A retrospective of Hate Incidents and Groups in the 1900s

The Decade in Review

Mass Murder Comes to the Heartland

Feb. 26 Two neo-Nazi Skinheads are arrested after stabbing and bludgeoning to death their mother, father and 11-year-old brother in Allentown, Pa. — the ultimate Skinhead nightmare of violence.

Bryan Freeman, 17, and his brother David, 16, along with their cousin Nelson Birdwell III, are associated with Mark Thomas, a neo-Nazi who was named Pennsylvania state leader of the Aryan Nations just six months earlier.

The case will soon be seen as a gruesome example of the influence of older hate mongers on the young. An 18-year-old former resident of Thomas' compound testifies at a later hearing that Thomas had long harassed her parents and those of other teenage Thomas followers.

March Using computer skills learned in federal prison while serving time for conspiring to invade a tiny Caribbean island, former Klansman Don Black puts up Stormfront, the first major Internet hate site to appear on the World Wide Web. Black calls the Internet a "major breakthrough" for radical right propagandists, explaining, "I think there's a potential here to reach millions."

And indeed, by the end of the 1990s, there will be more than 500 hate and antigovernment extremist sites on the Internet. The sites will prove to be both an effective recruiting tool and a way of politically energizing the extreme right.

April 19 In the worst act of domestic terrorism in U.S. history, a truck bomb containing a mixture of ammonium nitrate and nitromethane fuel brings down Oklahoma City's Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, killing 168 people, including 19 young children.

The attack is timed to occur on the second anniversary of the Waco fire, and follows in great detail the fictional scenario outlined in The Turner Diaries, a novel of race war written by neo-Nazi William Pierce. (Timothy McVeigh will have a photocopied page of the novel with him when he is arrested a few days later.)

Although McVeigh and Terry Nichols — two men with ideological links to the militia movement — will be charged in the attack, antigovernment Patriots almost immediately adopt the conspiracist view that the U.S. government orchestrated the bombing as part of a bid to crush dissent and pass draconian anti-terrorism legislation.

For virtually all major law enforcement agencies, the catastrophic attack moves domestic terrorism to the front burner. The FBI will soon add close to 500 anti-terrorism agents.

Late April Echoing Patriot antigovernment rhetoric, the National Rifle Association warns in a widely distributed fundraising letter that "jack-booted government thugs" in "Nazi bucket helmets" have "the government's go-ahead to harass, intimidate, even murder law abiding citizens."

Former President George Bush quits the NRA in protest.

April 30 Making his public debut, Special Forces sniper Steven Barry appears on CBS' "60 Minutes" with his face and identity hidden. Barry tells viewers of the Special Forces Underground (SFU) — the extreme right-wing group he has secretly created within the military at Fort Bragg, N.C. — and the magazine he edits, The Resister.

Although Army officials deny the existence of SFU to congressional investigators, the case will become another embarrassment to the military, which nine years earlier had banned soldiers from participating in extremist groups.

Growing ever more radical, Barry will retire and, in 1999, join William Pierce's neo-Nazi National Alliance as "military unit coordinator."

June 15 After two months of massive press coverage of the bombing and the militia world which seemed to produce it, experts on the far right and Patriot leaders from the Militia of Montana, the Michigan Militia and other groups testify before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.

Given the relatively uncritical nature of most of the legislators' questioning, many experts see the hearings as something of a propaganda victory for Patriots.

Sept. 12 Antigovernment extremist Charles Ray Polk is indicted by a federal grand jury for plotting to blow up the IRS building in Austin, Texas. In 1996, he will be sentenced to almost 21 years in prison.

The case dramatizes the fact that domestic terrorism is mounting, not falling, as many experts had expected in the wake of the horrific Oklahoma City attack.

In the three years that follow the Oklahoma bombing, more than 25 major domestic terrorist conspiracies will be thwarted by law enforcement officials.

Nov. 9 Oklahoma Constitutional Militia leader Willie Ray Lampley, his wife and another man are arrested as they prepare explosives to bomb numerous targets, including abortion clinics, welfare offices, gay bars and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

"God won't be mad at us if we drop [bomb] four or five buildings," one of the plotters says before the arrests, according to court records.

"He will probably reward us."

The three suspects, along with another man arrested later, are eventually sentenced to terms of up to 11 years.

Dec. 7 A black man and woman are gunned down outside Fayetteville, N.C., and three U.S. Army privates from Fort Bragg are soon charged in the murders. Two of the soldiers, James Burmeister and Malcolm Wright, are members of a racist Skinhead group.

A large billboard advertising the neo-Nazi National Alliance is located near their base. The widely publicized case sparks renewed worries about extremists in the military.