Although he is of Puerto Rican descent, Brian Nieves, a newly elected state senator and the former majority whip of Missouri's House of Representatives, reacted angrily in 2008 after President Obama suggested that American children learn Spanish in addition to English. The president, Nieves said, had "belittle[d] the feelings of the majority of Americans."
This January, Nieves threw what the Kansas City alternative newspaper The Pitch called "his first tantrum of the year" on the floor of the state Senate when he learned that Missouri's Democratic attorney general had built a Spanish-language website for that office in 2009. Nieves claimed it broke the state's "English only" law.
A self-described "Patriot candidate," Nieves says he is part of a "Patriot uprising" and even named his talk-radio show The Patriot Enclave. Nieves also is a major star of the film, "Don't Tread on Me -- the Rise of the Republic," which was produced by Patriot conspiracist Gary Franchi. In the film, Nieves says that "with the election of President Barack Hussein Obama ... I think people finally realized, 'Hey, this is our government; this is our nation, and we're going to take it back.' I think that's what gave birth to the Patriot uprising."
Nieves appears a dozen times in the film discussing state sovereignty alongside such hard-core members of the antigovernment movement as Alex Jones, a conspiracy-monger who believes the federal government was involved in the Oklahoma City bombing, and Richard Mack, the former Arizona sheriff who preaches that county sheriffs don't have to obey the federal government.
During a 2009 "Boot Camp" put on by the Show Me Patriots, Nieves warned darkly: "Sooner or later there's going to have to be a showdown. So be encouraged, be motivated ... because 30 years from now, somebody's going to ask you what you did during the Patriot uprising. ... And it's my prayer that you'll be able to say you were right in the middle of it and that you had a piece of this fight."
Nieves, who once described the torture technique of waterboarding as putting "a little water in the face," was allegedly in a real fight last year. The Kansas City Star reported on Aug. 9, 2010, that Nieves was at the center of a complaint made to police by a campaign worker for Nieves' opponent in the state Senate primary, Dick Stratman. When the staffer, Shawn Bell, stopped by Nieves' headquarters to congratulate the winner, Nieves allegedly threw Bell against a wall and then drew a gun on him. Bell alleged that Nieves then berated him, threatened to kill him, and asked him if he was wearing a "wire." Nieves then allegedly head-butted and slapped Bell, pulled him into an office where Nieves looked through Bell's phone, made him take off his shirt, and made Bell call his wife to apologize to her for things that happened during the campaign. No criminal charges were ever filed in the case.
In a rambling E-mail Nieves sent to supporters after the incident, he wrote: "We did something The Machine did not want done and for that the Nieves family is indeed being punished and made an example of!"