KELO-TV reads the online news site Cowboy State Daily and learns one of the two South Dakota men arrested for conspiracy to riot a truckload of white supremacists in Idaho Saturday is a recent transplant from Wyoming:
James Michael Johnson, 40, who worked as a senior auditor for the Wyoming Department of Audit as of late 2021, was charged with conspiracy to riot along with 30 other members of the group “Patriot Front.”
Johnson now lives in Sioux Falls, South Dakota [Jimmy Orr, “Former State of Wyoming Employee Arrested for Riot Charges with White SUpremacists in Idaho,” Cowboy State Daily, 2022.06.13].
Having recently moved from Colorado, Johnson wants to lead the city away from becoming like places like Portland and Denver with “(Black Lives Matter) riots and Antifa riots every night.”
“A lot of people here in Wyoming, a lot of people here in Cheyenne, don’t want to see Wyoming turn into Colorado, don’t want to see Cheyenne turn into Denver. I stand strongly for that, considering the fact that I came from there, and I don’t want to see Cheyenne turned into the same thing that I just left” [Margaret Austin, “James Johnson Seeks Ward 2 Seat on Cheyenne City Council,” Wyoming Tribune Eagle, 2020.08.01].
In another campaign interview, Johnson sounds like Logan Manhart decrying non-rural America, like Kristi Noem and Hungary’s Viktor Orban preaching a fake ideology against inevitable change, and like any right-wing lunkhead peddling fear of liberal bogeymen:
I believe our municipal leadership should always have in mind what Cheyenne was, is, and what it should remain with each and every proposal they pursue. I would hate to see Cheyenne become another overcrowded, expensive, and frankly, corrupt and “progressive” controlled metropolis like so many cities.
…The main role of the city council is to not only serve as responsible stewards of our taxpayer resources, but also to serve as guardians of our liberties against out of control public officials and against mob rule and mass hysteria.
As a conservative, I do not allow my decisions to be forced by emotional appeals. I carefully consider historical trends and data in reaching my conclusions. I will not be pressured into something like taking down statues, promoting witch hunts of our small businesses, or passing an ordinance that pushes our city further to the left just because a well-organized and vocal minority of our citizens screams the loudest [James Michael Johnson, in Tiffany Logan, “Meet Your Candidates: Cheyenne City Council Ward 2,” KCRG-TV, 2020.07.16].
During that summer campaign, Johnson put up a video podcast on alt-right Patriot Front fave Bitchute to show how politically and physically fit he was. Luckily for me, those videos don’t load, so I’m spared the temptation to watch and retch.
But the folks who encountered Johnson in Cheyenne don’t need to watch his alt-right videos to see his participation in the Patriot Front’s Idaho riot conspiracy as in character:
State Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, said he was confrontational in his dealings with him and others.
“It’s not surprising that Mr. Johnson was arrested for his part in the planned attack in Idaho,” Brown said. “He displayed very poor judgment and uncivil dialogue with many others during his time in Cheyenne.”
“His group of friends in Cheyenne should take note that this type of “political discourse” is not only highly frowned upon but down right illegal,” Brown said.
Sara Burlingame, Executive Director of Wyoming Equality and former state legislator, told Cowboy State Daily she was not surprised to see that Johnson was arrested on Saturday.
“Was I shocked to see a local darling of the alt-right show up in a lineup of thugs? Of course not,” Burlingame said.
“One word describes it: predictable. This guy harassed our office, made a public spectacle of maligning LGBTQ advocates and was embraced by the state party. Of course he’s hiding out in a U-Haul in Idaho, of course he’s looking to attack defenseless people out celebrating PRIDE,” she said.
Rod Miller, former gubernatorial advisor to two Wyoming governors and now a political columnist for Cowboy State Daily, wrote a letter to the editor in 2020 to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle expressing his concern over Johnson’s use of “divisiveness, fear, hate, and extreme right-wing zealotry” in his bid for city council.
“Johnson marches around downtown armed with a gun or a baseball bat, claiming to be keeping us safe,” Miller wrote. “Johnson’s campaign social media pages are chocked full of hyperbole and right-wing fear” [Orr, 2022.06.13].
Johnson spread hyperbole and fear about riots in his failed 2020 campaign. But it’s Johnson and his fellow thugs who are plotting riots and threatening the Coeur d’Alene cops who are trying to keep law and order.