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The Blotter: Winter 2007

Updates on Extremism and the Law

Burleson, Texas, police arrested two men who allegedly tried to set off a firebomb at Victory Family Church but failed. Dayton Calaway, 19, and Michael Plaisted Jr., 18, along with a suspect arrested a day later, Jered Ragon, 18, were charged with attempted arson and organized criminal activity and face up to 99 years in prison. Officials said the men, who they say confessed to the crime, were part of a group of 10-15 "radical Christian activists" that opposes government and organized religion.

A jury acquitted 41-year-old Gordon Creal Young, a National Socialist Movement member and former imperial wizard of the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, of charges that he twice forced his 15-year-old adoptive sister to perform oral sex on him. The Hagerstown, Md., jury's decision followed testimony from the girl's biological mother that she would sometimes "elaborate" on the truth.

Police in Manning, S.C., arrested former Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan member Timothy Adron Welch in the July 4 shooting murder of 40-year-old David Michael Dennis. Welch, 35, had emerged from federal prison in 2006 after serving almost 10 years for burning two black churches. Welch testified in a 1998 civil case brought by the Southern Poverty Center that ended in a $37.8 million verdict against the Christian Knights, its leader and several members for one of the arsons.

AUG. 2
Oakland (Calif.) Post editor Chauncey Bailey, working at the time on an article about Your Muslim Bakery, was killed with a shotgun by bakery handyman Devaughndre Broussard, who later confessed to the murder. In the following weeks, others associated with the bakery were arrested, including boss Yusuf Bey IV, who was charged with kidnapping and torturing a woman. Bakery staffers, who are militant black Muslims, have been accused of widespread violence.

AUG. 10
Bastrop, La., detectives John Smith and Charles Wilson were shot to death as they tried to question alleged Aryan Circle member Donald Brendle in a stolen property case. Police say one of the killers was another member of the prison-based gang, Dennis Clem, who died during the shootout at a local hotel. Officials later charged three other group members, including Brendle, with helping Clem's girlfriend, Tonya Smith, to flee. Smith was later captured and charged with murder.

AUG. 15
Police snipers killed a violent, 24-year-old white supremacist with a rap sheet going back to when he was 12 after he shot a black Hillsborough County, Fla., sheriff's deputy to death. Officers cornered Michael Allen Phillips in the home he shared with his mother just two hours after he murdered Sgt. Ron Harrison. During a brief standoff, Phillips referred to the numbers 14 and 88, well-known neo-Nazi codes. Police also later found "extremely" racist writings in his bedroom.

AUG. 27
The son of former American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan chief Jeff Berry was sentenced to a year on work release for the savage 2006 beating of his father. Anthony Berry, a violent Klan enthusiast with three prior battery convictions, was also ordered to pay $15,000 toward his father's medical bills. The attack came at a barbecue in Spencerville, Ind., and left Jeff Berry's vision badly impaired.