Was it road rage or self defense? Or maybe even a politically motivated act of violence?
That’s what a jury will decide when the trial of Jewish Defense League organizer Carl Mintz begins on Oct. 14.
Mintz, 27, a state chapter organizer for the JDL in Michigan, is charged in the shooting of a 20-year-old Arab-American named Faith Said. The prosecution’s first attempt at a conviction ended with a mistrial in August when three members of the jury refused to acquit Mintz.
According to local police reports, Said approached Mintz’s car after the two came to rest at a stoplight in Farmington Hills, Mich. Said got out of his car and walked toward Mintz, loudly criticizing him for tapping his brakes as he approached the light. Mintz then reached for his concealed handgun and shot Said in the arm. Mintz is claiming self-defense, but prosecutors note that the light had already turned green when Mintz opened fire and that he could have simply driven away.
At first, local news accounts failed to mention Said’s ethnicity. That changed when reporters discovered that Mintz was not only a state chapter organizer for the JDL but had posted video clips on YouTube in which he rants against socialists and Muslims, and declares Islam to be “the enemy.”
If convicted of the felony charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm, Mintz faces up to 10 years in prison. He faces another two years on weapons charges.
In the past, JDL members have not fared well in prison. In 2005, Earl Krugel, a key JDL member who was serving time for a 2001 plot to bomb a California mosque and the office of a Lebanese-American congressman, was killed at a federal prison in Phoenix when another inmate struck him on the head with a cement block. In 2002, JDL leader Irv Rubin died of an apparent suicide in federal detention while awaiting trial in connection with the same plot. His family and the JDL contend that he was murdered.
The JDL, which preaches a violent form of anti-Arab, Jewish nationalism, has maintained a relatively low profile in recent years. The group is still active, however, on both sides of the Atlantic. In London earlier this month, British JDL activists took to the streets together with the English Defence League in a counter-demonstration against a Muslim rally in support of Palestinians.