The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

California County Hires Hate Group Founder to do PR for Supervisor

By Sonia Scherr on March 26, 2009 - 2:47 pm, Posted in Anti-Immigrant

The founder of a nativist hate group who allowed neo-Nazis to join his anti-illegal immigration rallies has a new job doing public relations work for a government official in Southern California.

Joe Turner was hired Tuesday by the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors to serve as a special projects coordinator. Turner’s responsibilities will include writing press releases and newspaper opinion pieces reflecting the views of Supervisor Neil Derry, county spokesman David Wert told Hatewatch. His salary will be $54,995.

Turner’s appointment has provoked an outcry from some community members, who point to his controversial statements and acceptance of open white supremacists at anti-illegal immigration rallies. “I guess David Duke wasn’t available,” quipped Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

Turner founded and led Save Our State, which the Southern Poverty Law Center has designated a hate group since it first appeared in late 2004. On Turner’s watch, Save Our State regularly failed to turn away neo-Nazis and racist skinheads, some uniformed and carrying white power-themed flags, who joined its rallies on the streets of Southern California. Later, he led efforts to get the city of San Bernardino to pass an ordinance aimed at penalizing undocumented immigrants. That led to his being hired by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), which is also listed as a hate group by SPLC, in late 2006. He left FAIR under unclear circumstances in December 2007.

Save Our State’s online forum also included blatantly racist posts that Turner failed to delete. Turner himself contributed controversial comments to the forum, including one that amounted to a defense of white separatism. “I can make the argument that just because one believes in white separatism, that does not make them a racist,” he wrote in 2005. “I can make the argument that someone who proclaims to be a white nationalist isn’t necessarily a white supremacist. I don’t think that standing up for your ‘kind’ or ‘your race’ makes you a bad person.”

But Turner’s unsavory history didn’t seem to dissuade the San Bernardino supervisors, who voted 4-0 to approve his employment contract. Although neither Derry nor Turner returned calls from Hatewatch, county spokesman Wert defended Turner’s selection. The former Save Our State leader has done nothing to indicate he has neo-Nazi leanings, Wert said, though he was advised to tone down his rhetoric on illegal immigration. “He’s become kind of a lightning rod for those who are supportive of illegal immigration, and we understand that. But Mr. Derry feels he will do a very good job with the duties he’s been assigned to in this position.”

Levin, the California State professor, says the debate surrounding Turner isn’t about immigration. “There are people of goodwill who hold conservative views on immigration. This is someone who has used egregious race-baiting, and that should disqualify him from any position of trust in government, especially in a county that has such a high proportion of Latinos.”

It’s not Turner’s first job with the county. He currently works as an analyst for the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, which “place[s] a high value on strong working alliances with local community groups representing the diverse populations who live in all areas of our large county,” according to its website.

It’s also not the first time Turner has been the focus of controversy. In 2006, a San Bernardino Unified School District union retracted its endorsement of Turner’s school board candidacy after members raised concerns about racism.

Nonetheless, Turner can feel confident he has the support of Save Our State activists, who yesterday wrote laudatory messages on the organization’s web forum. “Congrats Joe,” said one post. “It’s a new day, and your voice is being heard.”

  • Ebenzer Munroe

    The immigration issue is NOT complicated. It is only complicated for the Vagrants who sneak into my Country, and the Despicables who support them. It’s very very very simple. Simply enforce the current immigration reform act of 1986 – with out modification. Illegal Aliens are not Immigrants; the are Criminals. There is no such thing as an Undocumented Immigrant; i.e.: the Despicables use this term to TRY to complicate things. For an Immigrant is only such because they have asked permission to enter my Country – now that Person is DOCUMENTED – dummies!!!!

    I don’t care if you are a married couple with a donut shop serving 3,000 satisfied customers a week, have 3 kids in college, all straight A students. You are all pillars in the community – so what! You began under false premises. All 5 of them need to go. Just because you are a good person does not entitle you to the right to steel my Country. We are all hard working and the world is full of nice people. You can’t have it. You can’t take it. And you may not earn it without asking permission to come here and thus working towards permanent residency; the ONLY respectable way. I order all Sneaks to vacate the premises right now! You are not welcome here so go to the end of the line. Oh and for trying it the Complicated way first, huh, when you finally do make it to the head of the line, you must pay a huge penance.

    Yours truly, Ebenezer Munroe

  • borderraven

    Let’s try to keep this debate on topic, and avoid slipping into personal attacks. How old are you Marisa? Do you vote?

  • Marisa

    Jonathan, Harry Reid and Nanci Pelosi are not extremists – YOU ARE. And Johnny American, you are simply a disgraceful bigot – calling yourself “Johnny American” is a joke.

  • William Gheen

    I hope Joe Turner sues the pants off of the SPLC for this attempt to get him fired because of his political beliefs. Americans that support immigration enforcement and support free speech without persecution and attacks on employment are going to reject these dirty tactics by the SPLC.

  • Cliff May

    I am Cliff May and I participated for a short time with Jim Gilchrist’s campaign for congress in 2005. After the Laguna Beach rally Save Our State held on September 24, 2005, I went to the Gilchrist campaign offices for the first time and did some volunteer work putting together campaign signs. There I met Debbie Sattler(her last name may be different now due to a marriage, to Britt Craig if I’m not mistaken). She said that she quit the SOS group. She confirmed to me that Joe Turner let the Neo-Nazis rally with SOS. Also people from that Nazi group or members of Stormfront(they may be the same group of people at the time) provided SOS with at least one of the large banners they used at protest rallies. Debbie confirmed this to me at the Gilchrist campaign headquarters. She wasn’t happy with Joe and SOS at the time.

  • Dave von Ebers

    Chris, dude, chill.

    Just one question. What, exactly, does “destroying the sanctity of my community” mean? Are you a monk?

    I kid, of course. I just don’t know what that phrase means … but I’m curious as hell.

  • Chris

    Funny how the Marxists at the SPLC routinely remove my comments. I guess freedom of speech has nothing in common with Marxism. To Anthony Wesley’s moronic comment about us all being immigrants – its kool aid drinkers like you who are the real problem. I am not an immigrant. I am native born and I resent ILLEGAL ALIENS barging into my country and trying to remake my culture and language, destroying the sanctity of my community, sponging off social services I pay for and overwhelming my kids schools with their anchor babies. I know the truth is not something you have any love for but that’s just too darn bad. The truth is no politically correct sometimes. When you actually learn to user the term ILLEGAL ALIEN then we might be able to have a debate.

  • Gheen Loves This!

    Wow, a nutjob get a government position in a Latino heavy county. This is not going to end well for the people who hired him.

  • William Gheen

    I’m still waiting for the SPLC to show some spine and declare MS-13 and SUR-13 gangs hate groups. Ooops, I forgot that won’t happen even though these gangs are gunning down black people on sight in LA because these gangs bring in the SPLC’s illegal aliens. The KKK is rarely lethal these days, but MS-13 is killing black Americans and the SPLC supports that with their deafening silence.

  • borderraven

    The SPLC, has seriously been barking up the wrong tree, for too long. When SOS held the two rallies in Laguna Beach, where neo-Nazis joined in, SOS was new and inexperienced. Now, I was not at either of those rallies, although I live in the OC, but I’ve talk to folks who were on both sides of the street. I got the full picture, and know the truth. Joe Turner, was respecting civil rights. I’ve been to SOS/;MM rallies and even a city council meeting, since those early days, and if we detect racist. neo-Nazis, or KKK, we make them go down the road, or we leave. I’ve seen the same across the street, where the brown-separatist-nativist Mexica Movement, won’t stand with Latinos or Hispanics. I don’t hate. I just want a sovereign State and USA. I will defend the USA, and our Constitution with extreme prejudice, if needed. Contrary to popular belief, I am not a racist, or a bigot. I’ve been the victim of lies and rumors. I welcome legal-immigrants, but NCLR has merged all immigrants, under the word immigrants — a Communist ploy intended to desensitize and confuse. I’d suggest the SPLC contact Joe Turner and SOS, and call a truce. Get to know each other.

  • borderraven

    Can anyone find an example where the SPLC, provided fair and balanced reporting, by saying the same about, the NCLR, M.E.Ch.A., and the uniformed Brown Berets?

    Can anyone find the NCLR, M.E.Ch.A., or the uniformed Brown Berets, in Alabama?

    No? Why not?

    Ya’ll need to move out to California and settle into Maywood, CA.

    Hey, come out to Los Angeles for May1 or May 5 anytime.

  • Johnny American

    I am amazed by these morons printing these articles.
    They make up connections about white racism, but completely ignore that the mexican rallies were COMPLETELY organized by Communist groups.
    That Mecha and La Raza are the most RACIST groups in the country! What the hell do you think La Raza stands for???? “THE RACE” and they aren’t talking about any other race then MEXICANS!!!!!!
    You are a bunch of National Socialists using your soap box to tear down the morals of our great country to implement your F#@ked up form of government.
    Remember National Socialists were who made up the NAZI party! And they were primarily UNION members who were the grassroots of that party! Just like the Unions are the backbone of the DEMOCRATS NAZIS TODAY!

  • Anthony Wesley

    We have a real fight for the moral fiber of this country. Many are talking about other country’s and how they deal with things different. You can take that to someone else. We have and should be the light to the world. We should be the example of how to do things right. Unfortunately we are fighting for the rights of others, no matter if they are white, or any other color. Our constitution guarantee’s everyone the rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our country has and should always be about rights especially to immigrants. We are all immigrants in this Nation. We need to get these people out of any kind of leadership position and make sure that if they want a real leadership position they will be held accountable for the fiber of their character. I also live in Az and we are also fighting for these rights for immigrants. People have talked about Sheriff Joe but they do not realize that he does practically nothing compared to the Phoenix and other Police depts in Az. The difference is that they do not violate their rights and treat them unfairly. Phoenix is responisble for deporting thousands more than the sheriff but no one says anything to them. You know why? They do it legally! There is a real problem in this country. Stand up! The fight is in your own backyard and getting into leadership positions around the country. Let’s be real American’s and get these idiots out of leadership positions in our country and drive the White supremacists back to the underground where they belong!

  • Dee

    I hope the citizens of San Bernardino County vote out their Board of Supervisors for this stunt!

  • GENO

    I don’t know about “Save Our State”, but as a Moderated Independent voter, I’m behind any group that supports border security but refrains from racist white supremacists and idealogies similiar to it. In Arizona, where the epicenter of the immigration battle is known, the “anti-immigration groups” in Maricopa County which is also notorious for a racist (Sheriff) is home to some of the most rabid racist natavist hoodlums around. Rusty-KKKrusty’s United for a Soveriegn America, an avid anti-immigration group is well known to welcome neo-Nazis and skinheads into its folds. It is documented/reported by legitimate journalists and Freedom activists. Elton Hall is one infamous example of this, as well as other neo-Nazis such as J.T. Ready, an ex-committeeman, leader of the local NSM chapter. With white supremacist terrorists in their midst, they won’t win the majority support. Which is why there is a broad opposition movement against arpaio. That puts him in the limelight of mass scrutiny, and currently being investigated as I type.

    “Everyone HATES liars! Even Jews, Blacks and Hispanics.”

    Well, you don’t speak for “everybody” and that’s for sure.
    If you’re going about hating everybody and every human being on Earth. The only person you truly hate is yourself. If you’re all about “HATE” according to you, clearly you’re a shining example of a true hatemonger. The folks who hate Jews and nonwhites are obviously neo-Nazis and white supremacists, the exact same kind of scum you are claiming to distant yourself from. Evidently, you hate yourself and I feel nothing but pity for you.

  • David Ramsey

    Joe Turner never “allowed neo-Nazis to join his anti-illegal immigration rallies” you liars! You know that is not true. By lying about Americans like Joe, you are going to face more fervent opposition from people like me.

    I’ve had enough of your lies and deceptions. When some racists showed up at Joe Turner’s event, Save Our State supporters moved away from them and made it clear the racists were not invited or welcome at the event but they had no way to stop them. It was a public street!

    SPLC is going to politically pay dearly for these kinds of continual lies.

    Everyone HATES liars. Even liberals, Jews, blacks, and Hispanics.

  • Ryan the non-Aryan

    So let me get this straight. Joe Turner was basically hired to become a sock puppet?;

    “Turner’s responsiblities include writing press releases and newspaper opinion pieces reflecting the views of supervisor Neil Derry.”

    So in other words, he is just fodder for a wing-nut. That sure sounds entertaining though. Especially if you’re playing WN puppet in “Azlan”.

  • Jonathan

    Illegal immigration? It’s simple: “Just say no!” We should have a zero-tolerance for illegal immigration! Stop electing extremists like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.

    The complexities enter when deciding how to build the border defense: How much barbed wire? Should dogs be used? What kind of dogs? Guard towers? What type of mines should be used? Questions like that get my head spinning!

  • Carter

    Unfortunately, expressing yourself rapidly leaves may things unsaid (as well as too many typos). I wanted to add that this whole issue is NOT exclusive to the USA.

    Here we see the same problem in Europe handled in a much more simplistic & exploitative manner. The bigotry is obvious & the xenophobic agenda, clearly illustrated. Those of us who want to be fair need to point out that the problems become much worse when legal & illegal immigrants are placed in the same light: that only benefits the bigots & xenophobes.

  • Carter

    The illegal immigration issue is a complex one and has some issues that truly need to be addressed. This is decidedly different from legal immigration as a whole. The anti illegal immigration groups do such an extreme disservice to issues & themselves with this baggage that it really is akin to shooting oneself in the in foot (figuratively). Racist groups have actually discussed the piggy-backing of their agenda with that of a group that has larger level appeal; that’s no secret.
    The illegal immigration phenomenon is also slowing due to the country’s economic status but many are still risking their lives to come living in a country that offers opportunity that may be mythical to the reality of day to day realities.
    Whether the people’s are Asian or Latino matters little. They still live in fear & are easily exploited & marginalized, even by people’s of their own ethnicity. But the problems are very real & have a greater impact in today’s economy.
    The issues become blurred when groups such as this do something as unproductive as align themselves with bigots.
    The facts have little to do with “saving our state” but more to do with curtailing both exploitation & maintaining the strength of law. Those who immigrate legally are put off a great deal when those who skirt the law of the land are defended with righteous indignation. The issue is one of respect for the laws of a nation. Yet we see the (sometimes not so) subtle issue of ethnicity being at the forefront.
    This is an easily exploited issue. But the complexities of what a porous boarder means in this age is unproductive & could be dangerous. There are illegals who pay taxes but live in fear & is exploited easily in the job arena. Many are so afraid of being found out that they accept being over-charged by the IRS, their employers not paying them, & not reporting crimes to the police.
    Even if people have a desire to accept the basic law breaking that illegal immigrating demands, the results are unfair to those who do & do not.
    But in this case, the basic issue is one of blurring the concepts of ethnic repulsion & bigotry with that of a societal / legal agenda.
    It’s tough to have a productive discussion of the complexities of this issue when you have that mix.