‘Antifa Mob’ assault case takes center stage in unconventional war between Philly judge and Larry Krasner

Common Pleas Court jurist fires back after progressive DA wants him recused from all cases after girlfriend complained she was fired for being white

Judge Scott DiClaudio Brian Hickey/PhillyVoice

Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Scott DiClaudio (middle, white shirt) talked about job prospects with a pair of men on hand to perform community service with him in March 2018. The judge finds himself warring with District Attorney Larry Krasner, whose office is the subject of a complaint filed by DiClaudio’s girlfriend.

This is the story of a probation-friendly Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas judge whose girlfriend claims in a Human Relations Commission complaint that she was fired from the District Attorney’s Office two months ago because she’s white.

This is also the story of Larry Krasner – the district attorney who wants to end lengthy probation and parole sentences – who, according to court filings, wants to disqualify Common Pleas Judge Scott DiClaudio from hearing all criminal cases because “a reasonable person would question Judge DiClaudio’s impartiality in any case in which the Office represents a party.”

Finally, this is a story in which questions were raised – hypothetically – about the impartiality of three defense attorneys who worked to get Krasner elected, and their effort to negotiate a “non-trial disposition” for the “Antifa mob” which allegedly attacked two U.S. Marines in Old City last November.

Suffice it to say, Wednesday morning was an interesting time at the Criminal Justice Center as a Krasner subordinate saw the motion denied by DiClaudio, who treated the bench as if it were a pulpit.

Paul George, assistant supervisor of the district attorney’s law department, immediately noted that the office would appeal the decision to Pennsylvania Superior Court. He also said any case heard in the meantime would be done under protest from the District Attorney’s Office.

“Your protest is noted,” said DiClaudio, in a response punctuated with two emphatic slams of the gavel around 9:35 a.m. to end a heated hearing in his ninth-floor courtroom as dozens of defendants looked on quizzically. “I look forward to that hearing.”

While it had been simmering before Wednesday, per the CJC’s rumor mill, the DiClaudio vs. Krasner battle formally kicked off on Monday.

That’s when the judge received motions asking him to recuse himself from more than three dozen cases on the next day’s docket. (That number would soon reach nearly 60 cases, according to DiClaudio’s docket.)

Marinating overnight with the thought that it was an act of revenge, DiClaudio grilled George on Tuesday, asking whether the DA’s office was arguing that he couldn’t be a fair arbiter of justice despite four years on the bench without such complaint.

As that was happening, defendants showed up to court only to learn their hearings would not go off as scheduled. They would leave with subpoenas to return at a later date.

‘THAT IN NO WAY AFFECTS MY ABILITY TO BE FAIR’

Hostilities were renewed Wednesday morning, when Krasner passed on DiClaudio’s invitation to appear before him and sent George in his stead. (“Mr. Krasner voluntarily chose not to be here,” the judge said.)

The courtroom seats were filled with defendants, and the walls lined with attorneys

“The commonwealth says I can’t be fair enough to give you a date,” DiClaudio told one defense attorney before revising the recusal issue stemming from “an alleged conflict” around 9:10 a.m.

George maintained that an active discrimination complaint filed by the judge’s girlfriend – former Assistant District Attorney Catherine Smith – translated into the “appearance of impropriety” in cases heard by DiClaudio, who maintained he had nothing to do with that filing.

“My girlfriend is suing the DA’s office for alleged discrimination,” DiClaudio would later tell those in Courtroom 905 directly during a brief break in the hostilities. “That, in no way, affects my ability to be fair.”

“I have no animosity for the District Attorney’s Office.” – Common Pleas Judge Scott DiClaudio

What ensued – before DiClaudio took up the cases on his Wednesday docket – was an airing of dirty laundry replete with confrontation and innuendo that made it feel as if Krasner was being tried in absentia.

Beyond statements made on the record, George deferred comment to District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ben Waxman, who later told PhillyVoice that “I don’t think we have any immediate response.”

One day earlier, though, the Inquirer quoted a “district attorney’s spokesperson” as saying, “Rather than leave the bench for the day at 10 a.m., the court could have granted the recusal and sought another judge to handle the matters.” (DiClaudio referenced that statement in court on Wednesday, noting the near-impossible nature of having cases scheduled in front of other judges due to motions filed late in the afternoon the day before.)

Among the issues that arose during the tense back-and-forth discussion were texts that DiClaudio sent to Anthony Voci – chief of the DA’s office’s homicide unit – asking whether he knew what was going on.

As the commonwealth argued that the text qualified as “ex parte communication,” the judge threatened to have Voci called to his courtroom to testify under oath on Wednesday to vouch for it not having been that.

“That’s so far from the truth it’s farcical,” an indignant DiClaudio said, not following through with sending Sheriff’s Office deputies to bring Voci to his courtroom.

Stock_Carroll - Philadelphia District Attorney Larry KrasnerThom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner.

 

As George stood before the bench, DiClaudio explored the very nature of appearances of impropriety in city courts, specifically whether they existed in cases being handled by the law firms where Krasner once worked in a defense capacity before his election as district attorney.

He referenced that Krasner had sued the Philadelphia Police Department and specific officers now being called to testify on behalf of the prosecution.

“I wouldn’t be happy if I was sued by an attorney who is now calling me as a witness in a trial,” DiClaudio said.

It could be perceived as an “appearance of impropriety,” he noted, if an attorney from a previous  Krasner firm worked to negotiate reduced charges in a given case.

Then, he cited the case of two U.S. Marines allegedly assaulted in Old City by three suspects who were held on (felony) aggravated assault charges.

A trio of attorneys – Michael Coard, Thomas Ivory and Marni Jo Snyder – represent the suspects in that case. All three worked in various capacities to help get Krasner elected.

DiClaudio noted that their negotiations with the DA’s office in an attempt to reach a “non-trial disposition,” and hold hearings without having the suspects come to the court, could be perceived as having the “appearance of impropriety.”

“This is a specific example that happened in my room,” DiClaudio said, before asking George a question. “Are you going to tell me with a straight face that that isn’t an appearance of impropriety?”

“Yes,” George responded.

None of those attorneys mentioned agreed to comment to PhillyVoice on Wednesday.

“I have no animosity for the District Attorney’s Office,” said DiClaudio, noting that just last week, he voluntarily sent over a list of 2,500 cases in which some of those on probation could benefit from Krasner’s push to lessen post-conviction penalties. “If anyone thinks I cannot be fair – victims or witnesses – I will recuse myself upon request.”

LAWYERS OFFER SUPPORT FOR THE JUDGE

The battle between judge and district attorney has people on edge throughout the legal community and specifically in the CJC.

Specifically, there are worries about how it could impact people awaiting trial. Keir Bradford-Grey, chief defender in the Defender Association of Philadelphia, was in and around Courtroom 905 throughout the proceedings.

She said she didn’t know much about the war between DiClaudio and Krasner, but “just wanted to make sure that our clients are able to get their day in court.”

Nino Tinari, a longtime defense attorney in Philadelphia, said he’s never heard any complaints about DiClaudio’s work on the bench.

He said in court that “the defense bar” believes that he is a “fair-minded” judge. In the hallway outside, he said that he’s never seen anything like this happen in a Philadelphia courthouse.

“This is totally new for me,” he said. “He is a competent judge.”

Israel approves thousands of new West Bank housing units

A Defense Ministry committee approved plans for the construction of at least 3,659 new housing units in the West Bank.

It is the largest group of West Bank housing units advanced since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017. The Trump administration is expected to roll out an Israel-Palestinian peace plan after the Israeli elections.

Some 73 per cent of the units, or 2,656, are in settlements that Israel likely will have to evacuate under a permanent peace agreement, according to Peace Now. Some 1,226 of the homes received final approval for construction.

The Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration approved the 28 plans last week.

The prime minister and the defense minister must approve the plans; Benjamin Netanyahu currently holds both positions.

“The construction of the settlements only makes it harder to end the occupation and to get to a two states peace agreement and is bad for the Israeli interest to remain a democratic and secured state,” Peace Now said in a statement, which noted that Netanyahu announced that he will annex the West Bank if he is re-elected.

In Big Win For Israel, Airbnb Reverses Ban On West Bank Listings

Airbnb reversed its controversial ban on listings in Israeli West Bank settlements Tuesday night, ending a five-month dispute over the legality of the measure.

The online hospitality service announced its decision in a blog post on its website and said it will be donating profits generated from the 200-plus West Bank listings to “non-profit organizations dedicated to humanitarian aid.”

“Airbnb will not move forward with implementing the removal of listings in the West Bank from the platform,” the post said. “Airbnb has never boycotted Israel, Israeli businesses, or the more than 20,000 Israeli hosts who are active on the Airbnb platform. We have always sought to bring people together and will continue to work with our community to achieve this goal.”

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - JANUARY 13: The Old City is seen from the Mount of Olives on January 13, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. 70 countries attended the recent Paris Peace Summit and called on Israel and Palestinians to resume negotiations that would lead to a two-state solution, however the recent proposal by U.S President-elect Donald Trump to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and last month's U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Jewish settlement activity in the West Bank have contributed to continued uncertainty across the region. The ancient city of Jerusalem where Jews, Christians and Muslims have lived side by side for thousands of years and is home to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound or for Jews The Temple Mount, continues to be a focus as both Israelis and Palestinians claim the city as their capital. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has continued since 1947 when Resolution 181 was passed by the United Nations, dividing Palestinian territories into Jewish and Arab states. The Israeli settlement program has continued to cause tension as new settlements continue to encroach on land within the Palestinian territories. The remaining Palestinian territory is made up of the West Bank and the Gaza strip. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

The reversal was mandated in part of a settlement with a pro-Israel law organization that sued the company over its West Bank ban. The lawsuit accused Airbnb of discriminating against listings posted by Jewish hosts.

Airbnb announced it would also implement the non-profit donation model in other disputed territories around the world, in what seems to be an effort to avoid alignment in political hostilities.

Such an end-goal is becoming increasingly challenging to achieve for Airbnb and similar international corporations.

The Airbnb announcement came as Israeli voters were taking to the polls to elect their Prime Minister in the general election last night. The Likud party’s coalition alliances look to have established a clear pathway for the continued tenure of incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu — who promised to annex Jewish West Bank settlements if reelected.

Israel is the land of terrorists and thieves

Israeli democracy is rotting from the inside

 

Israel’s 2019 election results are in, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is all but certain to stay in office for a record fifth term. The consequences of his victory for both Israelis and Palestinians could very well be catastrophic.

The past several years of Netanyahu’s time in office have been characterized by drift in two illiberal, anti-democratic directions.

The prime minister has tried to buy off the independent media, further marginalized Israel’s Arab minority, and gone after civil society groups critical of his policies. Some of this behavior was, according to Israel’s attorney general, actively criminal; Netanyahu is likely to be indicted in the coming months but is expected to try to pass a law shielding himself from prosecution while in office.

In essence, this apparent victory could allow Netanyahu to continue his scorched-earth campaign to maintain power at all costs — up to and including doing serious harm to the foundations of Israeli democracy.

It has also become obvious that he has no interest in a negotiated solution to the conflict with the Palestinians, and seems content to indefinitely occupy Palestinian land without concern for the harm the occupation does to the Palestinians. At the end of the 2019 campaign, Netanyahu vowed to take this further and begin annexing West Bank settlements — a move toward permanent occupation and, ultimately, apartheid.

These two axes of authoritarianism — weakening Israel’s democratic institutions while perpetuating rule over the Palestinians without granting them political rights — are connected. The conflict with the Palestinians has destroyed Israel’s left and empowered a seemingly ever-more-radical right. In Netanyahu’s fifth term, this connection could become even more explicit: Experts on Israeli politics are concerned he might support a more concrete annexation plan as part of a Faustian bargain for the extreme right’s support in his quest for immunity from prosecution.

Israel has survived existential threats before, including two invasions that nearly wiped out the young Jewish state. Yet the threat to Israeli democracy today is not external, but rather of Israelis’ own making — a long-running illness that could soon turn acute.

The threat to democracy

If Netanyahu is still in office by the summer, which seems extremely likely, he will become the longest-serving prime minister in Israeli history — passing David Ben-Gurion, the first Israeli prime minister, who has often been referred to as Israel’s George Washington. But if Ben-Gurion is remembered as the midwife of Israeli democracy, Netanyahu could be remembered as its gravedigger.

Under Netanyahu’s leadership, Israel passed a law declaring that “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people” — an exclusive vision of national identity that excludes Arabs and other non-Jewish minorities. It passed a law aimed at silencing NGOs that monitored the Israeli military’s human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories, and passed a law removing a significant check on the prime minister’s power to take the country to war.

Perhaps the single most worrying example of authoritarian drift in Israel is Netanyahu’s efforts to suborn the media.

One of the hallmarks of democratic backsliding is the government exerting control over independent media outlets — as a compliant media allows the government to get away with other kinds of wrongdoing. In Hungary, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has either gotten cronies to buy up independent media outlets or pressured other publications into shutting down through punitive tax policies. In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan took a less subtle route, jailing journalists and seizing control of independent newspapers.

Two of the legal cases against Netanyahu, known as Case 2000 and Case 4000, allege that he has attempted a smaller-scale version of these anti-media actions.

In Case 2000, Netanyahu allegedly attempted to strike a deal with the owner of Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s largest newspaper: He would pass a law limiting circulation of one of its rivals, the already pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom, in exchange for more favorable coverage in the Netanyahu-skeptical Yedioth.

In Case 4000, Netanyahu allegedly manipulated regulatory powers in order to benefit Bezeq, a major Israeli company. In exchange, the Bezeq-owned news organization Walla gave the prime minister more favorable coverage. Unlike Case 2000, this apparently went beyond the conspiracy stage, with Netanyahu trading regulations for good press over a five-year period.

These attempts to manipulate the media, Israeli observers warned, were a clear and present danger to their democracy.

“What many of the allegations against Netanyahu point to is a systematic attempt to skew media coverage of the prime minister in his favor. And this is no piffling matter,” writes eminent Israeli journalist David Horovitz. “If a leader can line up most or even many of the ostensibly competing media organizations that cover national events reliably on his side, he can subvert their role as independent watchdog, misdirect the reading and watching public, and advance a long way toward cementing his position as prime minister — his non-term-limited position as prime minister in Israel.”

Israeli protestors opposed to the “nation-state” law last August.
Israeli protesters opposed to the “nation-state” law last August.
Amir Levy/Getty Images

Earlier this year, Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced plans to go after Netanyahu on bribery and “breach of trust” charges for these media conspiracies, and will formally indict him pending a hearing. Unlike in Hungary and Turkey, where would-be authoritarian leaders managed to cement control over the media, the Israeli legal system is treating Netanyahu’s ability to do the same as a crime.

But Netanyahu has been framing the election as a referendum on his fitness for office. If he wins, the logic goes, indicting him and forcing him out would be a way of overturning the people’s just-expressed will. Hence the justification for the immunity bill, which he is almost certain to pursue as a top priority.

The brazenness of Netanyahu’s argument — that it would be undemocratic to prosecute him for his efforts to undermine Israeli democracy — is matched only by its danger. While some of the prime minister’s allies in the Knesset have expressed opposition to an immunity law, it’s best not to underestimate Netanyahu’s ability to convince them otherwise. He’s a canny politician who cares first and foremost about survival and will do whatever he can to undermine the legal case against him.

If passed, an immunity law would represent a double blow to Israeli democracy: both legitimizing the prime minister’s efforts to neuter the media and blocking an independent check on wrongdoing by the premier. It would not yet put Israel in the company of faux-democracies like Hungary and Turkey, but it would push the country in that direction — continuing Israel’s slide down what feels like a very slippery undemocratic slope.

Netanyahu’s dangerous annexation pledge

The Saturday before the election, Netanyahu went on Israel’s Channel 12 to make the case for his election. He promised something astonishing: that he would annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“I will impose sovereignty, but I will not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements,” he said, per an Associated Press translation. “From my perspective, any point of settlement is Israeli, and we have responsibility, as the Israeli government. I will not uproot anyone, and I will not transfer sovereignty to the Palestinians.”

Annexation of any West Bank territory would be a renunciation of the premise behind the two-state solution, that the final status of all West Bank land would be determined by Israeli-Palestinian negotiations rather than Israel unilaterally. Even if he only annexed a handful of settlement blocs near the border that would likely go to Israel in any peace deal, it would still dash the already slim hopes of an agreement in the foreseeable future.

But annexation on the scale Netanyahu seemed to be suggesting here would render a Palestinian state essentially impossible. The “isolated settlements” dot the West Bank in such a way that annexing them to Israel would cut off Palestinian population centers from each other, essentially turning them into the holes in Swiss cheese. A Palestinian state would be impossible under these conditions; Israel would in effect be asserting permanent control over Palestinian territory without granting the Palestinians basic rights like the ability to vote in Israeli elections.

You would have an Israel that ruled Palestinians permanently as a separate, legally inferior population, practically the dictionary definition of apartheid. No serious person could consider Israel a liberal democracy — or a democracy of any kind — if this were the way its political system worked.

Netanyahu’s annexation proposal should have destroyed his campaign in a just world. But Israeli public opinion has drifted so far to the right in the past roughly two decades that it in all likelihood helped him.

A protest along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
A protest along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Ilia Yefimovich/Getty Images

Labor, the center-left party that dominated Israeli politics for most of its early existence, was decimated in this election — winning a scant six seats in the Knesset out of a total of 120. After the failure of the peace process and the subsequent violence of the Second Intifada, Israelis lost faith in a two-state solution and are increasingly punishing parties associated with it and elevating ones that threaten to torpedo it.

Now the question is this: Just how serious is Netanyahu about turning this threat into a reality?

That’s very difficult to say. It’s possible he was just posturing, trying to win over right-wing voters in the end stages of the election. We have to hope that’s the case. But there are two reasons to believe it might not be.

First, President Donald Trump has pursued what’s best described as a “blank check” policy toward Israel. Trump took a hardline pro-Netanyahu stance during every flare-up with the Palestinians and has done quite a bit to bolster Netanyahu politically. He moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem and, just before the election, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights — both signs that Trump is fine with Israeli territorial maximalism. Netanyahu likely believes that with this president, he can get away with murdering the two-state solution (in fact, some believe he already has).

Second, Netanyahu may have strong political incentives to conduct at least a limited annexation. More than anything, he wants to stay out of jail — and his coalition partners know it. He needs their votes for an immunity bill, and they can demand a steep price in exchange for it. The extremist United Right party might very well condition their support on Netanyahu annexing some settlements to Israel.

If that comes to pass, it would be an utter catastrophe for Israeli democracy. The prime minister would simultaneously be dismantling checks on his power within its recognized borders and moving Israel towards apartheid outside of them. The world’s only Jewish democracy would be in mortal peril.

This, ultimately, is what this election means. It is not merely a narrow victory for a legally embattled incumbent — but rather a signal that Israeli democracy is about to enter a period of acute crisis.

It’s very possible, maybe even likely, that it survives this crisis. Maybe the immunity bill fails and Netanyahu backs away from his annexation promise. Maybe Netanyahu’s indictment breaks his government and another one — one more open to a truly democratic vision of Israeli society — takes its place. Maybe.

But then again, maybe not. The forces that have pushed Israel in this dark direction are deep and fundamental, the result of Israel’s particular historical traumas and political institutions. Even if Netanyahu’s remaining time in office proves to be short-lived, the threats to Israel’s democratic survival likely will not.

There Is a Taboo Against Criticizing AIPAC — and Ilhan Omar Just Destroyed It

Prominent N.J. sports official admits making Hitler remark, apologizes for calling him a ‘good leader’

Longtime Nutley High Athletic Director Joe Piro, who admitted Tuesday he was the guest speaker who described Adolf Hitler as a “good leader” during a presentation at Madison High, apologized for his remarks and said he was trying to make a point that badly missed the mark.

Piro’s apology comes three days after he gave a presentation on leadership to student athletes at Madison High and used Hitler as an example of a “good leader” with “bad moral character and intentions.” During the presentation, Piro showed images of notable leaders, including a picture of Hitler shown side by side with Martin Luther King Jr.

Piro said he was trying to “make a point that a leader could have strong leadership skills that influence people in a negative way.”

“The presentation was not to offend anyone in or outside the Madison public school district. I am truly sorry if I did,” Piro said. “As a 20-year educator who has worked with a wide variety of students that come from very diverse backgrounds, I fully understand and recognize that Adolf Hitler was an evil man who used his skills in a horrific manner.”

Piro, 47, is one of the most prominent athletic officials in New Jersey and has been instrumental in shaping some of the state’s most important sports policies. Four years ago, he helped create the Super Football Conference, a 113-team league that spans seven counties and is considered a model for other leagues across the nation. Piro currently serves as SFC president.

Madison superintendent Mark Schwarz did not identify Piro in a letter co-signed by three other administrators and sent to parents on Sunday, but said his presentation was not screened in advance and was “unnecessarily provocative and insensitive.”

After Piro’s presentation, Schwarz wrote that some students and parents “voiced serious concerns that the speaker referred to Hitler as a ‘good leader’ in any regard.” Schwarz added the “Madison school district shares those concerns.”

Some parents in attendance told NJ Advance Media they were not offended by Piro’s presentation and gave it little thought until they saw parents discussing it later on Facebook.

Nutley superintendent Julie Glazer said in a statement the district was not aware Piro participated in the leadership conference at Madison and that it “shares his regret to mention Adolf Hitler alongside examples of positive leadership and over the inclusion of this insensitive reference.”

Glazer added her district “condemns all acts of bigotry, racism and hate.”

“We believe in using this incident as an opportunity to highlight cultural responsiveness and sensitivity within our schools, curriculum and community,” she said.

School suspends official for comment on Hitler’s leadership

A New Jersey sports official who told student athletes Adolf Hitler was a “good leader” with “bad moral character and intentions” has been suspended.

The Nutley Board of Education took the action Monday night against high school athletic director Joe Piro, who made the remark last month while addressing Madison High School students during an assembly aimed at promoting positive leadership.

Piro has said he was trying to make a point that “a leader could have strong leadership skills that influence people in a negative way.” He says he understands “Hitler was an evil man who used his skills in a horrific manner.”

The Madison district’s superintendent has said Piro’s presentation was “unnecessarily provocative and insensitive.”

Piro showed a photo of Hitler as part of a side-by-side comparison with Martin Luther King Jr.

Facebook is finally banning white nationalist content

The new ban, which will also apply to content supporting white separatism, comes after months of advocacy from civil rights groups.

 

One hundred cardboard cutouts of Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stand outside the US Capitol in Washington, DC, in April 2018.

 

Facebook has announced a ban on content that includes “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism” — a significant policy shift that comes after months of criticism from civil rights groups.

The change, which was first reported Wednesday by Motherboard, will go into effect next week and will also apply to Instagram. The platform will also direct users who try to post this content to Life After Hate, an organization that helps people leave hate groups.

In a blog post published on Wednesday, Facebook explained its decision, noting that the new policy is the result of months of discussions between Facebook and outside groups. Previously, Facebook had banned content promoting white supremacy (generally, the belief that whites are superior to other races).

But the platform allowed white nationalist content (which promotes a belief that a white majority should control the social and political direction of predominantly white countries) and white separatist content (which argues that whites should create a separate ethnostate devoid of people of color). While their proponents argue that these ideologies are very different, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center argue that the latter two often express a belief in white supremacy, making them all very similar.

Facebook says additional conversations with civil rights groups and experts “confirmed that white nationalism and separatism cannot be meaningfully separated from white supremacy and organized hate groups,” leading the social media platform to expand its policy on hate language.

The ban will focus on explicit language and will not target more implicit statements supporting white nationalism and separatism. While civil rights groups want Facebook to work harder to eliminate racism and bias on its platform, they say the new policy is a crucial first step.

The ban comes less than two weeks after a mass shooting at two mosques in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, and after much criticism over Facebook’s previous policy. In a May 2018 investigation, Motherboard found that internal Facebook moderator training documents allowed explicit support for white nationalism and separatism, claiming that these ideologies are not always rooted in hate or racism and were different from support for white supremacy.

The social media platform also argued that banning white nationalism would also require banning other forms of nationalism (like black nationalism and Zionism) on the platform. Historians and civil rights groups said this argument was flawed and ignored the unique historical impacts of white supremacy, adding that the platform’s distinction between white supremacy, white nationalism, and white separatism was unnecessary and based on a “mere technicality.”

Months later, Facebook says it agrees.

“We decided that the overlap between white nationalism, [white] separatism, and white supremacy is so extensive we really can’t make a meaningful distinction between them,” Brian Fishman, policy director of counterterrorism at Facebook, told Motherboard.

Facebook initially said white nationalism and white separatism were significantly different from white supremacy. Experts disagreed.

Less than two years ago, a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, ended with the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer and injuries to other counterprotesters.

In the weeks after the violence, Facebook began making external and internal changes to how it handled white supremacy on the platform. The changes included drawing the distinction between white supremacy, white nationalism, and white separatism.

Historians and civil rights groups disagreed with the distinction, noting that the differences among the three ideologies are minimal, and that white nationalists and separatists often openly express a belief in white supremacy.

“Anyone who distinguishes white nationalists from white supremacists does not have any understanding about the history of white supremacism and white nationalism, which is historically intertwined,” American University historian Ibram X. Kendi told Motherboard last year.

In a September 2018 letter, the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law argued that Facebook was ignoring “centuries of history, legal precedent, and expert scholarship that all establish that white nationalism and white separatism are white supremacy. ”

“When we met with your company this summer, both our staff as well as the staff at Facebook, were unable to identify an example of white nationalism or white separatism that was not white supremacist,” the group said. They also pointed to specific Facebook pages with names like “It’s okay to be white” and “American White History Month 2” to further make the point that content considered to be white nationalist or separatist still often supports a belief in white supremacy.

On Wednesday, the civil rights group said it supported Facebook’s decision, but it wants the platform to take additional action. “While we are pleased that Facebook is taking long overdue action, we know well that communities are still reeling from the rise in hate and racially motivated violence, and that extensive remedial action must be taken to ensure that hate is eliminated root and branch across the platform,” Kristen Clarke, the organization’s president and executive director, said in a statement.

Other groups agreed. “We are glad to see the company’s leadership take this critical step forward in updating its policy on white nationalism,” Rashad Robinson, president of the online racial justice group Color of Change, said in a Wednesday statement.

Last week, Facebook settled a group of civil rights lawsuits and complaints, promising that it would change its advertising tools to limit the ability of some groups to target people based on race, gender, age, and other categories.

While cvil rights groups support these changes, they say that Facebook is really late to addressing these issues and must work to seriously enforce the ban it has finally put in place.

“It’s definitely a positive change, but you have to look at it in context, which is that this is something they should have been doing from the get-go,” David Brody, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, told Motherboard. “How much credit do you get for doing the thing you were supposed to do in the first place?”

Police say ‘no credible’ threat to far-right figurehead Tommy Robinson from Dundee

Tommy Robinson
Tommy Robinson

Remember FREEDOM OF SPEECH?

Facebook says it will now block white-nationalist, white-separatist posts

March 27 at 1:00 PM

Facebook said Wednesday that it will begin banning posts, photos and other content that reference white nationalism and white separatism, revising its rules in response to criticism that a loophole had allowed racism to thrive on its platform.

Previously, Facebook had prohibited users from sharing messages that glorified white supremacy — a rhetorical discrepancy in the eyes of civil rights advocates who argued that white nationalism, supremacy and separatism are indistinguishable and that the policy undermined the tech giant’s stepped-up efforts to combat hate speech online.

Facebook now agrees with that analysis. In a blog post announcing the ban on “praise, support and representation of white nationalism and separatism,” the company said, “It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services.” The new policy also applies to Instagram.

The rise and spread of white nationalism on Facebook were thrown into sharp relief in the wake of the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in 2017, when self-avowed white nationalists used the social networking site as an organizing tool.

The following year, Motherboard, a tech publication owned by Vice, obtained internal documents meant for training and guiding content reviewers that revealed Facebook treated the terms differently: The materials showed that Facebook permitted “praise, support and representation” of white nationalism and white separatism “as an ideology.” The policy drew sharp rebukes from civil rights advocates, who have argued for years that the terms are interchangeable.

Facebook’s decision comes one week after the company made another announcement to appeal to long-standing complaints from civil rights advocates: The company prohibited advertisers from excluding minorities and other protected groups from ads for housing, employment and credit.

While Facebook long had banned white supremacy, the company said in its blog post Wednesday that it “didn’t originally apply the same rationale to expressions of white nationalism and separatism because we were thinking about broader concepts of nationalism and separatism — things like American pride and Basque separatism, which are an important part of people’s identity.”

But conversations over the past three months with civil rights groups and academics led Facebook to rethink its practices, executives wrote. As part of the dialogue, the company reviewed a list of figures and organizations and found overlap between white nationalism, separatism and supremacy.

Civil rights groups applauded the move. “There is no defensible distinction that can be drawn between white supremacy, white nationalism or white separatism in society today,” Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said Wednesday in a statement.

The organization had pushed Facebook for months to change its policies, pointing to pages such as “It’s okay to be white,” which has more than 18,000 followers and has regularly defended white nationalism. Another, called “American White History Month 2,” often posted white-supremacist memes, according to the Lawyers’ Committee. A cached version of the page from late February showed it had more than 258,000 followers before it went offline.

Facebook’s new policy comes as the company continues to struggle to take down other content that attacks people on the basis of their race, ethnicity, national origin and a host of other “protected characteristics.” Between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2018, Facebook took action against 8 million pieces of content that violated its rules on hate speech, according to its latest transparency report. Facebook is not legally required to remove this content, but its rules prohibit it.

To help enforce its policies, Facebook has developed and deployed artificial-intelligence tools that can spot and remove content even before users see it. But the technology isn’t perfect, particularly when it comes to hate speech. The company removes only about 50 percent of such posts at the moment users upload them, it said last year. As a result, such content still can go viral on Facebook — a reality the company confronted this month when users continued to upload videos of the mass shooting in New Zealand that left 50 people dead. The shooter specifically sought to target Muslims, authorities said.

To that end, civil rights groups said, Facebook still had considerable work to do to address the spread of hate speech on its platform.

“As we have seen with tragic attacks on houses of worship in Charleston, Pittsburgh, New Zealand, and elsewhere, there are real-world consequences when social media networks provide platforms for violent white supremacists, allowing them to incubate, organize, and recruit new followers to their hateful movements,” Clarke said.

 

Facebook is banning white nationalism

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify following a break during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify following a break during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and Senate Judiciary Committee joint hearing about Facebook on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Facebook, which already blocks white supremacy posts, announced a ban Wednesday on content supporting white nationalism or separatism.

Starting next week, Facebook and Instagram will remove posts and comments that praise or support white nationalism.

“It’s clear that these concepts are deeply linked to organized hate groups and have no place on our services,” the company said in a post titled “Standing Against Hate.”

The social network said it hadn’t banned expressions of white nationalism because it was considering the broader scope of the concept, like separatism and pride. However, after conferring with race relations experts, Facebook decided that the rationale it applies to white supremacy also should apply to white nationalism, due to the company’s long-standing policy against hate speech on race, ethnicity or religion.

Facebook said it will apply the same artificial intelligence detection it uses to identify terrorism content for white nationalist posts.

Facebook also said it will connect people who make searches about white supremacy to organizations such as Life After Hate, which was founded by former violent extremists and provides education and support.

Facebook’s announcement came less than two weeks after a self-proclaimed white nationalist killed 49 people at two mosques in New Zealand. The shooter streamed the attack live on Facebook, and copies of the video spread across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Following the attack, President Donald Trump said he did not see a rise in white nationalism.

Southern Poverty Law Center – The REAL Hate Group

My, my, my… look what is happening to the leftist gem known as the Southern Poverty Law Center! After years of working side by side with the fake mainstream media, high ranking employees such as Morris “Dees The Sleaze” Morris and Richard “Gentiles Must Be Enslaved” Cohen are now resigning and being exposed as the crooks and thieves that they have always been. As they have collected hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, even using shady off-shore bank accounts, they have put out fake “hate group” statistics that the fake news was more than happy to reprint across all of their outlets.

The information that the SPLC has put out is nothing more than exaggerated lies. They recently put out statements that there are over 1200+ “hate groups” in the United States, where are they? Where are all of these so-called evil groups and individuals? Sure, their fake numbers help them raise money to line their pockets, but there is no epidenic of “hate group” movements and the SPLC has been nothing but a money-making machine.

And in case you didn’t know, the Southern Poverty Law Center has weaseled their way into working directly with companies such as Amazon, Ebay and Paypal to attack everything pro-White, even merchandise that isn’t remotely offensive in any way. Now, they are being shown as the real slime… and it’s hilarious to watch!

 

Southern Poverty Law Center, frequent critic of conservatives, sees its president step down amid rash of departures

 

Southern Poverty Law Center President Richard Cohen is stepping down from the civil rights organization amid a series of high-profile departures and questions over its treatment of employees.

In a statement, Cohen said the organization will “emerge stronger” after an audit of its practices by Tina Cohen, a Chicago-based attorney and former chief of staff for former first lady Michelle Obama.

“We’re going through a difficult period right now, and I know that we’ll emerge stronger at the end of the process that we’ve launched with Tina Cohen,” the statement said. “Given my long tenure as the SPLC president, however, I do not think I should be involved in that process beyond cooperating with Tina, her team, and the board in any way that may be helpful.”

Cohen has worked with the center since 1986 and was made president in 2003, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. He became one of its most prominent figures, bringing legal campaigns against the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.

But in recent years, the center has drawn criticism from Republicans and conservatives who have accused the SPLC of unfairly labeling people and groups with conservative viewpoints as bigots.

What is the Southern Poverty Law Center?

Paypal came under fire from religious groups after its CEO revealed it works with the SPLC to help identify accounts to ban from its platform. Several groups called for a boycott of the digital payment system because it listed several conservative Christian organizations as “hate groups” or “extremists” because of their religious views.

Republican lawmakers have also questioned the working relationship between the SPLC and the FBI.

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., said groups like the Christian Family Research Council (FRC) have been unfairly labeled as hate groups by the SPLC, while members of “Antifa” have not.

“The SPLC’s conflation of mainstream political advocacy groups with legitimate hate groups and domestic terror groups is absurd, frequently indiscriminate and dangerous,” Gaetz said.

“The SPLC’s conflation of mainstream political advocacy groups with legitimate hate groups and domestic terror groups is absurd, frequently indiscriminate and dangerous.”

— U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

Cohen’s exit comes a week after SPLC co-founder Morris Dees was dismissed and some center staff raised concerns over whether the group’s mission of combating hate and discrimination conflicted with the treatment of its minority employees.

SPLC fires founder Morris Dees for misconduct

In addition to Dees, an assistant legal director also left over gender and race equity concerns. The center’s senior staff and board are largely white, according to the

About two dozen employees signed a letter raising concerns over “allegations of mistreatment, sexual harassment, gender discrimination, and racism threaten the moral authority of this organization and our integrity along with it,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

The Advertiser spoke with four employees who said there is a disconnect by what they saw as the center’s response to high-profile cases of police use of deadly force and prioritizing marketing and fundraising over civil rights work. The center remains a $450 million advocacy organization that surpasses other civil rights groups.

 

 

Neo-Nazi Group Vows To Wrest Control Back From Black Activist

The head of one of the nation’s longest-running neo-Nazi groups recently turned control of the organization over to an African-American ordained minister who wants to dismantle the group from the inside.

But the story gets much weirder than that.

Each side is now accusing the other of fraud, with the former leadership of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) and California activist James Hart Stern each threatening legal action over control of the organization.

In a Wednesday interview with TPM, recently retired NSM “commander” Jeff Schoep said that he was persuaded under false pretenses to formally turn the reins over to Stern. Schoep also released a statement saying Stern has “no legal control or legal standing with” the NSM.

Stern told TPM he simply outsmarted the NSM, and that he’s filing a restraining order to halt Schoep from trying to interfere with a group he no longer controls.

The fight brewing over the last week escalated on Wednesday, when the NSM submitted a new incorporation filing to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs replacing Stern with NSM member Acacia Dietz as the registered agent for the group. Schoep told TPM that Stern’s leadership was based solely on these documents, and that they’ve now “been fixed.”

A spokesman for the department confirmed to TPM that “anyone” can file these documents, and that the state has no process for confirming that changes in corporate leadership are legitimate.

But Stern told TPM that he has other proof that Schoep legally authorized him to assume control of the NSM, including recordings of phone conversations and a notarized affidavit.

Stern provided TPM with a copy of the affidavit allegedly signed by Schoep on Feb. 27, which reads, “I am assuring everyone that this is not an un-sincere move to inactivate this group. James Hart Stern has assured me he will not carry on the organization as it was do [sic] to his polar opposite views.”

“This was not just a stunt,” it continues.

The document (pictured below) contains multiple grammatical errors, additional words, and repeated misspellings of Schoep’s name.

Stern said he plans to file a restraining order against Schoep for violating that agreement in Riverside County, California, where Stern lives, on Wednesday.

This bizarre situation further complicates the legal battle that was already embroiling the NSM and led to Stern being named president of the group in the first place.

The NSM and Schoep are among the many defendants named in a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of 11 Virginia residents injured during the violent white supremacist rally that erupted in Charlottesville in the summer of 2017.

Stern managed to convince Schoep that having him assume control of the NSM would relieve the group of legal liability in that suit, both men agree.

But exactly why and how this happened depends on who you ask. Stern and Schoep have almost opposite accounts of how this came to pass, as the men first told the Washington Post, though they agree they were acquaintances who were in regular contact over the past several years.

That contact was rooted in Stern’s unlikely friendship with former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard Edgar Ray Killen. The pair were cellmates in a Mississippi prison while Stern was serving time for defrauding the Magnolia State’s licensed cosmetologists and Killen was serving a 60-year sentence for his role in orchestrating the infamous 1964 murders of three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner.

Killen ended up signing over power of attorney to Stern, and Stern used that authority in 2016 to dissolve the KKK chapter that Killen once ran.

Stern and Schoep each allege that the other made first contact around 2014 to discuss the unusual relationship that Stern had with Killen, and remained in touch in the following years. They even held a “race relations summit” in California attended by members of the NSM and black activists.

Both men say that they would exchange semi-regular phone calls, in which Schoep divulged to Stern that he felt ready to move on from the neo-Nazi organization he’d run since 1994.

In Stern’s telling, Schoep was exhausted by the Charlottesville suit and eager for the opportunity to leave the movement’s legal entanglements and interpersonal beefs behind. Stern said he offered to assume control of the NSM so that Schoep could do so.

According to Schoep, Stern assured him that the plaintiffs had promised to “dismiss myself and the NSM off the case” if he agreed to the leadership change and obtained proof that “it was a sincere thing.”

So he did. As the Southern Poverty Law Center first reported on Feb. 15, Schoep signed papers with the Michigan Department of Licensing naming Stern the leader of the organization. Schoep also fired the white nationalist-affiliated attorney, Jim Kolenich, who was representing himself and the NSM in that case.

But he didn’t anticipate what happened next. Stern promptly filed a motion asking the judge in the Charlottesville case to find the NSM culpable of conspiring to commit violence at the “Unite the Right” rally.

Judge Joel Hoppe said he could not take up the motion, noting that Stern was not an attorney and could not therefore claim to represent the NSM.

Per a transcript of a March 1 telephone hearing provided to TPM, the judge ordered Stern to obtain representation for the group and Schoep to obtain representation for himself. He also indicated that he had no interest in allowing the NSM leadership struggle to delay the case, which is slated to go to trial in late 2019 or early 2020.

As part of pre-trial discovery in the case, the judge ordered all the defendants to turn over their electronic devices and social media accounts for forensic imaging by Friday, March 8.

In the meantime, Schoep and Stern have been bashing each other in the press, with Stern claiming he “outwitted” the ex-NSM leader and Schoep insisting he’d been hoodwinked.

The lifelong neo-Nazi told TPM that Stern was “pure evil” for misleading him about his intentions for the case and the future of the group.

“He knew that I was stepping away from the movement,” Schoep said of his “retirement.” “Instead of facilitating or trying to help with that, he manipulated and deceived me, like he said. And then tried to manipulate a court case in order to destroy an organization that I was in the process of leaving behind.”

Schoep said he planned to surface details of Stern’s eccentric background, which includes a history of filing seemingly frivolous lawsuits and at least one other prison stint. As the Jackson Free Press once reported, Stern, who also goes by the name Akeem Reinsfield, once filed a $61 million lawsuit against Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for criticizing the movie “Barbershop”; sued the California Department of Corrections for failing to use sterilized hair-cutting instruments; and sued a Mississippi county clerk for allegedly committing perjury in his criminal case.

Stern said Schoep was just “upset” that he’d singlehandedly destroyed the organization that he’d led for decades.

“It’s my job to dismantle this group,” Stern said of the NSM.

“It’s like lightning strikes again,” Stern added, nodding at his relationship with the former KKK grand wizard. “It’s happened to me before.”

How a black man outsmarted a neo-Nazi group, and became their leader after Charlottesville

Without notifying his followers or even his inner circle, the longtime president of a legacy neo-Nazi group has signed over its control to a black civil rights activist from California.

James Hart Stern is the new leader of the National Socialist Movement, and his first move as president was to ask a Virginia judge to find the group guilty of conspiring to commit violence at the deadly Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, allegations made in a lawsuit filed that year by a counterprotester against NSM and other white-nationalist groups.

Stern’s control over the neo-Nazi group and his swift actions to self-incriminate it have confounded the NSM’s members and perplexed those who study hate groups, largely because he and the group’s former president, Jeff Schoep, have not spoken publicly since the formal paperwork was filed in mid-February.

Stern, who spoke with The Washington Post on Friday, said he had been waiting for a court hearing on the lawsuit scheduled for that morning before sharing the full story – one that he said includes infiltration, persuasion and a hint of manipulation.

For five years, the two men had fostered a strange kind of relationship, Stern said. And when Schoep came to Stern for legal advice over the lawsuit in January, the California activist said he “saw a crack in the armor” and pounced. Schoep wanted a way out of NSM, Stern said, because he felt underappreciated by his followers and left out of the mainstream white-nationalist movement that had swept the country in the wake of the 2016 presidential election.

Schoep was concerned about the repercussions of the Charlottesville lawsuit and the legal bills he was shouldering, Stern said, and he confided in the California activist as he sought solutions. So Stern, seeing an opportunity, said he encouraged Schoep to get a fresh start – by handing over control of the Detroit-based organization and website to Stern.

And Schoep said yes.

In mid-January, Schoep filed incorporation paperwork with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to formally transfer the National Socialist Movement to Stern, according to documents filed with the state. By Feb. 15, Stern was listed in court documents for the lawsuit as NSM’s representative. Stern is not listed as an individual defendant in the suit.

“I did the hard and dangerous part,” Stern said. “As a black man, I took over a neo-Nazi group and outsmarted them.”

Now, he’s preparing for what comes next – and seeking guidance from Jewish leaders. Stern said he does not plan to dissolve the corporation because he doesn’t want Schoep’s followers, or others in the white-nationalist movement, to reincorporate it. His plans for the website are still evolving, but his primary goal is to offer it as a reclaimed space to Jewish organizations that could help him educate NSM’s followers on the history of the Holocaust.

“Everything is out in the open,” Stern said. “My plans and intentions are not to let this group prosper. It’s my goal to set some hard records right.”

This isn’t the first time Stern has befriended a white supremacist so he could infiltrate a hate group. While serving prison time in Mississippi for mail fraud, Stern was cellmates with onetime Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted in the “Mississippi Burning” killings of three civil rights workers. Stern said Killen regularly called him a racial slur in the year and a half they shared a jail cell, but the two nevertheless formed a relationship.

In 2012, after Stern was out of prison, Killen granted him power of attorney and ownership of 40 acres of land, Stern said. In 2016, Stern used his legal discretion to dissolve the Klan organization Killen once led and garnered media attention. Two years later, Killen died at age 92.

It was that case that piqued Schoep’s interest in Stern, according to the activist. Stern said that in 2014 Schoep called him without notice and asked several questions about his relationship with Killen. The two later met in Beverly Hills for a small race summit and have maintained phone contact ever since.

They talked about the facts of the Holocaust, the ugliness of the Nazi swastika and the fallibility of Schoep’s white-nationalist ideals, Stern said. “From day one, I always told him: ‘I don’t agree with you; I don’t like you,’ ” Stern said. “I talked to him because I wanted to hope to change him.”

Stern said he was “blunt” with Schoep but that the man still “confided” in him about personal and professional strife.

“He knew that he had the most vulnerable, the most loose-cannon members that they had even had in the organization,” Stern said. “He realized somebody was going to commit a crime, and he was going to be held responsible for it.”

Schoep took control of NSM in 1994 and was responsible for growing its membership and brand as an organization of Holocaust deniers and Adolf Hitler acolytes. The group maintains a website that draws in millions of visitors from around the world, Stern said, and has organized public rallies where violence has broken out.

The group, whose members wear SS-like uniforms that mirror those worn in Nazi Germany, was founded under a different name in 1974 by two former officials of the American Nazi Party, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Signing over leadership of an organization this old is the equivalent of a death sentence in the white-nationalist movement,” said Keegan Hankes, an SPLC research analyst. “It’s one of the strangest things I’ve seen since I started tracking these things five years ago.”

Schoep did not respond to a request for comment from The Post on Friday, nor did several of the people listed on the NSM website as leaders within the organization. One man who identifies himself as SS Capt. Harry Hughes III and is listed as the public relations director for NSM, said in an email that he is “not involved in the NSM’s legal affairs and am not at liberty to discuss anything, until Commander Schoep personally makes a statement.”

“Just like you and the rest of the media, I’m waiting in suspense, too,” Hughes added.

Matthew Heimbach, a leading white-nationalist figure who briefly served as community outreach director of the organization last year, told the Associated Press that there has been conflict between NSM’s leaders, including Schoep, and its membership. Heimbach estimated the group had 40 dues-paying members last year.

The biggest challenge the group has faced, the SPLC’s Hankes said, was being outshone by the more refined efforts of new alt-right leaders such as Richard Spencer. There was tension within the organization about the need for a shift to a less violent, less explicit brand of neo-Nazism, he said.

“A lot of these groups see [NSM] as extremely detrimental to anything regarding identity politics,” Hankes said.

Stern told The Post that he and Schoep discussed this infighting and that Schoep expressed a desire to leave NSM behind and start a new organization with less baggage. Though Schoep is not longer legally affiliated with NSM, he still faces the lawsuit because he is listed as a defendant in an individual capacity.

“It’s definitely not good for him, and it shouldn’t be good for him,” Stern said. “You spend 25 years terrorizing people, you can’t rebrand overnight. It doesn’t work like that.”

Neo-Nazi group’s new leader is a black man who vows to dissolve it

Black activist James Hart Stern says he will work to undermine the National Socialist Movement, the group he now leads.
Image: James Stern, James Hart Stern

James Stern of Jackson, Miss., at a news conference in Jackson, Miss. on June 14, 2012. One of the largest and oldest neo-Nazi groups in the U.S. appears to have an unlikely new leader: Stern, a black activist who has vowed to dismantle it.Rogelio V. Solis / AP file

By Associated Press

One of the nation’s largest neo-Nazi groups appears to have an unlikely new leader: a black activist who has vowed to dismantle it.

Court documents filed Thursday suggest James Hart Stern wants to use his new position as director and president of the National Socialist Movement to undermine the Detroit-based group’s defense against a lawsuit.

The NSM is one of several extremist groups sued over bloodshed at a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Stern’s filing asks a federal court in Virginia to issue a judgment against the group before one of the lawsuits goes to trial.

Stern replaced Jeff Schoep as the group’s leader in January, according to Michigan corporate records. But those records and court documents say nothing about how or why Stern got the position. His feat invited comparisons to the recent Spike Lee movie “BlacKkKlansman” in which a black police officer infiltrates a branch of the Ku Klux Klan.

Neither Stern, who lives in Moreno Valley, California, nor Schoep responded Thursday to emails and calls seeking comment.

Matthew Heimbach, a leading white nationalist figure who briefly served as the NSM’s community outreach director last year, said Schoep and other group leaders have been at odds with rank-and-file members over its direction. Heimbach said some members “essentially want it to remain a politically impotent white supremacist gang” and resisted ideological changes advocated by Schoep.

Heimbach said Schoep’s apparent departure and Stern’s installation as its leader probably spell the end of the group in its current form. Schoep was 21 when he took control of the group in 1994 and renamed it the National Socialist Movement, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

“I think it’s kind of a sad obit for one of the longest-running white nationalist organizations,” said Heimbach, who estimates it had about 40 active, dues-paying members last year.

The group has drawn much larger crowds at rallies.

NSM members used to attend rallies and protests in full Nazi uniforms, including at a march in Toledo, Ohio, that sparked a riot in 2005. More recently, Schoep tried to rebrand the group and appeal to a new generation of racists and anti-Semites by getting rid of such overt displays of Nazi symbols.

It appeared that Stern had been trying for at least two years to disrupt the group. A message posted on his website said he would be meeting with Schoep in February 2017 “to sign a proclamation acknowledging the NSM denouncing being a white supremacist group.”

“I have personally targeted eradicating the (Ku Klux Klan) and the National Socialist Movement, which are two organizations here in this country which have all too long been given privileges they don’t deserve,” Stern said in a video posted on his site.

On Wednesday, lawyers for the plaintiffs suing white supremacist groups and movement leaders over the Charlottesville violence asked the court to sanction Schoep. They say he has ignored his obligations to turn over documents and give them access to his electronic devices and social media accounts. They also claim Schoep recently fired his attorney as a stalling tactic.

A federal magistrate judge in Charlottesville ruled last Friday that Stern cannot represent the NSM in the case because he does not appear to be a licensed attorney. That did not deter Stern from filing Thursday’s request for summary judgment against his own group.

“It is the decision of the National Socialist Movement to plead liable to all causes of actions listed in the complaint against it,” he wrote.

Stern served a prison sentence for mail fraud at the same facility as onetime Ku Klux Klan leader Edgar Ray Killen, who was convicted in the “Mississippi Burning” killings of three civil rights workers. Killen died in January 2018.

In 2012, Stern claimed Killen signed over to him power of attorney and ownership of 40 acres of land while they were serving prison terms together. A lawyer for Killen asked a judge to throw out the land transfer and certify that Killen and his family owned the property.

Former white supremacist wanted to escape skinhead group, says Oklahoma police chief who hired him

This is an older article about Bart Alsbrook, someone who has owned “pro-White companies” for many years and who continues selling (mostly bootlegs) from his websites (such as isdrecords.com and ns88.com) even after being outed as law enforcement.

https://www.kxii.com/content/news/Former-Colbert-police-chief-and-admitted-former-white-supremacist-now-an-Achille-reserve-officer–493103381.html

Achille police chief Christopher Watson says he knew about Bart Alsbrook’s connections to white supremacist groups, but still hired him to be a reserve officer in the police department.

“In the two years that I have known him, he has done nothing but contribute,” said Watson.

Last August Alsbrook was named interim Police Chief in Colbert. He resigned a week later, after eventually admitting his past ties to neo Nazi organizations.

We reported last year Alsbrook was the Texas coordinator of a Skinhead group called Blood & Honor, a group the Southern Poverty Law Center calls an international coalition of racist skinhead gangs..

When we found Bart Alsbrook’s name linked to ISD Records and NS-88 videos — two websites that sell media and memorabilia aimed at skinheads – he claimed identity theft after skinheads stole his wallet at a concert in the 1990s.

Watson says Alsbrook wanted to leave the Skinhead groups he admitted he belonged to.

“He was involved in some kind of group then, and wanted out and the only way he figured he could get out would be to move far away,” said Watson.

Alsbrook says he’s declined repeated requests for an on camera interview, because
“I do not want my name associated with any hate ideology end quote.” He told us via email.

Watson says Alsbrook has talked to him about trying to amend his checkered past.

“Everyone has a past, some of which they may not be proud of, of which he is not. He wishes he never had those connections,” said Watson.

Watson says the Achille police department has zero tolerance for racism.

“None. None, because that is an ignorant way of thinking. So there would be no tolerance of that.”

Don’t fall for the SPLC’s lies

Newsrooms were on fire this week with terrible news: The number of hate groups in the United States has soared to record highs under President Trump.

There are most certainly hate groups in the U.S., and even one is one too many, but I’d encourage everyone to approach the numbers reported this week with calm and caution. There’s nothing partisan operatives would love more than for you to panic and to believe them when they suggest that the problem can be solved by expelling “the other team” from power. That the figures cited by newsrooms come via the decidedly unreliable and hyper-partisan Southern Poverty Law Center also doesn’t help anything.

The New York Times reported, “Over 1,000 Hate Groups Are Now Active in United States, Civil Rights Group Says.”

“Hate groups ‘surge’ across the country since Charlottesville riot, report says,” reads the headline from the Miami Herald.

“Trump ‘Fear-Mongering’ Fuels Rise of U.S. Hate Groups to Record: Watchdog,” U.S. News and World Report said in a headline that sort of gives the game away.

First, let’s keep things in perspective. Remember, for example, that the rise in the number of hate crimes is attributable in some way to the fact that there are more reporting agencies ( hundreds, in fact!) than ever before. It’s easy to say, “Oh, it’s all because of President Trump,” pointing to incidents like his disastrous Charlottesville statement. But the problem of bigotry is far older and deeper than the current administration. That the Trump White House isn’t helping anything is one complaint, but don’t fall for the suggestion that it’s the main driver.

Second, while we’re on the topic of taking things seriously, it’s important to remember that the SPLC is not an organization whose declarations should be taken seriously or treated as fact. As I’ve written before, much of its “hate group” reporting is trash.

In 2015, for example, the group put Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson on its “extremist watch list,” citing the one-time presidential candidate’s “anti-LGBT views.” Later, in 2016, the SPLC labeled women’s rights activist, female genital mutilation victim, atheist, and ex-Muslim Ayaan Hirsi Ali an “anti-Muslim extremist” because she opposes Islamic extremism. The British activist and extremist-turned-counterextremist Maajid Nawaz was placed in the same category. The SPLC lumps pro-family and pro-Israel organizations in with actual neo-Nazis.

The SPLC is not in the business of exploring and addressing racial and ethnic bigotry. It’s in the business of crushing anything to the right of the Democratic Party.

As for the report the SPLC just released this week, it concedes there is an uptick in the number of black nationalist groups since 2017, but it downplays this fact by claiming those groups “have little or no impact on mainstream politics and no defenders in high office.” I must’ve just imagined noted-anti-Semite and frequent Democratic guest Louis Farrakhan. Amazingly enough, the report also claims the White House “has energized” black nationalist groups, suggesting there’s a direct correlation between their increased ranks and Trump’s rise to power, which is quite a thing to allege considering black nationalist groups have been on the rise since 2000.

The report also has a section titled, “HATE GOES TO WASHINGTON: Meet the Members of Congress Who Traffic in Hate and Extremism.” It includes Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Mark Harris, R-N.C., for supporting the traditional definition of marriage that Barack Obama supported until a few years ago. In fact, the section on members of Congress includes only Republicans, which is interesting considering that Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., an actual out-and-proud anti-Semite, also went to Washington this year.

The report takes aim at Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and U.S. national security adviser John Bolton. The SPLC report lists the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Family Research Council, and the Family Research Institute as anti-gay “hate groups.” No report that lumps these groups in the same category as the Westboro Baptist Church should ever be relied on by journalists.

Hate groups are real. Hate crimes are serious. The SPLC is not. It exploits hate groups to raise money and further political interests unrelated to the problem of hate.

Don’t fall for the SPLC’s lies.

PayPal Censoring Groups With Help from Leftist, Anti-Christian SPLC

The CEO of PayPal has revealed the multi-billion dollar service partners with the leftist organization Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) to decide who should be blacklisted from their company. Using “company corporate values” as their defense, PayPal has taken intentional steps to deny access to conservatives.

It’s all a big cause for concern for Christians because the SPLC has taken an anti-Christian slant in recent years, targeting mainstream groups just because they hold biblical views about sexuality and life. CBN News has reported extensively on the SPLC’s radical agenda to silence conservative Christian groups like D. James Kennedy Ministries and the Family Research Council.

“There are those both on the right and left that help us. Southern Poverty Law Center has brought things,” PayPal’s Dan Schulman said in a Wall Street Journal interview.  “We don’t always agree. We have our debates with them. We are very respectful with everyone coming in. We will do the examination carefully. We’ll talk when we don’t agree with a finding: We understand why you think that way, but it still goes into the realm of free speech for us.”

Schulman stated that the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in 2017 was a “defining moment” for the decision. That moment caused them to expand their brand-reputation group to serve as a monitor of their customers in an effort to silence hate speech.

“Because the line between free speech and hate, nobody teaches it to you in college. Nobody’s defined it in the law,” stated Schulman. “The reason we had to expand the group is because websites may say something, but the links they have can link to hateful material and videos. You can’t look at a headline and make a determination. You have to spend time to really think about it.”

But PayPal actually became very public in its opposition to conservative values before 2017. For example, in 2016 PayPal announced it was boycotting Charlotte, NC after the city bucked the transgender trend by limiting the use of bathrooms, locker rooms and showers to persons of the same biological sex. PayPal canceled plans to bring more than 400 jobs and a $3.6 million investment into Charlotte.

And though Schulman stated that PayPal utilizes help from the right, the findings of those blacklisted highlight the majority of “offenders” are conservatives. Breitbart reports WikiLeaks, Infowars, political activist Tommy Robinson, and investigative journalist Laura Loomer are among those blocked by PayPal.

Schulman revealed that the majority of the accounts blacklisted are suggestions by outside organizations. Hence, organizations such as SPLC have been successful in their efforts to silence certain voices.

The SPLC had to pay $3.375 million in a settlement last year for their efforts to condemn conservatives. The organization was faulted for including former Islamic radical turned conservative Maajiid Nawaz in its “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists.”

Family Research Council Executive Vice President General Jerry Boykin once denounced the SPLC as “probably one of the most evil groups in America. They’ve become a money-making machine and they’ve become an absolute Marxist, anarchist organization.”

Meanwhile, PayPal’s Schulman said his philosophy is this: “Businesses need to be a force for good in those values and issues that they believe in.”

But the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a liberal nonprofit for the defense of free expression and privacy online, has continually expressed concern about major companies such as PayPal using their power to become “de facto internet censors.”

“We need to be asking ourselves: who should be deciding what kind of speech should be allowed to thrive online? Should it be Internet users, elected officials, or the courts? Or should it be financial intermediaries, like Visa and Mastercard?” stated an EFF spokesperson. “In my opinion, financial institutions don’t have the expertise to judge whether speech has societal value or violates the First Amendment. They shouldn’t be making those decisions at all.”

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