1. MILITARY SKINHEAD TRIED: Private First Class James Burmeister was convicted and sentenced for the murders of Michael James and Jackie Burden in Fayetteville, North Carolina in December 1995. Burmeister's buddy and the driver of the car, Randy Meadows, pleaded guilty to assault charges and testified against him. Meadows said that Burmeister listened to racist music and was being initiated into a skinhead group. He was trying to earn his "spider web tattoo," that he could get by killing a black person. He had also tested a bomb and picked out a local synagogue in preparation for the "racial holy war." The third person charged in the crime is Malcolm Wright, who will face trial on March 31. Meadows testified that he, Burmeister and Wright had previously beat up two black women. Burmeister received two life sentences, without parole, for two counts of first-degree murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder. He avoided the death penalty by one lone juror's negative vote. Burmeister responded by saying, "If the state has chosen to blame me for this, so be it for now. I'm not conceding and I'm not going to quit. It is not over by any means."
2. CROWN HEIGHTS SUSPECTS RETRIED AND FOUND GUILTY: Lemrick Nelson, Jr., was tried on federal charges for the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum during the 1991 Crown Heights' riots. Nelson was acquitted during a 1992 state trial. He was found guilty and faces between 6 and 20 years in prison. Charles Price was found guilty of inciting a riot to attack Jews and faces between 15 years and life.
3. WASHINGTON STATE MILITIA MISTRIAL: The seven defendants arrested for building pipe bombs and preparing to fight a war against the federal government received a mistrial after the jury deadlocked on conspiracy charges. John Pitner, John Kirk, Gary Kuehnoel and Marlin Mack were convicted on weapons charges. The seven were accused of making booby traps and pipe bombs and planning to blow up a radio tower and train tunnel. Kuehnoel was found innocent of three counts of possession of an unregistered firearm. Verdicts also could not be reached on additional weapons charges for John and Judy Kirk. She, Benjamin Fisher, and Tracy Lee Brown were released on their own recognizance. Part of the defense by attorneys was that "the defendants weren't smart enough to pull off an anti-government conspiracy." Three members, Richard Burton, Caitlin Hansen and Theodore Carter pleaded guilty in January.
4. US TAXPAYERS PARTY MEET: The U.S. Taxpayers Party of Texas held its statewide conference on February 22. Dr. Norris Austin of Houston was appointed the Texas state chairman. Austin claims to be a Constitutional "scholar" and is a former history teacher and principal. Participants voted to change the state party's name to the Constitution Party of Texas, but the final decision will be made by the executive committee. Former Congressman Steve Stockman, who received a fax from Mark Koernke at the same time as the Oklahoma City bombing, spoke at the conference. Other USTP meetings were held in Miami in January. Peg Liksuk seems to be a popular speaker, and appeared at both meetings.
5. GEORGE BURDI IN JAIL: George Burdi, aka Eric Hawthorne, former Canadian Church of the Creator leader, lead singer for RAHOWA and founder of Resistance Records, is finally serving time in Canada for his conviction on assault charges in 1993. He's been out on bond, but began serving his one-year sentence after his appeal was denied. Joe Alexander says that Resistance Records, Resistance Magazine, the web site and Resistance Records Electronic Newsletter will continue and grow, even in Burdi's absence. The largest source of racist music in this country is at http://www.resistance.com or you can tune in to the "unofficial" RAHOWA web site at http://www.cyberenet.net/~micetrap/rahowa.html.
6. GEORGIA MAN ARRESTED AFTER SHOOT-OUT: Mark Turner of Roopville tried to steal propane tanks (presumably to make bombs) from a grocery store but was shortly tracked down by police. He hid in the bushes and opened fire as the deputies drove up to his house. While Turner was sent to the hospital after being shot in the arm, deputies found 16 bombs, a pistol and an assault rifle. Authorities don't believe that Turner is associated with the Atlanta bombings, and the local sheriff seems eager to deny any possible connections with militias or other right-wing groups. He said, "I don't think it's common, but I wouldn't say it's uncommon for people to experiment or play" with explosives.
7. VANDALISM AT PENNSYLVANIA DAY CARE CENTER: A children's center in Philadelphia was spray painted with swastikas and pamphlets were left advertising the Hitler Free Corps. Members of this skinhead group also passed out literature in Marion Center and Punxsutawney this month. Similar attacks occurred in Sarthmore, Media, Allentown, South Jersey and Mount Laurel in the last six months. The Hitler Free Corps lists its address in Kirkwood--PO Box 62, 17536--and is associated with Ed Foster and Steve Bowers, aka Steve Nastasi, and the American Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Bowers claims that the Free Corps has 60 members.
8. THOMAS PLEADS GUILTY: Mark Thomas of Longswamp Township, Pennsylvania, and Aryan Nations advocate and leader of the Christian Posse Comitatus pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy charges for working with the "Midwestern Bank Bandits." He also promised to blow the whistle on other white supremacists. Thomas has claimed innocence until recently, but now faces 8 to 11 years in prison. Peter Langan and Scott Stedeford, who were convicted of armed robbery and other charges in the case, pleaded not guilty to conspiracy charges and will be tried in the fall.
9. CHURCH BURNERS SENTENCED: Two of the South Carolina men who were members of the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and burned two churches, were sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison. Gary Christopher Cox and Timothy Adron Welch pleaded guilty to four civil rights violations in connection with the fires that were set in June 1995.
10. PIPE BOMB FOUND IN SYNAGOGUE: Children found a pipe bomb in the hallway of the Jewish Center in Jacksonville, Florida on February 22. Police have no suspects. The Center received a bomb threat on February 13 just before Shimon Peres spoke to 1,500 people. Investigators found no link between the threat and the bomb.
11. CALIFORNIA SKINHEADS PLEAD GUILTY: Two skinheads pleaded guilty to beating an Hispanic man in Los Angeles in September 1995. Randy Rojas and Brent Toner are said to be associated with the Nazi Lowriders out of Antelope Valley. They could serve up to 2 years in prison.
12. ANOTHER ABORTION CLINIC ATTACKED: On February 18, the American Women's Clinic in Falls Church, Virginia was arsoned. James A. Mitchell was arrested as he left the building after setting the fire with patient files, breaking all the windows and breaking down the doors. Mitchell expressed no regret and likened abortion clinics to Nazi genocide. This is the second fire to take place at this clinic.
13. PREPAREDNESS EXPO '97: Another Preparedness Expo was held in Spokane, Washington on February 1 and 2 at the Washington Convention Center. Promoters provided information on emergency and disaster supplies, self-defense and protection, self-reliant living, home education, investment strategies, and much more. Music was provided by Carl Klang, as usual in these militia/white supremacist/survivalist gatherings. John Trochmann, Pete Peters and Paul Hall were among others speaking. Outside, the local NAACP protested while Trochmann and Hall tried to convince them and attendees that militias weren't racist. An Expo is also planned for February 28-March 2 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, San Diego, California.
14. BOMBING IN ATLANTA: Atlanta was taken off-guard when another pipe bomb exploded on February 21, this time at a nightclub that is frequented primarily by gay and lesbian clientele. This attack was similar to the abortion clinic bombing in January, in that two bombs were placed at the establishment. The first exploded on an outside patio, injuring at least five people. The second, placed outside, was apparently aimed at rescue workers. This time the second bomb was discovered first by police and then safely detonated by authorities. Someone claiming to be with the Army of God (a long-time anti-abortion underground) claimed responsibility in letters written to several newspapers. Authorities, as well as CDR and others who monitor the far right, doubt that the letter is legitimate. The FBI has been quietly warning other "minority groups" in the Atlanta area to be careful. The letter writer exhibited hatred of women, gays and lesbians and the government and law enforcement, but anyone may be at risk. These bombings are part of a larger trend that started with the Oklahoma City bombing that may target one subgroup but is likely to injure and kill anyone who is nearby.
15. PATRIOT SINGER ON WEB: Carl Klang, singer for the patriot movement, has a Music Ministries web site at http://www.klang.com. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to talk to him personally.
16. KLAN MUSEUM AND REDNECK SHOP IS STILL OPEN: Last March, in an abandoned movie theater in Laurens, South Carolina, John Howard opened a Klan museum and souvenir store he calls the Redneck Shop. In spite of protests from the townspeople, including an irate citizen who drove his car though the front window, the store remained open until July, when it closed because of a dispute between Howard, the owner, and Mike Burden, who owned the business license. The store reopened later in July, and Howard has sued the town of Laurens for refusing to give him a business license. Howard now claims that he has retired from the Keystone Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and his intent is not to spread racism but to teach people about the Klan. The museum displays photos of an orphanage and hospital that were run by the Klan, but very little of the brutality and lynchings that they're famous for. The "shop" part of the enterprise offers racist paraphernalia for sale, including the Confederate flag and tshirts that say "White Power." In order to enter the museum, people must buy something from the shop. Howard has received support from such Klan notables as Daniel Carver of Georgia who said, "Of course it's a good idea...What's wrong with a museum for white people, for people who are proud to be white?"
17. FREEMEN START TO STAND TRIAL: Russell Dean Landers and James Vincent Wells, part of the Montana Freemen, were convicted in North Carolina federal court on fraud and conspiracy charges. Landers claimed he was being held hostage by a foreign power, and was eventually barred from the courtroom for his outbursts during the trial. The two passed bad checks totaling over $600,000, and tried to sue the IRS in common law courts. Wells used bogus money orders to try to pay off $1.9 million in tax liens to the IRS, an assessment that was the result of illegal tobacco sales. Wells involved a local travel agency owner, Prajesh Patel, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges. After this trial, Landers will be sent to Montana where he faces a second trial for his part in the Freeman standoff. A bomb scare accompanied the early days of the trial. Wells faces up to 129 years in prison and $5 million in fines. Landers faces up to 31 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines. Sentencing is scheduled for May 19.
In the meantime, in Montana, 17 Freemen were representing themselves in U.S. District Court. Steven C. Hance, John Hance, James Hance, Cherlyn B. and Daniel E. Petersen, Edwin F. Clark, Casey Clark, Emmett B. Clark, Richard E. Clark, Cornelius Velhuizen, LeRoy M. Schweitzer, Elwin Ward, Dale Jacobi, Jon Barry Nelson, Rodney Skurdal, and Dana Dudley face charges ranging from conspiracy, fraud, threatening federal officials, firearms violations to accessory after the fact.
18. ANTI-AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN CALIFORNIA FORMALIZED: The American Civil Rights Institute was formed by Ward Connerly and others who helped persuade Californians to vote for Proposition 209 last fall. The new institute, headed by Connerly and to be funded by individuals and foundations, promises a national and "strong presence" in Washington and across the nation to argue "aggressively" against affirmative action. People in Colorado, Florida, Oregon and Washington have indicated to Connerly that they may want some help in placing anti-affirmative action measures on the ballots of those states. Other founders of the Institute are Thomas L. Rhodes, president of the National Review; Clint Bolick, with the Institute for Justice; Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform; and State Senator Quenton Kopp of San Francisco.
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