The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
A little over 22 years ago, shooting broke out on a lonely Idaho mountaintop known as Ruby Ridge. The violence left a U.S. marshal and a 14-year-old boy dead, led to the death of the boy’s mother in the 11-day standoff that followed, and became, in the end, a seminal lesson in how law enforcement should not act in such situations.
Earlier this week, Retro Report, a critically acclaimed video documentary series that is distributed by The New York Times, released a thoughtful piece re-examining the 1992 FBI siege of a cabin inhabited by white supremacist Randy Weaver and his family. In the aftermath of that siege, which helped spark the militia movement of the 1990s, Weaver and another man who was in the cabin were acquitted of the murder of Marshal William Degan, and the federal government ultimately paid the surviving Weavers $3.1 million to settle their countervailing legal claims.
The film features Mark Potok, senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center and editor of its investigative magazine, Intelligence Report. “The Ruby Ridge standoff became a kind of founding myth of the radical right,” Potok says in the film. “It not only made the government look bad, it was bad. People, whatever views they had, whatever illegal activities they had [engaged in], should not be shot down by government snipers when they are not actively threatening the life of somebody.”
Editors’ Note: Updates with details of Frein’s arraignment.
Eric Matthew Frein, the 31-year-old antigovernment survivalist and accused cop-killer, was arraigned today on murder and other charges in Hawley, Pa., after a 48-day massive manhunt in rural Pennsylvania ended yesterday with his capture.
Frein was restrained in the Pike County District Courtroom in the very handcuffs once used by the Pennsylvania state trooper he is accused of shooting. Authorities slapped those cuffs on him immediately after his arrest and drove him away in the slain officer’s car to the state police barracks where the ambush occurred on Sept. 12.
As Frein was led to the courtroom today–his hair slicked back with a bloody cut on his nose–a crowd of about 150 gathered and shouted, “You’re a coward,” and “Rot in hell,” the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
With Frein’s hands bound in the handcuffs that once belonged to slain State Police Cpl. Bryon Dickson, another state trooper turned the pages of the murder complaint, which Frein appeared to read intensely, the newspaper reported.
Frein, apparently caught off guard by deputy U.S. marshals, was arrested without a shot fired near an abandoned hangar at Birchwood-Pocono Airpark in Monroe County, Pa., according to several media accounts.
The elusive fugitive, placed on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List last month, was the object of one of the most intense manhunts in modern times–an undertaking now estimated to have cost $10 million. The search for the suspect draped a cloak of fear across assorted Pocono communities resulting in the closure of schools and the cancellation of many activities, including hunting and Halloween trick-or-treating.
While his motivation isn’t clear, Frein was a skilled survivalist and war re-enactment buff accused of harboring a deep-seated hatred of police.
For the past seven weeks, more than 1,000 law enforcement officers combed the dense woods of Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains for the Frein following the ambush shooting of Cpl. Byron Dickson, 38, and the wounding of Trooper Alex Douglass, 31, at the Pennsylvania State Police Blooming Grove Barracks in Pike County.
Pike County District Attorney Raymond Tonkin told reporters late Thursday that Frein would be charged with murder, homicide of a law enforcement officer, attempted murder and possession of weapons of mass destruction. That latter charge apparently relates to assembled pipe bombs found during the manhunt. The prosecutor also said he would seek the death penalty, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
Frein’s capture came just before dark Thursday, when the federal marshals spotted a man matching the fugitive’s description in a field, appearing to be unarmed, yards from the hangar, the Express-Times newspaper reported.
“They ordered him to surrender, to get down on his knees and raise his hands, which he did,” Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Frank Noonan told the newspaper.
There were other reports, later confirmed by authorities, that a rifle and a handgun were found in the hanger where Frein apparently was seeking refuge from cold and wet fall weather. Frein appeared to be in good condition, not requiring any medical attention, Noonan told the Express-Times.
“He looked fairly healthy, healthier than I would have expected,” he said.
A chance encounter earlier this summer with a Border Patrol officer along the Rio Grande has become a disastrous event for the vigilantes prowling the Texas border at the militia encampment dubbed Camp LoneStar.
Two of the militiamen, including camp leader Kevin “K.C.” Massey III, now face federal felony weapons charges as a result of the encounter. Massey was arrested on Monday, while a second militiaman, John Frederick Foerster, was arrested on Tuesday. Both are charged with being felons in possession of a weapon.
A group of Border Patrol officers were in pursuit of several illegal border crossers in the early morning hours of Aug. 29 when one of the officers, having lost sight of the fugitives, came upon Foerster, who was standing in the brush holding a weapon. According to the criminal complaint, the agent fired four shots at Foerster and missed; Foerster threw down his gun and surrendered.
While the officers were processing information with Foerster, Massey and another Camp LoneStar participant arrived to vouch for Foerster, carrying weapons. Massey had an AK-47 rifle and a .45 caliber handgun.
According to Massey’s account of the incident on Facebook, Border Patrol officers asked the men to store their guns (as well as a GoPro video camera) in a Patrol vehicle. But when the officers wrapped up their work, they insisted on keeping the guns and the camera as part of their investigation.
The encounter occurred on the private property owned by Cuban “Rusty” Monsees where the Camp LoneStar encampment is set up, and so no arrests were made at the time. However, it shortly emerged that Foerster was in fact a felon; Massey, as federal agents would later report, also had been convicted of a felony in 1988.
On Monday, ATF agents swooped in and arrested Massey at a hotel in Brownsville, and then arrested Foerster on Tuesday.
The arrests set off a round of paranoia among their fellow militiamen. Massey’s “superior” at Camp LoneStar, Archie Seals, ranted on Facebook about how the arrests represent government oppression of their citizen-vigilante efforts:
Ok, I had been thinking for a while, “Are we doing any good here”? Now I know we are, and we are stepping on someone toes. Listen up all Feds that are monitoring, you have put my #2 in a cell illegally thinking it would shut us up and down. Guess what??? It didn’t work. We are still open for business, because, “This is what we do”. If anything, you made us stronger and more determined. When you take me in on some bs, another has been chosen to take over, then another, and another. We are Camp LoneStar and we are going no where. Now, I need every possible BOG immediately. Let’s show these feds that we only will grow stronger. Who will now join me and who will send support for the camp and for KC??? We need supplies here and KC needs funds for bond and lawyer.
Fellow “Patriot” Gary Hunt, evidently familiar with the details of Massey’s arrest, posted angrily at his blog:
These occurrences … should provide adequate warning to patriots, especially those who have a felony record, that there is a concerted effort on the part of government to find cause to bring charges against you and take your guns away. They also provide insight into the tactics that the government is using to cull the patriot community of as many as they can, reducing the remaining numbers, and intimidating those who remain.
Massey’s friends at the Secure Our Border organization changed the cover photo of their Facebook page to one featuring Massey’s portrait, accompanied by the legend: “Taken by the ATF for the crime of proving that the border can be secured by a few American Patriots.”
Two members of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT) have been charged in the kidnapping and murder of another member of that violent, racist gang.
Lisa Gibby, 41, and Dalton Clayton, 21, were indicted on capital murder by terroristic threat in Grayson County, Texas, and may face the death penalty if convicted, KTEN-TV in Denison reported over the weekend.
The two are charged in the death Albert Duane Parker, also an ABT member, whose body was found on May 21 in a field east of Sherman, Texas. The indictment alleges Gibby and Clayton killed Parker by “stabbing him with a knife or sharp bladed object.” There is no mention of motive in the charging document.
“The victim was kidnapped before he was killed,” Joe Brown, Grayson County District Attorney, told the television station. “We’re working through the evidence, but we certainly know the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas is involved in this case.”
Brown said investigators are exploring several possible motives for the killing. “Significantly, we don’t have to prove motive. We don’t have to prove why it happened.”
When the murder indictment was filed on Friday, Gibby and Dalton were already jailed on drug and weapons charges. Their previous criminal history, combined with allegedly kidnapping Parker before killing him, make them candidates for the death penalty.
Before his death, Parker lived in what neighbors described as a known “drug house” in Denison that is now boarded up, KTEN reported.
“Given his lifestyle, I don’t know that it’s a surprise, but it is absolutely tragic,” Amy Timberlake, a neighbor of Parker’s, told the station.
It is the latest in a string of murders and other violent crimes attributed to the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas—labeled one of the nation’s most violent, racist gangs, operating in and outside of Texas prisons. ABT has been blamed for multiple murders, robberies, arsons and kidnappings, along with extensive narcotics trafficking and other crimes.
In late September, Nicholas Ryan Acree, 33, and Charles James Garrett Jr., 30, both of Fort Worth and both members of ABT, were charged in Mansfield, Texas, with murdering a fellow gang member, Bryan A. Childers, 39, also of Fort Worth. He has not been seen since May 29 when he was reported missing by his family.
Authorities aren’t saying if the new murder cases have any connection with a massive federal prosecution brought two years ago, resulting in guilty pleas and convictions of 73 ranking ABT members in five federal jurisdictions. In federal court in Houston, 36 ABT leaders have pleaded guilty this year.
Yet another murder is being attributed to the dangerous white supremacist gang known as the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT). But in this case, the alleged victim’s body has not been found.
Nicholas Ryan Acree, 33, and Charles James Garrett Jr., 30, both members of ABT, are being held on murder charges in jail in Mansfield, Texas, authorities say. Bond has been set for each of them at $75,000.
The two suspects, both arrested last Tuesday by Fort Worth police, are suspects in the disappearance of Bryan A. Childers, 39, also of Fort Worth, who has not been seen since May 29, when he was reported missing by his family, according to police.
As members of ABT, the suspects belong to one of the nation’s most violent, racist gangs, operating in and outside of Texas prisons. ABT has been blamed for multiple murders, robberies, arsons and kidnappings, along with extensive narcotics trafficking and other crimes.
Authorities aren’t saying if the Fort Worth case has any connection to the massive federal prosecution brought two years ago, resulting in guilty pleas and convictions of 73 ranking ABT members in five federal jurisdictions. In federal court in Houston, 36 ABT leaders have pleaded guilty this year, with most of those defendants scheduled to be sentenced next month.
Justice Department officials said in August that those cases “decimated” the ABT leadership. At about that same time, Fort Worth detectives began investigating Childers’ disappearance as a homicide after receiving information he “had been killed at a residence” in Fort Worth.
After Acree’s arrest last week, “he admitted to participating in the murder of the victim and also provided detailed information that corroborated information learned [by detectives] while interviewing Garrett and other individuals associated with this case,” police said Friday in a press release.
Since the two arrests, police have searched a residence in Fort Worth and a second in Haltom City, Texas, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in Friday’s editions.
Evidence discovered at those residences “was consistent with the information given to detectives by Acree and Garrett,” but police didn’t disclose the specifics, the newspaper reported.
Police also aren’t saying if they have any clues as to the whereabouts of Childers’ body, which still has not been found.
Acree and Garrett, charged in August with the aggravated kidnapping and stabbing of fellow gang member Lovick Stikeleather, were out on bail in that gang-infighting case when they were arrested in the Childers disappearance.
Two other ABT members, James Byrd, 44, and Michael Young, 47, are also charged in the Stikeleather assault and are in federal custody, the Fort Worth newspaper reported.
The nightmare has happened again.
A massive manhunt continued today for a suspected antigovernment sniper and survivalist who allegedly gunned down a Pennsylvania state trooper and seriously wounded a second trooper during a shift change on Sept. 12.
It is at least the third deadly ambush of North American police officers by apparent antigovernment extremists since the beginning of the summer. The attacks have left six officers dead from Canada to Las Vegas.
On June 4, three Canadian police officers were lured to a subdivision in the province of New Brunswick and shot and killed by a heavily armed man who slipped away into a knot of dense woods. The suspect, who had a history of posting numerous hardcore pro-gun and anti-police statements on his Facebook page, was captured after schools, businesses and public transportation were shut down.
A few days later in Las Vegas, a man and wife who harbored antigovernment views ambushed two police officers as they ate lunch in a pizza restaurant. The couple, Jerad and Amanda Miller, also shot to death a bystander in a nearby Wal-Mart, where they made their last stand. Police shot and killed Jerad Miller. Amanda Miller took her own life.
Last Friday, shortly before 11 p.m., Cpl. Bryon Dickson, 38, of the Pennsylvania state police was shot and killed as he walked towards his patrol car, which was parked in front of the Blooming Grove police barracks in rural northeastern Pennsylvania. Moments later, as he approached the barracks to begin his 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, Trooper Alex T. Douglass, 31, was also shot and seriously wounded by a bullet from a .308-caliber rifle.
The sniper then vanished into the dense and dark woods.
Pennsylvania authorities have identified the gunman as 31-year-old Eric Matthew Frein, a man, state police commissioner Frank Noonan said, who should be “considered armed and extremely dangerous.”
“He has been described as a survivalist,” Noonan told a Tuesday news conference. “He has made statements about wanting to kill law enforcement officers and also about wanting to commit mass acts of murder.”
At a news conference today, state police Lt. Col. George Bivens said Frein is a military re-enactor, who, “in his current state of mind” now “appears to have assumed that role in real life,” according to Scranton Times-Tribune.
Bivens also said Frein has a “long-standing grudge against law enforcement and government in general since at least 2006” and altered his appearance before the shooting, shaving the sides of his head with a “wider than a Mohawk” on top.
“I’d like to directly address Eric Frein again,” the police colonel said. “In the event you are listening to this broadcast on a radio, on a portable radio while cowering in some cool, damp hiding place, I want you to know one thing: Eric, we are coming for you. It’s only a matter of time we bring you to justice for committing this cowardly act.”
Although authorities described the suspect as having antigovernment views and survivalist skills, no further details were provided about any political affiliations or ideology.
Last Friday, a jury in an Orlando, Fla., federal courtroom found William “Bill” White guilty of sending death threats to officials in May 2012. Sentencing is set for Nov. 21, when White, 37, will face the possibility of decades in prison.
White is already incarcerated in Florida for sending threats to other individuals. Before he was arrested in 2008, White had held posts in neo-Nazi groups and ran the movement gossip site, Overthrow.com. White is a particularly obnoxious racist, frequently using the most crude racial slurs available and constantly harassing people he doesn’t like by calling for their lynching or worse. He once put President Obama on the cover of his publication, the National Socialist, with a gun sight over his face. The text read, “Kill this Nigger?”
The charges against White stemmed from emailed threats against FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force Agent Kelly Boaz, Circuit Judge Walter Komanski and then-State Attorney Lawson Lamar, prominent officials in the case against the American Front white-supremacist group whose Osceola County compound was raided in May 2012. ( continue to full post… )
Despite his sister’s and ex-girlfriend’s dramatic testimony against him, Ross Hack, the alleged neo-Nazi mastermind behind the ambush murders of two anti-racist skinheads 16 years ago, was found not guilty today by a federal jury in Las Vegas.
Hack’s co-defendant, Leland Jones, was also acquitted after the two week trial that included testimony from an unlikely parade of white supremacists and meth addicts and at least one apparent Holocaust denier, who testified as a character witness for the defense.
The racially diverse jury deliberated for more than a day and a half before announcing its verdict around 9:30 a.m. local time.
The verdicts bring to a close a cold case revealing a hot war. For decades, racist and anti-racist skinheads have battled in the streets and music venues, often violently. Rarely, though, has the conflict resulted in murder, let alone a double murder as it did in a remote patch of sand and rocky dirt in the desert about 20 miles northwest of Las Vegas, sometime between the last minutes of July 3 and the first minutes of July 4, 1998.
That’s when the anti-racist activists, Lin “Spit” Newborn and Daniel Shersty, were ambushed and shot to death, prosecutors say, by six neo-Nazi skinheads, including two women who lured the victims to the desert with the promise of a night of partying.
Also testifying against Hack and Jones was John “Polar Bear” Butler, the only one of the skinhead conspirators to be tried and convicted of the slayings. Butler, like the two women, said the ambush was Hack’s idea and Hack and Jones had in fact fired the first shots.
But there was no physical evidence, no fingerprints or DNA or CSI television show science to tie the defendants to the 16-year-old crime scene.
The not-guilty verdict was a blow to the government, which has a conviction rate in federal court of more than 90%. The verdict was a moment of pure elation for “the entire Hack family,” Hack’s lawyer, William Kennedy, a federal public defender, told Hatewatch today. “This has been hanging over Ross’ head for 16 years,” Kennedy said. “He didn’t plan it. He didn’t participate in it. He wasn’t there. He didn’t do it. And he’s always been not guilty.”
Jones’ lawyer, James Hartsell, told Hatewatch that the jurors obviously took the case “very seriously in how long it took them to deliberate.”
“They didn’t rush to judgment,” Hartsell said. “They considered all the evidence and or lack of evidence before rendering a verdict.”
During the trial, Kennedy repeatedly attacked the veracity of the government’s star witnesses, branding them a trio of liars and meth addicts, willing to say anything to reduce their time behind bars. Butler, with an extensive criminal record and a longtime addiction to meth, was convicted in state court of the murders in 2000. Now 44, he is serving two life sentences. ( continue to full post… )
LAS VEGAS – The tragedy of racial hatred was on full display in a federal courtroom here Monday as the prosecution rested its case against a pair of alleged neo-Nazis. They are accused of the ambush murders of two anti-racist skinheads 16 years ago in the desert on the outskirts of the city.
Melissa Hack, herself a neo-Nazi at the time of the killings, testified against her brother, Ross, the alleged mastermind of the ambush, as their mother and other relatives looked on from the back of the courtroom.
“My family is very upset with me,” Melissa Hack, a defendant in the case before she pleaded guilty last May and agreed to testify, told the court in a voice that went from whisper to wail during her more than two hours on the stand. “They don’t believe me because they think the FBI is trying to frame my entire family.”
The truth, she said, is that she knowingly lured the anti-racists – “our enemies” – to their deaths on a remote patch of sand and dirt where Ross Hack, his co-defendant Leland Jones, 33, and two other white supremacists shot to death Lin “Spit” Newborn, 24, and Daniel Shersty, 20, in the late night desert darkness of July 3, 1998.
“Ross, why,” Melissa Hack, 39, shouted from the witness stand Monday across the courtroom at her 42-year-old brother, gently rocking in his chair at the defense table. “Our lives are ruined. My mother’s life is ruined. The victims’ lives are ruined.
“Why?” she cried. “Because of fucking hate. That’s why.”
Jones and the Hacks were arrested and charged by federal authorities in 2012, 14 years after the murders.
Until now, Melissa Hack’s former boyfriend, John Butler, 43, a meth addict and neo-Nazi, was the only person tried in the slayings. He was arrested about 10 days after the killings. He was eventually convicted and was brought to court last week from prison, where he has been since 2001, serving two life sentences. He testified that Jones and Ross Hack, armed with pistols, fired the first shots. ( continue to full post… )
LAS VEGAS – A former “skinhead girl” now nearing middle-age, wearing sensible shoes and jailhouse shackles was the star witness in a federal courtroom here Wednesday, the first day of testimony in a racially charged double murder trial 16 years in the making.
Mandie Abels, who has the words “skinhead girl” tattooed across her back, was escorted by U. S. Marshals into courtroom 7C from a prison cell where she is serving a 15-year sentence for her role in what she called “a vile deed”—leading two anti-racist skinheads to their deaths in the desert just outside of Las Vegas.
In the early morning hours of July 4, 1998 Lin Newborn, 24, and Daniel Shersty, 21 were ambushed and shot to death, prosecutors say, by four white supremacists. “They despised what the victims stood for,” federal prosecutor Patricia Sumner told the jury during opening arguments Wednesday.
The killings were a shocking escalation in the violent—but until then rarely deadly—nationwide conflict between racist skinheads and their anti-racist rivals. Newborn, who was black and worked at a popular Las Vegas body piercing shop, and Shersty, who was a white U.S Air Force airman stationed at the nearby Nellis Air Force Base, were leaders of a fledging group called Las Vegas Unity Skins. ( continue to full post… )