A retrospective of Hate Incidents and Groups in the 1900s

The Decade in Review

1991
Hate Enters the Mainstream

Jan. 23 Two active duty members of the elite Special Forces at Fort Bragg, N.C., a U.S. Postal Service employee and another man are indicted on 16 counts of weapons violations.

The men, alleged members of the white supremacist Knights of the New Order, are said to have been stockpiling a huge cache of stolen military weaponry — including enough explosives to destroy a city block — and planning to attack newspapers, television stations and businesses owned by blacks and Jews.

Over the coming decade, Fort Bragg and the Special Forces will be plagued by similar revelations of active duty extremists.

May 7 A series of cross burnings hits black neighborhoods around Shreveport, La., on the same day that state Klan leader Wayne Pierce reports to officials to begin a four-month term for firearms violations. Pierce and several followers in the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, later plead guilty to conspiracy charges.

The case belies the group's claim to be part of a kinder, gentler Klan, despite actions like Imperial Wizard James Farrands' banning of neo-Nazis and their symbols. Over the year, a clear split becomes evident between Klan groups that publicly take a hard line and others like Thom Robb's Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

"We don't hate anybody," Robb claims repeatedly.

May 17 A "reverend" of the Church of the Creator — a neo-Nazi group started in 1973 by Ben Klassen — kills Harold Mansfield, a black sailor home from the Gulf War, in a Florida parking lot.

The next month, in its Racial Loyalty publication, the group lauds its "activists" in the Jacksonville, Fla., chapter for "exceptional efforts in promoting Creativity [the group's white supremacist ideology] in their area." The case will spark a successful lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center against Klassen's group.

Aug. 29 For the second time in six weeks, a Muskogee, Okla., thrift store is robbed, ending in gunfire and a car chase. After Walter Eliyah Thody is arrested, he tells a reporter that the $52,000 taken in the first robbery is being used to support his white supremacist group, and claims the group will commit armed robberies, kidnappings and assassinations of mainly Jewish "conspirators."

Thody, a convicted counterfeiter, calls his shadowy band the Phineas Priesthood, based on a 1990 book by Richard Kelly Hoskins, Vigilantes of Christendom.

The book describes "Phineas priests" as those who report to no one but feel called by God to carry out terrorist attacks; it will become increasingly important as "lone wolf" attacks grow more common.

In 1992, Thody will be sentenced to life in prison.

Oct. 19 Running a close second in a crowded field, David Duke, aided by former Klan members and other white supremacist activists, takes enough votes in his bid for Louisiana governor to force a run-off with former Gov. Edwin Edwards. Duke will lose the run-off, but garner almost 700,000 votes and come within two percentage points of Edwards.

December The National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group based in West Virginia and headed by former physics professor William Pierce, begins broadcasting a short-wave radio program entitled "American Dissident Voices." The program soon is carried by several AM stations and, later, by FM stations around the country.

By the latter part of the decade, extreme right talk shows will be heard on at least 366 AM, 40 FM and seven short-wave stations. World Wide Christian Radio, a 100,000-watt station in Nashville, Tenn., is a chief example of the large stations involved.

On short-wave alone, monitors report an explosion of radical right programming, from five hours per week in 1990 to 238.5 hours per week by early 1998.