John Irish, a New Hampshire man who is affiliated with the “patriot” group the Oath Keepers, claimed last week that his newborn baby was taken away from him and his fiance because of his association with the organization, and quickly rallied like-minded libertarians to his cause.
The founder of Oath Keepers sent out an alert, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones interviewed the couple, and soon enough there was a Facebook page to support the parents — based, in no small part on a heavily redacted affidavit posted by supporters that the Concord Monitor later reported eliminated all reference to Irish’s alleged history of domestic violence against his fiancée and her other children.
Before long, the hospital began receiving threats, and an FBI agent and state bomb-sniffing dog team swept hospital property, Kieran Ramsey, supervisory special agent to FBI officers in New Hampshire, told the Monitor.
Although Concord Monitor reporter Daniel Barrick read the unredacted affidavit on Friday and reported that the baby was seized by police officers and state social workers because Irish had a history of allegedly beating his fiancée and her two other children, Irish’s supporters nonetheless continue to focus on the references to his ownership of weapons and affiliation with the Oath Keepers.
The affidavit, the redacted version of which was circulated by those sympathetic to Irish, noted that Irish is “associated with a militia known as the Oath Keepers and had purchased several different types of weapons including a rifle, handgun and Taser.”
Oath Keepers members don’t describe the group as a militia — “we don’t train, and we’re not out in the woods or any of that stuff,” says the founder — but a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center has categorized them as part of a growing “patriot” movement on the rise under the Obama presidency, and their website includes a list of instructions like vowing they will “NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.”
The full text of the affidavit describes a case somewhat more typical of domestic violence than of political persecution, according to the Concord Monitor.
Irish’s fiancee, Stephanie Taylor “has failed to recognize the impact of domestic violence in her life and the potential danger it poses to a newborn baby,” according to the full affidavit, as reported by the newspaper. Irish “has not acknowledged any responsibility to date and remains a significant safety risk to an infant in his care,” it reads, according to the newspaper.
Even the redacted version of the affidavit provided by supporters notes that Irish has a pending charge against him for possession of a concealed weapon without a permit, and that local police department was “very familiar” with Irish and had responded to multiple calls.
Irish denied the domestic violence allegations to the Monitor, adding that his fiancée’s “stress-induced seizure disorder” and pregnancy-related complications meant he spent most of his time caring for her. Irish also told reporters that he is unemployed and collects disability because he is blind in his left eye.
The Division For Children Youth And Families officials told TPMMuckraker on Friday they are forbidden by law from commenting on child protection matters (or, as World Net Daily phrased it, they “refused to comment’).
But speaking generally, a DCYF representative said that under no circumstances would a parent’s membership in any organization be a sole cause for removal. The representative noted that there were situations where a person’s organizational affiliations might be referenced in an affidavit: for instance, if the person against whom the agency was considering legal action blamed his or her behavior on the organization in question.
The Concord Monitor, which viewed a copy of the affidavit, reported:
The affidavit also says that the police in Rochester report a “lengthy history of domestic violence” between Taylor and Irish, and that she accused him of choking and hitting her on more than one occasion. According to the document, Irish failed to complete a domestic violence course as ordered by the state, and that a hearing was held last month to terminate Taylor’s parental rights over her two older children.
A protest organized online brought out about 20 protesters on Friday, some of them holding signs referencing the Nazis and Stalin-era Russia, the Concord Monitor reported. Another sign read “Infant Political Prisoner,” said the newspaper.
Meanwhile, the Oath Keepers have announced they are protesting this Thursday outside a family court hearing on the issue.
MSNBC’s interview with the reporter, Daniel Barrick, embedded below, followed by YouTube interview that kicked off the controversy.