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July 2, 2015 0

Confederate heritage group denounces extremists, but has them in ranks

The Sons of Con­fed­er­ate Vet­er­ans (SCV), a so-called Con­fed­er­ate “her­itage” group, recently denounced the deci­sion of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, a North Carolina-based Klan group, to hold a July 2015 protest in front of the South Car­olina state­house in Columbia.

Missouri CCC members receive SVC awards

Mis­souri CCC mem­bers receive SVC awards

Accord­ing to a press release issued by the SCV, the group’s mem­ber­ship “vehe­mently oppose[s] and denounce[s] this hate­ful and divi­sive event.” The SCV also trum­peted what it referred to as its “strictly enforced ‘hate’ pol­icy,” claim­ing that any­one with ties to any racist orga­ni­za­tion or hate group is denied mem­ber­ship and will be “imme­di­ately expelled.” The state­ment was attrib­uted to Charles Kelly Bar­row, the “commander-in-chief” of the SCV.

One may legit­i­mately won­der how “strictly enforced” the SCV’s “hate” pol­icy actu­ally is. After all, one of the major fig­ures in the SCV for many years has been Kirk Lyons, who has played a major role in the politi­ciza­tion of the SCV dur­ing that span. For decades, Lyons has been a friend to and rep­re­sented numer­ous white suprema­cists in court cases, once describ­ing him­self as an “active sym­pa­thizer” of their causes. Lyons has also spo­ken to or before a vari­ety of extrem­ist groups, rang­ing from the white suprema­cist web­site Storm­front to the equally white suprema­cist Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens (CCC).

The SCV has its own CCC prob­lem. The con­nec­tions between the “her­itage” group and the white suprema­cist group—the lat­ter allegedly a source of edu­ca­tion and inspi­ra­tion for Charleston church shoot­ing sus­pect Dylann Storm Roof—are exten­sive. In Jan­u­ary 2014, for exam­ple, three mem­bers of the Coun­cil of Con­ser­v­a­tive Cit­i­zens, includ­ing its founder and leader Gor­don Lee Baum (who died in March 2015), all of whom were SCV mem­bers, received “SCV War Vet­eran Medals” from one of the group’s Mis­souri chap­ters. Another CCC founder, Leonard Wil­son, who died in 2013, was an SCV mem­ber and the for­mer Alabama state com­man­der of the SCV.

In 2014, SCV mem­ber (and for­mer Ten­nessee state com­man­der) Gene Andrews spoke at the CCC’s annual national con­fer­ence. Andrews also con­tributed an arti­cle to the CCC web­site in 2010. In 2009 and 2011, Cecil Fayard, then the “National Chap­lain” of the SCV, spoke before the Car­roll County, Mis­sis­sippi, chap­ter of the CCC. In 2008, SCV mem­ber John Flip­pin, also a CCC mem­ber, spoke before the Web­ster County, Mis­sis­sippi, chap­ter. These are just a few exam­ples of SCV-CCC crossover.

Even Charles Kelly Bar­row, the cur­rent com­man­der, may have had extrem­ist ties. Accord­ing to a 2002 South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter report, Bar­row was a mem­ber of the League of the South, a neo-Confederate hate group that has recently orga­nized protests that have included neo-Nazis and issued dire warn­ings of “race war.”

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June 19, 2015 0

Murders in Charleston Again Demonstrate the Tragic Impact of Hate Violence

The hor­ri­ble mur­ders of nine parish­ioners dur­ing a June 17 evening prayer meet­ing at the his­toric Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Car­olina seem like a night­mare.  But they were real – hor­rific and sense­less.  And they were hate crimes.  The nature of the shoot­ings, the spe­cific loca­tion, the tar­geted vic­tims, state­ments allegedly made by the sus­pect, and a Face­book pro­file of the sus­pect wear­ing white suprema­cist sym­bols all indi­cate this tragedy was moti­vated by racial bias.

It is note­wor­thy that these race-based mur­ders hap­pened in one of only five states that has yet to enact a hate crimes law.  The time has come for that to change.

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

Obvi­ously, con­victed mur­der­ers already face the most severe penal­ties under the law in every state.    But hate crimes laws have a sig­nif­i­cance that extends beyond the tougher sen­tences they per­mit.  They are a strong soci­etal response to crimes specif­i­cally intended to intim­i­date the vic­tim and mem­bers of the victim’s com­mu­nity.  By mak­ing mem­bers of minor­ity com­mu­ni­ties fear­ful, angry, and sus­pi­cious of other groups – and of the power struc­ture that is sup­posed to pro­tect them – these mes­sage crimes can dam­age the fab­ric of our soci­ety and frag­ment communities.

The FBI and law enforce­ment offi­cials rec­og­nize the spe­cial impact of hate crimes.  The FBI has been col­lect­ing hate crime data from the 18,000 police agen­cies across the coun­try since 1990.   In 2013, the most recent FBI data avail­able, almost 6,000 hate crimes were reported by over 15,000 police depart­ments – almost one every 90 min­utes of every day.  Race-based hate crimes were most fre­quent, crimes com­mit­ted against gay men and les­bians sec­ond, and religion-based crimes were third most fre­quent, with anti-Jewish crimes a dis­turb­ing 61% of all reported religion-based crimes.

Fed­eral and state hate crime laws are an impor­tant demon­stra­tion that our soci­ety rec­og­nizes the unique impact of hate vio­lence.  45 states and the Dis­trict of Colum­bia now have enacted hate crime laws, many based on the ADL Model Law drafted in 1981.  The only five states with­out a penalty-enhancing hate crime law are Arkansas, Indi­ana, Geor­gia, Wyoming – and South Carolina.

Attor­ney Gen­eral Lynch has announced that the Depart­ment of Jus­tice has opened its own hate crime inves­ti­ga­tion of this ter­ri­ble crime – under fed­eral crim­i­nal civil rights laws, includ­ing the Matthew Shep­ard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Pre­ven­tion Act.  That essen­tial fed­eral statute is an impor­tant bul­wark, but it is not a sub­sti­tute for state hate crimes laws.   South Car­olina is in mourn­ing now, as we all are.  One of the most con­struc­tive ways for the state to move for­ward would be to join 45 other states who already have hate crimes laws.

We need to be real­is­tic.  We can­not leg­is­late, reg­u­late, or tab­u­late an end to racism, anti-Semitism, or big­otry.  Com­ple­ment­ing fed­eral and state hate crime laws and pre­ven­tion ini­tia­tives, gov­ern­ments must pro­mote early learn­ing and con­tin­u­ing edu­ca­tion against bias and dis­crim­i­na­tion in schools and the com­mu­nity.   Strong, inclu­sive laws, and effec­tive responses to hate vio­lence by pub­lic offi­cials and law enforce­ment author­i­ties, how­ever, are essen­tial com­po­nents in deter­ring and pre­vent­ing these crimes.  

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June 4, 2015 13

League of the South and Neo-Nazis Join Forces in Kentucky

Mem­bers of the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS) joined together with neo-Nazis and other white suprema­cists on May 30 for a “Feds Out of Ken­tucky” rally in Alexan­dria, Ken­tucky, a few miles south­east of Cincinnati.

League of the South, Alexandria, KY

“Feds Out of Ken­tucky” rally in Alexan­dria, KY

The rally was orga­nized by Cole­man Lacy, a young mem­ber of the LOS from the local area who serves as the group’s “state chairman.”

In addi­tion, Geof­frey Rash, the Ken­tucky leader of the neo-Nazi National Social­ist Move­ment (NSM) and also a local res­i­dent, brought mem­bers to the event. After­wards, Rash stated that it was good for the LOS and the NSM to work together “to rid this coun­try, start­ing with our own states, of the Zion­ist Jewry that decays our peo­ple, our states and our nation.”

Though the LOS pro­moted the event, only about 14 peo­ple took part in the rally, wav­ing flags and anti-government signs.

How­ever, the sig­nif­i­cance of the event was not in its size.

Rather, the Alexan­dria rally marked the com­ple­tion of the LOS’s grad­ual trans­for­ma­tion from a neo-Confederate group that typ­i­cally denied hav­ing racist ties into an unabashed white suprema­cist group.

The LOS has had ties to other hate groups in the past but fre­quently denied such ties or dis­tanced itself from hate groups when ties were actu­ally pub­li­cized. In 2005, fol­low­ing the dev­as­ta­tion of Hur­ri­cane Kat­rina on the Gulf Coast, mem­bers of both the NSM and White Rev­o­lu­tion announced the LOS’s coop­er­a­tion in pro­vid­ing assis­tance to “white only” vic­tims of the hur­ri­cane. The LOS later said that it did not take part in or endorse such measures—though it did post “whites only” offers of assis­tance on its own website.

As recently as 2013, the LOS expelled a mem­ber, Matthew Heim­bach (also head of the Tra­di­tion­al­ist Youth Net­work, a small white suprema­cist group), for attend­ing a neo-Nazi event in Ken­tucky. How­ever, in another sign of the trans­for­ma­tion of the LOS into an explic­itly white suprema­cist group, Heim­bach was back inside the folds of the LOS within a year. Heim­bach attended the Alexan­dria rally.

Behind the grow­ing rad­i­cal­iza­tion of the LOS is none other than its founder and long­time leader, Michael Hill. Once a col­lege his­tory pro­fes­sor, by 2011, Hill was urg­ing his fol­low­ers to arm them­selves and “join the resis­tance.” The LOS began offer­ing mem­bers weapons train­ing around this time.

Protests by African-American com­mu­ni­ties in 2015 in the wake of highly-publicized police shoot­ings moved Hill even fur­ther into bla­tant white supremacy. In May 2015, Michael Hill declared his deter­mi­na­tion to par­tic­i­pate in a race war if “negroes,” egged on by the “largely Jewish-Progressive owned media,” engaged in “black rage.” Hill warned that “if negroes think a ‘race war’ in mod­ern Amer­ica would be to their advan­tage, they had bet­ter pre­pare them­selves for a very rude awak­en­ing.” On June 1, Hill openly declared that “our South­ern fore­bears” who opposed civil rights for African-Americans “were right.”

With a leader spout­ing tirades about race war and fol­low­ers openly cavort­ing with neo-Nazis and other white suprema­cists, there can be no fur­ther doubt that the League of the South, despite its past denials, is any­thing other than an explic­itly white suprema­cist organization.

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