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

Murdered Racist Leader May Have Propositioned Killer

By Sonia Scherr on May 4, 2010 - 3:27 pm, Posted in Anti-Black, Anti-LGBT

White supremacist Richard Barrett enthusiastically denigrated gays and blacks.

In 1994, he led an anti-gay rally in Boston after a St. Patrick’s Day parade was cancelled in response to a court order that forbade the exclusion of homosexual marchers. Six years earlier, he signed “The Forsyth County Covenant,” which asserted that “all efforts to make us a bilingual, bisexual or biracial society must be defeated.”

But Barrett, who died after allegedly propositioning a black man, may also have been gay. Rankin (Miss.) County Undersheriff Bryan Bailey testified in court today that Vincent McGee, who is accused of murdering Barrett last month, told investigators that the 67-year-old lawyer made sexual advances toward him, according to The Associated Press. Bailey said at McGee’s arraignment that McGee gave multiple statements about why he went to Barrett’s house in Pearl, Miss. The 22-year-old neighbor said both that he’d gone to Barrett’s home to use the computer so he could access his Facebook account and that he’d gone there to complain that Barrett owed him money for yard work he’d done. In one statement, McGee claimed he beat and stabbed Barrett after “Barrett dropped his pants and asked him to perform a sexual act,” the AP reported.

McGee could face the death penalty if convicted of Barrett’s murder. Prosecutors announced at the arraignment that the charges against him were upgraded to capital murder — murder while committing another crime — because McGee allegedly stole a wallet and gun from Barrett’s home. Firefighters found Barrett’s body in his home on April 22 after neighbors reported a fire there. McGee, who told the AP he didn’t know about Barrett’s racist activism, also faces arson charges in connection with the killing. Three people have been charged as accessories after the fact.

Some who study the white supremacist world said that Barrett’s alleged homosexuality, while ironic, is not that unusual.

“As remarkable as it may seem, the fact is that the radical right is thick with characters who exhibit the most extreme hypocrisy,” said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which publishes this blog. “It’s quite common to find savage gay-bashers like Richard Barrett who are secretly homosexual, Klan leaders who hide their black girlfriends, white supremacists who turn out to be biracial, and neo-Nazi ideologues who were raised as Jews. A good many of those who are most violent in their attacks are actually hiding what they see as a terrible and embarrassing secret.”

They include Leo Felton, an avowed “Aryan” revolutionary who in 2001 was convicted of conspiracy in a plot to blow up black and Jewish landmarks; two months later, it was revealed that one of Felton’s parents was black. William Potter Gale, who founded the anti-Semitic Posse Comitatus in the 1970s, was secretly descended from a long line of devout Jews. And in 1965, neo-Nazi Daniel Burros killed himself after The New York Times revealed that he had been a Jewish yeshiva student.

Barrett was long rumored to be gay in white supremacist circles. Several days after his death, the proprietor of the leading white supremacist web forum, Stormfront, called him “an obvious old queen.” “Ask anyone who ever met him,” Don Black wrote in a Stormfront post. “Or just visit his website, with all the shirtless skinhead pics he’d pulled from a gay skinhead site.”

Barrett was known for reaching out to young men and in recent years ran an online forum for skinheads. In December 1988, he hosted a weekend of paramilitary training for skinheads in Learned, Miss., according to the Anti-Defamation League. The few teenagers who attended tried to hit a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. during target practice, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported. He also hosted “The Spirit of America Day,” which for 40 years honored male high school athletes. The event was recognized repeatedly by Mississippi lawmakers, most recently in February.

  • anonymous

    Anyone with extensive knowledge of the neo-Nazi/white supremacist movement will know that Barrett was NEVER taken seriously by them, as this and other sites have stated. His blatant narcissism and inflated sense of importance within the movement made him a target of ridicule, but it was also pretty well-known in those circles that he was gay, and he may also have propositioned skinheads he recruited- thus furthering the already low standing he had among the racist far right. Just read some of their websites and you’ll see that.

  • JSW

    It is said that thse that hate homosexuals the most are often hating something that lives just under the skin about themselves – that they are gay themselves and are in denile. I am sure of my heterosexuality, and anti-nazi stance, but only because I have searched from within about both. Granted they are unrelated, but are both discussed here. I don’t believe that everyone is in perfect due course with heterosexual life – those that are straight that is. This is due to the effects of societal pressure and the inluence that people have over others. Another neo-nazi died. That is news that we might feel good about, but a shame the way some people die. I don’t have any sympathy for them, it just seems that they might have been rehabilitated. I did not know how many neo-nazis are actualy frauds and perpetrators. I fear for their lives in some way, but after evil they have done… they deserve no sympathy from me. There are no words to describe what a person goes through when they try to leave fachism behind and live a normal life. “It’s a long way back from Hell.”, says the song.

  • Mason Green
  • Ken Christian

    Oh I see. It’s somehow understandable about this black man murdering a white supremacist now that we know that the victim allegedly made a homosexual pass.

    I of course could be wrong, but I strongly suspect that had the situation been reversed – that a white man had killed a black activist because of an alleged homosexual proposition – you would be all over the case like a cheap suit.

    And you talk about hypocrisy.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Ah Pierpont. Looks like he got out of the movement for good.

  • Eli

    Neither of these characters sounds like anyone I’d want to spend 2 minutes with. The killer is using the classic “gay panic” defense: “some guy propositioned me, so I just HAD to beat him over the head with a radio, stab him a dozen or more times, and then set him on fire.” Nice. It could be a total lie. Even if it’s true, it’s disgusting. Both guys sound disgusting.

  • Hatewatch

    We don’t have a comprehensive list, but these are interesting to start:

    Daniel Burros, Bill Gale

    Davis Wolfgang Hawke

    Leo Felton

    Anthony Pierpont

    Wild Bill Hoff

    Sex, Lies and White Supremacy

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    What would be the best place to search in order to find a list and history of all movement leaders and famous members who were gay/Jewish/had non-white relatives, etc,?

  • Difluoroethane

    It looks as though McGee will likely receive the death penalty anyway (at least, according to the news sources I’ve seen and the severity of the charges against him), so I don’t think that whether or not he ends up getting charged with a hate crime will be relevant at all.

  • Alan Aardman

    It seems as though the prosecutor could seek hate crime charges if they could prove that Barrett was killed in response to allegedly propositioning the suspect.

  • mountaingirl08

    After observing how, after a number of years and news stories, abt how vicious anti-gay bashers are, that Shakespeare’s observation that “thou protesteth to much” was right on the money, 400 years ago. These ppl. hate who they are so they go overboard in trashing themselves, really.

  • Earl Turner

    Wouldn’t that black guy be guilty of a hate crime if he did in fact kill Barrett become of a homosexual proposition?

    I won’t be holding my breath that your organization or the US Dept of Justice will be asking that these charges be forthcoming in this case.