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Extremism Headlines: God's Misfits, sovereign citizen trial, far-right fighter

Every week, we highlight stories on extremism and the radical right from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Project. Here are stories that caught our attention through April 19.

MMA Fighter's ties to the far right

  • A mixed martial arts fighter in Missoula, Montana, Sam Polk, who uses the moniker "Blunt Force Trauma," may have ties to a racist hate group, Hatewatch reported on Tuesday. Polk, who has won three consecutive fights since returning from an 11-year absence, is sponsored by a far-right podcasting network named MurderTheMedia. The network’s co-founders, both Proud Boys, were sentenced to prison for their role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. 
  • Polk has three tattoos on his chest that resemble neo-Nazi imagery. The investigation also uncovered a 2019 Facebook profile picture of Polk overlaid with the text "Asatru, followers of the old ways." 
  •  Asatru is not always associated with white nationalists, but in the white power movement it refers to the white nationalist Asatru Folk Assembly. The investigation continues as Polk’s rising profile as an athlete provides MurderTheMedia the potential to reach a larger audience.
  • Hatewatch has reported on links between some portions of the MMA community and the far right.

New text casts doubt on Kentucky Politician's explanation for 'white genocide' comments


  • Further text from a 2017 conversation appears to challenge Kentucky politician TJ Roberts’ clarification of his comments that Jewish people encourage “white genocide,” an unfounded conspiracy theory, according to a Hatewatch report.
  • Roberts acknowledged the conversation but told The Cincinnati Enquirer that he "was not referencing Jewish people" and "he was mocking someone online who was making antisemitic comments." He also claimed that Hatewatch presented the conversation out of context.
  • Hatewatch obtained further text from the same source. In the text, Roberts claimed his former outlet, Liberty Hangout, discussed race on then-Twitter and pointed its readers to Augustus Sol Invictus, a white nationalist libertarian. Roberts also said he would endorse Invictus’ platform once it became public.
  • Roberts did not respond to a request for comment. Read the original report here.

Richmond man who claimed hospital favored non-whites had hundreds of guns, thousands of pounds of ammunition: Police

  • Lawrence Hansen, a man from Richmond, California, is set to have a preliminary hearing on 18 felony and three misdemeanor charges after police claim to have found hundreds of guns and 11,000 pounds of ammunition at his home, The Mercury News reported. The discovery followed alleged threats Hansen made to staff at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, California about perceived racial bias against whites in care. He reportedly told a doctor he hoped they had body armor and showed up to appointments with a gun and a knife. Police seized his firearms, uncovering a collection of at least 230 firearms, including numerous assault weapons and machine guns, according to police records.
  • Police also seized 22 silencers, 46 grenades and 869 magazines. The case represents the Bay Area’s biggest arms stockpiling case in recent memory, according to The Mercury News.

Members of 'Anti-government religious group' God's Misfits arrested

  • Authorities have arrested four individuals allegedly involved in a religious “anti-government” group called “God’s Misfits” following an investigation into the disappearance of two women, according to an affidavit reported by Oklahoma City Fox affiliate Fox 25. Tifany Adams, Tad Cullum, Cora Twombly, and Cole Twombly all face murder, kidnapping, and conspiracy charges. The Texas County Sheriff’s Office initiated the investigation on March 30 when Veronica Butler and Jilian Kelley’s vehicle was found abandoned near the Four Corners region in the Oklahoma Panhandle. The scene suggested a severe injury with evidence including blood on the road, Butler’s glasses near a broken hammer, and a pistol magazine, according to the report.
  • The investigation revealed that Adams, the grandmother of Butler’s children, was in a problematic custody battle with Butler since 2019. On the day of the disappearance, Butler and Kelley had traveled from Hugoton, Kansas to the Four Corners region to pick up the kids for a supervised visitation, the affidavit alleges. However, they never arrived, and their vehicle was later found by Butler’s family members. Cora Twombly's teenage daughter told authorities about God's Misfits meetings and the alleged murder plot, according to the affidavit.

Murder trial of sovereign citizen begins with jury selection

  • The murder trial of self-proclaimed sovereign citizen Neely Raye Pesognellie Petrie Blanchard began with jury selection on Monday, the Ocala StarBanner reported. Authorities charged Blanchard with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Christopher Hallett in November 2020. They allege Blanchard thought Hallett could help regain custody of her children. Blanchard, who has been in jail since her arrest, is representing herself after firing her attorney, Jack Maro. She plans to use temporary insanity as a defense, according to the report.
  • The jury pool included a diverse group of individuals, and both sides settled with 12 jurors and one alternate. 
  • Sovereign citizens "believe they get to decide which laws to obey and which to ignore, and they don't think they should have to pay taxes," Hatewatch explained in 2018.

Read last week's edition here: Extremism Headlines: Book bans, conspiracy theories, FBI building attack

Above photo: Neely Raye Pesognellie Petrie Blanchard, who identifies as a sovereign citizen, appears in Judge Lisa Herndon’s courtroom during her murder trial Tuesday April 16, 2024. (Doug Engle/Ocala Star-Banner/USA TODAY NETWORK) 

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