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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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December 16, 2013

Fugitive Alabama White Supremacist Shoots Self As Police Close In

lindsey-scott-carterA fugitive and racist prison gang member from Alabama shot himself in Arkansas after leading police on a lengthy chase.  On December 8, Arkansas state troopers pulled over a vehicle linked to Lindsey Scott Carter, 44, wanted in Alabama on suspicion of murder.  The driver, a female friend of Carter, fled the vehicle, but Carter took the wheel and drove away. 

After a chase that wound through two counties in western Arkansas, troopers used traffic spikes to bring the vehicle to a halt again.  As the officers approached the car, however, they discovered Carter had apparently shot himself to death rather than face capture.

According to local authorities, Carter, from Paint Rock, Alabama, had shot and killed a woman on December 7 in what police believe was some sort of drug-related dispute.  Following the murder, a female friend of Carter (since arrested for hindering prosecution) allegedly provided the vehicle that Carter used to flee with a second female friend.  Authorities have not charged the second friend, the one who fled the vehicle in Arkansas, saying that she had not been aware of Carter’s crimes.

Carter had a previous criminal history and was a member of the Southern Brotherhood, Alabama’s largest white supremacist prison gang.  The Southern Brotherhood, which has a lengthy record of violence and criminal activity, began in 1995 in the Easterling Correctional Facility and subsequently spread to the rest of the state (it also has a presence in several other states).  It also has a biker gang subgroup, the Southern Brotherhood Motorcycle Club.

After Carter’s suicide, other Southern Brotherhood members passed the news of their fellow gang member’s death.  One Southern Brotherhood gang member posted to an on-line social networking website that “we lost a good Bro yesterday…Rest in Peace Scott Carter 14/23.”  The numbers “14/23” constitute a Southern Brotherhood numeric symbol that combines two concepts.  The number 14 is a reference to the so-called 14 Words, a popular white supremacist slogan:  “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”  The number 23 stands for the “23 Precepts,” a list of 23 rules that gang members are required to follow.

Similarly, another gang member posted that “We had a bro pass away yesterday…R.I.P. Scott Carter…14/23 19/2.”  The numbers 19 and 2 are code for the Southern Brotherhood, as S is the 19th letter of the alphabet and B the 2nd letter.

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