Gregory Withrow, activist and white supremacist, attempted to crucify himself on the steps of California's capitol in protest of the Iraq war on Feb. 5, 2005.
Gregory Withrow wants to end the war in Iraq, close international borders, and secure the release of Aryan "political prisoners" convicted of hate crimes in California. To further his goals, and to "spread ideas of racism and atheism," Withrow decided to crucify himself on the steps of the California State Capitol building in Sacramento this Feb. 5.
The "counter-crucifixion" failed when "armed forces" in the form of Capitol Police took away his hammer and nails, but not before Withrow's assistant had already hammered the first six-inch nail through one of Withrow's palms and into the board below.
Withrow had a permit for his protest, but he violated state law by deliberately injuring himself, explained State Capitol Permit Officer Keith Troy.
"He didn't tell us he was going to crucify himself," Troy told a reporter. "It was gross. I witnessed two ladies get physically sick after they saw what he had done."
It wasn't the first time Withrow got nailed. A white supremacist youth leader and protégé of notorious California neo-Nazi Tom Metzger in the 1980s, Withrow had his hands nailed to a board in 1987 in a K-Mart parking lot by, he said, racist Skinheads angered by his renunciation of white supremacy.
He then parlayed his professed transformation and resulting crucifixion into a high-profile media campaign. Withrow appeared on "Donahue," became a paid speaker for the antiracist Anti-Defamation League, and starred in a PBS documentary about his life, alongside his Mexican bride.
In 1993, he testified at a California legislative hearing on proposed hate crime laws, which were passed. Then-Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy praised Withrow's "courage in choosing to speak out against racism and hatred."
But 13 years after Withrow's purported change of heart, he announced that the 1987 crucifixion attack had all been a hoax and that his disavowal of white power was an elaborate ruse designed to allow him to spy on the ADL from within. He said that California's hate crimes laws should be repealed since they were based on perjured testimony — his own.
Apparently, even after the recent addition to his collection of personal stigmata, Withrow hasn't had enough. In February, he filed a permit application for a second crucifixion protest in Sacramento this April.
This time, however, he promises to be nailed to boards elsewhere, sparing spectators "the horror of impalement." Then, he said, he plans to "shoulder my cross and carry it after being crucified about two miles before reaching State Capitol grounds."
But don't cry for Greg Withrow. In his application, Withrow likens crucifixion to body piercing, writing that "only a weakling or a Jew like Christ would weep over such pain."