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September 9, 2016

Who’s Who in White Lives Matter

WLM protest at NAACP office in Houston, Texas

WLM protest at NAACP office in Houston, Texas

In late August, around 20 so-called “White Lives Matter” (WLM) activists attracted national attention after staging an armed protest in front of the Houston, Texas, offices of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

A WLM spokesperson claimed that the extremists were there to protest against the purported failure of the NAACP to speak out against alleged “atrocities” committed by the Black Lives Matter movement.

When white supremacists toting assault rifles show up in front of NAACP offices, that’s news.  The incident understandably caused concern.  But what is White Lives Matter?  Is it a group?  A movement?  Just a slogan?

The best way to describe WLM might be as a network—a small network of hardcore white supremacists with connections to a variety of hate groups.  These extremists started organizing events and activities under the banner of “White Lives Matter,” regardless of what group or groups they actually belonged to.

The white supremacist movement in the United States has a history of this type of organizing; in 2012-2014, various white supremacists around the country engaged in similar activities as part of the so-called “South Africa Project” and related “White Genocide Project,” designed to raise awareness of purported (but actually fictional) “genocides” of whites in South Africa, the United States, and elsewhere.  WLM follows squarely in this tradition.

Most such campaigns fade away after a year or two, but because WLM is in effect an active white supremacist protest against Black Lives Matter, it theoretically has the potential to last as long as that movement does.  It is important to stress that the Black Lives Matter movement and the WLM network are in no way equivalent or comparable, either in size or the nature of their beliefs and goals.

White Lives Matter Activities

WLM fliers for distribution

WLM fliers for distribution

“White Lives Matter” began as a transparent white supremacist slogan designed to respond to the Black Lives Matter movement, a protest movement that emerged in late 2014.  No single person came up with the slogan; by early 2015, numerous white racists were already using “white lives matter” as an on-line rallying cry.

It did not take long before some white supremacists began to take the concept out into the physical world, with the distribution of WLM fliers in neighborhoods in Connecticut in April 2015.  Most WLM activities since then have taken place in Connecticut, Texas or California, with a few scattered incidents elsewhere.

White supremacist posting WLM handbill

White supremacist posting WLM handbill

WLM matters activities have typically taken the form of on-line promotion of white supremacy using the “White Lives Matter” slogan, organizing WLM protests and rallies, distributing WLM fliers, handbills or stickers, and releasing red balloons into the sky “for Caucasian victims.”  The latter takes place on a very small scale and is usually caught on video to use on the Internet.

White Lives Matter: The Cast of Characters

Dozens of white supremacists around the country have taken part in one or more WLM activities since 2015, but the network is not very large.

In fact, a small handful of individuals are responsible for conducting or organizing most of the on-line and real-world WLM activities.  The first to become active, in the spring of 2015, were Ken Zrallack from Connecticut and his friend, Travis Golie, who has recently lived in Texas and Georgia.

By late 2015, the Aryan Renaissance Society (ARS), a longstanding white supremacist group based primarily in Texas, had also begun promoting WLM—to the irritation of the others.  In October 2015, Golie groused about ARS, which he described as a “brand new self proclaimed group” and a “silly gang,” claiming they stole WLM materials and put their own logo on them.  The materials appear to have been transmitted through Rebecca Barnette.  Barnette herself is disliked by some other WLM activists.  California WLM activist Mellissa Dennis described Barnette in September 2016 as “a bottom feeder who wants attention.” A WLM facebook page apparently run by Zrallack claimed that Barnette “has absolutely nothing to do with what we are doing.”

Key WLM activists include:

White supremacist Ken Zrallack

White supremacist Ken Zrallack

  • Ken Zrallack (aka Kevin Harris and other pseudonyms).  Zrallack, who more than any other person may lay claim to starting the WLM network, is a long-time hard-core white supremacist from Connecticut who in the early 2000s with his brother founded the Connecticut White Wolves, a racist skinhead group.  In the mid-2000s he was involved with another hate group, White Revolution; later, he helped form yet another white supremacist group known as Battalion 14. In 2010, Zrallack and two other men were arrested in an alleged conspiracy to sell grenades and guns to a police informant posing as a white supremacist.  While one of the trio was convicted, Zrallack and the other defendant were acquitted.
  • Travis Golie.  Golie, who has lived most recently in Texas and Georgia, is a key ally and partner to Zrallack in WLM.  Golie is the current head of the Nationalist Movement, a small but longstanding white supremacist group, which is probably one reason why some of the early WLM fliers sported the address of the Nationalist Movement website.  Golie served time in prison in Iowa for second degree robbery, which caused Ku Klux Klan members to protest at his prison in 2009 in support of him.  He was released from prison in 2012.
  • Rebecca Barnette.  Barnette, who has perhaps received more publicity than anyone else associated with WLM, has not necessarily played one of the most important roles.  Barnette has claimed that WLM was started by Zrallack and herself “and a few others.”  She was an early on-line promoter of WLM, but her one attempt at organizing a WLM rally, in Buffalo, New York, in July 2016, was an embarrassing failure, with only 1-3 people showing up—but not Barnette herself.  After this debacle, she lost standing with other WLM activists. Barnette is from Tennessee, where she has been very active with the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. She has also had ties of varying strengths to other white supremacist groups, such as the Aryan Renaissance Society.
  • Ken Reed.  Reed, a Texan (though he spent several years in Rhode Island as a mattress salesman), is probably the most active figure in the Texas contingent of WLM.  He is one of the leaders of the Aryan Renaissance Society (ARS), a longstanding white supremacist group that dates back to the 1990s, when it was a racist skinhead group known as Aryan Reich Skins. It has also used the names White Power Liberation Front and Aryan Liberation Front. Originally based in New Jersey, ARS’s center of activity later moved to Texas, where it became something of a prison clique.  More recently, it has given itself a neo-Nazi makeover.  What has remained constant throughout is its white supremacy.
  • Doug Chism  Chism is the leader or “president” of ARS,  of which he is a long time member, dating back to its Aryan Reich Skin days.  He spent much of his membership behind bars in Texas, serving time on various convictions until 2009.  He lives in the greater Houston, Texas, area. Chism, born in 1969, is one of the oldest of the WLM activists.
  • Horace Scott Lacy.  Lacy is another ARS member from the Houston area; like Chism, he is one of the oldest WLM activists, born in 1967. Before Lacy was involved with ARS, he was a member and “special assignments major” in the large and violent Texas-based white supremacist prison gang known as the Aryan Circle. He became an Aryan Circle member in the 1990s and was still a member as late as 2009. Lacy is a felon with an extensive criminal history dating back to 1985, including convictions for possession of a controlled substance, aggravated robbery, and multiple theft charges.  He was arrested in April 2016 on aggravated robbery charges.
  • Bill Hagan (aka William Quigg).  Hagan, who publicly goes by the pseudonym William Quigg, emerged as part of California’s white supremacist scene in 2015 as the “West Coast Grand Dragon” of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. In February 2016, Hagan and other white supremacists organized a “White Lives Do Matter” rally in Anaheim, California, an event that received considerable media attention after insufficient police crowd control allowed left-wing counterdemonstrators to attack the white supremacists, turning the event into a bloody brawl that resulted in numerous serious injuries and multiple arrests to and of people from both sides.  Hagan also got media attention for claiming to “endorse” Hillary Clinton for president, then later claiming that he had somehow raised $20,000 in donations for Clinton from members of his tiny group. Hagan also has close ties to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement and attends many of their events.
  • Melissa Dennis.  Dennis, another Californian living in Bakersfield, is a member of the Noble Breed Kindred, a small white supremacist group. Dennis has been one of the most active West Coast promoters of WLM, both on-line and in the physical world, where she has passed out fliers and released red balloons.  She also sells WLM t-shirts and other white supremacist paraphernalia. Like Zrallack, she has also promoted “Free Matt Hale” events.

whitelives-matter-4-from-vk

Selected White Lives Matters Incidents/Events

  • September 2016: WLM flier drops by Zrallack in Connecticut. WLM members in Texas claimed to have “hand delivered food aid to Whites effected [sic] by the flooding in Baton Rouge, LA.”
  • August 2016: WLM flier drops by Zrallack in Connecticut. WLM protest in front of NAACP office in Houston, Texas.
  • July 2016: WLM flier drops by Zrallack in Connecticut. Small WLM protest in Dallas, Texas, in front of Bank of America Tower.  Failed WLM protest in Buffalo, New York.
  • June 2016: WLM flier drops by Zrallack in Connecticut. WLM flier drops in East Greenwich, Rhode Island, apparently by Ken Reed.
  • May 2016: WLM flier drops by Zrallack in Connecticut.
  • March 2016: WLM /“Free Matt Hale” flier drops by Zrallack in Connecticut. Matt Hale is a white supremacist serving a 40-year federal prison sentence for soliciting the murder of a federal judge. Many WLM activists also are vocal Matt Hale supporters.
  • February 2016: WLM/“Free Matt Hale” flier drops by Zrallack in Connecticut. Small WLM protest in Anaheim, California.
  • January 2016: WLM supporters put up handbills, apparently in Bakersville, California.
  • December 2015: WLM flier drops in various locations.
  • October 2015: WLM red balloon releases (“for Caucasian victims”) in different locations.
  • September 2015: WLM red balloon releases in different locations, plus distribution of fliers and stickers in California and Connecticut.
  • August 2015: WLM red balloon releases in different locations. Flier drops in Connecticut.
  • May 2015: Flier drop in Westport, Connecticut.
  • April 2015: Flier drop in Milford, Connecticut.

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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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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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