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February 25, 2015 3

White Supremacist Gangs: A Growing Problem in Missouri

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Mis­souri white suprema­cist gangs

Mis­souri has had long expe­ri­ence with white suprema­cists rang­ing from neo-Nazis to the Ku Klux Klan, but in recent years a new threat has emerged in the Show Me state:   white suprema­cist prison gangs.   Some states have been plagued by such gangs for years, but until recently, Mis­souri had only a lim­ited expe­ri­ence with them.

Now, how­ever, there are a num­ber of white suprema­cist gangs active in Mis­souri, typ­i­cally emerg­ing in pris­ons and jails, then expand­ing onto the streets. These gangs com­bine the crim­i­nal know-how of orga­nized crime with the big­oted ide­ol­ogy of hate groups.

Law enforce­ment has been increas­ingly con­cerned about the spread of such gangs in Mis­souri. Unfor­tu­nately, recent events have jus­ti­fied that con­cern. On Jan­u­ary 26, 2015, a mem­ber of the South­west Honkies gang, Joshua Lee Hagood, shot a Spring­field police offi­cer in the head while police were inves­ti­gat­ing a sus­pi­cious van. The offi­cer sus­tained career-ending injuries. This was actu­ally the sec­ond offi­cer shoot­ing in Spring­field related to the gang. In 2013, Honkies mem­ber Mar­tin Potts wounded another offi­cer dur­ing a shootout before offi­cers fatally shot Potts.

Police have not been the only Mis­souri­ans at risk. In Feb­ru­ary, two South­west Honkies mem­bers, Aaron Williams and Austin Pierce, were charged with a hate crime after allegedly threat­en­ing to kill an African-American woman and her chil­dren while try­ing to break into her house. In Jan­u­ary, a mem­ber of the Joplin Honkies received a seven-year prison sen­tence for assault and aban­don­ing a corpse.

Gangs like the Joplin and South­west Honkies are grow­ing in Mis­souri. Accom­pa­ny­ing that growth is increased crime, typ­i­cally tra­di­tional crimes like home inva­sions or drug-related crime (gangs are often involved with the metham­phet­a­mine trade). Crim­i­nal gain tends to trump white supremacy, but gangs can engage in hate-related vio­lence, too. Gangs often embrace a cruder form of white supremacy than neo-Nazi or Klan groups, but have larger memberships.

There are five main white suprema­cist gangs oper­at­ing in Missouri:

  • Sacred Sep­a­ratist Group (SSG): The Anti-Defamation League first encoun­tered the SSG in 2005, but it has grown con­sid­er­ably in recent years. Like some of the other gangs, it orig­i­nated in the West­ern Mis­souri Cor­rec­tional Cen­ter. ADL has iden­ti­fied mem­bers of this fairly large gang from all over Mis­souri. SSG mem­bers have asso­ci­ated with mem­bers of all the gangs listed here.
  • Joplin Honkies: The Joplin Honkies orig­i­nated behind bars around the same time as SSG. Orig­i­nally, mem­bers called them­selves the Joplin Boys. The Honkies are con­cen­trated in south­west Mis­souri, espe­cially around Joplin and Spring­field.   The ADL has iden­ti­fied dozens of active mem­bers of the Joplin Honkies, but their true num­bers are higher. Off­shoot gangs include the South­west Honkies and the 417 Honkies.
  • Peck­er­wood Mid­west: Mem­bers of this gang have been iden­ti­fied in both east­ern and west­ern Mis­souri, as well as across the south­ern part of the state (Spring­field to Cape Girardeau). ADL has iden­ti­fied at least 34 mem­bers and asso­ciates of this gang, though again, actual num­bers are con­sid­er­ably higher.
  • Fam­ily Val­ues: Fam­ily Val­ues is a smaller gang and not all mem­bers are hard­core white suprema­cists (some even asso­ciate with non-whites). How­ever, a num­ber of iden­ti­fied mem­bers do use com­mon white suprema­cist sym­bols such as swastikas, SS bolts, 14 and 88. A num­ber of gang mem­bers live in or around St. Louis and Springfield.
  • Aryan Cir­cle (AC):The Aryan Cir­cle is not native to Mis­souri but to Texas, where it is one of the largest white suprema­cist prison gangs. It has expanded into a num­ber of other states, recently mov­ing into Mis­souri largely as a result of recruit­ment from Indi­ana and gang mem­bers from fed­eral prison who returned or moved to Mis­souri. ADL has iden­ti­fied at least 23 active mem­bers and asso­ciates of Aryan Cir­cle in Mis­souri, espe­cially in north­east Missouri.

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November 26, 2014 1

Arrested Black Panther Also Involved in Sovereign Citizen Movement

Fed­eral agents arrested two New Black Pan­ther Party mem­bers (NBPP) in St. Louis on Novem­ber 21, accus­ing Ola­ju­won Ali and Bran­don Bald­win of ille­gal straw pur­chases of hand­guns.  Some media have cited anony­mous sources alleg­ing that the pair also attempted to pur­chase pipe bombs.olajuwon-ali-document

One of the accused, Ola­ju­won Ali, 22, is the head of the NBPP’s St. Louis Chap­ter, but he also has been active in a very dif­fer­ent extrem­ist move­ment:  the anti-government “sov­er­eign cit­i­zen” movement.

The sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment has expe­ri­enced rapid recent growth, par­tic­u­larly in its Afro-centric “Moor­ish” off­shoot.  “Moor­ish” sov­er­eigns emerged in the mid-1990s when mem­bers of the Moor­ish Sci­ence Tem­ple (MST), a reli­gious sect, attempted to meld their beliefs with that of the sov­er­eign cit­i­zen move­ment.  Sov­er­eign beliefs have since spread widely among MST adher­ents, and later to other African-Americans, bring­ing new adher­ents to what his­tor­i­cally has been con­sid­ered a right-wing extrem­ist movement.

Ali is typ­i­cal of many new recruits to the “Moor­ish” move­ment.  Although there is evi­dence that Ali may have encoun­tered sov­er­eign cit­i­zen ide­ol­ogy as early as 2010, when still a teenager, it was in April 2013 that he for­mally joined the move­ment, fil­ing an “Abju­ra­tion of Cit­i­zen­ship” doc­u­ment declar­ing him­self  an “aboriginal/indigenous, free Sov­er­eign Moor – Nat­ural Per­son of the Land.”

The doc­u­ment, as well as a Moor­ish iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card that Ali has used, appear to come from an influ­en­tial New Jersey-based Moor­ish group led by R. V. Bey.  One of the sig­na­tures on the doc­u­ment seems to be that of one of R. V. Bey’s promi­nent disciples.

Another sig­na­ture on Ali’s doc­u­ment belongs to Kusu ra Kush Bey, aka Chester Wil­son, a St. Louis-based Moor­ish sov­er­eign.  In the same month that Ali filed his “abju­ra­tion,” the FBI arrested Wil­son for his alleged involve­ment in a major multi-state car theft ring.

Ali him­self had a brush with the law only months after declar­ing his sov­er­eignty.  In June 2013, St. Louis police arrested Ali for tres­pass­ing, resist­ing arrest and dis­turb­ing the peace fol­low­ing an inci­dent in which Ali allegedly attempted to use a Moor­ish iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card at a con­ve­nience store to demand “tax-free” pur­chases.  Ali, tased dur­ing the inci­dent, later described his arrest as “unlaw­ful” and him­self as a “vic­tim of police brutality.”

Ali’s legal trou­bles took up much of his time, but he found a new source for activism fol­low­ing the fatal shoot­ing of Michael Brown in Fer­gu­son in August 2014.  That month, Ali, call­ing him­self a “Min­is­ter of Jus­tice and Law,” offered a “Lessons of Law Class (Post-Mike Brown)” to inform African-Americans of their “Con­sti­tu­tional, Uni­ver­sal Human, and Indige­nous Rights.”

The shoot­ing also gave Ali an oppor­tu­nity to join NBPP activism with Moor­ish activism.  On August 13, Ali com­posed a lengthy, sovereign-style “Affi­davit of Fact” directed to the mayor of Fer­gu­son  in which he asserted that claims the NBPP had encour­aged vio­lence were “false pro­pa­ganda [sic]” released by “Euro­pean owned” media sta­tions.  He also accused the city of Fer­gu­son with the “GENOCIDE AND MURDER OF Abo­rig­i­nal Indige­nous Amer­i­can Michael Brown Jr.”

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September 22, 2014 3

Ferguson = Gaza: The Continued Invocation Of A False Comparison

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Vigil for Gaza at the Col­lege of Staten Island

While Gaza and Fer­gu­son no longer dom­i­nate the head­lines, these unre­lated events con­tinue to be con­nected by a num­ber of groups and indi­vid­u­als in an attempt to bring atten­tion to their activism.

In addi­tion to pre­vi­ously reported exam­ples, more recent anti-Israel events con­tinue to link the con­flict in Gaza to the Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri shoot­ing and its after­math, couch­ing hos­til­ity towards Israel in social jus­tice terms in an attempt to appeal to a broader base of support.

Recent exam­ples of anti-Israel events that draw par­al­lels between Fer­gu­son and Gaza include:

  • Exis­tence is Resis­tance and the Cam­paign to Bring Mumia Home are adver­tis­ing an event sched­uled for Octo­ber 11 at the Mal­colm X and Betty Shabazz Cen­ter in north­ern Man­hat­tan to address “the global sys­tems that oppress us, from Fer­gu­son to Gaza.” The event will fea­ture speak­ers such as Remi Kanazi, an orga­niz­ing com­mit­tee mem­ber of the US Cam­paign for the Aca­d­e­mic and Cul­tural Boy­cott of Israel (USACBI).
  • A panel dis­cus­sion titled “From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine: Con­nect­ing Strug­gles” is sched­uled to take place at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas-Austin on Sep­tem­ber 24 accord­ing to the event’s Face­book page. The event, spon­sored by the Pales­tine Sol­i­dar­ity Com­mit­tee, will fea­ture at least two UT-Austin professors.
  • The City Uni­ver­sity of New York (CUNY) Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine (SJP) chap­ter is host­ing a panel dis­cus­sion at the CUNY Grad­u­ate Cen­ter titled “CUNY Stands for Jus­tice: From Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine” on Sep­tem­ber 22 fea­tur­ing “an evening of poetry, speak­ers, and dis­cus­sion around repres­sion and resis­tance from Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri to Gaza, Pales­tine,” accord­ing to event flyers.

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    SJP “die-in” at Brook­lyn College

  • The Col­lege of Staten Island SJP chap­ter hosted a vigil for Gaza on Sep­tem­ber 17 at which the group adver­tised on Face­book that it would “read the names of the lives lost, give speeches, and stand in sol­i­dar­ity from Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine…” The group also stated that it shares the anger of those in Fer­gu­son because “Pales­tini­ans know what it means to be shot while unarmed because of your ethnicity.”
  • Accord­ing to a post on an anti-Israel Face­book page, mem­bers of the Direct Action Front for Pales­tine attended protests in Fer­gu­son and spoke to peo­ple there about Gaza. On Sep­tem­ber 8, it held a meet­ing in Brook­lyn, New York to share what they “learned in Ferguson…to become more effec­tive in our resistance…”
  • Mem­bers of the Inter­na­tional Jew­ish Anti-Zionist Net­work (IJAN) protested out­side ADL’s San Fran­cisco office on Sep­tem­ber 3 with a ban­ner that read “From Oak­land to Fer­gu­son to Pales­tine, The US and Israel, A Deadly com­bi­na­tion” and “Stop police brutality…Stop the ADL.” IJAN is a coali­tion formed in 2008 that seeks to facil­i­tate global anti-Israel activ­ity on the part of anti-Zionist Jews.
  • On Face­book, Brook­lyn Col­lege SJP adver­tised a Sep­tem­ber 2 “die-in” on the Brook­lyn Col­lege cam­pus to “raise aware­ness about israel’s [sic] lat­est mas­sacre” and to remem­ber “all the vic­tims of white supremacy and insti­tu­tion­al­ized racism in the U.S., the lat­est being #Mike­Brown and #EricGarner.”

Events link­ing Fer­gu­son and Gaza have also been orga­nized by some uni­ver­sity depart­ments. At UCLA, the Law School’s Crit­i­cal Race Stud­ies Depart­ment spon­sored a Sep­tem­ber 18 event called “From Gaza to Fer­gu­son,” which accord­ing to pub­lic­ity mate­ri­als, explored “the rela­tion­ship between race, the rise of mil­i­ta­rized polic­ing and the response to dis­sent in the United States and con­sider its impli­ca­tions in a global con­text.” The panel included Hedy Epstein, a Holo­caust sur­vivor who has com­pared the Israeli treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans to the Nazi treat­ment of Jews.

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