The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
Three alleged members of the Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan who are current and former Florida Department of Corrections employees were arrested today on charges they plotted to kill a former black inmate.
Thomas Jordan Driver, 25, David Elliot Moran, 47, and Charles Thomas Newcomb, 42, were all arrested on one state count of conspiracy to commit murder, Florida State Attorney General Pam Bondi said in a prepared statement.
Driver and Moran worked at the Department of Corrections Reception and Medical Center in Lake Butler at the time of their arrest, and Newcomb is a former employee of the state corrections department, said Whitney Ray, a spokesman for the attorney general’s office.
“The defendants plotted the murder as retaliation for a fight between the inmate, who is African American, and Driver,” the statement from the attorney general’s office said.
The attorney general’s office identified the group the men allegedly belonged to as the Traditional American Knights of the KKK. But there is no such known group, and the authorities almost certainly meant the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK, which is based in Potosi, Mo., and last year had a second chapter in Prattville, Ala. A year earlier, it listed seven chapters, the Missouri headquarters and another six in Texas. The group is not known to have a Florida chapter.
The Traditionalist American Knights has gotten much media attention in the last year for distributing propaganda pamphlets. But it received far more scrutiny after its national leader, Frank Ancona, sent out pamphlets threatening to use “lethal force” against protesters in Ferguson, Mo., if any of his members who went there were threatened.
Inside the tempestuous Klan world, Ancona is also known for the attacks on him by other Klan leaders, who accuse him of being secretly Jewish.
The Florida case is the latest instance of KKK members holding positions of authority in law enforcement and the criminal justice system in Florida and elsewhere. Although such cases were once fairly common, they are very unusual in recent years.
There have been a number of cases over the years of racist prison guards, a few of whom were Klan members.
Last summer, two officers with the Fruitland Park, Fla., police department were identified as Klan members. One of them was the deputy chief. One resigned and the other was fired, as prosecutors quickly reviewed their prior criminal cases for bias. There has been some dispute as to whether or not they really were Klansmen.
In 2009, the Nebraska Supreme Court upheld the 2006 firing of a State Patrol trooper who claimed he had a 1st Amendment right to belong to the Knights Party, another name for the Arkansas-based Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.
The state’s high court said the firing of trooper Robert Henderson was justified because he voluntarily associated with an organization that uses violence and terror to oppose the state’s founding principles of equality and tolerance.
Henderson, a trooper for 18 years, was dismissed in 2006 after he admitted that, two years earlier, he had joined Knights Party.
“One cannot simultaneously wear the badge of the Nebraska State Patrol and the robe of a Klansman without degrading what that badge represents when worn by any officer,” Justice John Gerrard wrote.
In the new Florida case, court documents associate with the arrests have not been unsealed, so other details of the case are not yet publicly available. The case will be prosecuted in Florida’s Columbia County, officials said.
Federal civil rights charges are pending against a former student at the University of Mississippi who is accused of hanging a noose and Confederate flag on a statue of James Meredith, the first black student to attend Ole Miss.
Graeme Phillip Harris, 20, of Alpharetta, Ga., was arrested on Friday by deputy U.S. marshals, two days after being indicted by a federal grand jury in northern Mississippi. He was released on an unsecured $10,000 bond after an initial court appearance.
Accused racist killer Frazier Glenn Miller, who has been in jail a year since three fatal shootings in Overland Park, Kan., has been granted one of his two wishes: He will get a speedy trial. He won’t get Internet access in his jail cell.
Johnson County District Judge Kelly Ryan set a trial date of Aug. 17 on Friday after Miller, 74, shouted “Hell, no,” when asked if he wanted to waive his right to a speedy trial, the Kansas City Star reports.
Miller entered not guilty pleas during the same hearing on charges of first-degree capital murder in the deaths of William Corporon, 69, his 16-year-old grandson Reat Underwood and Terri LaManno, 53.
Miller, also known as Frazier Glenn Cross Jr., has said he was targeting Jews when he opened fire outside the Jewish Community Center and Village Shalom care center on April 13 of last year. All three victims were Christians.
Miller’s defense attorneys strenuously objected to the early trial date, arguing that they need substantially more time to prepare for a death penalty case. They asked that a trial date be set in March 2016.
“I want to have my day in court,” Miller told the court. He also has asked to act as his own attorney, but was given a court-appointed defense attorey.
Miller and his attorneys also asked the judge to grant him Internet access in jail so “he could have contact with ‘like-minded individuals’ who shared his political beliefs,” the Kansas City newspaper reported.
One of Miller’s attorneys told the court that other “like-minded individuals” may be called to testify about “Miller’s state of mind at the time of the shootings,” the newspaper reported.
“There has not been a showing of need other than the defendant’s wishing to have the same access he had before being placed in custody,” the judge responded in denying the request.
After a two-day hearing earlier this month, the judge ruled there was probable cause to believe Miller had committed the murders and deemed him competent to stand trial.
Authorities in Missouri say a heavily armed man with antigovernment views and a “Rambo” personality threatened to kill police officers and expressed hatred of blacks and Muslims before his arrest Wednesday in St. Louis.
David Michael Hagler, 53, who lived on food stamps and part-time work as a landscaper, faces four federal firearms charges, including illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun and an unregistered machine gun. He is being held without bond until a preliminary hearing next week, according to court document information.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is reporting that FBI agents and police bomb squad teams spent Thursday searching for booby traps in two adjacent St. Louis homes where informants said Hagler had stockpiles of guns, 10,000 rounds of ammunition and had talked of “mass attacks on (police) officers at funerals or fundraisers.”
Investigators wearing body armor used at least three robots during the search of the properties in St. Louis’ Baden neighborhood, near Halls Ferry Circle. They feared an underground tunnel connected the two houses, and that Hagler had put steel plates in exterior walls in the event of a shootout with police.
Results of the search weren’t disclosed. A federal court affidavit describing the evidence against Hagler has been sealed from public inspection.
The FBI in St. Louis did not immediately return a call from Hatewatch, nor did the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Missouri.
Media reports suggest the suspect’s antigovernment and anti-police views were growing and that his arrest may have thwarted a potential tragedy.
“The law enforcement action being taken you might describe as proactive in terms of trying to address something before something worse happens,” U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan told the St. Louis newspaper.
One of two informants told investigators that Hagler “had a seething hatred for his ex-wife and was becoming more agitated after events in Ferguson and in fear of losing his homes because of unpaid taxes,” the Post-Dispatch reported.
That same informer described Hagler as a very intelligent survivalist type whose goal was to live off the grid while holding “extreme anti-government and anti-law enforcement views,” the newspaper reported.
Court records show Hagler has a criminal history going back 35 years. One of his first arrests was for selling marijuana to an undercover officer. He wasn’t convicted of those charges, but subsequently faced other marijuana charges, domestic violence and assaulting neighbors with firearms.
Before he allegedly robbed a bank, stole a pickup truck, killed a man and then got into a shootout that left him and a young state trooper dead in small town Wisconsin on Tuesday, Steven Snyder was reportedly a racist skinhead with ties to the National Alliance (NA), once the best organized and most dangerous neo-Nazi group in the country.
In 1996, when Snyder was 19, he was part of a group of skinheads, armed with pipes and baseball bats, that attacked a group of blacks and Latinos at their home in Fond du Lac, Wis., according to a Milwaukee television station.
When police arrived, most of the skinheads scattered, but Snyder was captured. Police then discovered, according to the station, that Snyder had white supremacist tattoos and was carrying printed cards promoting the NA. He later spent 50 days in jail for his role in the bloody brawl.
Fast forward 19 years to Tuesday afternoon when a man – later identified as the now 38-year-old Snyder – walked into a bank in the Village of Wausaukee, fired a shot into the ceiling and escaped in an bank employee’s pickup truck with an undisclosed amount of cash.
At 2:30 pm, about 30 minutes after the bank robbery, police were notified that a man, Thomas Christ, 59, had been found dead along the side of a road. Near the body was the stolen pickup truck, its motor still running. It appears Snyder stole Christ’s vehicle to continue his escape.
Three hours later in Fond du Lac, the site of the skinhead brawl, a Wisconsin state trooper, Trevor Casper, 21, spotted Snyder.
The trooper and the suspect exchanged gunfire and both men were killed.
Snyder lived in suburban Detroit, where he ran his own cement mason business. According to New Richmond News, the FBI says Snyder is a suspect in at least two bank robberies that bloody day and other unsolved robberies in and outside of Wisconsin.
Casper, the young state trooper who finally stopped Snyder’s rampage, had just graduated from the State Patrol Academy in December and had completed 12 weeks with a training officer, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Casper was the first Wisconsin state trooper to be fatally shot in the line of duty in nearly 43 years and just minutes away, the Journal said, from completing his first solo shift.
A 67-year-old self-described “Patriot” has been charged with building two improvised explosive devices found last November near Atlanta in a backpack stuffed with material suggesting the bomb-builder was a Muslim.
Michael Conrade Sibley, of Marietta, Ga., was being held on a $100,000 bond after he was arraigned yesterday in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on one charge of possessing explosives on federal property.
Sibley confessed to FBI agents during an interview on Friday, four days after he was initially interviewed about his involvement with planting a bomb-packed backpack in Vickery Creek Park in Roswell on Nov. 4, court documents said.
It is unclear what initially led authorities to question Sibley over the explosives, which were discovered by a mother and her daughter who were hiking in the park, located on federal property, north of Atlanta. A bomb-squad destroyed the backpack in place.
Evidence subsequently recovered by investigators likely included the suspect’s DNA. Also recovered were components of two potentially deadly pipe bombs, a Koran and a list of potential terrorist targets, including hospitals, schools and Jewish facilities in the Greater Atlanta area.
The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta was among those listed and put on a heightened state of security after the backpack was discovered.
Various media outlets have reported that the backpack bomber’s intention apparently was to frighten the public and spread fear of Islamic terrorism.
The charging documents say Sibley bought the backpack at a garage sale, and constructed the explosive devices in the garage of his home in Marietta. He admitted placing a Quran and the book The Rape of Kuwait in the backpack, along a copy of the Atlanta Falcons football schedule. He also “wrote the name, ‘Mina Khodari,’ in the backpack because it looked foreign,” the court documents say.
Sibley told FBI agents “he is a ‘patriot’ and he felt no one was paying attention to what was going on the world,” federal documents say. He also expressed the belief that if he planted the backpack bomb in a Roswell Park, “people would finally get that this type of activity could happen anywhere.”
In the past decade, David Joseph Lenio has gone from a Michigan high school cross-country runner called “Dave” to a hate-filled accused criminal who told the world on Twitter: “I am a potential terrorist. I know the truth about 9/11.”
Along the way, he also expressed the desire to shoot a rabbi in the head, shoot 100 schoolchildren and engage in a shootout with police in order to end his life in a “suicide by cop.”
Before he could fulfill his threats, Lenio was arrested Feb. 16 at a Montana ski resort — a day when schools were closed for the President’s Day holiday – just one day after he taken two of his rifles and a quantity of ammunition out of a storage locker in Kalispell, Mont.
Today, the 28-year-old graduate of Forest Hills Northern High School, in Grand Rapids, Mich., will be led in handcuffs from a jail cell in Flathead County, Mont., to a courtroom.
Lenio is scheduled to be arraigned before District Court Judge Heidi J. Ulbricht — herself a mother — on two felony charges, intimidation and criminal defamation, for using his Twitter accounts to publish assorted death threats.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Stacy Boman told Hatewatch she will ask that Lenio remain in jail under a $500,000 bond until he stands trial.
Court documents detail the chilling threats allegedly made by Lenio.
“I bet I could get at least 12 unarmed sitting ducks if I decide to go on a killing spree in a #school Sounds better than being a wage slave,” Lenio wrote on Twitter on Feb. 12, the court filings allege.
“What do you think costs more in most U.S. cities? A gun with enough ammunition to kill 100 school kids or the security deposit on an apartment,” he posted later. A short time after that, he wrote: “What would I rather do? Be a #wage slave for the rest of my life or tell society fuck you & do your kids a favor by shooting up a #school?”
On Feb. 14, after sending tweets filled with anti-Semitic comments and expressing a desire to copy other mass shootings, Lenio wrote: “I bet I’d take out at least a whole #classroom & score 30+ if I put my mind to it #Poverty is making me want to kill folks #mental health’#
That was followed by this: “This working and not have a god damn thing to show for it [is] bullshit [and] makes me wanna execute grade #school #kids til the cops take me out too.” He also wrote about his hatred of Jews and called the Holocaust a “lie beyond a reasonable doubt. It is now time to hunt the Nazi hunters.”
When Twitter spotted his hateful messages in January, the social media provider shut down Lenio’s account, but he opened another, then another, mockingly displaying the ease with which he worked around Twitter’s policing.
Some of the 90 tweets Lenio fired off in mid-February came in response to an anti-gun violence tweet by Jonathan Hutson, a spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Hutson provided information to state and federal authorities that led to Lenio’s arrest. ( continue to full post… )
The man reportedly arrested in the aftermath of a shooting spree in Mesa, Ariz., today sports tattoos that identify him as a neo-Nazi. What’s more, a local retired detective says he is a longtime white supremacist skinhead associated with major racist groups.
Ryan Giroux, who allegedly murdered one person and wounded five others earlier today and was arrested after a frenzied manhunt, was released from prison in Arizona in 2013. According to prison records, he has convictions for attempt to commit aggravated assault, marijuana, theft, and second degree burglary. Records indicate that he was sentenced to a total of about 14 years in prison.
The Arizona prison system’s mug shot of Giroux shows his face covered in white supremacist tattoos: where his shaven eyebrows used to be, the words “SKIN” and “HEAD”; and on his left temple, the number “88,” which is neo-Nazi code for Heil Hitler (because H is the 8th letter of the alphabet); and, on his chin, a “Thor’s Hammer,” a symbol used by adherents of Odinism, a pre-Christian faith that has been adopted by many white supremacists.
A retired Mesa Police detective who once infiltrated local skinhead groups told Hatewatch that he knew Giroux from previous encounters, and that Giroux was a member of Hammerskin Nation, a notoriously violent racist skinhead group, and an associate of the Aryan Brotherhood, a national prison gang with a long list of murders to its credit. “He’s a violent guy,” said the former detective, who knew Giroux as a young skinhead in the 1990s and early 2000s . “I think his time in prison contributed to that.”
Giroux, 41, has been in and out of Arizona prisons since 1993, when he was arrested for burglary and marijuana possession. His most recent prison stint, for an attempt to commit aggravated assault, began in 2007 and ended in October 2013.
According to early reports, the rampage apparently began before 9 a.m. at the Tri City Inn, a Mesa motel, when three people were shot in a room by the suspect. One of those, a male, died at the scene; two women in the room were wounded by the shooter.
The suspect then apparently ran across the street to a nearby bistro café and shot a man there. That victim then ran across the street to the motel, where medical personnel had arrived to treat the first victims, and he received treatment there.
The shooter then hijacked a car from a woman at the parking lot of an adjacent technical school and drove down a nearby boulevard for about a mile, and then pulled into a large apartment complex. Once there, he apparently shot and wounded a man outside in the parking lot. He then crossed the street to a nearby apartment and broke into it. The occupant of the apartment he invaded was left unhurt.
About two hours after the rampage began, Mesa police successfully cornered Giroux and captured him with the use of Tasers. He was led away from the scene in a DNA suit designed to preserve evidence on his person.
During the search for Giroux, officials at nearby Adams Elementary School put the school on shutdown, and officials at nearby Pima Medical Center similarly locked down their facility. After his arrest, there was a flood of cars from the area as people who had been put under lockdown fled, and parents arrived to take their children home from the school.
Editor’s Note: Officials said today that the start of the trial of Chris Simcox had been delayed until Monday, March 23.
One of the great ironies of the now-moribund vigilante border-watch movement is that its members were obsessed with the lawlessness of the immigrant border crossers they sought to apprehend — but themselves often had criminal backgrounds or, worse yet, hid behind their activism to pursue criminal acts.
Exhibit A: Chris Simcox.
Simcox was the co-founder of the Minuteman Project, the April 2005 gathering on the Arizona border of citizen border watchers south of the Tombstone area, where Simcox lived at the time. Originally founded as a border militia, Simcox and his Minutemen became the epitome of the nativist border-watch movement, embodied by a national fund-raising campaign that he led to build a fence on a section of the border as a demonstration project that mostly ended up lining the pockets of his Beltway-based handlers. The movement, which peaked with 319 nativist extremist groups in 2010, had faded to just 19 groups by late last year.
Simcox was a volatile personality with a history of destroyed relationships, and eventually his Minuteman Civil Defense Corps (MCDC) shut down amid turmoil within its ranks over finances and egos, as well as the decline of its reputation as the border-watch movement became increasingly associated with criminality.
Simcox himself provided the latest evidence of that association when he was arrested in July 2013 and charged with three counts of child molestation — later reduced to two — after his then-6-year-old daughter and one of her friends, age 5, accused him of sexually assaulting them. If convicted of the felony charges, Simcox could face life in prison.
Simcox goes on trial this week in Maricopa County Superior Court in Phoenix on the charges. (Hatewatch will provide coverage of the trial.) He plans to act as his own attorney in the trial, although he will be required to work through his court-appointed associate attorneys when it comes to cross-examining his two alleged victims.
Simcox’s is hardly the only such case. Seen retrospectively, the border-watch movement was remarkable for the number of its leaders and participants whose careers ended in criminal acts.
Even before Simcox came along with his Minuteman concept, one of the early border-militia organizers who preceded him also had a number of brushes with the law. Casey Nethercott, another Arizona resident, was involved in a border-watch operation called Ranch Rescue at the turn of the century, and he too had a number of criminal legal problems.
Nethercott — who had done prison time in California for assault in the 1990s — and some of his fellow Ranch Rescue members in 2003 assaulted two Salvadoran migrants who had crossed the border on foot and wound up on a ranch where the nativist border watchers operated. The migrants were held at gunpoint, and one of them was pistol-whipped and attacked by a Rottweiler. With the assistance of the SPLC, the migrants sued their attackers and won a million-dollar civil judgment against Ranch Rescue, including $500,000 against Nethercott, who also faced criminal assault charges in the case but eventually had them dismissed.
Nethercott eventually left Ranch Rescue and then began organizing his own border watches at a property he purchased in Arizona. Eventually he had a tense standoff with Border Patrol agents at that property; when FBI agents tried to arrest him for his role in that incident two weeks later, they wound up shooting the white supremacist who was accompanying him at the time.
Indeed, while the phrase “rule of law” even today is often bandied about by the remaining bands of vigilante nativists, the record demonstrates that this was a peculiarly flexible concept for many of the Minutemen and their associates.
Shawna Forde, for example, incorporated the phrase into the logo for her offshoot border-watch operation, Minuteman American Defense. Forde’s operation was widely promoted at the website of Simcox’s Minuteman Project co-founder, Jim Gilchrist; previously, she had been deeply involved in Simcox’s MCDC operations in Washington state.
Then, in June 2009, Forde was arrested and charged with masterminding the horrific murders of a 9-year-old girl and her father in the small Arizona border town of Arivaca, along with a white-supremacist cohort named Jason Eugene Bush and a local man, Albert Gaxiola, as part of her plan to create a border-militia compound. All three were convicted, and Forde and Bush wound up on Arizona’s Death Row.
After the arrests of Forde, Bush and Gaxiola, Forde’s former associates in the Minuteman movement fled from their onetime protégé. National leaders of the Minuteman movement — particularly Simcox and Gilchrist — hastily tried to put distance between themselves and Forde and her group. To this day, Gilchrist tries to claim that he had little to do with her.
But while Forde’s conviction severely damaged the border-watch movement — as one ex-MCDC leader put it, “A lot of people felt, well, you’re a Minuteman, you’re a killer” — that was not the end of it.
In April 2012, one of Forde’s associates in the desert, a Tucson man named Todd Hezlitt, was arrested and charged with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor for an affair he had initiated with a 15-year-old girl from a local high school where he was an assistant wrestling coach. Two months later, he fled with the girl to Mexico, and he briefly became an international fugitive.
A few weeks after that, the girl turned herself in to the American consulate in Mazatlan. Hezlitt was caught a short time later and extradited. He eventually wound up agreeing to plead guilty to the sexual conduct charges in exchange for not being charged with kidnapping, and was sentenced to six years in prison.
Another violent incident from a former border watcher erupted in Arizona in May 2012 when Jason Todd “J.T.” Ready — a longtime leader of the state’s neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, and an organizer of independent NSM border watches in Arizona — went on a shooting rampage at the home of his girlfriend.
Before committing suicide, Ready shot and killed his girlfriend, Lisa Lynn Mederos, 47; her daughter, Amber Nieve Mederos, 23; the daughter’s boyfriend, Jim Franklin Hiott, and Amber’s 15-month-old baby girl, Lilly Lynn Mederos. Investigators later found chemicals and military-grade munitions that apparently belonged to Ready at the residence.
As Tim Steller at the Arizona Daily Star observed: “Undoubtedly, there have been border-militia members in Arizona who have carried out citizen patrols without harboring racist motives or having criminal tendencies. The problem for the movement … is that people with these motives or tendencies have cropped up repeatedly among citizen border-watchers.”
As police took Frazier Glenn Miller into custody minutes after three people – including a 14-year-old boy – were shot to death at two Jewish facilities in suburban Kansas City last April, the long-time neo-Nazi shouted “Heil Hitler.”
Then, according to The Kansas City Star, Miller asked the officers a chilling question. “How many f——- Jews did I kill?”
The bloody scene was recalled in a Kansas courtroom today by a veteran police officer, Sgt. Marty Ingram, as the first day of testimony began in an evidentiary hearing to determine whether Miller, a lifelong racist, should stand trial for the murderous shooting spree last April in Overland Park, Kan.