Former comic riles neighbors with ‘Bearteria’ plans (updated)

By Mike Weland

A former Hollywood comic now living in Sandpoint is allegedly offering his “Bears,” or fans of his right-wing blog who “donate” $400, the use of a Boundary County property recently purchased on Earl Lane for paramilitary-style training. It’s drawing sharp concern from not only neighboring property owners, most of them retired elderly, but from many in the community concerned of an “Aryan Nations” style compound springing up along the Moyie River.

A group met with Boundary County Commissioners this morning after filing a land-use complaint six weeks ago and hearing nothing back.

In a letter April 14 to county contract planner Clare Marley, Ruen-Yeager & Associates, Sandpoint, Terry Auten wrote of selling a ten-acre portion of property he owns on Earl Lane Road to Struggle Bear LLC.

“I’m telling you this because I was recently made aware of an unsettling situation with potential unpleasant outcome and want to do everything I can to prevent it,” he wrote.

He provided a screenshot taken from a social media site dated April 4; “You may now go to Owen’s property! Here’s the address to Bearteria Sanctuary,” the headline reads. “Comedian Owen Benjamin has officially secured land at 774 Earl Lane Rd, Bonners Ferry, Idaho for his new Ruby-Ridge-style compound and has invited EVERYONE who contributed $400 (or any amount) to begin making their way here. We can now begin creating the beautiful dream bear village Owen promised us. See you there, guys!”

“Owen Benjamin Smith is an American comedian, actor, and alt-right political commentator,” his Wikipedia entry reads. “He has repeatedly had his social media accounts on various services suspended or removed for his statements, including hate speech and antisemitism.”

In a packet of information for Marley’s consideration and presented Tuesday to county commissioners was an August 19, 2020, press release issued by Stand Against Supremacy, a citizen’s advocacy group opposing “Owen Benjamin’s White Nationalist Compound in Sandpoint.”

“Former West Hollywood piano comic, turned white supremacist cult leader, Owen Benjamin Smith is raising funds from his followers to purchase over 200 acres in Northern Idaho …” they wrote. “Working with licensed real estate agent Brandon Verrett of Verrett’s Tactical in Bonners Ferry, ID, Smith currently has his eyes set on a large property in Northern Idaho. With plans to ship in 5,000 supporters/cult members that refer to themselves as “bears,” each donating $400 and paying rent to live in trailers on the property while Smith builds a castle.”

Attorney Alison Dunbar, representing Verrett, wrote Wednesday in a letter requesting “a correction be published immediately,” that her client is not a real estate agent and has had no involvement in any real estate transactions with Smith.

“Stand Against White Supremacy may have valiant goals,” she writes, “but their website is not a reputable source of information and provides no sources for the information published.”

That purchase apparently fell through, paving the way for the 10-acre sale, allegedly involving Black Rifle Real Estate, Sandpoint, which caters specifically to the American Redoubt, “the Last Refuge of the American Patriot!”

“Whether you plan to have a bug-out survival property, a full-time family homestead or retire and build your dream home, Rural America gives you ultimate freedom and safety far away from the Sanctuary City,” they write on their website. “Living on a rural property in a Free State also gives you the best chance to survive major events such as an EMP or nuclear strike, invasion by foreign powers and even a possible coming Civil War. Better to be Safe than sorry …”

The firm, it says on their website, “supports and recommends Brandon Verrett, lead instructor for VerTac Firearms Training based in Northern Idaho.”

Verret’s Tactical is said to be the agency set to provide the “bears” tactical firearms training.

“In it (Ursa Rio update #1126 April 27, 2021) he announces that he has selected dates to begin building ‘infrastructure’ and holding a two-week-long documentary event that will ‘include people flying in’ and tactical ‘firearms training by Verrett’s ‘VerTac’ Tactical,” part of the complaint provided planning and zoning and commissioners reads. “All his followers are are invited to attend this ‘epic’ event.”

“While Mr. Verrett does know Mr. Smith,” Dunbar writes, “they have not discussed that Verrett’s Tactical will provide any trainings for Mr. Smith in any capacity.”

In Tuesday’s meeting, neighboring property owners urged expedited action, to include consideration of a cease and desist order, estimating that up to 700 “bears” have donated and are planning to attend the property.

“Owen has purchased 40 cords of wood and 2,000 bags of concrete,” they wrote in a handout given to county commissioners. “He said he will be hauling water from the river to mix concrete … Immediate action on your part needed to prevent escalation. You are the only people who can prevent this reenactment of Ruby Ridge.”

“This poses a clear and present danger,” one long-time Earl Lane resident, a veteran of the 82nd Airborne who saw combat in Vietnam, said. “This is a commercial enterprise offering training in weapons and tactics and not a use allowed in this zone. There is no conceivable reason to allow this use. If we wait too long, it will be too late.”

Commission chair Dan Dinning said they must follow the established process, but commissioners agreed to coordinate with Marley and the prosecutor’s office to move forward as fast as possible.”

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10 thoughts on “Former comic riles neighbors with ‘Bearteria’ plans (updated)

  1. Thanks for covering this cult leader. He stole $400 from me and many others with the promise of a fully functioning wilderness retreat in the first two weeks of July 2020.

    He regularly, on live streams, does humiliation rituals on loyal followers. I am a poor widow, and after Owen promised he would refund anyone who asked, I had to send him all my details/receipts via registered post in February, 2021. He spoke of arranging a refund but this has never and will never happen now. I am happy to share my story.

  2. I think your article and the people behind this article are a complete disgrace not only for the once proud “Nation,” now submitted by the rampant ignorance of the people, but mostly for the spirit of those who once ruled this land and warned us really clearly about abusive powers and its tactics.

    That being said, I just hope you reconsider researching better before publishing, slander people and then be brave enough to rectify if you have been proven wrong.

    Honesty, in these days worth more than fiat notes, I can guarantee you this. Articles like these are the ones that make your outlets look disposable, pretty much the same way mainstream media is being seeing and scrutinized by great portion of the remaining thinking population. By the way, you may want to start treating these guys with much more respect; these will be the people who will really build the Nation back from the ashes and the engineered disaster is being under.

    If something, be smarter.

  3. This is a very well written article. It is refreshing to see the truth exposed. The fact is everything written in this article can be verified and proved specifically from the live streams Owen Benjamin gives to his “Bears,” who in turn mirror these steams on YouTube.

    Thank for exposing the truth. Keep up the good work. If anyone is a disgrace it’s certainly the cult leader Owen Benjamin. Who led his followers into this situation.

    1. These sound like AMAZING people! I could not find a single derogatory thing about this whole situation. None of these accusations lead anywhere at all. It’s just the same article reprinted with vague references and accusations.

      This writer actually used two other local businesses to slander this guy and at least one of them got a lawyer to slap them down. Wow.

      Typical case of misguided, ignorant people printing a nonsense hit piece because a famous person moved in.

      We had a huge harvest party last year with 3 bonfires, catering, drone footage. People flew in from all over and stayed with us. Guess what? Not a damned thing any of these fascist retards can do about it.

      It’s MY PRIVATE LAND!

      Not only are these people slanderous and petty, they seem to think they can insert themselves into someone’s personal life and finances. Last I checked, this is still a free country, and this family is entitled to that freedom.

  4. This article will no doubt attract sycophants of this former “comedian,” but this story needs to be told. Literally everything in this article has been said on Owen Benjamin’s streams; he often likes to hide behind the excuse that he’s “just a comedian!” but his videos attract the worst of the worst.

    Remember the Pittburgh synagogue shooting? Owen Benjamin blamed Jewish people for it. Remember Sandy Hook? Benjamin Smith denies it happened. All of these videos are archived by both Owen Benjamin’s fans and the people who watch him and his followers engage in cult-like activities on a daily basis.

    I applaud this writer’s courage to tackle this subject, and the courage of these land owners surrounding “Beartardia” for standing for what is right. The post by Robert Johnson is obviously due to Owen Benjamin Smith sharing this article on his alt-right social media platforms.

    Again, thank you for getting this information out to people.

    1. You said it very well … I am very thankful not just for the information, but to know there are many who are aware of these internet fund raising folks. I have seen many of them over the past decade. Always have something they think you will buy into.

  5. Thank you, Mr. Weland, for writing this article. The residents of Sandpoint can take solace in the fact that Owen’s incompetence is surpassed only by his affinity for fraud. In all likelihood, his promises of a “compound” will fall short and the funds will get funneled into an LLC that he falsely believes shields him from personal legal liability.

    These fundraising ventures become increasingly manic and desperate as Owen’s fanbase dwindles, and the next one will likely involve some doomsday prophecy in the footsteps of more traditional cults.

    Some commenters (“Bears”) will claim all Owen promotes is traditional values, homesteading and strong families. Yet a casual skim through any of his streams will show you a deranged man who alternates between turpentine fasts and dairy binges.

    There are decent men out there doing actual homesteading and building stable families on the foundation of their hard work. Owen is not one of them.

    I ask that the communities of Sandpoint and Bonners Ferry remain vigilant. After Owen was “kicked out” of Hollywood (read: ran out of work from his legacy as “Moviegoer #3” in “Jack and Jill”) he was actually run out of two different small communities.

    Please, do not let this man ruin what I assume is a wholesome American small town. You don’t even have to actively prosecute or confront Owen, because his simultaneously oafish and scheming nature will get him in over his head. But do not give him quarter.

  6. Decent article. Thank you for your effort. Owen is a loon, and it is best for your community to keep an eye on him.

    I don’t think he’s physically dangerous, but he is a greedy conman. The problem is that he attracts the lowest and most unhinged dregs of society, as I’m sure you’ll find out from your own comments section.

  7. The truth about Owen Benjamin is that his entire persona is an act. Faced with washing out of a disappointing Hollywood career, he identified the then-burgeoning online dissident right as a prime target for grifting.

    His penchant for making outrageous claims is a classic cult leader tactic that serves two purposes: it filters out the skeptical from the credulous, and the opprobrium creates an “us vs. them” mentality of isolation among his followers.

    His façade begins to crumble when things get a little too real, as happened earlier this year when an elderly mentally ill woman traveled from Bellingham, Washington, in an attempt to meet Owen.

    I have no doubt that once he faces local resistance, he will abort his Beartaria project, and spin it as more oppression from “grabblers” or whatever his latest fixation is now. In the meantime, I wish the best of luck to those local residents who just want to live in peace without Hollywood refugees ruining yet another idyllic rural locale.

  8. Unfortunately for Owen Benjamin, the internet never forgets! Everything quoted in this article is easily verified.

    Listen to Owen Benjamin as tells you in his on words! Of plans for 600 cult members, called “Bears,” to join him in Bonners Ferry for tactical military training. Plans to run “Bears” for local office and take over local politics. Plans to infiltrate the local police with “Bears” who will allow him to do as he wishes.

    Just go the Internet Archive at archive dot org and search for “Save Sandpoint Idaho.” Do your own research.

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