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February 25, 2015

White Supremacist Gangs: A Growing Problem in Missouri


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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June 9, 2014

“Dawn of a New Day”: Las Vegas Shooter’s Final Message

The most recent entry on Jerad Miller’s Facebook, left on Saturday, June 7, is chilling: “The dawn of a new day. May all of our coming sacrifices be worth it.”jerad-amanda-miller

Jerad Miller, along with his wife Amanda, are the two suspects who committed suicide in a Las Vegas Walmart on Sunday, after allegedly fatally shooting two Las Vegas police officers in a nearby restaurant and a third person at the Walmart itself.

Based on their Internet writings, Jerad and Amanda Miller were both right-wing anti-government extremists of the “Patriot” movement variety, believing in all the common militia-type conspiracy theories about the “New World Order,” including concentration camps for Americans, coming martial law, and chemtrails, among others.

Some of Jerad’s postings in the months before the Las Vegas incident seem to reflect a growing radicalization. In March, Jerad declared that he had “compromised enough” and that he was “prepared to die” for his convictions about freedom and tyranny. “The day of your judgment will come,” he wrote, “not from my hand, for you will make me a martyr…Come for me, free me from your slavery. Give me the death a hero deserves. Help wake the masses to your corruption and treason. I f*****g dare you!”

In April, Jerad Miller travelled to the scene of the Cliven Bundy standoff, hoping that it “could be the next Waco and start of [the] revolution.”   In early May, Miller claimed that “there is no greater cause to die for than liberty” and that he would willingly do so. “Death, in a sense is freedom from tyranny,” he posted. Miller claimed that he and his wife “will not submit to fascist rule” and “are willing to sacrifice everything.”

Amanda Miller also had anti-government and conspiratorial beliefs. “Every day I realize how more and more people are asleep and only a few of us are awake,” she wrote in 2012. “The government is trying to take away our rights…only the few of us are willing to fight back.” Miller stated that she was “proud to be awake to see what[‘]s really going on.”

The anger that the Millers felt at the government and police may have increased in 2013, when Jerad Miller had to serve a period of home confinement following a criminal incident apparently involving marijuana. “Here I am,” he wrote about the confinement, “because the previous generations of Americans were a bunch of spineless zombies.” Hopefully, he wrote, “we can achieve freedom without killing the older generations off. It may come to that.”

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June 9, 2014

Officers Down: Right-Wing Extremists Attacking Police At Growing Rate

In Las Vegas on June 8, a man and a woman entered a local pizza restaurant and shot and killed two Las Vegas Metro Police officers, Alyn Beck and Igor Soldo, who were eating lunch there. The shooters then crossed the street to a Walmart, where they killed another person, then committed suicide.officers-killed-domestic-extremists-1965-2014

Though, as of this writing, the names of the suspects have not yet been released, details of the shootings and suspects released by police or uncovered by journalists strongly suggest the shootings may be the work of right-wing extremists.

If so, the two officers who lost their lives this past Sunday are only the latest in a series of casualties in a de facto war being waged against police by right-wing extremists, including both anti-government extremists and white supremacists. Some extremists have deliberately targeted police, while others have responded violently when meeting police in unplanned encounters. The killings are not the effort of a concerted campaign but rather a series of independent attacks and clashes stemming from right-wing ideologies.

In the 1960s and 1970s it was left-wing groups like the Black Liberation Army which targeted police for killing. However, by the 1980s, right-wing extremists began to surpass left-wing extremists in causing police deaths. The number of officers killed by right-wing extremists more than doubled in the 1990s, then increased by 50% more in the first decade of the 2000s. Five officers have been killed by right-wing extremists since 2011, not counting the Las Vegas incident.

In the past five years alone, from 2009 through 2013, ADL has tracked 43 separate violent incidents between domestic extremists (of all types) and law enforcement in the United States. These incidents include situations in which shots are exchanged between police and extremists (shootouts), situations in which extremists have fired at police but police subdued the extremists without having to return fire, and situations in which officers had to use their firearms to protect themselves against extremists.

Of these 43 incidents, fully 39 of them involved extremists sporting some sort of extreme right-wing ideology. White supremacists took part in 21 incidents, while anti-government extremists were involved in 17 more. An anti-Muslim extremist was involved in one incident (the other four incidents included one with a left-wing extremist and three with domestic Islamic extremists). In these shooting incidents, the extremists shot 30 officers, 14 fatally. Many other officers sustained non-gunfire injuries during some of these encounters.shooting-incidents-2009-2013-by-ideology

Extreme ideologies cause right-wing radicals directly to attack officers. Anti-government extremist such as militia groups and sovereign citizens believe that police are agents of the illegitimate government, while white supremacists believe that police are tools of the “Jewish-controlled” government. The same ideologies sometimes cause extremists to act out violently when they randomly encounter police in routine situations.

Moreover, because right-wing extremists frequently engage in criminal activity—both ideological and non-ideological, police responding to reports of criminal activity may encounter extremists committing a crime or who are fugitives from justice. Such situations can also frequently turn deadly.

Unfortunately, relatively few officer safety courses incorporate information about the dangers to police from domestic extremists.

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