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Extremism Headlines: TPUSA employees admit guilt, Nazi flag, sovereign citizen murder conviction

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 26.

Border Hawk News and anti-immigrant rhetoric 

  • The staff of Border Hawk News, an immigration news aggregator, openly affiliates with white nationalist hate group VDARE as it makes inroads with mainstream conservatives, Hatewatch reported on Wednesday. The news aggregator "embodies a xenophobic agenda," the report found. consistent with its founding as part of the anti-immigrant network established by the late John Tanton, a white nationalist and eugenicist. It also subscribes to the “great replacement” conspiracy theory.
  • Despite its troubling affiliations, Border Hawk News has managed to earn spots on mainstream news programs and conservative-leaning web shows.
  • Hatewatch has previously written about anti-immigrant rhetoric making its way into mainstream discourse

Oklahoma schools injected with extremist ideology

  • Oklahoma’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ryan Walters, is facing national backlash for his extremist ideology influencing public school classrooms, Hatewatch reported on Tuesday. The controversy began when Oklahoma school administrators directed teachers to remove books that could cause "psychological distress" based on their "race or sex." Summer Boismier, a high school English teacher, chose to resist this mandate by covering her classroom bookcases with red butcher paper, displaying the words, "Books the state doesn’t want you to read."
  • Walters publicly called for the revocation of Boismier’s teaching certificate, accusing her of providing access to banned and "pornographic" materials to students. Boismier, who faced online threats of violence, sued Walters for defamation, slander, libel, and false representation. Despite moving to New York and leading teen initiatives at the Brooklyn Public Library, Boismier suffers from stress-related issues, including PTSD, due to Walters’ personal targeting. The Oklahoma State Board of Education is scheduled to vote on the revocation of her license at its May 23 meeting. Boismier told Hatewatch she "will almost certainly, at least temporarily, lose my teaching certificate to far-right extremism."
  • Walters did not respond to a request for comment. 

TPUSA employees admit guilt in harassment case

  • Two employees of the right-wing organization Turning Point USA (TPUSA) have admitted guilt in a case involving the harassment of a queer educator at Arizona State University (ASU) in October 2023. Harassment or threatening behavior toward ASU employees will not be tolerated, local outlet 12News reported on Monday. The employees, social media personality Kalen D'Almeida and Braden Ellis, a videographer, signed "identical agreements with prosecutors," according to the report. The agreement read: "I do not contest my guilt in this matter because I admit that I committed the offense as charged," according to the court order 12News cited. D'Almeida faced charges of misdemeanor assault, harassment and disorderly conduct. Ellis faced a charge of misdemeanor harassment. Both are required to complete diversion programs, an alternative to formal processing in the justice system. 
  • ASU gave a statement to 12News saying the university was "pleased with the Turning Point USA defendants’ admission of guilt in court in their respective roles in the harassment and injury inflicted on one of our instructors." 
  • Hatewatch reported on claims that TPUSA "boosted" their viewership with racists in 2018.

Nazi flag at Ohio residence sparks outrage

  • Residents of Colerain Township, Ohio, expressed their concern after a neighbor displayed a Nazi flag, sparking outrage and fear, local outlet Fox 19 reported on April 18. The flag, which has been up and down intermittently, has led to numerous calls to local police. Rabbi Ari Jun, director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, highlighted that such symbols are not only a threat to Jews but also to other minority groups. Despite the outcry, local authorities stated that the flag falls under free speech protections, Fox 19 reported. 
  • Hatewatch has previously reported on neo-Nazis and their impact on local communities. 

Sovereign Citizen receives life imprisonment in murder trial 

  • Neely Rayne Pesognellie Petrie-Blanchard (sometimes written "Petrie Blanchard"), a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen, has been sentenced to life imprisonment following a swift verdict in her murder trial. The jury found her guilty of first-degree murder with a firearm in the November 2020 shooting of Christopher Hallett. Both were associated with the Sovereign Citizen movement, adherents of which believe most laws do not apply to them, and the sprawling QAnon conspiracy. The verdict was delivered after a mere 30-minute deliberation. State Attorney Bill Gladson expressed gratitude to the jurors and prosecutors for their diligence.
  • Hatewatch first covered Blanchard's trial in last week's edition, which you can read here: Extremism Headlines: God's Misfits, sovereign citizen trial, far-right fighter

Above Photo: Arizona State University security footage shows Kalen D'Almeida and Braden Ellis following a writing instructor in ASU’s English Department while filming him on campus on Oct. 11, 2023. (Screenshot from Arizona State University security footage)

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