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Blotter: Updates On Extremism And The Law

July 7

A federal indictment was unsealed that charged seven members of the Latino gang Big Hazard with firebombing four apartments in Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights neighborhood in an effort to chase black people out. The May 12, 2014, attacks were only the latest attempt by Latino street gangs over some two decades to drive blacks out of certain southern California neighborhoods. Carlos Hernandez, 31, the suspected leader of the recent conspiracy, allegedly told fellow Big Hazard gang members that the bombings would “get the niggers out of the neighborhood.”

July 11

An Arizona judge sentenced former border vigilante Chris Simcox to 19½ years in prison on two counts of child molestation and one of furnishing pornography to a minor. A former schoolteacher, Simcox, 55, rose to national prominence in the early 2000s as co-founder of the Minuteman Project, a nativist extremist group that patrolled the U.S.-Mexico border. He had been in prison since 2013, when he was arrested for molesting the 5-year-old daughter of a neighbor and his own daughters, ages 6 and 4, although charges involving the youngest were later dropped.

July 20

Criminal summonses were issued for white nationalist Matthew Heimbach and two other men who were filmed shoving a black protester at a March rally for Donald Trump in Louisville, Ky. The three were charged with harassment with physical contact for their attacks on Shiya Nwanguma, a University of Louisville student. Heimbach, a 25-year-old who heads the racist and anti-Semitic Traditionalist Youth Network and Traditionalist Worker Party, had bragged online about the assault, but complained after his arrest of facing a “political prosecution.”

Aug. 10

A Gresham, Ore., man and the girlfriend who allegedly egged him on, shouting “Get him, baby!” as he plowed across several lanes of oncoming traffic and struck and killed a black teenager, pleaded not guilty to first degree intimidation charges, a hate crime, in a Multnomah County courthouse. Russell Courtier, 38, and Colleen Hunt, 35, had already pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of Larnell Bruce, 19. Courtier is alleged to be a member of the racist prison gang European Kindred.

Oct. 18

A 32-year-old Joplin, Mo., man who burned down a Joplin mosque on Aug. 6, 2012, and attempted to do the same to the town’s Planned Parenthood clinic the next year, was sentenced to more than five years in federal prison and ordered to pay $701,971 in restitution. Jedediah Stout, 32, told officials that he opposed Islam and abortion. The mosque fire he set not only destroyed the building, but also consumed donations made by mosque supporters during the holy month of Ramadan.

Oct. 25

Saying the 84-year-old lawman willfully defied a judge’s order to stop targeting Latinos, federal prosecutors in Arizona charged Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio with criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor. Arpaio, whose department in 2011 was found to systematically discriminate against Latinos, built a national reputation with his bellicose nativist rhetoric, disregard for civil rights, publicity stunts like forcing inmates under his supervision to wear pink underwear, and formation of a “Cold Case Posse” to investigate President Obama’s citizenship. Arpaio, who first took office in 1993, lost his re-election bid in November.

Oct. 28

The FBI arrested a member of the violent, neo-Nazi Vinlanders Social Club at a motel in Valdosta, Ga., and returned him to West Palm Beach, Fla., on federal charges related to a murder-for-hire, attempted drug possession with intent to distribute, and robbery. Adrian “Skitz” Apodaca, 44, was arrested after undercover FBI agents set up their own fake white supremacist gang and befriended him, conducting a five-month
sting operation during which they secretly recorded his boasts of having “killed a lot of people” and leaving “a trail of dead hookers.”

Nov. 4

An Arizona judge sentenced an 18-year-old Tucson man to eight years in prison and a lifetime of probation after he was convicted of terrorism and conspiracy charges for plotting to bomb a Department of Motor Vehicles building. During the probe, Mahin Khan instructed an undercover FBI agent to build homemade grenades that Khan planned to use to incite an uprising on behalf of the Islamic State. Khan had previously expressed interest in attacking a local Jewish community center.