The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.
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… )
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… )
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… )
The federal trial for white supremacist Hal Turner is scheduled to begin tomorrow morning.
Turner, a neo-Nazi blogger and Internet radio host, is charged with threatening to assault and murder three federal judges in Chicago. Turner wrote on his blog that they “deserve to be killed” and posted their photographs, phone numbers, work address and room numbers. He was upset that the men — Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook and Judges Richard Posner and William Bauer — had upheld a federal handgun ban.
Turner’s defense will contend that Turner’s online statements were constitutionally protected speech. They’ve also announced their intention to delve into Turner’s history as a paid FBI informant to show that Turner had made similar threats previously — and authorities did not deem them criminal. The defense hopes to question New Jersey Gov.-elect Chris Christie about a letter declining to prosecute Turner that he may have issued as U.S. attorney.
If convicted, Turner faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. We will post updates as the trial unfolds in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.
BRANDENBURG, Ky. — In a blow to one of the nation’s largest Klan groups, jurors yesterday awarded more than $2.5 million to a teenager who was assaulted by Klansmen at a county fair in rural Kentucky.
The verdict is expected to shut down the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), which has 16 chapters in eight states. “We intend to collect every dime we can on the judgment and do everything within our power to put the Imperial Klans out of business,” said Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen at a press conference after the verdict announcement.
The SPLC sued IKA leader Ron Edwards of Dawson Springs, Ky., contending that members of his Klan group attacked a 16-year-old U.S. citizen of Panamanian descent because they thought he was an “illegal spic.” Also named as a defendant was Jarred Hensley of Cincinnati, who served nearly three years in state prison for assaulting the teenager at a county fair in northwest Kentucky.
BRANDENBURG, Ky. — A teenager gave an emotional account of his assault by Klansmen during the final day of testimony in the Southern Poverty Law Center’s trial against the Imperial Klans of America.
Jordan Gruver, who was 16 when he was attacked by IKA members at the Meade County Fair, told the jury that he was about to buy a drink from a concession stand when several Klansmen called him a “spic,” spat at him and threw whiskey in his face. Then Klansman Jarred Hensley struck a blow to his jaw that knocked him off his feet. Gruver showed the jury how he curled up in a fetal position and tried to protect his head with his arms. While he lay on the ground, Klansmen kicked him with steel-toed boots.
BRANDENBURG, Ky. — In dramatic testimony today, a former white supremacist told the court that the head of the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) instructed him to assassinate Southern Poverty Law Center founder Morris Dees (below).
“[IKA leader] Mr. [Ron] Edwards is a very dangerous man to me,” said Kale Kelly, who was once a trusted member of Edwards’s inner circle. “He promotes violence and hatred [toward] anybody who he feels threatens him: minorities, Jews, blacks. I’ve lived with him. I know this.”
Kelly’s testimony, which came during the second day of SPLC’s trial against Edwards, struck a blow to the heart of the Klan leader’s defense: That he does not encourage his members to commit violent acts. It also contradicted Edwards’ earlier testimony that he never told Kale to kill anyone.
The SPLC sued Edwards of Dawson Springs, Ky., in civil court, contending that members of his Klan group attacked and severely injured a 16-year-old boy of Panamanian descent because they mistakenly thought he was “an illegal spic.” Also named as a defendant was Jarred Hensley of Cincinnati, who served two years in state prison for assaulting Gruver at a county fair in northwest Kentucky. The SPLC hopes to win damages large enough to shut down the IKA, one of the largest Klan groups in America.
A former member of the Imperial Klans of America (IKA) testified today that the group’s leader led a plot to kill the co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), according to The Associated Press.
The AP said that Kale Kelly, who is testifying for the SPLC in a lawsuit against the Kentucky-based IKA, testified that IKA leader Ron Edwards wanted to kill the SPLC’s Morris Dees. Edwards was said to be infuriated by an SPLC lawsuit tried by Dees against another white supremacist group, the Aryan Nations, in 1999.
The SPLC sued the IKA, Edwards, and several IKA members over the beating of a 16-year-old boy at a county fair by two IKA members.
Hatewatch will report fully on these developments later in the day.
BRANDENBURG, Ky. — A jury got a look today at the weapon that was used in a Ku Klux Klan assault on a 16-year-old boy: a pair of steel-toed black boots with bright red laces.
The boots played a key role in testimony during the first day of the civil trial against the leader of the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), one of the nation’s largest Klan organizations with 16 chapters in eight states. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a civil lawsuit against IKA leader Ron Edwards, contending that members of his group assaulted and severely injured Jordan Gruver in July 2006 at a county fair in Brandenburg, about 40 miles southwest of Louisville.
Gruver, a U.S.-born citizen of Panamanian descent, was attacked because the Klansmen wrongly assumed he was “an illegal spic.” By suing Edwards and Jarred Hensley — a Klansman who pleaded guilty to attacking Gruver — the SPLC hopes to win damages large enough to shut down one of America’s most dangerous Klan groups.
Today, the SPLC began making its case before a jury at the Meade County Courthouse in Brandenburg. The boots with red laces were introduced into evidence during the testimony of Joe Greer, a detective for the Meade County District Attorney’s Office who investigated the assault on Gruver. Greer used a magnet to demonstrate how he confirmed that the boots had steel toes. He also testified that they were the boots Hensley had on the night he and another Klansman kicked Gruver after knocking him to the ground.
SPLC lead trial attorney Morris Dees returned to the boots during his questioning of Edwards, who runs the IKA from his 15-acre compound in Dawson Springs, Ky. Dees got Edwards to admit that steel-toed boots are “the weapon of choice” for skinheads, which Edwards welcomed into his group despite knowing of their propensity for violence.
“What’s the significance of the red laces?” Dees asked.
“That means someone shed blood for their race.” Edwards replied.
Edwards, who spent about 2½ hours on the stand today, sports several tattoos on his shaven head that were visible in the courtroom, including “Fuck S.P.L.C.,” “Death to ZOG [Zionist-occupied government]” and “Aryan Justice.” Hensley also has numerous tattoos, including the word “violence” on his knuckles, “murder” below his neck, and a swastika on his arm. ( continue to full post… )
Brandenburg, Ky. — Trial is scheduled to start tomorrow in the case of a teenager who was beaten by Klansmen at a county fair in rural Kentucky.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the head of one of the nation’s largest Klan groups, the Imperial Klans of America (IKA), alleging that members of the group assaulted and severely injured 16-year-old Jordan Gruver during a 2006 recruiting drive at the Meade County Fairgrounds. The civil lawsuit contends that Gruver, a U.S.-born citizen of Panamanian descent, was targeted because the Klansmen thought he was “an illegal spic.”
The case aims to hold IKA leader Ron Edwards accountable for the attack that was perpetrated by members of his group. The SPLC hopes to win a verdict large enough to shut down the organization, which has 16 chapters in eight states. Also named as a defendant is Jarred R. Hensley, one of two Klansmen convicted of assault in criminal court for his attack on Gruver.
We will post daily dispatches as the trial unfolds this week in Meade Circuit Court.