D’Amico inspiration for character in his lawyer’s ‘prepper’ novel series

Posted 10/2/19

Local businessman Joe D’Amico and his lawyer, known for battling government attempts to regulate D’Amico’s rifle ranges, are the heroes of a series of doomsday novels about armed survivalists who rebuild America after a corrupt government and society collapse.

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D’Amico inspiration for character in his lawyer’s ‘prepper’ novel series

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Local businessman Joe D’Amico and his lawyer, known for battling government attempts to regulate D’Amico’s rifle ranges, are the heroes of a series of doomsday novels about armed survivalists who rebuild America after a corrupt government and society collapse.

D’Amico, the owner of Security Services Northwest, is the inspiration for “Joe Tantori” a heroic figure in the post-apocalyptic book series 299 Days.

His Sequim lawyer, Greg Overstreet, is the inspiration for 299 Days protagonist “Grant Matson,” a government lawyer-turned-doomsday prepper.

Under the pen name “Glen Tate,” Overstreet wrote the novels in which the Matson character retreats to build a fortified “rally point” where “patriots,” like Joe D’Amico’s character meet to rebuild a better America after the collapse.

A rally point is at the heart of the marketing of the books and of guns and after-market parts sold by D’Amico and Overstreet.

“Patriots are manufacturing rifles with the latitude and longitude of a rally point,” Overstreet (writing as “Tate”) wrote on the “299 Days” website through which he promoted the books. “Think about that.”

“If you have one of his rifles, you have an invitation to come to his facility when the Collapse comes and be with like-minded people,” the author’s website said. “His facility is the Rally Point. … “We’re at a thrilling time in our history.”

Up until 2014, the real-life D’Amico did just that, selling custom AR-15 military-style rifles engraved with the GPS coordinates of “Fort Discovery,” the training site he operated on leased ground on the west side of Discovery Bay.

“You show the coin or the rifle at our main gate and you have access to the rally point,” D’Amico said in a 2014 interview with Bob Mayne, a guns and ammo podcaster. “It’s geared toward that time when there’s a 9.0 earthquake or the government collapses,” D’Amico said. “It would be during one of those events.”

That end-times orientation connects both the book series and D’Amico’s “Rally Point” to gun-centric survivalist and separatist movements that have gravitated to the Pacific Northwest, says David Neiwert, the leading Puget Sound author covering far-right politics.

Neiwert, whose Penguin/Random House book “Alt America” surveys the growth of alt-right movements, says the roots are racist, even if the latest rhetoric is not.

“These guys use all kinds of techniques to give themselves the facade of normalcy,” Neiwert said. “But there is nothing normal about these belief systems. Not only do they believe that democratic society will devolve and result in a dog-eat-dog world, but they are actually actively pushing us that way.”

Overstreet disagrees, vehemently, with those who tie his books to racism.

In the 1980s and 90s, the White Nationalist movement encouraged adherents to move to the Pacific Northwest to create a white homeland. Leading that drive were Christian Identity churches—a racist, anti-Semitic, and white supremacist interpretation of Christianity— that popped up in the Pacific Northwest, from Hayden Lake, Idaho to Whidbey Island, where white supremacist Robert Matthews died in a shoot-out with the FBI.

The Patriot militia movement has its roots in those organizations, Neiwert said. But since then, militia movements have branched off and mainstreamed themselves over time to the point that current iterations preach inclusiveness and tolerance.

But Overstreet argues that the books are merely fictional.

“I can tell from the closed-minded reaction of some that they have not read these fiction books,” Overstreet wrote in a statement sent to The Leader Sept. 30. “Fair-minded people understand that the media can’t put all the details and context of a 2,000-page book series into a news story of a few paragraphs. Inevitably, only the most sensational quotes from the 2,000 pages end up in the newspaper.”

Asked this week if he paid Overstreet to write the books, D’Amico says he had nothing to do with the creation of the “299 Days” series.

“I’ve not read the books and only found out afterward that I was the apparent inspiration for one of the 350 fictional characters in the fictional series,” he said in a statement emailed to The Leader just before Overstreet’s. “From what I understand, the books were written five years prior to the author’s employment here and two years prior to the production of our Expedition rifles and coins.”

The real-life Overstreet served under Washington State Attorney General Rob McKenna as the Special Assistant Attorney General for Government Accountability. He was the state’s open-government ombudsman, wrote the Attorney General’s Model Rules for Public Records, and worked on legislation.

That resume perfectly matches that of the character he conjured: “Grant Matson.” In 299 Days, Matson is at work for the Washington state government in Olympia when he suddenly figures out that American society, the economic system and the political system are very fragile and about to break down, Overstreet said in a video interview on a prepper channel on Youtube.

During that interview, Overstreet held a military-style rifle and wore a fake beard, hat and sunglasses to disguise his identity. “Glen Tate is not my real name,” he tells the interviewer. “It’s a pen name. I have to cover up my identity because I work in government, in politics and law. Writing a book about the collapse of the United States and all the dirty stuff in my state capitol of Olympia where I live and work in Washington state is not really looked upon highly.”

But, while Overstreet now complains people are getting upset over a work of fiction, he has in the past said the book accurately portrays the people on which it is modelled.

“There’s not a lot of creativity in this book series, and that’s because it’s largely true,” Overstreet said in the YouTube interview, when he was using a disguise and pen name. ”It’s a series of people and events and places that are all real. I just wrote them down,” he said on-camera. “I realized all these people I know, all these things I’ve seen with my job, allow me to have kind of a window into things other people don’t get to see.”

The Leader had independently confirmed through court documents that Overstreet owns the authorial rights to the “299 Days” series. In response to questions about that, Overstreet confirmed in a Sept. 30 statement to The Leader that he wrote the “299 Days” series using the Glen Tate pseudonym.

Overstreet produced 10 books for the series, which was launched in 2012 by Prepper Press, an Amazon-based publisher of 13 fiction and non-fiction authors focused on helping people prepare for worst-case scenarios. It also sells reprints of public-domain titles on war surgery and urban combat skills.

Like the Prepper Press website, D’Amico’s marketing is steeped in military mythology.

With each of the AR-15s engraved with the GPS coordinates of the rally point, buyers also received a matching “challenge coin” with the coordinates of Fort Discovery cast into the design. In military culture, challenge coins are minted by commanding officers, who confer them on unit members to build morale and prove membership.

D’Amico’s description of a rally point as a place where “like-minded people” can gather in times of crisis echoes the main message of Overstreet’s book series, in book three of which a fictional facility is described as “a natural fortress,” with “tons of supplies.”

The owners of D’Amico’s real-world rally point, which he leased, forced him to stop publicizing the GPS coordinates.

D’Amico in 2017 left that facility to begin work on a rifle range and military/security training center on land he bought west of Quilcene at Tarboo Ridge.

Neighbors of the new facility complain he has installed buildings without permits or proper septic service and has not erected bullet-proof berms high enough to keep gunfire from falling on surrounding lands owned by Pope Resources.

SURVIVALIST MOVEMENT

Though Neiwert warns of racist roots, Prepper Press, the publisher of Overstreet’s books, says there are no politics involved in its wing of the survivalist movement.

“The wasteland does not discriminate along party lines,” reads their website description. “... it doesn’t matter if you’re Republican, Democrat, gay, straight, binary, black, white, or Hispanic... prepping is our common ground.”

Neiwert argues, in appearances around the country and overseas, that survivalists are just one manifestation of an anti-government “alt right” movement that, in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere, has racist roots.

He cites for example the Redoubt movement, a migration movement first proposed in 2011 by survivalist novelist James Wesley Rawles, which designates Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming as well as eastern Oregon and eastern Washington as a place to migrate to when the economy collapses, describing the region as a as a safe haven for conservative, libertarian-leaning Christians and Jews.

That’s a marked change from the Aryan Nation declaration of that same region as a homeland for white Anglo-Saxons.

What distinguishes the Redoubt movement from other anti-government movements like the Aryan Nation or the white nationalist movements is the lack of explicit racism. But Neiwert argues the doomsday ideologies arise from the same fear of replacement.

“The underlying dynamic in all of these movements is always authoritarianism,” Neiwert said. “There is a hostility to democracy … that is based in white anxiety and the belief that they’re losing control of their country.”

Overstreet says his books don’t have any kind of agenda other than telling exciting stories.

“The sad part is that my authorship of this fictional series years ago appears to be being used for a political agenda,” he stated, responding to reports in Spokane’s Inlander news weekly that tie 299 Days to Rep. Matt Shea, now under investigation for promoting “biblical war” and political violence.

“That’s disheartening,” Overstreet said of the Inlander’s characterization of his role in Shea’s movement. “This country is already so divided; we don’t need people getting angry about someone writing a fictional book series.”

A leaked document, “Restoration,” outlines Shea’s blueprint for a new patriot-led society.

According to an interview Inlander reporter Daniel Walters did with Spokane Valley City Councilman Mike Munch, the document is based on Overstreet’s books.

But according to Overstreet, the books should not be taken for anything other than fiction.

NEW RALLY POINT?

D’Amico, has built a reputation for resistance to government rule-making authority.

He operated Fort Discovery until 2017, even though under zoning rules adopted by Jefferson County in 1992, military/security training activities were not permitted. The county issued a stop-work order and red-tagged D’Amico’s buildings in 2005.

Some of the same issues have followed him to his new location, 40 acres of land zoned “Inholding Forestland” near Tarboo Lake. Surrounded by forest land owned by Pope Resources, the site is 1.3 miles from the nearest residential neighbor.

In June of 2017, D’Amico acquiesced to government power, filing a pre-application with the county for the Cedar Hills Recreational Facility.

Efforts to satisfy rifle range opponents without abridging D’Amico’s property rights have tied Jefferson County government in knots. First, the county commission placed a year-long moratorium on shooting range proposals while it created two new ordinances regulating shooting ranges.

In December of 2018, the year-long moratorium expired and the ordinances went into effect. D’Amico began working with the county’s Department of Community Development to secure the proper permitting for his new shooting facility near Tarboo Lake.

But the Tarboo Ridge Coalition, implacably opposed to his proposal, appealed to the state’s Growth Management Hearings Board, arguing the new ordinances did not protect citizens’ expectations of peaceful rural living and were not in step with state environmental protection laws. On Sept. 16, the Hearings Board agreed, striking down both ordinances.

Now, Jefferson County has declared a new six-month moratorium on developing shooting ranges and has asked the Planning Commission, an advisory board made up of appointed volunteers, to take another look at the ordinances.

This means that work must stop on D’Amico’s new shooting range. But he says he is willing to wait..

While opponents to his new shooting range had worried that he would soon create a new rally point on his property in Quilcene, D’Amico says he has not.

“We have no plans for a Rally Point at Cedar Hills Recreational Facility,” he said. “The Expedition rifle and Rally Point were specific to our Discovery Bay property...We exited that property in 2017 and ended that Rally Point.”

Comments

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Tom Camfield

For some reason the photo for this article reminds of an old "Barnet Miller" TV series episodes, on which a member of the police squad stoned on "hash" says, let's all go shoot some clams." I guess my vagrant thought has something to do with the over-kill factor.

So these are armed survivalists preparing for the collapse of society. Personally, I think guns already are themselves a big contributor to the erosion of our society. Imagine living in a land, or world, devoid of guns (and explosives).

Oh, sure. Someone would immediately begin trying to design and automatic cross-bow, but even so . . .

Thursday, October 3, 2019
Tom Camfield

Gawd! Only two typos by my old eyes and arthritic typing fingers while squinting at that damned small type. That old TV show was "Barney Miller." You can see re-runs on channel 86 from 6 to 7 p.m.

Thursday, October 3, 2019
Justin Hale

Tom, you call them "armed survivalists", I call them "armed Militia" as per the second amendment.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019