2012 March » ADL Blogs
March 30, 2012

Members of Florida White Supremacist Biker Club Arrested

Kavallerie Brigade logo

Six bikers, some of whom were members of a white supremacist biker gang, were arrested in Florida and Chicago on drugs and explosives charges following a three-year undercover police investigation by a variety of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

Arrested were Leah Klose and Brian Klose of St. Cloud, Florida; Ronald Cusack of St. Cloud; Deborah Plowman (arrested in Chicago); Carlos Eugene Dubos of Orlando, and Harold Johnson Kinlaw of Orange County, Florida. Brian Klose, Cusack, Dubose, and Kinlaw were charged with threatening to throw a destructive device, while several suspects were charged with trafficking in prescription drugs and other offenses.

Kusack and several other suspects were members of the 1st Kavallerie Brigade of Aryan Nations, a white supremacist biker club started in early 2008 by white supremacist August Kreis, who also headed a faction of the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations at the time. A small group, its members mostly came from South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee. Ron Cusack was the “brigade commander” for the Kavallerie Brigade.

The remaining suspects arrested were members of the far larger Outlaws Motorcycle Club. This club, one of the major outlaw biker gangs in the United States, has had strong ties with white supremacists in Florida.

The arrests are likely to lead to the demise of the Kavallerie Brigade, especially since its founder Kreis pleaded guilty in 2011 to federal fraud charges and is in ill health.

The Anti-Defamation League recently profiled the Kavallerie Brigade in its major report, Bigots on Bikes: The Growing Links between White Supremacists and Biker Gangs, which also describes other similar white supremacist biker crews.

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March 30, 2012

Hutaree Militia Verdict Shows Sedition Charges Risky

In a rebuke to federal prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts on March 27 threw out seditious conspiracy charges against seven Michigan militia members whom the government had accused in 2010 of plotting to start a war with the U.S. government.

Only weapons charges remained against two defendants–David Stone, Sr., the leader of the so-called Hutaree Militia, and his son, Joshua Stone—and they pleaded guilty the following day to possessing a machine gun. According to Roberts, though there was evidence to conclude that “something fishy” was going on, the government did not present enough evidence to prove that defendants had “reached a concrete agreement to forcibly oppose the United States government.”

The Hutaree case illustrated vividly how problematic the very issue of sedition—currently defined in U.S. law as a conspiracy to overthrow or destroy the U.S. government, to oppose by force its authority, or to delay by force the execution of U.S. laws—is in the United States. From the very first sedition law, the Sedition Act of 1798, such acts have been highly controversial. One of the major problems has always been distinguishing between speech and conduct—it is for this very reason that current sedition law specifies “by force,” though it has not made attempts to implement the law much easier.

In recent decades, another reason why sedition trials are often problematic is that increasingly jurors find it difficult to believe that defendants could have possibly thought they could successfully wage war against the government. After the Hutaree trial, one of the jurors told a reporter that “I was shocked by their effort to bring the defendants to trial…Do you think a group that small can go up against the mighty U.S. government?”

The modern track record of sedition cases in the United States has been relatively poor. In 1941, the federal government indicted 28 union activists and left-wing extremists for violations of the Sedition Act and a related act, the Smith act, but the jury acquitted all of the defendants of the sedition charge. In 1944, 30 right-wing extremists and Nazi sympathizers were accused of violating the same acts, but their lengthy trial ended in a mistrial. In one of the few successful sedition cases, a number of radical Puerto Rican liberation activists were convicted of seditious conspiracy in the mid-1980s for an extensive terrorist campaign.

However, in 1987, 14 prominent white supremacists charged with seditious conspiracy were acquitted in what came to be called the “Fort Smith Sedition Trial.” In 1995, Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called “Blind Sheikh,” and nine other Muslim extremists were convicted of seditious conspiracy for plans to commit a variety of terrorist acts in the greater New York area, as well as other violent acts actually committed.

The history of sedition cases in the United States suggests that other types of conspiracy or other criminal charges might well be a better prosecution strategy when dealing with extremist-related plots and conspiracies.

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March 29, 2012

Israeli Knesset Members Shouted Down by Brandeis Students

Anti-Israel activists, including members of Brandeis University’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), interrupted a presentation by five Israeli Knesset members, including an Israeli-Arab MK, on Monday.
After the event began, the students stood up and revealed t-shirts with the word “apartheid” written in Hebrew and began shouting, “Israel is an apartheid state” and “The Knesset is an apartheid parliament.” They were subsequently removed from the event, which was taking place at a local synagogue in Newton, Massachusetts. 
The event, titled “A Discussion on Israel and the Diaspora,” was co-sponsored by Brandeis University and the Ruderman Family Foundation in an effort to strengthen the relationship between Israeli government officials and the American Jewish community. 

The disruption is notable for two reasons. The first is that Brandeis SJP described the action on its blog as a signal that Israeli Knesset members are “not welcome by students at Brandeis University.” It is, however, fairly certain that many Brandeis students do welcome Israeli politicians, and that only an infinitesimal percentage of students engage in and support these disruptive tactics. For some reason, it seems that the protesters believe their interests (a minority view) should trump those of the majority.
The second point to note is that the individuals involved promoted their disruption as a “mic check” and labeled the action as “Occupy the Knesset!” This language evokes (and refers to tactics used by) the Occupy Wall Street movement and other Occupy protests that took place around the U.S. last summer. Anti-Israel groups have consistently tried to seize on the momentum of the popular social protest movement and apply its tactics to anti-Israel efforts.

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