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June 28, 2016 0

Court Warns Mississippi Legislature on Efforts to Circumvent Marriage Equality

Yes­ter­day, a fed­eral court gave Mississippi’s leg­is­la­ture a stern warn­ing about its efforts to cir­cum­vent the U.S. Supreme Court’s mar­riage equal­ity rul­ing.  The warn­ing was made in the con­text of plain­tiffs to a marriage-equality law­suit ask­ing the U.S. Dis­trict Court for North­ern Mis­sis­sippi to reopen their case in a chal­lenge to HB 1523, the State’s so-called “Pro­tect­ing Free­dom of Con­science from Gov­ern­ment Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act,” which goes into effect on July 1st.

Seal_of_Mississippi_2014.svg

Shortly after the Supreme Court’s Oberge­fell deci­sion, the Dis­trict Court issued a per­ma­nent order mak­ing the marriage-equality rul­ing bind­ing on the “… State of Mis­sis­sippi and all of its agents, offi­cers, employ­ees, and subsidiaries….”

Ear­lier this year, how­ever, the State enacted HB 1523, which broadly allows Mis­sis­sip­pi­ans to deny goods or ser­vices to their fel­low cit­i­zens based on their own “reli­gious beliefs or moral con­vic­tions” that mar­riage is lim­ited to oppo­site sex cou­ples.  One HB 1523 pro­vi­sion empow­ers clerks and their sub­or­di­nates to refuse issuance of mar­riage licenses based on this reli­gious or moral view­point pro­vided that “… mar­riage is not impeded or delayed as a result of any recusal.”  But the statute con­tains no pro­tec­tions to safe­guard against imped­i­ments or delays.

The plain­tiffs rightly argue that HB 1523 con­flicts with the Dis­trict Court’s per­ma­nent order, and are insist­ing that it be revised to fully pro­tect their 14th Amend­ment marriage-equality rights.

In grant­ing the plain­tiffs’ request to reopen the case, the Court found that HB 1523 “… may in fact amend Mississippi’s mar­riage licens­ing regime in such a way as to con­flict with Oberge­fell.”  Fur­ther­more, it warned that State leg­is­la­ture that:

[T]he mar­riage license issue will not be adju­di­cated anew every leg­isla­tive ses­sion.  And the judi­ciary will remain vig­i­lant when­ever a named party to an injunc­tion is accused of cir­cum­vent­ing that injunc­tion, directly or indirectly.

The plain­tiffs’ request to the Court is part of a broader chal­lenge to the con­sti­tu­tion­al­ity of HB 1523, which con­tains other pro­vi­sions favor­ing par­tic­u­lar reli­gious or moral view­points, includ­ing lim­it­ing sex­ual rela­tions to opposite-sex mar­riage and bas­ing gen­der iden­tity strictly on bio­log­i­cal sex.   The law’s pref­er­ences are clearly incon­sis­tent with the First Amendment’s free speech and estab­lish­ment clauses.  Based on this court rul­ing, with its warn­ing empha­siz­ing judi­cial vig­i­lance, there is rea­son to believe that the dis­crim­i­na­tory HB 1523 will even­tu­ally be struck in its entirety.

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June 28, 2016 1

The Hate Group Behind the Sacramento White Supremacist Rally

A coterie of racist skin­heads and other white suprema­cists staged a rally at the state capi­tol in Sacra­mento, Cal­i­for­nia, this past week­end, a rally that degen­er­ated into a bloody brawl when the racists were attacked by a larger group of left-wing counter-demonstrators. At least 10 peo­ple were report­edly injured.

Racist skinheads involved in Sacramento rally

White suprema­cists who par­tic­i­pated in Sacra­mento rally

Both sides came pre­pared for a fight, after a pre­vi­ous brawl in south­ern Cal­i­for­nia ear­lier in the year, and both sides declared “suc­cess” after the fra­cas, but it is the white suprema­cists who most ben­e­fit from the free pub­lic­ity that such vio­lent gen­er­ates “We stood our ground. We’ll be back,” promised one white suprema­cist after the Sacra­mento event. That was Matthew Heim­bach who, with fel­low racist Matt Par­rott, orga­nized the rally from afar.

Heim­bach and Par­rott are the lead­ers of a new hate group, The Tra­di­tion­al­ist Worker Party (TWP), which claims to be the “polit­i­cal arm” of their ear­lier white suprema­cist endeavor, the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Youth Net­work (TYN), but seems to be sup­plant­ing it.

Their rally is part of a greater effort by Heim­bach and Par­rott to unite dif­fer­ent racist groups under their umbrella to pro­mote white nation­al­ism and a white ethno-state. TWP adver­tised the event as a rally “against glob­al­iza­tion and in defense of the right to free expres­sion.” Plans for the rally had been in motion since April and TWP secured a per­mit to hold the event at the Sacra­mento State Capitol.

Traditionalist Worker Party graphic publicizing Sacramento rally

Tra­di­tion­al­ist Worker Party graphic pub­li­ciz­ing Sacra­mento rally

The group also claimed the rally was, in part, a response to anti-racists, minori­ties and immi­grants who protested at events in Cal­i­for­nia held by pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump. TWP orga­nized the demon­stra­tion along with the Golden State Skin­heads, a racist skin­head group allied with TWP.

TWP was cre­ated after a largely unsuc­cess­ful effort by Heim­bach and Par­rott to attract young peo­ple to white nation­al­ism through the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Youth Net­work. Unable to recruit many col­lege stu­dents to his group, Heim­bach turned instead to build­ing alliances with neo-Nazis and racist skin­heads. In 2013, he attended a gath­er­ing in Ken­tucky fea­tur­ing the racist skin­head Aryan Ter­ror Brigade, the neo-Nazi National Social­ist Move­ment and sev­eral Ku Klux Klan groups.

Since then, Heim­bach has con­ducted more out­reach to racist skin­heads and neo-Nazis, par­tic­u­larly estab­lished groups like the Golden State Skin­heads in Cal­i­for­nia and the Key­stone State Skinheads/Keystone United in Pennsylvania.

The Golden State Skin­heads (GSS), founded in 2003, is a California-based racist skin­head group with mem­bers from through­out the state.  They claim to be “a social club of Cal­i­for­nia white nation­al­ists… banned [sic] together for the sur­vival of our peo­ple and our beliefs.”  How­ever, pre­vi­ous ver­sions of their web­site “about us” page stated that they “oppose multi-culturalism, glob­al­iza­tion and Zion­ism, adding “our ulti­mate goal is to estab­lish a state owned and inhab­ited exclu­sively by the white race where we may peace­fully exist and pros­per gov­ern­ing our­selves with­out alien influence.”

GSS has coor­di­nated a num­ber of white power con­certs and social events through­out the state, includ­ing join­ing other white suprema­cist groups such as Cal­i­for­nia Skin­heads, Blood and Honor, and Amer­i­can Free­dom Party in June 2015, in Bak­ers­field, for a white power gath­er­ing dubbed Camp Com­radery 2015 [sic].  Heim­bach, already tied to GSS, was a main speaker at the event.

TWP has also been active on the East Coast. In Feb­ru­ary 2016, TWP co-hosted an event with the Key­stone State Skinheads/Keystone United in Har­ris­burg. Two months later, the TWP’s first offi­cial mid-Atlantic chap­ter meet­ing, held in Philadel­phia brought in some 20 atten­dees and fea­tured Heim­bach and long-time Key­stone State Skin­head Steve Smith as speakers.

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June 27, 2016 0

New AQAP Publication Encourages Additional Attacks Following Orlando

AQAP Inspire pamphlet encourages attacks following Orlando

Cover of the AQAP pam­phlet, fea­tur­ing an image of Omar Mateen

Al Mala­hem media, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s pro­pa­ganda wing, released a pam­phlet on June 23 that praised the Orlando shoot­ing and pro­vided sug­ges­tions for copy­ing it and mak­ing addi­tional attacks both more lethal and bet­ter suited to AQAP’s pro­pa­ganda aims.

The four-page PDF pam­phlet, which was released on Telegram, was titled “Inspire Guide: Orlando Oper­a­tion,” and included mul­ti­ple ref­er­ences to Inspire mag­a­zine, AQAP’s English-language pro­pa­ganda magazine.

The pam­phlet indi­cated that its goal was to “[pro­vide] guid­ance to the Lone Mujahid (fighter)” and to “follow-up, guide, put right and cor­rect Lone Jihad oper­a­tions in order to real­ize the best mil­i­tary and polit­i­cal results that serve the gen­eral pol­icy of the Mujahidin (fight­ers) in our war with America.”

This fol­lows in the path of recent issues of Inspire mag­a­zine, which have focused on small scale attacks that can be con­ducted by indi­vid­ual sup­port­ers of AQAP.

The pam­phlet praised the fact that the shoot­ing was against a large pub­lic gath­er­ing in an enclosed area, and that the per­pe­tra­tor, Omar Mateen, owned his gun and had prior firearms train­ing. It sug­gested as well that Mateen was able to cause more destruc­tion because, it claimed, “those present in the night­club were drunk.”

How­ever, the pam­phlet sug­gested that it would be best for future per­pe­tra­tors not to tar­get spe­cific groups in soci­ety, such as Lati­nos or the LGBT com­mu­nity, because the focus of news cov­er­age would then be on the group tar­geted, rather than on the over­all ter­ror­ist ele­ment of the attack.

Despite its sug­ges­tion to tar­get more het­ero­ge­neous groups for strate­gic pur­poses, the pam­phlet did not shy away from anti-LGBT incite­ment. Rather, its cri­tique was couched by the state­ment that “the killing of such peo­ple is the most bind­ing duty and closer to human nature, but bet­ter than this is to avoid tar­get­ing areas where minori­ties are found.” ADL recently pub­lished an analy­sis of anti-gay rhetoric in Inspire and in ISIS’s English-language mag­a­zine, Dabiq.

Inter­est­ingly, the pam­phlet nods to the fact that Mateen indi­cated sup­port for ISIS, not Al Qaeda, while con­duct­ing the attack, stat­ing, “Lone Jihad is not monop­o­lized by al-Qaida (sic) or any other group, there­fore we call upon all active Jihadi groups, to adopt and build upon the idea of Lone Jihad and call towards it.” How­ever, it encour­ages would-be future per­pe­tra­tors to refer to bomb-making instruc­tions in past issues of Inspire mag­a­zine to make their attacks more deadly. An attack with weapons clearly taken from Inspire magazine’s sug­ges­tions would enable AQAP to claim some degree of credit.

To date, the Boston Marathon bomb­ing is the only domes­tic attack that was fully car­ried out that uti­lized direc­tions from Inspire mag­a­zine. How­ever, the mag­a­zine has played a role in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of mul­ti­ple domes­tic extrem­ists, includ­ing the Tsar­naev broth­ers of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing, Jose Pimentel, who attempted a bomb­ing in New York, and Abdel Daoud, who attempted a bomb­ing in Chicago.

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