track the source of that information in an effort to confirm, or deny, the “information”. It had become quite apparent that many absurd stories had been circulating, by that time.
At 11:03 AM, February 4, I get a Facebook PM from Brandon Curtiss.
At 11:27 AM, begins the explanation as to what had occurred, and what the OMD position was in the matter. To aid the four inside (Fry, 2 Andersons & Banta), we wanted to see if we could get them some relief so that we could be sure of “holding the fort” long enough to put out a general call, hoping for many more to come to Burns to assist in keeping the public lands open to the public.
At 11:32, I suggest that we begin working together. Brandon agreed. Then, I indicate what the OMD position is, that we need the relief to get in to the Refuge.
At about 12:30 Brandon wanted to go telephonic. Not yet being sure that I could rely on what he said, based upon the previous experience, I recorded the call. A timeline to key parts of the conversation follows:
0:24 – 4:00: Explanation of how we can hold the ground. Brandon builds obstacle to discourage any real action. Then, he explains that he got a call from Oregon State Police (OSP) — based upon what he had sent me (in PM at 11:18 AM). So, I have to wonder why they called him. They didn’t call me, though I appear to be an instigator. Does Brandon have some special relationship with the OSP? Did they call him to get him to thwart any action that might provide relief to those inside?
5:06 – 7:50: He suggests that this would be a “point of no return”. Darn, someday, if we want constitutional government restored, there will be a “point of no return”. He thinks that we would need a thousand “well trained patriots”. To form the battle line that has been suggested would only require discipline. If we cannot get our country back without “well trained patriots”, then we just might as well put our hands behind our backs and back up to the nearest FBI agent. That is nothing more than an obstacle, really, an obstruction — which has little merit. When you have to fight, you fight with what you have. Patriots have been training for many years. Do we train into oblivion? However, I continued to discuss a tactic that has been presented, as that tactic would be both unanticipated and difficult to defend against.
8:29 – 9:00: Brandon talks about the call outs that they have done. Those call outs will be discussed, elsewhere, but they have been absent any show of force, rather, they are intended to just get people to Burns and let them be a burden on the town (See The Burns Community). Quite frankly, what he had, and continues to call for, has hurt far more than it helped those in the Refuge. He then states that those who had come to Burns, and the Refuge, scattered after LaVoy was shot. The cause and effect of that reaction is discussed in “Stand Up; Stand Down“, and there were persistent phone calls and text messages, from PPN, to those inside, to abandon their positions. This resulted in only 8 or 9 defenders by the next morning.
9:01 – 10:29: Discussion of passive and active support. Brandon seems to prefer passive (demonstrations), though he is Idaho III% (III% is the John Adams estimate of how many colonists FOUGHT, like with muskets, against the British). This is also the difference between Civil Disobedience, which might get you arrested, and Civil Defiance, which is defying the presumed authority with arms, as at the Bundy Ranch in April 2014. Then, he mentions LaVoy, and says that he doesn’t “want anyone else losing their life.” So, now we step into the world of “peaceful resolution”. That was the mantra of the FBI, Sheriff Ward, Judge Grasty, and, apparently, PPN, Idaho III%, and the OathKeepers.
13:40 – 16:40: Brandon explains that he spoke with Ammon and Ryan about letting them (Brandon) know when they were going to be “out and about” so they could be “over watch and scouting around”. So, they (Brandon) took a lot of hits since they weren’t there (at the shooting). However, the run into town has no good place for an ambush. It is wide open. Now, if someone wanted to provide “over watch and scouting around”, there was no reason for Brandon to drop that mission, since he should have known that the road to Grant County went through the Malheur National Forest, with plenty of trees, rolling country, and many curves — ideal for an ambush. As far as not being notified, the meeting in John Day was well advertised as much as a week, or more, before that fateful day. However, it is probably much easier to be sitting in a restaurant, enjoying a meal paid for by contributions made to support the operation, than to take the initiative and scout the route. If they had done so, it is quite apparent that the ambush location was established at least a day before, when branches were cut from trees to facilitate firing positions, snowmobile tracks, and the entire ambush area prepared, and probably quite obvious, at least to someone who could “scout” an area — before, not after, the fact.
18:25 – 19:10: Brandon has both numbers and was going to give them to B. J. Soper, presumably to let him know that we are “working together”.
21:44 – 22:04: Here, Brandon includes the FBI, along with OSP, as having contacted him. Why they have so much faith in getting answers from Brandon is a matter for speculation, at this point.
22:32 – 23:22: Brandon says, “Well, we will work through it. It’s okay. And the, by all of us coming to gather, and then working together, it just makes us stronger”…. We then, finally, “shook hands”, over the phone — that is the honorable thing that real men do. Then, he says, “This is what we all need to be doing, working together and building our network, you know, larger.”
So, we end the conversation with what should be a good and honorable working relationship.
On the morning of February 5, I discovered that, without notifying me, nor having received that call that Soper was supposed to have made to me, the “Call to Action” at the blockade had been changed to a demonstration at the site of LaVoy’s murder. Though I don’t have the original message that I received that morning, the following is the wording from pacificpatriotsnetwork.com:
So, what had been discussed (above) was simply tossed out the window, the location changed, and raises the question as to the sincerity of Brandon Curtiss, as we have learned to expect from government officials.
My comment, with regard to this “working together”, then continues the PM conversation. Needless to say, Brandon Curtiss’ true colors were amply demonstrated, not only by this most recent episode, but not in the least, inconsistent with what was reported by Ryan Payne, Brandon’s asserting authority over any militia that came to Burns, his abrupt rudeness and unwillingness to talk in the early conversations, and finally, this attempt to obtain information, suggest that he was honorable, and then assigning the responsibility, not on himself, as leader of Idaho III% and PPN, but on Soper, who was probably never informed of the telephone conversation and the agreement to work together.
NOTE: Though one of the comments (Matt Grove) below links a questionable business practice, reports at the following link refers to Brandon Curtiss’ business, Curtiss Property Management, where there are two other reports filed explaining his character. They are not inconsistent with what is presented, above. He is, it appears, simply a “con man”, both in real life and as a “patriot”.