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Extremists Exploit Racial Tensions in Ferguson, Mo.

A grand jury’s Nov. 24 decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the Ferguson, Mo., police officer who on Aug. 9 shot and killed unarmed black teenager Michael Brown, inspired a tsunami of vitriol from extremist elements thrilled to latch on to the national controversy over appropriate use of police force. 

Front and center among those who used unrest in Ferguson to further their own agenda was Frank Ancona, imperial wizard of the Missouri-based Traditionalist American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Ancona, who not long ago told a reporter that the Klan is a “Christian organization” that doesn’t “hate people because of their race” threatened to use “lethal force” to “defend” the Klan and Ferguson police officers. When the hacker group Anonymous retaliated by exposing the identities of numerous members of Ancona’s group, the self-declared non-hating non-racist called Anonymous members “pathetic nigger lovers” who would soon be “strung up next to the chimps.” 

“We would like to wish Officer Darren Wilson and his family all the best in the future. To Anonymous and the people of Ferguson, we will see you on the streets,” Ancona wrote.

The Klan wasn’t the only group hoping for violence. On Nov. 21, authorities arrested two members of the New Black Panther Party (NBPP) who allegedly purchased explosives they intended to set off in Ferguson after the grand jury released its verdict. Olajuwon Ali, chairman of the NBPP’s St. Louis chapter, and fellow NBPP member Brandon Baldwin were federally indicted on weapons charges for allegedly making “straw purchases” – buying guns intended for someone else’s use – at a St. Louis area sporting goods store. The pair is also accused of planning to set off pipe bombs in the Ferguson area. Ali, it emerged, is also associated with a relative of the antigovernment “sovereign citizens” movement, whose African-American adherents call themselves “Moors” and claim to be immune to most U.S. laws. 

Meanwhile, members of the Oath Keepers, a radical antigovernment group mainly comprised of former and current military and law enforcement personnel, travelled to Ferguson to provide free private security to businesses there. Armed with AR-15s and handguns, the camo-clad volunteers, who have a history complicating volatile situations, stood on rooftops and surveyed the town until local law enforcement, claiming that the Oath Keepers were violating the law by providing security without a license, told them to stop.

Clashes were not limited to Ferguson. On Monday, Oct. 6, St. Louis Cardinals fans greeted anti-racism protesters rallying outside Busch Stadium with racial slurs and insults. “We’re the ones who gave all y’all the freedoms that you have,” shouted one woman. 

In the tiny town of Rosebud, Mo. (population 409), participants in a march organized by the NAACP were greeted by a crowd of mostly white counter-protesters wearing T-shirts supporting Officer Wilson and shouting insults. Elsewhere along the route, the marchers encountered Confederate flags, a white-hooded onlooker, and mocking offers of fried chicken, melon, and a 40-ounce bottle of beer.

While some extremists wreaked havoc on the ground, others chimed in from the sidelines. Antigovernment superstar Alex Jones declared the Ferguson uproar a conspiracy aimed at sparking a civil war, with the end goal of imposing martial law and confiscating guns from patriotic Americans. Glenn Beck and WorldNetDaily predicted race war, and Alan Keyes spied “a Hitlerian situation” in the making. 

David Horowitz, the liberal-bashing, race-baiting godfather of the modern anti-Muslim movement, used the protests as a fundraising opportunity, offering supporters who sent $50 a copy of a booklet titled “Black Skin Privilege and the American Dream.” And, speaking at Morgan State University on Nov. 22, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan predicted violence and excoriated black leaders, including President Obama, for asking young people to stay calm, while nativists like Roy Beck of NumbersUSA blamed the volatility of Ferguson on immigration. 

Former New Black Panther Party leader Malik Zulu Shabazz called on blacks to rebel against the “illegitimate” authority of “White America” and a self-declared “urban militia” called RbG Black Rebels, operating on Twitter, offered a bounty for Wilson’s location. A few days after the grand jury failed to indict Wilson, blogger “Joomiloom” of the Yahoo group “Aryan Nationalist Army” wrote excitedly, “Whites in this country are flat fed UP with niggers and want something done..something permanent. … There’s gonna be dead black ass from coast to coast when it happens, and all I can say is that it will be long overdue.”

Even the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, joined the fray, apparently hoping that protesters outraged at the grand jury’s failure to indict Wilson could be converted to its bloody cause. Tweeted one ISIS flack, “Accept Islam & give bayah [allegiance] to Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi & then we will send u soldiers that don’t sleep!”