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June 19, 2015

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

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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April 9, 2015

North Charleston Shooting Provokes Virulently Racist Reactions

This article includes explicit and offensive material. It highlights part of ADL’s ongoing efforts to track and expose the ugly reactions and responses of white supremacists and extremists to the high-profile police shooting incidents across the United States in 2014-15.

north-charleston-posting

Comment from Stormfront

Michael Slager, a North Charleston, South Carolina, police officer, has been charged with murder after a witness turned in cellphone video of the April 4 shooting death of Walter Scott. The video showed Slager, a white officer, shooting Scott, an African-American, multiple times in the back as Scott apparently fled from a traffic stop situation.

The graphic footage evoked strong public reactions at a time when police shootings of unarmed African-Americans have been brought into the national spotlight. Police Chief Eddie Driggers spoke for many viewers when he said, “I was sickened by what I saw.”

Not everybody had that reaction.

Among racists and white supremacists, the video provoked an entirely different set of conversations, dominated by virulently racist responses. “This cop should be applauded for taking a future rapist, thief, drug dealer, nigger off the street,” posted American_Fascist to the discussion site reddit. “I like this cop’s style,” wrote Pungspark on the white supremacist Daily Stormer site. “Too bad [he] didn’t make sure there were no witnesses.”

Some white supremacists agreed, even if reluctantly, that the officer might have committed murder. “It appears that the pig did unjustly kill the jig,” allowed Joe from OH on the white supremacist Vanguard News Network (VNN) forum.

Others defended the officer’s actions, claiming that Scott had taken Slager’s Taser. “If a perp gets your taser, you can shoot the nigger,” wrote an anonymous poster to the discussion site Zero Censorship. Some claimed anybody who ran away from police was guilty. “Again we have a black guy running from the police which in my opinion is the action of guilt,” stated Scorpion4444 on the white supremacist forum Stormfront. On the same site, Tenniel wrote, “It used to be that if a suspect ran from the cop, he was confirming his guilt…If white men still had power, that’s the way it would be.”

However, many posts openly applauded the shooting. “Personally, I don’t care how unjustified the ‘murder’ was,” wrote Hellen on VNN. “It’s a jig, it would have gone to rape and kill numerous people, that’s what they do. That officer prevented many future crimes.”

310tournad posted to Stormfront that “after bearing witness to the never ending stream…of blacks raping, robbing, murdering, rioting, and preying on…innocent whites, I couldn’t care less about this negro.” Poster dkr77 wrote on the same site, “I say good riddance. Just think of the money that cop saved the tax payer.” Honor Sword wrote, “One less negro running the streets.”

Some responses actually attacked the officer. “Typical leftist union thug behavior” was how one anonymous Zero Censorship poster referred to Slager’s actions. Joe from OH had a similar reaction, using an epithet white supremacists reserve for police officers: “Another gutless blue nigger. Murderous public union thug.” Angl0sax0nknight wrote on Stormfront that “I don’t care what took place before…the cowardly pig shoots him in the back. Remember more whites are killed by cops [than] blacks…This pig should fry!”

Many posters anticipated demonstrations and protests in response to the shootings, some attributing them to Jewish control of the media, as did beast9 on Stormfront: “And yet the hooked nose kikes always leave out the race of the blacks killing and raping people. The media jews want a race war.”

Common were responses that included the currently popular racist memes “chimpout” and “dindu nuffins.” “Chimpout” is a racist term to describe protests from the African-American community in response to recent police shootings. “Whether or not they have a cat[egory] 3 chimpout in North Charleston,” wrote poster MLK_gibsmedatdream to reddit, “the media is going to be replaying this for many months.”

“Dindu nuffins” is a term that originated in 2014 in response the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. It began as a hate-filled mockery of relatives of shooting victims who claimed that the victims had done no wrong (as in “he didn’t do anything”), then evolved into a racial epithet for African-Americans, sometimes shortened further to “dindus.” Stormfronter WhiteWarrior79 lambasted Chief Driggers, “who almost cried when talking about the poor dindu nuffin negro,” while fellow Stormfronter SPYDERx13 asked, “When do the Din-do’s start rioting, ummm, protesting?”

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