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

Target of Neo-Nazi Threatmaker Bill White Tells of Fear

By Sonia Scherr on December 10, 2009 - 6:56 pm, Posted in Neo-Nazi, Trial Updates

ROANOKE, Va. — A Citibank employee told jurors this afternoon that she couldn’t concentrate at work but was too frightened to go home after receiving an E-mail with her personal information from white supremacist Bill White.

“I was very scared, not only for myself but for my family,” said Jennifer Petsche, who works in Citibank’s Kansas City, Missouri, office.

Petsche testified on behalf of the government, which began presenting evidence today in White’s trial. White, who created and led the neo-Nazi American National Socialist Workers Party until his arrest, is charged with threatening various people with whom he disagreed. White’s defense maintains that his communications were protected speech under the First Amendment.

The E-mail Petsche received in March 2007 contained her home address, phone number and prior addresses, including that of her parents. “I understand you think you’re very tough and you think that by dragging this process out you have created me a lot of misery; that is an incorrect assessment, but I must admit I have run out of patience with you and your smug attitude,” White wrote. “I hope the fact that I’ve obviously paid someone to find you conveys the seriousness with which I take your current attitude.” ( continue to full post… )

Opening Arguments Held in Bill White Trial

By Sonia Scherr on December 10, 2009 - 2:49 pm, Posted in Neo-Nazi, Trial Updates

ROANOKE, VA. — Did white supremacist Bill White threaten people with whom he disagreed? Or were his outrageous comments protected speech under the First Amendment?

The jury appeared to listen closely as lawyers for both sides presented opening arguments this morning in White’s trial, which began yesterday with jury selection. White, who led the neo-Nazi American National Socialist Workers Party until his arrest, is accused of making threats against various people with whom he disagreed.
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Potential Jurors Being Interviewed for the Bill White Trial

By Sonia Scherr on December 9, 2009 - 3:05 pm, Posted in Neo-Nazi, Trial Updates

ROANOKE, VA. — After sitting through his own threat trial in Brooklyn, hate blogger Hal Turner may find himself back in a federal courtroom sooner than expected — this time as a witness in a similar case. Turner was on the list of dozens of potential witnesses that a government prosecutor read during the opening day of the trial for Bill White, another notorious white supremacist. White, who led a neo-Nazi group before his arrest, is charged with threatening various people with whom he disagreed.

The government’s witness list included several of White’s alleged victims, including nationally syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts, Canadian civil rights lawyer Richard Warman and University of Delaware professor Kathleen Kerr. The government prosecutor didn’t say why Turner might be called to testify; Turner’s case ended in a mistrial Monday when a jury couldn’t agree on whether he was guilty of threatening to assault and murder three federal judges. He’s scheduled for retrial in March. ( continue to full post… )

Uganda’s Harsh Anti-Gay Legislation Has American Links

By Larry Keller on December 9, 2009 - 2:55 pm, Posted in Anti-LGBT

While activists around the world criticize pending legislation in Uganda they call the “kill the gays” bill, some Americans are being outed for their connections to those involved in the proposed statute. The latest is Richard Cohen, who claims he has successfully counseled thousands of gays to become straight. He was sliced, diced and grilled Tuesday night by Rachel Maddow on her MSNBC program.

Homosexuality has long been illegal in Uganda. But that country’s parliament is expected to vote soon on a bill that would make penalties harsher. Among its provisions: men and women convicted of having sex with somebody of the same gender would receive, at a minimum, a life sentence. Those having homosexual sex more than once, or with a minor, could get the death penalty. Anybody knowing of homosexual activity who does not report it, could be sentenced to prison.

Cohen is the founder of the International Healing Foundation. He describes himself as a former homosexual who converted to heterosexuality and has been married for 27 years and is the father of three children. He claims people aren’t born homosexual, but become attracted to the same sex due to a combination of psychological and environmental factors. People with “unwanted same-sex attraction” can therefore be counseled into becoming heterosexual, he says.
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Turner Case Ends in Mistrial

By Sonia Scherr on December 7, 2009 - 5:41 pm, Posted in Neo-Nazi

Hal Turner’s case ended in a mistrial today after a jury was unable to decide whether the hate blogger was guilty of threatening three federal judges. A new trial is set for March 1 in Brooklyn, according to The Associated Press.

The jury voted 9-3 for acquittal, according to the only juror who spoke with reporters afterward. During its deliberations Friday afternoon and Monday, the jury twice sent notes to the judge saying it was hopelessly deadlocked.

Turner was charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal charges in Chicago after he wrote on his blog that they “deserve to be killed” and posted their work addresses. Government prosecutors argued that Turner was trying to intimidate the judges with the June postings on his website for extremists. The defense argued that Turner’s statements were protected by the First Amendment and that he was betrayed by the government he’d served as an FBI informant.

Turner Jury Reports Deadlock, But Sent Back to Reconsider

By Sonia Scherr on December 4, 2009 - 4:30 pm, Posted in Trial Updates

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Jurors were told to continue working today after they said they were divided on whether hate blogger Hal Turner is guilty of threatening judges.

“We are hopelessly deadlocked,” the jury wrote in a note around 3:30 p.m. after deliberating for less than three hours. “Time will not change our vote.”

But U.S. District Judge Donald Walter urged jurors to keep trying to reach a verdict, and they returned to their deliberations.

This morning, the jury appeared to listen intently as both sides presented their closing statements. As they did throughout the trial, the defense portrayed Turner as an outrageous but harmless radio personality betrayed by the government he’d served when he was an FBI informant. “Giving your opinion is not a crime,” said Turner’s Chicago-based lawyer Nishay Sanan. “To criticize the judiciary is not a crime. To do it passionately is not a crime. To be a shock jock is not a crime.”

Prosecutors repeated their contention that Turner was trying to intimidate three federal judges when he told the white supremacist readers of his blog that the men “deserve to be killed” and posted their work addresses. “He thinks it’s a threat, he knows it’s a threat, and every reasonable person ought to also come to what I would suggest is a blindingly obvious conclusion,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan.

The jury, which includes several racial minorities, began deliberating shortly after 12:30 p.m. today. They will decide whether Turner is guilty of threatening to assault and murder the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges as a result of blog entries he posted on his website in June. If convicted, Turner would face up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. ( continue to full post… )

ALIPAC Dumps Dobbs

By Larry Keller on December 4, 2009 - 12:31 pm, Posted in Nativist Extremist

Lou Dobbs and Americans for Legal Immigration – ALIPAC – are divorcing, and the parting isn’t amicable. ALIPAC President William Gheen has notified supporters that his organization has withdrawn its support of Dobbs and suspended two websites promoting the former CNN showman for president.

In a lengthy E-mail, the heartsick nativist said it was “painful” to realize he misjudged Dobbs, and that ALIPAC hopes to “put this painful episode behind us.” Gheen added contritely, “We apologize to our supporters for being wrong about Dobbs.” ( continue to full post… )

A Confident Defense Rests Unexpectedly in Turner Threat Trial

By Sonia Scherr on December 3, 2009 - 4:49 pm, Posted in Trial Updates

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In a surprise move, both the defense and prosecution rested their cases early this afternoon at the trial of white supremacist Hal Turner, clearing the way for the case to go to a jury tomorrow.

After presenting evidence for less than a day and a half, the prosecution announced shortly after noon that it was finished. “We feel like we proved our case,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan said in a brief interview.

After a 30-minute recess, the defense followed suit without calling any witnesses. Closing arguments will take place tomorrow morning. Then jurors will decide whether Turner is guilty of threatening to assault and murder three federal judges in Chicago after he wrote on his blog in June that they “deserve to be killed” and posted their work locations.

Speaking with reporters afterward, defense lawyers said they didn’t bother presenting evidence because government prosecutors were unconvincing. “We feel they have not proven this case beyond any kind of doubt,” said Nishay Sanan of Chicago. “It is their burden [of proof], not ours — and they failed miserably in that burden.”

Michael Orozco, Turner’s New Jersey-based lawyer, added that the defense team didn’t want to give the prosecution a chance to confuse the jury or bring up irrelevant issues when cross-examining defense witnesses. Prosecutors were hampered when U.S. District Judge Donald Walter, who was flown in from Louisiana to try the case, refused to admit some evidence that they wanted to use, including blog posts, E-mails and other correspondence from Turner. ( continue to full post… )

Witness Testimony Details Hal Turner’s FBI Role

By Sonia Scherr on December 2, 2009 - 7:41 pm, Posted in Neo-Nazi

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — With the FBI paying for his plane ticket, white supremacist Hal Turner flew to Brazil on behalf of the National Alliance because a Brazilian had offered to donate money to the neo-Nazi group, a government witness testified today.

As the government began presenting its case during the second day of Turner’s trial, testimony from several FBI agents provided a glimpse into Turner’s former role as a confidential informant known as “Valhalla.” The blogger and Internet radio host is charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal judges in Chicago.

Motivated partly by money, Turner provided intelligence on leaders of prominent white supremacist groups, including the National Alliance and Aryan Nations, according to Special Agent Amy Pickett, who supervised the FBI agent handling Turner during Turner’s first two years as an informant. In one instance, his reports led to the arrest and conviction of an Aryan Nations leader, she said. “His information was always valid and true; he gave very good information,” Pickett said. She did not elaborate on Turner’s excursion to Brazil in early 2005. But according to FBI documents filed in federal court, the trip allowed Turner to identify 12 people of interest to the FBI, including an Arab who talked about doing business with Turner in order to provide supplies to Iraqi insurgents.

Pickett testified that Turner was instructed — both on his first day as an informant and yearly thereafter — that he would not receive immunity from investigation, arrest or prosecution. Turner was not authorized to take part in criminal activity and was warned against doing so, she said. Striking at the heart of the defense’s argument, she said the FBI never asked Turner to engage in violent rhetoric against public officials.

Despite his purported value as an informant, Turner had an on-again, off-again relationship with the FBI. After the February 2005 murder of federal judge Joan Lefkow’s mother and husband at the judge’s home in Chicago, Turner took credit for inciting someone to kill her family and suggested that three other judges could be next. (As it turned out, the slayings were not connected to white supremacy.) When his handler asked Turner to remove a request for the home information of the three judges from his blog, Turner wrote a letter of resignation to the FBI, saying the bureau was using its relationship with him to meddle with his website. His handlers ceased contact with him, but they were sure he’d be back. “We didn’t think he could go that long without being an informant for the FBI,” said Pickett. Sure enough, Turner contacted the bureau and resumed serving as an informant in May 2005. ( continue to full post… )

Opening Arguments: Turner’s FBI Role to be Central

By Sonia Scherr on December 2, 2009 - 2:49 pm, Posted in Trial Updates

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Domestic terrorist who encouraged fellow white supremacists to kill federal judges? Or shock jock who provided valuable information to the FBI?

Government prosecutors and defense lawyers offered strikingly different portraits of Hal Turner (for a short 2003 profile, go here), the New Jersey-based blogger and Internet talk show host, during opening statements this morning at his federal trial. Turner has been charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal judges in Chicago after he wrote on his blog that they “deserve to die” and posted their photographs and work addresses.

“This is not just political rhetoric. This is not protected by the First Amendment,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan.

Although he faced the jury during his opening remarks, Hogan frequently turned to point a finger at Turner, who wore a tie and gray suit and sat quietly at the defense table next to his two attorneys. “He regards himself as judge, juror and executioner,” Hogan said. “He thinks he has his own personal constitution.”

But Michael Orozco, an attorney for Turner, contended that Turner’s statements were indeed protected speech. “This case is nothing short of a modern-day witch hunt,” Orozco said during his remarks, which were far briefer than Hogan’s. “Mr. Turner was nothing but a shock jock, nothing but a radio personality whose hand was guided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

Lawyers for both sides made clear that Turner’s history as a paid FBI informant would figure prominently in the trial. (His suspected role with the FBI was first reported on this blog in January 2008. The blog item noted sharp criticism of the use of Turner as an informant by experts in police procedure.) Orozco said Turner was so highly regarded as an FBI informant that the agency paid for him to travel outside the United States to gather intelligence. “This isn’t some street snitch, ladies and gentleman,” he said. “This is a guy who was entrusted with top secret information.” ( continue to full post… )