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July 6, 2016

Extremists Make Plans For GOP Convention

Updated July 21, 2016

The GOP convention in Cleveland (July 18-21) is a key opportunity for a range of extremists and bigots who seek publicity to voice their support or opposition to Donald Trump – and their hatred for anyone who disagrees with them.

As the Anti-Defamation League has noted, the 2016 U.S. Presidential campaign – and one candidate in particular – has elicited unprecedented levels of engagement and enthusiasm among anti-government and white supremacist extremist groups.

The Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism has been monitoring extremists’ plans to attend the Republican convention in Cleveland and has shared this information with federal law enforcement agents managing security for the event. We will share new information with those agents as it becomes available.

The following list of expected attendees is varied, ranging from individuals to organized groups. This reflects the support (and sometimes opposition) Donald Trump receives from a wide range of extremists. It should be noted, there is no indication that Trump  supports these groups.

  • Richard Spencer, who heads the National Policy, a small white supremacist think tank, traveled to Cleveland to promote his racist views. Spencer held up a sign saying “Wanna Talk to a ‘Racist’? and reportedly said he “wanted to demystify white separatism” for the people he encountered in the public square near the convention. Spencer also reportedly attended the “Wake Up!” party hosted by conservative activists, which included controversial speakers such as Milos Yiannopoulos and anti-Muslim activists Pamela Geller and Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician.
  • Members of the anti-refugee vigilante group Soldiers of Odin USA, spotted outside the convention hall in Cleveland, told a reporter they were there as a “community watch” organization and had no plans to confront anyone unless they sensed “imminent danger.” While they claim not to be racist, the Soldiers of Odin USA are in fact virulently anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant. The group originated in Finland, but has attracted thousands of members and admirers here in the United States, many of whom are either white supremacists or anti-government extremists.
  • Anti-government conspiracy theorist Alex Jones spoke at a rally for Trump near the convention hall hosting the RNC, where he accused “globalists” of trying to implement a “world government.” Jones runs the Infowars website where he promotes  conspiracy theories such as the idea that the government is behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks and  is trying to strip Americans of their rights, especially their rights to free speech and to own firearms.

  • The Traditionalist Worker Party is an anti-Semitic, white supremacist group run by Matthew Heimbach and Matt Parrott.  They report­edly filed per­mits to march in Cleve­land but later announced alternative plans. Heimbach showed up outside the convention anyway, voicing his disapproval for Trump, whose policies “don’t go far enough” in advancing white nationalism, and urging followers to write in George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party.

  • Westboro Baptist Church: Five members of the venomously anti-gayand anti-Semitic Kansas church plan to be in Cleveland to protest the Republican Party and to warn attendees of the “imminent judgment”
    Westboro Baptist Church members at a protest

    Westboro Baptist Church members at a protest

    facing the United States. WBC members are best known for picketing the funerals of fallen U.S. soldiers, carrying signs celebrating their deaths (because God hates America’s evil ways). Members of the church are equal opportunity bigots: They also plan to protest at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Expect to see them carrying their usual signs – expressing their boundless, unmoored hatred for everything from gay rights to Israel.

  • Blood and Honour USA: This racist skinhead group is the American chapter of a loose international confederation of hardcore racist skinheads.  Some members of Blood and Honour USA have in the past committed violent acts.  One of the group’s lead­ers announced on social media that he and a num­ber of other mem­bers would be in Cleve­land sup­port­ing Trump and wear­ing t-shirts bear­ing the Totenkopf (death’s head) – a sym­bol used by the SS in World War II.

    William Johnson of American Freedom Party

    William Johnson of American Freedom Party

  • American Freedom Party: This white supremacist group is headed by attorney William Johnson. Johnson made headlines in the spring of 2016 with his “robocalls” to voters in crucial primary states, entreating people to “defend the white race” by voting for Trump, and again in May when it was revealed that he was on the list of Trump delegates for California. Blaming a “database error,” the Trump campaign removed Johnson from its list, but AFP responded with this gleeful Facebook message:  “…here’s what they don’t know: we have more delegates!”
  • David Riden (Trump delegate from Tennessee): Member of the anti-government Patriot Movement. Riden has said he believes members of the current U.S. government deserve to be killed for “abusing the Constitution.”
  • Jim Stachowiak:  Member of the anti-government Patriot Movement. This right-wing, rabidly anti-Muslim extremist from Georgia will be in Cleveland to support Donald Trump, and has called upon “all military veterans, law enforcement veterans, followed by three-percenters, patriots,” to “come lawfully armed with lethal and non-lethal weaponry,” has advocated for Mecca to be bombed, and has made not particularly veiled threats against Black Lives Matter activists, whom he refers to as “terrorists.”  Stachowiak, a former university public safety officer turned militia fan boy and online radio host, has been arrested several times.

    malik-zulu-shabazz-hashim-nzinga-charleston-south-carolina-june-2015-350x234

    The New Black Panther Party at a protest in Charleston, South Carolina

  • The New Black Pan­ther Party: The NBPP will be in Cleve­land to protest against Don­ald Trump. In the days lead­ing up to the con­ven­tion, the pro­foundly anti-Semitic, black supremacy group will hold a series of protests and work­shops in part­ner­ship with Black Lawyers for Jus­tice, which is headed by for­mer NBPP leader (and cur­rent “spir­i­tual advi­sor”) Malik Zulu Shabazz. The NBPP, which is known for its calls for vio­lence against law enforce­ment, has announced plans to carry guns dur­ing its protests in Cleve­land. The New Black Pan­ther Party is not affil­i­ated with the orig­i­nal Black Pan­ther Party, whose mem­bers have harshly crit­i­cized the NBPP for “hijack­ing” the orig­i­nal group’s message.
  • Anti-Muslim activsts: Pro-LGBT conservative activists are hosting a party called “Wake Up“ at the Republican Convention in Cleveland on July 19. The event will feature anti-Muslim extremist Pamela Geller and Milo Yiannopoulos, a controversial figure who reportedly made anti-Semitic comments in the past about Jewish control of banks and the media. Other featured speakers include Geert Wilders, a well-known anti-Muslim Dutch politician, and Ann Coulter, a political commentator known for her extreme anti-immigrant position. According to a post on the personal blog of Pamela Geller, “The party is the outcome of discussions among a group of gay Republicans following the tragic massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando in June.” This appears to be an attempt to promote an anti-Muslim agenda among this group of pro-LGBT conservatives.
  • The Oath Keepers will be on the ground in Cleveland, ostensibly to “help” patrol the area, as they did with long guns during the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting death of Michael Brown. The anti-government extremist group’s website has denounced “radicals’” plans to protest at the convention, and calls for volunteers to participate in “Operation North Coast,” an “intelligence gathering” effort. This hyper-militarized language is typical of the Oath Keepers, who recruit from the military and law enforcement in their efforts to build a force capable of resisting “government overreach.”

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June 17, 2016

Alleged Triple Killer had Extreme Anti-Government Views

Erick ShuteOn June 14, Pennsylvania authorities caught and arrested a fugitive accused of having shot and killed three of his neighbors in West Virginia the previous day. Erick Shute, 29, who allegedly had a long-running series of disputes with the neighbors, reportedly attacked the three (and a fourth who escaped) over a conflict about firewood.

Shute was a minor public figure as the vocalist for the longstanding death metal band Pyrexia, with which he had reportedly been involved since childhood. He also worked as a fire and water damage restorer in New Jersey and was involved with a variety of odd business ventures, involving crowdsourcing, digital currencies, and multi-level marketing, among others.

After the slayings, a woman who described herself as “one of his ex girlfriends” posted on-line that “he has never been [one] for the police or government.” That seems to have been a serious understatement. West Virginia authorities claimed that Shute was an adherent of the extreme anti-government sovereign citizen movement and even suggested that he was building a compound on the West Virginia land reportedly purchased by his mother and used as a weekend home by Shute. Authorities have said they found stockpiles of food, weapons and ammo on the property, as well as “bunkers.”

Actually, Shute’s involvement with anti-government extremism appears to have been more extensive than just the sovereign citizen movement. Rather, to varying degrees, Shute identified with all three major wings of the anti-government “Patriot” movement: the sovereign citizen movement, the tax protest movement, and the militia movement. Shute was also supportive to some degree of anarchism, which is also anti-government, though from a more left-leaning perspective.

Shute’s oldest known extremist ties do relate to the sovereign citizen movement. While living with his mother in New Jersey during the period 2009-11, he subscribed to several sovereign citizen beliefs, especially those rejecting the legitimacy of motor vehicle laws. In 2011, he tried to get a local police department to sign a “peace treaty” with him that would somehow allow him not to have a license or registration. This visit led to his arrest for driving a vehicle with no license plates as well as charges of aggravated assault on a police officer, resisting arrest, and obstruction. Based on a courtroom video he uploaded to the Internet, Shute seems to have defended himself in court—as many sovereign citizens do—claiming that the judge in his case was not a judge but an “executive administrator” and that there had been no judicial courts in America for centuries. Shute was convicted and spent half a year in jail.

Shute also became involved to at least some degree with the tax protest movement, which claims that a conspiracy is hiding the “fact” that most Americans don’t have to pay income taxes. He engaged in argumentative phone calls with IRS representatives and sent hostile letters to the IRS as late as 2015 claiming that he had been given no “proof” he was required to file an income tax return or that the IRS had jurisdiction over him. Judging by some of his on-line remarks, he may not have been paying income taxes for more than five years.

In recent years, however, Shute seems to have identified most strongly with the ideas of the militia movement. The militia movement believes that the federal government is collaborating with a “New World Order” globalist conspiracy to strip Americans of their rights and enslave them. Subsidiary conspiracy theories emanating from the movement include a belief that the federal government is planning to round up citizens and place them in internment or concentration camps; a belief that the government is plotting to suspend the Constitution and declare martial law, perhaps on a pretext such as a terrorist attack or pandemic; and that the government will engage in mass gun confiscations—among others.

Militia movement adherents oppose this perceived government conspiracy. Many, though by no means all, join paramilitary militia groups. Though Shute “liked” a number of militia groups on his Facebook pages, he does not seem to have joined a formal group himself.

However, Shute’s on-line statements clearly indicate an adherence to the movement’s ideology. Responding to a conspiracy article about an employment ad for a U.N. “disarmament officer,” Shute claimed in 2014 that anyone who took such a job “deserves to be killed” by some sort of “painful and horrifying” manner such as being “eaten alive by dogs.” When the governor of West Virginia vetoed a permitless carry firearms bill in 2015, Shute posted that “someone needs to behead this mofo.”

In 2015, Shute expressed happiness at the thought that police officers might be among the first Americans “to get put in internment camps.” He also posted that he could not support the troops “if the troops are training to take you and me away into an internment camp.” Like many other anti-government extremists, Shute became outraged at the military exercises held in the southern U.S. under the name “Operation Jade Helm,” claiming that they were martial law training scenarios.

Shute, an avid fan of anti-government conspiracy websites such as InfoWars, believed in a wide array of standard “Patriot” movement conspiracy theories, from airplanes using “chemtrails” to poison the American people to vaccination programs being part of an agenda “to kill off millions of people.” Shute even claimed to have tried to attend the 2012 Bilderberg conference in Chantilly, Virginia, a magnetic lure for conspiracy theorists who believe that “Bilderbergers” are part of an international conspiracy.

By 2015, it is clear that Shute had developed extreme, and extremely paranoid, attitudes towards government and law enforcement. In February, Shute stated that it was time “to pull the government officials out of their beds at night and hang them from the trees in their front yards.” Urging people to “arm up,” Shute stated in March that everybody should have a gun in every room in their house and that they should even sleep with their guns, so that they would be ready to kill any police officer who came through the door. “This is the time for war,” he wrote, “and if you don’t get prepared to fight, that’s your problem.”

In January and February 2016, Erick Shute became a supporter of the anti-government extremists who engaged in an armed takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and subsequent standoff, even listening to the live broadcasts by the final few occupiers in the last hours of the standoff, before they were arrested. After their arrest, Shute wrote that he “loved” the occupiers and that “even though we never met, I feel so close to these people now.”

Incidents such as these increased the already extreme hostility that Shute felt for law enforcement. Responding in February 2016 to a news report of one officer who had killed a dog, Shute urged that the officer be tortured and murdered, including being hung over a fire, whipped, teeth and nails pulled out, fingers cut out, among many other violent and gruesome methods. Indeed, so hostile was Shute to law enforcement that he may have well posed a risk to local law enforcement as well as to his neighbors.

Shute will be extradited back to West Virginia to face multiple homicide charges.

 

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June 17, 2014

Murder Suspect Fan Of “Patriot” Movement Survivalist Guru

gary-alan-lewis

Gary Alan Lewis

After a manhunt that lasted several days, police in Portland, Oregon, have arrested Gary Alan Lewis on murder and unlawful use of a weapon charges for allegedly killing a female tenant and hiding her body in the wall of a shed.

The search for both Lewis and the victim was complicated by the fact that Lewis had built an underground bunker on his property.  Police also feared the possibility of booby traps as they searched the property.

The bunker, which Lewis built a number of years ago, was apparently a product of his “Patriot” movement anti-government and survivalist philosophy.  Lewis viewed the government as a “Total Mafia Organization run by the Elites who want us as Slaves.”  In 2013, Lewis claimed he wanted to move out of Portland and find a “safe place to escape to when the city becomes untenable,” a reference to the common survivalist belief of an imminent collapse of civilization.   A year earlier he posted to a survivalist “Meetup” group that “collapse is eminent [sic] if you have been watching long.”  People, he wrote, “need to prep for Martial law or UN law.”

Lewis, who also used the names Gary Allan Lewis and Gary Loomis, was in particular a devotee of survivalist guru James Wesley Rawles.  Rawles, a blogger, author and survivalist consultant, is most well-known for having written a series of novels popularizing the notion of a “coming global collapse.”  Rawles, though more well-known as a survivalist, has also been an adherent of the anti-government “sovereign citizen” movement.

Rawles’ best known book is a novel called Patriots, about a band of survivors of a global collapse who find a refuge in northern Idaho where they rebuild a society based on “true Constitutional law.”  Lewis described Patriots as “the book that tells it all” on one of his Facebook pages and repeatedly recommended it in on-line postings and comments.

Lewis is even listed on the Meetup group page as having attended a “Preppers Book Club” meeting in the Portland area in June 2012 to discuss another Rawles book, How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It.

Lewis also described Rawles’ Survival Blog as his favorite website.

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