The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
One year after hundreds of heavily armed antigovernment “Patriots” swarmed the Nevada desert to help rancher Cliven Bundy in his fight with the federal government – an event that nearly ended in bloodshed – the Bundy family is ready again.
Beginning on Friday, the family plans to hold a three-day celebration to mark the anniversary of the April 12, 2014, standoff with Bureau of Land Management (BLM) agents, and the subsequent decision by the federal government to abandon efforts to confiscate Bundy’s cattle as payment for more than $1 million in unpaid grazing fees.
Dubbed “the Battle of Bunkerville” by the antigovernment movement, the standoff led to widespread animus toward the federal government in a movement already fixated on conspiracy theories that covered everything from the secret introduction of endangered desert tortoises to push Bundy of public lands, to the idea that the federal government had secret plans with the Chinese government to turn large swaths of Nevada into solar farms.
In the months after the standoff, patriot paranoia spread across the American West, too – a trend that was documented in a Southern Poverty Law Center special investigative report, War in the West, that tracked the spread of Bundy’s ideas and revealed that the April 12 standoff was part of an orchestrated, planned militia effort, not an organic uprising of populist fury.
The Bundy’s have said the weekend celebration will include camping, hiking, shooting, cowboy poetry and a barbecue. Speakers at the weekend celebration include former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack, Nye County (Nevada) Sheriff Sharon Wehrly and Nevada Councilwoman Michelle Fiore, who has taken on Bundy’s fight with the feds in the state legislature. Bundy will deliver remarks about the last year on Saturday evening.
The anniversary of the Bundy standoff is more than a moment of celebration for the antigovernment movement, though. It is also a reminder that a year has passed during which the federal government has done nothing to hold Bundy accountable for those who committed crimes that day, and has let Bundy stand in bold defiance of a federal court order.
The BLM has yet to respond to dozens of requests in the last year for comment.
An antigovernment extremist who espoused killing police officers, judges and using napalm to burn down a county courthouse has been arrested in Montana after buying a fully automatic shotgun during six-month FBI sting.
William Krisstofer Wolf, 52, who broadcast his extremist views on a weekly webcast called “The Montana Republic,” was arrested Wednesday by FBI agents in Livingston, Mont., after paying $725 and taking possession of a sawed-off, fully automatic Russian Saiga-12 shotgun capable of shooting 10 rounds in two seconds, court documents say. His arrest came without incident.
The case will be presented to a federal grand jury for indictment while West remains in jail without bond on a charge of possession an illegal fully automatic machine gun.
Wolf allegedly expressed a desire to buy the illegal gun during a series of meetings he had, beginning last November, with an FBI informant who introduced Wolf to an undercover FBI agent, the documents say. It’s likely those conversations were secretly recorded by the FBI, although that’s not specifically detailed in public records.
During those meetings, Wolf also discussed building a “blowtorch gun” with a range up to 150 feet “for the purpose of protection against law enforcement officers wearing body armor.”
The court documents also say Wolf discussed using his blowtorch gun to destroy a “BearCAT” armored vehicle recently acquired by the Bozeman Police Department for use in SWAT operations. He allegedly said the most-effective way of destroying the police armored vehicle “would be cooking it from the inside.”
As the FBI continued monitoring West’s activities, agents learned that possession of the type of flamethrower described by Wolf wouldn’t violate federal law, the court documents disclose. But during those discussions, they say, Wolf also expressed his desire to acquire the Russian-made fully automatic shotgun.
Wolf began broadcasting “The Montana Republic” in November 2013 “to bring like-minded Patriots from across the country” together to discuss ways to counter local, state and federal officials who Patriots consider to be “overstepping on constitutional rights,” the documents say.
In several of his webcasts, West talked about “taking out bridges or power grids and seizing law enforcement vehicles and weapons,” they say.
“Over the next 12 months, Wolf repeatedly espoused his contempt for local judges, law enforcement, the county attorney, city and county commissioners and agents and agencies of the federal government,” the documents say.
When a “sovereign citizen” was arrested in Montana, Wolf urged his fellow Patriots to make citizen’s arrests of judges involved in the case and “stated his intention to use a means of force if necessary.”
Wolf advocated targeting police officers suspected of violating their oaths of office — comparing “shooting law enforcement officers to gopher hunting,” the documents allege.
Last October, in another broadcast, Wolf said federal judges who overturned gay marriage bans also “are now viable targets because they violated the Constitution.”
“As it sits folks, please understand, I firmly believe that all agents of the government, all judiciary, and all police officers are targets,” he said on the broadcast.
At a Patriots “committee of safety” meeting that Wolf hosted in late January, he discussed destroying the Gallatin County Courthouse in Bozeman, Mont. “My preferred method, I’m serious … would be to drop 500 pounds of napalm through the roof of the courthouse and burn it to the ground and roast some marshmallows on it.”
“I don’t believe in doing anything that’s not extreme and right now, wiping that place out would be my extreme movement and then my next [question] would be, ‘OK, which county, city building is going to be next?’”
When someone in the group urged West to exercise restraint and caution, the court documents say, he responded that if “they wanted to put him in jail, they had better bring a coroner and several body bags.”
The oft-delayed Arizona trial of erstwhile Minuteman leader Chris Simcox on child-molestation charges has blown up once again, thanks primarily to Simcox’s insistence on having the right to personally cross-examine his alleged victims — two young girls aged 7 and 8.
Simcox had previously raised the possibility that this might occur when he announced that he intended to represent himself at his trial, something he has a constitutional right to do. However, Maricopa County prosecutor Yigael Cohen requested before the trial began that Superior Court Judge Jose Padilla require that Simcox’s two “advisory” attorneys question the girls, one of whom is Simcox’s daughter.
Now, according to a report by Stephen Lemons of the Phoenix New Times, Judge Padilla has conceded to Simcox’s counter-argument — namely, that he should be permitted to directly cross-examine the two girls because doing so is “a crucial cornerstone of his desire to present his best defense.” Padilla ruled in a hearing Thursday afternoon that Simcox would be allowed to question the girls, who were 5 and 6 years old when the crimes allegedly occurred.
But Padilla refused to remove himself from the trial, which Simcox had also requested.
According to The Associated Press, prosecutors plan to immediately file an appeal of Padilla’s ruling, meaning the trial — which had already been delayed nine times since Simcox’s arrest in July 2013 — is likely to last into the summer. Lemons reported that deputy county attorney Kelli Luther argued strenuously against allowing Simcox to “control his own victims in the courtroom,” pointing to U.S. Supreme Court and federal appellate court rulings allowing for special accommodations to be made in similar instances.
However, Padilla said he would need evidence that the children are traumatized at the prospect of being interrogated by their alleged molester, and brushed aside letters from the girls’ mothers attesting to that effect: “With all due respect,” he said, “[the mothers] are simply not qualified to make that assessment.”
In the filing made this week, Simcox argues that the children “were never subjected to … harm in the first place,” so the county attorney is “asking the court to find the defendant guilty … before the trial has even begun.”
Simcox was originally charged with also molesting a third little girl, whom Simcox allegedly bribed with candy to expose her genitals, but those charges were dropped after the grand jury chose not to indict him in that case. However, that girl is expected to be a prosecution witness as well.
Simcox’s trial was most recently scheduled to begin March 24. However, when attorneys gathered in Padilla’s courtroom that day, they were informed that Simcox was in the hospital, for reasons that could not be disclosed under medical-privacy laws, and would be there for a week. At a pretrial conference on Thursday, Judge Padilla scheduled jury selection to begin on April 6.
But if the prosecutors proceed to take the ruling on the girls’ testimony to an appeals court, that schedule seems unlikely at best.
These developments are the latest in a long and twisted road to trial for Simcox, who previously had suggested he would present a “grand conspiracy” defense that he had been targeted for prosecution, and the evidence against him invented, because of his prominent role as a leader and co-founder of the nativist extremism group called the Minutemen. The judge later informed him that such a defense would not be allowed.
At the height of the border vigilante movement, Simcox was president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a nationwide, anti-immigration organization that led armed “citizen border patrols” in Arizona, California, New Mexico and Texas, along with a smattering of states on the Canadian border where Minutemen had deployed to protect America from northern invaders. Never modest, the cigar-chomping Simcox was a hyper and relentless self-aggrandizer who came across with the smug egotism that quickly earned him the nickname “The Little Prince.”
He was known for over-the-top claims, like his repeated assertion that he had seen Chinese Red Army men at the Mexican border, preparing to attack the U.S. Nevertheless, he was featured repeatedly on Lou Dobbs’ CNN show and a plethora of shows on Fox News, where he was treated as a serious critic of immigration policy.
But even then, there were allegations of sexual abuse. As the SPLC reported in 2005, Simcox was accused by his first wife of molesting another daughter when she was a teenager, although no complaint was ever made to police. His second wife also sought custody of their teenage son because, she said, Simcox had become violent and unpredictable. His third wife — the mother of his current accuser — took out a restraining order against Simcox in 2010 when she divorced him.
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… )