Kentucky-based Ku Klux Klan group ordered to pay $2.5M in damages

November 14 2008


A Kentucky-based Ku Klux Klan group was ordered on Friday to pay $2.5 million in damages in a judgment that civil rights attorneys hope will bankrupt the chapter.

The Southern Poverty Law Center sued the nation’s second-largest Klan outfit on behalf of a Latino teen severely beaten in 2006 by two Klan members. The Klansmen were convicted and served two years in prison.

A jury on Friday ordered Imperial Klans of America grand wizard Ron Edwards and two former lieutenants to pay 19-year-old Jordan Gruver $1.5 million for lost wages and medical expenses and Edwards to pay $1 million in punitive damages.

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“I’m overwhelmed. I’m victorious,” Gruver said. “And, I’m also sad. I’m sad because those guys are still going to be the same way that they were. That will never change.”

Morris Dees, the lead attorney for the center, said after the verdict he plans to seize Edwards’ property in Dawson Springs that serves as Klan headquarters along with any other assets that can be found. It wasn’t clear what the property is worth.

Earlier, in his closing statement, Dees told jurors that a substantial financial award would stop the Kentucky-based group in its tracks.

“It’s all about the money. It’s all about the money,” said Morris Dees. “If you stop the money, you’ll cut the organization off.”

The heavily tattooed Edwards plans to appeal the verdict. Despite the judgment, Edwards said the KKK will remain active.

“We’re not going away,” Edwards said.

Dees had argued during the civil trial that Edwards’ group incited violence against minorities with racist speeches and “hate metal,” leading to the attack on Gruver. Edwards, who represented himself during the trial, denied the charge and said his group’s not generally violent.

The case was similar to nearly a dozen others brought by the center against hate groups. A similar lawsuit bankrupted the white supremacist group Aryan Nations in Idaho in 1999.

The trial centered on a beating Gruver suffered at the hands of former Klan lieutenants Jarred Hensley and Andrew Watkins. Gruver suffered a broken jaw, bruised ribs and permanent nerve damage to his left arm.

The jury ordered Edwards to pay 20 percent of the compensatory damages, while splitting the remaining 80 percent evenly between Hensley and Watkins. The jury laid the $1 million in punitive damages solely on Edwards. Hensley, who had also represented himself, left the courthouse without commenting.

Watkins reached a confidential settlement with Gruver before the trial that will account for his share of Friday’s judgment.

Jurors deliberated for nearly six-and-a-half hours after a three-day trial at the Meade County Courthouse. As Meade Circuit Judge Bruce Butler read the verdicts, several skinheads in the courtroom shook their heads and looked down.

The judgment against Edwards and Hensley is active for 15 years, giving Gruver and the center time to pursue assets, Dees said.

“No matter what he gets, we’ll get a piece of it,” Dees said.

Gruver, who testified earlier Friday about having nightmares and the extent of his injuries, celebrated the verdict by hugging his mother, Cindy. He then joined his family and left the courthouse under heavy security into a cold rain.


Klan Trial Goes To Jury

A little Ku Klux Klan History

FBI Searches Home of KKK Leader Accused of murder

Court Hearings Held For Accused Accomplices
November 14 2008

New Orleans FBI agents searched Friday at the home of a suspected Bogalusa Ku Klux Klan leader accused of killing an Oklahoma woman Cynthia Lynch during an initiation ceremony.

At the same time, the last two suspects accused of trying to cover up the crime had court hearings.

Federal, state and local authorities are leaving no stone unturned, as FBI agents returned to Bogalusa to continue the investigation into alleged KKK activity.

The sun was barely up Friday morning when FBI agents descended on the compound at 1616 Louisiana Ave. in Bogalusa. It’s the home that suspected KKK leader and accused killer Raymond “Chuck” Foster, 44, had rented for the past five years from a Washington Parish Sheriff’s Department lieutenant.

For several hours, investigators did just what the FBI had promised: work closely with local law enforcement to determine if any federal laws have been broken. A number of boxes and envelopes were loaded up, and agents left the house with what appeared to be an oven in the back of a pickup truck.

From there, they sat down with the Bogalusa police chief.”I (haven’t) seen it nor read about any kind of activity that even associates to that particular incident like that happened recently,” said Bogalusa Police Chief Jerry Agnew. “We’re going to team up with the FBI.

Any assistance that we can offer them, we’re going to that. So in the near future, if they need us they will call us.

“Meanwhile, the last two of seven people charged with obstruction of justice for trying to cover up the murder of 43-year-old Cynthia Lynch had hearings Friday morning in the St. Tammany Parish jail.

Shane Foster, 21, and Frank Stafford, 20, are both being held on $500,000 bond. The accused shooter, Raymond Foster, is being held without bond.



Published in: on November 15, 2008 at 1:18 am  Comments Off on FBI Searches Home of KKK Leader Accused of murder  
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Klan Trial Goes To Jury

By Stephanie Segretto

November 14 2008

The teenager attacked by members of the Ku Klux Klan testified in court Friday.

Jordan Gruver, 19, and the Southern Poverty Law Center are suing Ron Edwards, the leader of the Imperial Klans of America, and former member Jarred Hensley for an incident back in 2006 at the Meade County Fair.

Gruver testified that he suffered a broken jaw and permanent nerve damage to his left arm, and that he doesn’t leave his house and rarely sleeps more than two hours at a time or he has nightmares.

“They said, ‘Something, something, you little spic,’ and I tried to correct them. I am not a spic, I am a Native American,” Gruver said. “They kept on calling me spic, calling me border-hopper, you know, illegal immigrant… It came down to where Andrew Watkins was sitting there spitting at me and kicking dirt at me.”Gruver said he was surrounded and knew something bad was about to happen.He said a Klan member threw whiskey in his face, and that’s when he turned to walk away, but ran into another Klan member who he said hit him in the face, knocking him to the ground.”I went to cover up my face in the fetal position, like this,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many people was there. I can tell you that there was a lot of feet. All I could see was a bunch of feet. As they was kicking me, I prayed to myself. I said, ‘God, just please let me go. Please let me make it home.'”Edwards and Hensley are representing themselves. During closing arguments Friday, both said that what happened to Gruver has out of their control.”I cannot be responsible for what four people do on their own,” Edwards said. “That is basically violating my rights to belief. That’s what this is about. This isn’t about what I have done, even though the plaintiff’s counsel wants you to think that. I have not done anything. I have been legal in everything I have done.”The case is now in the jury’s hands.

Watch The Story


Jury deliberations begin in Klan beating trial

November 14 2008


A substantial financial award would stop a Kentucky-based Ku Klux Klan organization in its tracks, a civil rights attorney told a jury on Friday in a civil trial against the group and two white supremacists.

“It’s all about the money. It’s all about the money,” said Morris Dees, lead attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that tracks the Klan and other hate groups. “If you stop the money, you’ll cut the organization off.”

Dees and the center represent 19-year-old Jordan Gruver, an American citizen of Panamanian Indian descent, who sued the Imperial Klans of America, its Imperial Grand Wizard, Ron Edwards, and one of his former lieutenants, Jarred Hensley. A jury began to consider the case Friday after nearly three days of testimony. The lawsuit seeks more than $6 million.

Gruver testified on Friday that he suffered a broken jaw, bruised ribs and permanent nerve damage to his left arm after being beaten by four white supremacists at the Meade County Fair in July 2006. Two white supremacists who were initially part of the suit reached confidential settlements before trial.

Edwards and Hensley, both heavily tattooed with Confederate flags and Nazi and racist images, served as their own attorneys and declined to call any witnesses. In less than 10 minutes combined of closing arguments, the two men said they did not take part in beating Gruver.

Edwards asked the jury not to hold his beliefs against him.

“You may not agree with my beliefs, but that is your right,” Edwards said. “If these men had assaulted a white man, would this case be heard in this courtroom today?”

Hensley pleaded guilty in 2006 to attacking Gruver and served more than two years in prison. During closing arguments, Hensley told jurors he took the plea to avoid harsher charges and having a jury send him to prison because of his beliefs.

“Just because I wrote that I was guilty of it, doesn’t mean I did it,” Hensley said.

The three-day trial at the Meade County Courthouse focused on Gruver’s beating, the criminal history of members of the Klan and Edwards’ handling of his followers.

Throughout the trial, white supremacists wearing jackets covered in Nazi symbols watched inside the courtroom, while others lingered outside the courthouse amid the dozen sheriff’s deputies and state troopers providing security.

Gruver testified on Friday that he has nightmares about the attack and is afraid to leave the house. Gruver said he did not incite the attack and wanted nothing to do with Hensley and the other Klansmen at the fair.

“I knew you were not the nicest people in the world,” Gruver told Hensley during questioning.

“You put prejudice on my being a nice person because of my racial beliefs?” Hensley then asked.

“If you were the nicest people, you wouldn’t be calling me names,” Gruver said. “You’d be acting your age and not your shoe size.”


I can only hope the jury does the right thing.

Putting White Supremacists out of business, is in everyones best interest.

A little Ku Klux Klan History

UW project sheds light on Klan history

Never-before-seen images are shining new light on a grim chapter of Washington’s history, when the Ku Klux Klan operated from state headquarters in Belltown, its members gathering robed and hooded at what longtime Seattleites might remember as the Crystal Pool.

The additions to a University of Washington Web site came about as part of a senior-level history class. The rare photos and newspaper clippings tell of the Klan’s broad presence in this region during the 1920s.

There’s the Sedro-Woolley wedding of Klan members in full regalia, a night parade in Bellingham and rallies in places like Renton and Issaquah that at times drew crowds of up to 50,000.

The KKK helped elect public officials across the state – including a mayor in Kent during the early 1920s – and published a Seattle-based newspaper called the Watcher on the Tower.

“People in Washington state really have not known about the strength or impact of the KKK here during the 1920s,” said James Gregory, UW professor of history who heads the Web site, called the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project.

Finding few blacks at which to aim their venom in the pre-World War II Northwest, the white supremacists here focused instead on the Roman Catholic church and on foreigners.

“Historians focus on the Klan as a powerful force in places like Oregon, in Midwest states and of course in the South. But the Klan had tens of thousands of members right here in Washington,” Gregory said.

The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865 by veterans of the Confederate Army to restore white supremacy in the wake of the Civil War. With a record of intimidation and violence aimed at blacks, Jews, foreigners, Catholics and labor, the KKK was prosecuted under the Civil Rights Act of 1871. But it rose again, reaching a membership peak of 5 million in the mid-1920s when its reach spread far beyond the boundaries of the Deep South.

Its inclusion on the Web site is part of ongoing research on civil rights and labor in the Pacific Northwest by faculty and students at the UW.

Discovery of many of the photos and other documents came about as part of a fall 2006 history class called White Supremacy in Western Washington. “Much of this is information that is known to experts, but now the Internet is providing an opportunity for it to be made publicly available,” said history doctoral student Trevor Griffey, who led the class and did much of the research.

“Flaming crosses and Klan robes are some of the most powerful and horrifying images that we identify with a history of racism in the United States,” Griffey said. And in places like the Northwest, where many believe the Klan was not a force, it can be hard to document the history of racism.

“This forces us to rethink some of the assumptions about the history of this region and opens up a new question: Exactly how liberal has this place been?”

As part of its resurgence, the KKK successfully organized in Oregon before coming to Washington around 1923. There is no evidence it was as violent here as it had been elsewhere.

Klan leaders appealed to people’s Christianity, their patriotism and a fear of foreigners. Records show that, along with a Kent mayor, a city attorney in Bellingham was an open member of the Klan. In fact, in 1929, when the Klan held its state convention in Bellingham, its grand wizard was introduced by the mayor and given a key to the city.

Rallies in places like Issaquah, Yakima and Renton drew crowds of up to 50,000. “Those weren’t all Klan members,” Griffey said. “What’s amazing is that they were able to draw such participation. You didn’t see much organized resistance, not much attempt to disrupt the Klan meetings.”

Many of the photos on the Web site were obtained from the Washington State Historical Society, which bought its collection from the estate of Tacoma photographer Marvin Boland, himself a Klan member.

The Klan’s undoing at least in Seattle began around 1924, after it unsuccessfully backed an anti-private-school initiative in this state, aimed at Roman Catholic schools, similar to one it had pushed through in Oregon that was repealed. That plus internal scandals led to the beginning of the Klan’s demise.

But it retained a presence here through the 1930s, its power base shifting from Seattle to Bellingham, said photo historian Jeff Jewell, with the Whatcom Museum of History & Art.

“Hardly a semester goes by that the subject of the Klan is not part of somebody’s term paper,” Jewell said. “It’s been very popular.”


The Ku Klux Klan In Washington State, 1920s

Ku Klux Klan Gathering, Crystal Pool (2nd and Lenora) in Downtown Seattle, WA. March 23, 1923.
Photo courtesy of the Washington State Historical Society

This special section of the Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project documents the history of Washington State’s 1920s chapter of the most infamous white supremacist organization in American history, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).

The Washington State Klan during the 1920s was part of the second of three waves of KKK activity in America. The second KKK was founded in 1915 and gained significant membership immediately following World War I. Though short-lived, it was a powerful anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic, anti-radical, white supremacist organization that promoted “100 percent Americanism.”  The second KKK claimed over 4 million members across the country; briefly dominated state legislatures of Colorado, Indiana, and Oregon; and in 1924 shaped presidential politics and helped pressure politicians to pass the most severe immigration restriction in the history of the United States. Following immigration restriction and a series of leadership scandals, the second KKK collapsed and was largely moribund by 1928.

The second KKK was a mass movement that invoked the memory of and built upon the first KKK, which was a terrorist organization founded by white supremacists in the U.S. South. The first KKK’s violent “night riding”– in which hooded vigilantes used lynchings, whippings, and torture to intimidate recently freed slaves and their white allies — played a crucial role in the disenfranchisement of African Americans at the end of the Civil War in the 1860s and 1870s and laid a foundation for the rise of Jim Crow segregation in the 1890s and 1900s.  The second KKK also helped train some of the leaders who later formed the third KKK, a mainly Southern organization that rose up in the decades after World War II to murder and terrorize people in African-American communities, particularly civil rights movement activists. Klan members’ hoods, white robes, and burning crosses made them icons of American white supremacy and terrorism, and their legacy haunts us to this day.

The Washington State KKK during the 1920s was founded by organizers from Oregon, which had one of the strongest Klan chapters in the country at the time. The State Klan organized a series of massive public rallies in 1923 and 1924 that ranged from 20,000 to 70,000 people. While they publicly disavowed violence, Klan members participated in violent intimidation campaigns against labor activists and Japanese farmers in Yakima Valley and probably elsewhere. They put forward a ballot initiative in 1924 to prohibit Catholic schools that voters soundly defeated. And though most of the State’s Klan chapters collapsed in rancor following the defeat of their anti-private school initiative, a strong presence persisted in Whatcom and Skagit Counties throughout the 1930s. In the 1930s, some prominent leaders in the region’s KKK went on to become involved in the facist Silver Legion, or “Silvershirts,” a national movement that, while small, was quite active in Washington State. And there is evidence that the Klan in Bellingham helped pioneer intimidation practices that paved the way for anti-communist witch-hunts in the 1940s.

This special section on the KKK was created by Trevor Griffey and includes three historical essays courtesy of Trevor Griffey, Brianne Cooke, and Kristin Dimick.  It presents dozens of rare photographs, newspaper articles, and documents thanks to gracious contributions from the Washington State Archives, the Washington State Historical Society,the Whatcom County Historical Society, and the Skagit River Journal.

For more information on the KKK

The Face of Hate is still alive and well in America.

KKK Member Testifies On The Evils Of The Klan

Hate Messages from KKK Rears Its Ugly Head On Long Island

Suspect in Klan killing case has long criminal history

KKK still killing and beating

Published in: on November 14, 2008 at 1:03 am  Comments Off on A little Ku Klux Klan History  
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KKK Member Testifies On The Evils Of The Klan

Former KKK Member Testifies On The Evils Of The Klan

November 13, 2008
By Dave Spencer

A civil lawsuit in Meade County surrounding a teenager who was verbally and physically assaulted brought a former Klu Klux Klan member to testify.

The testimony came from a former Klu Klux Klan member and included allegations the imperial wizard on trial, had a plot to kill the co-founder of a group designed to stop KKK activity.

18 year old Jordan Gruver says KKK Imperial wizard Ron Edwards and Klansman Jarrod Hensley share in the responsibility of what happened to him at Meade County Fair two years ago.

Saying Hensley and members of the KKK shouted racial slurs, spit and kicked the teenager. Edwards was the man who ordered them to do so.

Edwards says he was never aware of the incident, “I don’t believe in what happened. I don’t condone what happened. If i was there i would have stopped it.”

Both Edwards and Hensley are defending themselves. Hensley entered a guilty plea to the assault and served time. They both say they don’t have enough money for a lawyer.

Attorney’s for Gruver had a former KKK member testify about his past experiences with Edwards.

Kale Todd Kelly told the jury this, “Mr. Edwards was a very dangerous man to me. He promotes violence and hatred among anyone who he feels threatens him, minorities, Jews, blacks, I lived with him. I know this.”

Kelly went on to tell the jury about the plot to assassinate the founder of the southern poverty law center, the same organization that now represents the teenager in this case.

Gruver is asking for six million dollars for compensation and whatever the jury wants to award for punitive damages.

Video at site


KKK still killing and beating

Suspect in Klan killing case has long criminal history

November 13 2008



Details emerged Wednesday about a Bogalusa man arrested on charges he shot and killed a white woman who tried to back out of a Ku Klux Klan initiation in northeastern St. Tammany Parish, authorities said.

The alleged shooter, Raymond “Chuck” Foster, 44, 1616 Louisiana Ave., Bogalusa, has a long criminal history in a variety of jurisdictions, including a manslaughter arrest in Washington Parish that apparently did not lead to a conviction, authorities said.

St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s deputies have said Foster is a high-ranking KKK official who heads a Bogalusa chapter that calls itself the Sons of Dixie or the Dixie Brotherhood.

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s Hatewatch, which tracks hate groups, said Wednesday that Foster’s Klan links date to at least January 2001, and include groups based at one time in Livingston Parish.

Hatewatch, based in Montgomery, Ala., said it is not aware of any group operating under the names Sons of Dixie or the Dixie Brotherhood, but a new Klan group calling itself the Dixie Rangers Knights of the Ku Klux Klan has formed in Walker.

On Wednesday, St. Tammany Parish Coroner Dr. Peter Galvan identified the woman victim of the attack as Cynthia C. Lynch, 43, of Tulsa, Okla, through forensic findings, the help of family members and past medical records.

Lynch was recruited through the Internet for the initiation at a campsite next to the Pearl River Navigation Canal with Foster and seven other KKK members.

Lynch had her head shaved while participants were in Klan robes and held burning torches, St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s deputies said. Deputies recovered the robes and other materials.

Chuck Foster shot her with a .40-caliber handgun during an argument about her leaving, deputies have said.

Chuck Foster; his son, Shane Foster, 20, also of 1616 Louisiana Ave., Bogalusa, and others tried to cover up the shooting, cutting the bullet out of Lynch’s body, burning her personal effects and the campsite and dumping her body in a remote location.

All but Foster are between 20 and 30 years of age, St. Tammany Parish sheriff’s deputies said. Foster has been booked with second-degree murder of Lynch and is being held without bond. The seven others were booked with obstruction of justice, deputies said.

White and black Bogalusa leaders provided differing views Wednesday on how far Bogalusa has gotten past racial tensions from the civil rights era, when the city was an acknowledged Ku Klux Klan hotbed.

Bogalusa Police Department officers and Mayor Mack McGehee said they have not seen evidence of the KKK in the city in years. They said they wanted to see the KKK group allegedly involved exposed for whatever it is and expressed concern about what news reports of the event would do to Bogalusa’s reputation.

“I thought we were way beyond that, and it’s kind of disappointing that you can have somebody right under your nose and not even know it,” said McGehee, 48, who has been mayor 10 years.

FBI Special Agent in Charge David W. Welker said in a statement issued Wednesday that the FBI is working with area law enforcement to investigate the slaying and determine whether any federal violation of law took place.

“The FBI takes all such matters seriously and will aggressively investigate all leads and threats,” Welker said in the statement.

But some black leaders said that while the KKK may not be organized like it once was, racial tensions linked to the KKK still linger in Bogalusa.

“The mentality and that attitude, that Klanish hatred, separatist mentality, it is still here in Bogalusa,” said the Rev. Coleman Moses, pastor of White Hall Missionary Baptist Church in Bogalusa.

Moses said he received warnings in 2006 from a white community leader, whom he would not name, that physical and vandalism threats were made against him and other black ministers involved in supporting then-superintendent of Bogalusa city schools, Jerry Payne, who is black.

Moses said several black church officials and school officials were targeted by vandals and he reported those criminal acts to the police.

One of the officials, Marvin C. Austin, 61, deacon at New Triumph Baptist Church, said a rock was thrown at his window shortly after Moses got word of the threats.

Police Chief Jerry Agnew, who said he has not seen any sign of the KKK in his 13 years as chief, reported Moses’ allegations to the FBI. Moses said he spoke with the FBI but never heard from agents again.

Austin also said Wednesday he recalled seeing fliers in October 2007 announcing a public barbecue on Louisiana Avenue hosted by the Sons of Dixie, at a location on the same street where Chuck Foster resides.

“It was the same group, the Sons of Dixie,” said Austin, who is also president of the Bogalusa Voters League. He did not save a copy of the flier.

Hatewatch identified Foster as the founding Imperial Wizard, or national leader, of the Southern White Knights of the KKK, a Klan faction formed Jan. 1, 2001, in Watson.

The group eventually disbanded in early 2005 after forming four active chapters, including relocating the founding chapter to Denham Springs, Hatewatch said.

But there are also doubts that the KKK is back in Bogalusa at the strength it once had, with some skeptics interviewed Wednesday dubbing the eight involved in the killing of Lynch as KKK “wannabes.”

One leader of a white supremacy group said Wednesday the Ku Klux Klan as it once existed is now defunct.

“There hasn’t been a real Klan for years,” said Richard Barrett, the head of the Nationalist Movement.

“You have people now that buy a T-shirt or a flag over the Internet and then say they’re members of the Ku Klux Klan,” Barrett said. “That’s more of a fashion statement than an organization.”

Barrett, who in January led a white supremacy rally in Jena, said the last time the Ku Klux Klan was a large organization was when Robert Shelton, of Alabama, was the Grand Wizard of the United Klans of America from the 1960s to the early 1990s.

“I knew Robert Shelton. He had a building, a telephone, a desk, a membership list and funds. He had people that worked with him and for him,” Barrett said.

“Now all you have is people here and there who pop up and say, ‘I’m the Klan.’ They try to revive it, but it’s never really been organized since Shelton.”

Lewis Murray, assistant district attorney for the 22nd Judicial District, said a Washington Parish grand jury pretermitted, or let pass without notice, Foster’s manslaughter charge in December 1994. Records do not indicate the charge was ever brought again to the grand jury, Murray said.

He compared a pretermitted charge issued by a grand jury to something like a “hung jury” situation. When a charge is pretermitted, the jury either votes to pretermit or cannot agree whether to charge the defendant.

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the FBI at (504) 816-3000 or local authorities.

Greg Garland and Bob Anderson contributed to this story


KKK still killing and beating

La. Slaying Recalls History of Racial Turmoil

Plot to kill Barack Obama, massacre African-Americans foiled

October 28 2008

US agents have broken up a plot to assassinate Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and shoot or decapitate 102 black people in a murder spree in the state of Tennessee.

In court records unsealed today, federal agents said they disrupted plans to rob a gun store and target a predominantly high school by two neo-Nazi skinheads.

Agents said the skinheads did not identify the school by name.

Jim Cavanaugh, special agent in charge of the Nashville field office for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said the two men planned to shoot 88 black people and decapitate another 14.

The numbers 88 and 14 are symbolic in the white supremacist community.

The men also sought to go on a national killing spree, with Obama as their final target, Cavanaugh told The Associated Press.

“They said that would be their last, final act – that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama,” Cavanaugh said.

“They didn’t believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying.”

Cavanaugh says the culmination of their plan was to dress in white tuxedos and top hats, and drive at top speed towards senator Obama, firing from the windows of their car.

He says the threats are being taken very seriously and even if they were just to attempt the plot it would have left a trail of tears around the South.

An Obama spokeswoman travelling with the senator in Pennsylvania had no immediate comment.

The men, Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman 18, are being held without bond.

Agents seized a rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and three pistols from the men when they were arrested.

Authorities alleged the two men were preparing to break into a gun shop to steal more.

Attorney Joe Byrd, who has been hired to represent Cowart, did not immediately return a call seeking comment today.

Cowart and Schlesselman are charged with possessing an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms from a federally licensed gun dealer, and threatening a candidate for president.


Assessing White Supremacist Groups In The U.S.

Federal authorities announced Monday that they had broken up a neo-Nazi plot to assassinate presidential candidate Barack Obama. Authorities say Obama was never in any danger.

Mark Potok, director of the intelligence project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, discusses the case and white supremacist groups present in the U.S.
Obama’s Candidacy Angers, Excites Hate Groups

The charges Monday against two neo-Nazi skinheads accused of plotting to kill Barack Obama drew attention to law enforcement’s simmering concerns over how white supremacists are reacting to the possibility of a black president.

The alleged plan that Daniel Cowart of Bells, Tenn., and Paul Schlesselman, of West Helena, Ark., were hatching was fantastic in its scope. Federal agents said Cowart and Schlesselman planned to rob a gun store, target students at a largely black high school and then try to kill Obama.

The two men did not expect to be successful, but they wanted to die trying, investigators said. They said the two planned to drive as fast as they could toward Obama and shoot at him from the windows of their car. They allegedly had discussed wearing white tuxedos and top hats for the occasion. The suspects are being held without bond on charges of possessing

an unregistered firearm, conspiring to steal firearms and threatening a presidential candidate.

This is the second white supremacist plot against Obama that authorities have revealed. In August, just days before Obama accepted the Democratic nomination in Denver, police arrested three men with white supremacist ties for possibly threatening him.

While law enforcement officials say Obama was never in any danger in either situation, they are also quick to say that they cannot afford to take these cases lightly. And they have been expecting new challenges from white supremacist groups.

“There is a probable hypothesis that in the event that Obama becomes president that you could have a galvanization of these white supremacist groups,” said John Karl, the officer in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department’s criminal conspiracy unit. “Obviously, law enforcement needs to be prepared, and how do you prepare? You need to become as resourceful and comprehensively understand the groups and individuals involved.”

Karl says the First Amendment ties law enforcement’s hands. Officers cannot move in until and unless these groups actually commit a crime.

“If no crime has been committed, no activity has come up on the radar screen, we can’t arbitrarily start rounding people up,” he said. “There is a little problem with the Constitution and things like that.”

Supremacist Groups In California

Travel out of metropolitan Los Angeles — to Southern California cities farther inland where supremacists have traditionally congregated — and it is clear that law enforcement is in a state of alert.

Chris Keeling is part of the FBI’s hate crimes task force in Santa Clarita. As he sees it, Obama’s effect on the hate movement is no longer theoretical; it has already happened.

“There is more on the Internet. There are more flyers, leafletting going out, because now they have a target,” he said. “Take Obama out of the situation, you’re still going to have leafletting. But having Obama in there and being a stone’s throw from being the president, has it increased the Internet activity? Absolutely, absolutely.”

These days, Keeling works about six hate crime calls a week. Some of them are serious. A couple of months ago, skinheads beat up a customer at a restaurant because he was black. Others are crimes of opportunity. Obama posters, for example, have become an easy target for vandals to deface.

The FBI set up a task force in Santa Clarita partly because racist skinhead gangs have long been a fixture there. For years, the Antelope Valley had been a white enclave — a refuge from Los Angeles. When immigrants began moving in, hate groups saw their membership ranks grow as whites in the neighborhoods banded together. Keeling said Obama’s candidacy is adding fear and uncertainty to an already volatile mix.

“This is different. This is new. This has never happened before,” Keeling said of Obama’s candidacy. “We’re not doing anything extra, but we’re kind of being more cognizant of things.”

Candidacy Fits Into Ideology

Part of the problem is that Obama is playing into the neo-Nazi and white supremacist narrative, said Brian Levin, who studies hate and extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.

What the groups were saying — “Jews and blacks coming out of the urban areas are going to take over this white nation of ours” — has occurred, he said.

You only have to look to the Internet to see how white supremacist leaders such as David Duke are using Obama to rally their troops. Duke has called Obama a “visual aid for hate groups.”

He says an Obama presidency would provide indisputable proof that whites have lost control of America.

“This is a cultural and racial battlefront,” said Levin. “Barack Obama is symbol No. 1 of the worst the future has to offer.”

While Obama may be an easy focus of discussion for haters, he hasn’t unified them. In fact, in many ways, he has managed to divide the movement.

Catalyst For A Race War

Tim Zaal, a former white supremacist from Los Angeles, says the split Obama has created is almost generational — between old-school Ku Klux Klan types who are viscerally against a black man running for president and a new wave of haters.

“You have the more — kind-of strange to say it — progressive white attitude: The worse it gets, the better,” said Zaal.

Zaal says the new generation is particularly focused on what they see as the coming race war. They have been trying to spark one for years. Some think, even hope, that an Obama presidency will do just that.

Zaal says some will actually vote for Obama to send the country into a tailspin. “The faster this country falls, the sooner white revolution will arise,” he said.

That mindset is all over the neo-Nazi Web sites. On one, a man with the pen name “LastOfMyKind” wrote, “Could it be that the nomination of Obama finally sparks a sense of unity in white voters? I would propose that this threat of black rule may very well be the thing that finally scares some sense back into complacent whites.”

This is what worries the police and the FBI.


Published in: on October 31, 2008 at 3:01 am  Comments Off on Plot to kill Barack Obama, massacre African-Americans foiled  
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