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It may not be ripe for a large white supremacist rally, but there’s hate in CT – The CT Mirror

MARKESHIA RICKS / New Haven Independent

Nearly 300 people gathered Sunday at Chapel and Church streets in New Haven, one of several rallies around the state to protest white supremacist violence and hate.

Washington Connecticut may not be fertile ground for a white supremacist rally like the one that turned violent in Charlottesville, Va., but the state is not immune to hate.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., says there are several active hate groups in the state.

Perhaps the leading white supremacist figure fromthe stateis KennethZrallack, described by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the founders of the White Lives Matter movement, a small network of hardcore white supremacists with connections to a variety of hate groups.

Zrallack and his brother Matthew organized the Connecticut White Wolves shortly after their graduation from high school in Stratford. In 2004, ADL called the group a collection of racist skinheads that has grown into the largest and most active extremist group in the state, promoting an ideology espousing hatred of Jews and racial and ethnic minorities.

Members, though typically young, have been involved in a number of criminal acts in Connecticut and have forged ties with nationally recognized hate groups, including the National Alliance, the Creativity Movement, White Revolution and the Ku Klux Klan, the ADL said.

The White Wolves seemed to disband after Ken Zrallack was arrested in 2010 and charged withconspiring to sell guns and hand grenades to an FBI informant brokering a deal for a Ku Klux Klan offshoot. A jury acquitted him of those charges.

Zrallack then became one of the very first activists in the White Lives Matter movement in the spring of 2015, the ADL said. That movement was a reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement that grew out of frustration at a spate of police killings of black youth.

A chapter of the ACT for America in Cheshire is also considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The center said that in the nine years since it was founded by Brigitte Gabriel, ACT, which stands for American Congress for Truth, has grown into far and away the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America.

The group says it is planning a number of America First rallies across the nation on Sept. 9.

The nationalgroup has condemned the violence in Charlottesville, which resulted in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer.

MARKESHIA RICKS / New Haven Independent

Jesus Morales-Sanchez, an organizer with Unidad Latina en Accion, speaks to the crowd Sunday in New Haven.

ACT for America stands squarely with the rights of all Americans to peacefully rally on behalf of their own beliefs, or in opposition to those of others, Gabriel said. Heather Heyer was murdered for her beliefs, and we join in sorrow with her family and friends. Her killer will be brought to justice, and while that cannot undo what has been done, it sends a powerful signal to the forces of hate and intolerance that they will be dealt with swiftly and according to the American rule of law.

The third Connecticut hate group identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center is a black separatist organization known as the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The SPLC calls the organization a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers.

Connecticut is more likely to hold rallies in support of those who are the targets of hate groups, like it did in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, said Steve Ginsburg, ADL Connecticut regional director.

He said white supremacists are not a real force in Connecticut, but there are people in every state with extremist ideologies who connect with others over the Internet.

I dont think we are ripe to be the next Charlottesville, but I could be wrong, Ginsburg said.

The state legislature voted unanimously this year to toughen Connecticuts hate crime laws. But still, there is evidence of hate in the state.

In February, hundreds of printed fliers from a white supremacist group were found on driveways and in mailboxes along the Newtown Turnpike in Weston, Wilton, Westport and Norwalk. The fliers read, We must secure the existence of our race and a future for white children. Make America White Again.

There are also dozens of hate crimes reported each year to the state police, a requirement of Connecticuts hate crime laws.

Reports from 2003 to 2012 show a slight increase in hate crimes, with 166 reported in 2012.

But the FBI says that two-thirds or more of these types of crimes go unreported.

Tom Condon / CTMirror.org

An anti-hate rally in West Hartford Sunday

Bridgeport author Andy Piascik, who has written about the Ku Klux Klans history in Connecticut, said its difficult for the United States to shake off the white supremacist movement.

The ideology of white supremacy is a central aspect of U.S. history, he said. The society was founded on the slavery of African Americans and we live with that legacy today.

The Ku Klux Klan appeared first in Connecticut in the 1920s, he said, when there was concern about continued immigration of Italians, Poles and Jews from Europe, increasing labor unrest and large socialist and anarchist organizations who tried to appeal to everyone.

The latest Klan rallies in the state occurred in the early 1980s, but counter-protesters vastly outnumbered the marchers.

Today, counter-protesters in Connecticut would significantly outnumber the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Piascik said.

The sort of KKK-type groups are likely to be small in Connecticut, Piascik said. But look at how quickly they came out of the woodwork (in Charlottesville.) They want to announce to the world we are here.

Steve Thornton, a retired labor organizer in West Hartford who has written about fascism in America, predicted the violence in Charlottesville is going to spur more, not fewer, hate crimes.

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It may not be ripe for a large white supremacist rally, but there’s hate in CT – The CT Mirror

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Pennsylvania fifth in nation for hate groups – Allentown Morning Call

Pennsylvania is home to more than three dozen hate groups ranging from local chapters of the Ku Klux Klan and a violent skinhead group to anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim organizations, according to a national watchdog group that tracks extremist organizations.

In its annual Intelligence Report, released in February, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported the number of hate groups had surged nationally to 917 in 2016, within 100 of the all-time high recorded in 2011.

Forty of the groups were in Pennsylvania, making it the fifth most active state behind California (79), Florida (63), Texas (55) and New York (47), according to SPLC.

Theres no question about it that theres a decent white supremacist presence all throughout the state, said a senior investigative researcher for the Anti-Defamation League in Philadelphia, who asked that his name not be published because of the nature of his work.

But, he cautioned, white supremacist and other hate groups are difficult to quantify because they exist in shadows and are often little more than clusters of like-minded people who ascribe to the ideology of a larger group. Such pockets of hate group activity exist throughout the state, in urban areas including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and rural places like Potter County, in north-central Pennsylvania, where one of the nations largest neo-Nazi groups has a regional headquarters.

Much of the activity is private or anonymous, such as distributing leaflets in neighborhoods or on college campuses, but in the last year Pennsylvania white supremacist groups have staged public events.

In November, about 50 members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement held an anti-diversity rally on the Pennsylvania Capitol steps, drawing about 200 counter-protesters and dozens of police in riot gear, according to published reports. And in May, the East Coast Knights of the Ku Klux Klan drew attention and protests after their announcement they would burn a cross in rural Lancaster County, although the event happened on private property, according to news reports.

The presence of hate groups in the Lehigh Valley has been visible this year with the arrest of several men following an April raid by federal agents on the home of a known skinhead leader in Phillipsburg, N.J. Federal authorities charged Joshua Steever, 37; Henry Lambert Baird, 49, of Allentown; and Jacob Mark Robards, 40, of Bethlehem and three other men from Maryland and Virginia with drug and weapons trafficking conspiracy.

They were members, prosecutors allege, of Aryan Strikeforce, a skinhead white supremacist organization active throughout Pennsylvania. Steever, Baird and Robards have been convicted of violent felonies, according to court records. Prosecutors allege they transported and sold what they believed was methamphetamine and parts of automatic weapons to earn money for the group.

That was a substantial blow to that organization, but it hasnt made Aryan Strikeforce dissolve altogether, the Anti-Defamation League researcher said.

The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the following hate groups active in Pennsylvania:

peter.hall@mcall.com

Twitter @phall215

610-820-6581

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FBI arrests Oklahoma man after anti-government bomb plot at local bank – PBS NewsHour

Jerry Drake Varnell, is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on Aug. 14, 2017. Photo by Oklahoma Department of Corrections via Reuters

The FBI has arrested an Oklahoma man who took actions to develop and detonate what he thought was a vehicle bomb targeted at a local bank, the Department of Justice said.

Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, was arrested early Saturday morning in Oklahoma City after he was flagged by the FBI in a long-term undercover investigation the agency says revealed the extent of his hatred against the government.

According to court documents, the FBI opened a domestic terrorism investigation when an unnamed source told the agency they believed Varnell was planning to blow up a federal building in Washington, D.C. An undercover FBI agent kept in touch with Varnell via encrypted texts and Facebook messages, offering assistance to advance a plan to assemble an explosives-laden vehicle and drive it to downtown Oklahoma City, the DOJ says.

After Varnell attempted to detonate his bomb which the DOJ said was inert and posed no danger to the public the FBI arrested him.

The DOJ said Varnell initially planned to target the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C., among other buildings in Maryland and Texas. The unnamed source who approached the FBI said Varnell expressed his anger with the government as well as a desire to develop and arm a small militia group, according to the complaint.

According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Varnell was charged with attempting to use explosives to destroy a building in this case, the BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years of imprisonment if convicted, the DOJ said in a statement released Monday.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorneys office says Varnell has not yet been indicted; the office will seek an indictment within the next 30 days.

If the bombing was successful, Varnell had planned to have a message posted on Facebook referencing the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing orchestrated by Timothy McVeigh, the court documents said.

What happened in Oklahoma city was not an attack on America, it was retaliation. Retaliation against the freedoms that have been taken away from the American people, the would-be message said.

In his conversations with the FBI agent, Varnell said he followed the ideology of the Three Percenters, one of the nations largest armed right-wing groups that pledges resistance against the U.S. government. The group is named after the incorrect notion that 3 percent of the colonies population fought in the American Revolution.

The Anti-Defamation League has said that more than 10,000 people identify with the right-wing group, the NewsHour reported in April.

NewsHours P.J. Tobia looks at why armed militia groups are surging across the nation.

Varnell said in one conversation with the undercover agent in June that he wanted to do something that would somehow cripple the government. Something that sends a message that says, You are a target.’

When the agent, at one time, raised the possibility of deaths from the explosion, Varnell responded, You got to break a couple of eggs to make an omelet. Varnell later said he wanted to conduct an attack after closing hours to limit the amount of casualties, the complaint said.

READ MORE: Judge denies bond for suspect in Charlottesville attack at white nationalist rally

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Connecticut no stranger to political protests – WTNH Connecticut News (press release)

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NEW HAVEN (WTNH) The alt-right has had a presence within the state of Connecticut.

Last month, the far right political group known as The Proud Boys faced off with demonstrators on the New Haven Green. Four people were arrested for disorderly conduct.

Earlier this year, an anti-black slur was found on a Stamford interracial couples garage.

Related Content:Stamford couple faces possible arrest for refusing to remove racial graffiti

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says that, although the main groups that were involved in the Unite the Right protests and riots have members theyve tracked locally, the groups are not active.

I cant promise that something like this wont happen here in Connecticut and there arent people who might form groups to tie in with what happened in Charlottesville. But I also know there are hundreds and thousands of people who will form groups to combat and confront that ideology, Steve Ginsburg, Director of the ADL-CT regional office said. The overwhelming sense from our leaders here in Connecticut and the populous is that is not who we want to be.

Related Content:New Haven Green political protesters identified

According to the ADL, there have been 10 anti-Semitic incidents in Connecticut since April. Nationally, there has been an 86% increase.

Hate crimes and convictions have stayed fairly static in the past few years, according to the state.

In June, Connecticut unanimously passed one of the strongest hate crime bills in the country, which makes any hate crime a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor.

Related Content:Hate crime bill passes Connecticut State Senate

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Anti-Defamation League calls for Trump to ‘denounce white supremacy in all forms’ – WJLA

President Donald Trump walk up to the podium to speak to members of the media regarding the ongoing situation in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

The Anti-Defamation League is asking for President Donald Trump to “clearly denounce white supremacy in all forms” following the violence at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left multiple dead and injured.

President Donald Trump condemned the violence in Charlottesville on Twitter hours before he addressed the incident during a press conference in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

Many have said they were not satisfied with the President’s response.

The ADL says they support Trump’s condemnation but wants him to “name the hate” according to their CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.

Below is Greenblatt’s full statement:

“The gathering of extreme hate yesterday in Charlottesville is something we have not seen in at least a decade and it continues a troubling pattern: these extremists are emboldened and are making every effort to exploit their visibility for their hateful cause.

Now is the time for our leadership across the board to name the hate.

This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.

We call on the White House to terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement. They do not serve the values embodied in our Constitution nor the interests of the American people.

We expected this to be the largest white supremacist gathering in the last decade. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of the most violent as well. ADL has been sounding the alarm about domestic terrorism and hate crimes in America. This consistent threat requires consistent resources.

It is long overdue for the President to develop a plan of action to combat white supremacy and all forms of hate, including investing funds in countering violent extremism from all ideological corners. We stand ready to partner in this effort. Without a clear denunciation and plan of action, these bigots are only emboldened.”

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Civil rights leaders demand Trump disavow white supremacists – CNN

“It represents a failure of leadership from the nation’s chief executive,” the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an umbrella group, said in a statement. “It is long past time for Trump to personally and unequivocally denounce white supremacy, violent extremism, and hate in all its forms.”

Vanita Gupta, the Leadership Conference’s president and CEO, said on a conference call with reporters to discuss her group’s demands that supporters of white supremacists “should not serve in the White House or in any level of government.”

Farhana Khera, the president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, said that Bannon and Gorka’s presence in the administration sends the “silent message to extremists to continue their march of terror.”

The White House did not return a request for comment Sunday night.

Before becoming Trump’s campaign chief last summer, Bannon ran the conservative news site Breitbart, which he called “the platform for the alt-right.” Meanwhile, Gorka, a former Breitbart national security editor, has been outspoken on the need to confront Islamist terrorism, drawing fire last week week when he spoke with the news site about terrorism and said white supremacists were not the problem.

“It’s this constant, ‘Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem,'” Gorka said. “No, it isn’t.”

When asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” about Gorka’s comment to Breitbart, Bossert said it was “certainly not” the position of the White House that white supremacy was not a problem and added he was not certain of the context of Gorka’s quote.

“I condemn white supremacists and racists and white Nazi groups and all the other groups that espouse this kind of hatred,” Bossert also said when pressed on the President’s position towards the white supremacists.

A White House official, who requested anonymity and ignored attempts to go on the record, told reporters Sunday that it was obvious the President condemned “white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups” despite Trump not mentioning those groups during his remarks at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Saturday; Trump instead blamed the violence in Charlottesville on “many sides.”

“The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred, and, of course, that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups,” the official said. “He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”

The Leadership Conference’s statement called Trump’s response to the unrest in Charlottesville “weak, insufficient and unacceptable.” Gupta demanded the President personally disavow the white supremacists and call the violence over the weekend “domestic terrorism.” The group added that Bannon and Gorka were responsible for stoking hate and division.

Richard Cohen, the president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, echoed those statements during the conference call.

“President Trump should apologize for what he has done, and he should follow up his apology with concrete actions to un-do the horrible damage that his campaign, his rhetoric and his policies have caused,” Cohen said. “Firing Mr. Bannon and Mr. Gorka would be a sign that he is serious about changing direction.”

Gupta also called for Congress to hold a hearing with the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to address investigate, and root out hate crimes.

The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Council of Churches also participated in the conference call.

In a separate statement Sunday, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum condemned the “violence and neo-Nazi, racist and anti-Semitic symbols and language used by some of the participants” in the protests, which were sparked by the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park. The museum also said neo-Nazism in any form is “antithetical to Americans values and has no place in American society.”

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ADL Calls On Trump To Condemn ‘Extreme Hate’ In Charlottesville – TPM

The Anti-Defamation League on Sunday called on President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacy without hesitation after violence broke out at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The gathering of extreme hate yesterday in Charlottesville is something we have not seen in at least a decade and it continues a troubling pattern,ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement. Now is the time for our leadership across the board to name the hate.

He called on Trump to acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes.

Trump on Saturday did not remark on the white supremacist movement but insteadcalledthe clashes anegregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.

This is a moment that demands moral leadership, Greenblatt said. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation.

We call on the White House to terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists, he added. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement. They do not serve the values embodied in our Constitution nor the interests of the American people.

Greenblattsaid it was long overdue for Trump to develop a plan of action to combat white supremacy and all forms of hate.

We stand ready to partner in this effort, he said. Without a clear denunciation and plan of action, these bigots are only emboldened.

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Former ADL Head Defends Sebastian Gorka on North Korea: ‘I Have No Problem with Gorka’s Reference to the … – Breitbart News

I have no problem with Gorkas reference to the Holocaust. He is not comparing the North Korea situation to the Holocaust, Foxman, who previously served as the national security director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told Jewish Insider. He is quoting a Holocaust survivorsharing a universal lesson of the Holocaustwhen somebody threatens to kill you take him seriously. Too many people in Europe, including the Jews of Europe, did not take Hitler seriously. Gorka is saying, take a lesson from then and take North Korea seriously.

Foxman currently serves as the Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritagein New York.

His remarks came in response to Gorka saying, When a group of people repeatedly says they want to kill you, sooner or later you should take them seriously. Dr. Gorka made the statement while recalling advice hed received from a Holocaust survivor to explain to BBC Radio 4 why he believes North Korea leader Kim Jong-uns repeated nuclear threats should be taken seriously.

What is your one take-home? What is your one lesson learnt from the horrors of the millions killed? Gorka said he asked the unidentified Holocaust survivor. And he said, Its very simple. When a group of people repeatedly says they want to kill you, sooner or later you should take them seriously.’

Iran has made similar threats against the United States with their constant chants of Death to America and Death to Israelconsidered the great and little satansand using the Star of David as a target during ballistic missiletests.

Gorka reportedly also said, North Korea has said they wish to annihilate the United States and use nuclear weapons. Sooner or later someone should take them seriously. The Clinton administration did not do so. The Obama administration did not do so. That stopped on January the 20th. We are not giving in to nuclear blackmail any longer.

President Donald Trump vowed to inflict fire and fury on North Korea if Kim threatened the United States again. The commander in chief also stated, If anything happens to Guam theres going to be big, big trouble in North Korea.

Echoing the strong rhetoric in defense of Guam from the White House, this weekDefense Secretary James Mattis stated, The [Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea] should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.

Guams Homeland Security Department has distributed a two-pagepamphlet titled, In Case of EmergencyPreparing for Imminent Missile Threat,advising the islands residents how to prepare and react in case North Koreafollows through on Kims threats tolaunch anuclear strike against the U.S. territory.

While there is no way to confirm whether North Koreas regime would use a nuclear weapon in a potential attack on Guam, it is worth noting that Kims threat to Guam hinted at the use of conventional missile strikes and did not specifically refer to nuclear weapons.

Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her onFacebookandTwitter.

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Crash suspect’s ex-teacher says he idolized Hitler, Nazism – ABC News

The young man accused of plowing a car into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally was fascinated with Nazism, idolized Adolf Hitler, and had been singled out by school officials in the 9th grade for his “deeply held, radical” convictions on race, a former high school teacher said Sunday.

James Alex Fields Jr. also confided that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was younger and had been prescribed an anti-psychotic medication, Derek Weimer said in an interview with The Associated Press.

In high school, Fields was an “average” student, but with a keen interest in military history, Hitler, and Nazi Germany, said Weimer, who said he was Fields’ social studies teacher at Randall K. Cooper high school in Union, Kentucky, in Fields’ junior and senior years.

“Once you talked to James for a while, you would start to see that sympathy towards Nazism, that idolization of Hitler, that belief in white supremacy,” Weimer said. “It would start to creep out.”

Police charged Fields with second-degree murder and other counts for allegedly driving his silver Dodge Challenger through a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, killing a 32-year-old woman and wounding at least 19 other people. A Virginia State Police helicopter deployed in a large-scale police response to the violence then crashed into the woods outside of town and both troopers on board died.

The 20-year-old Fields had been photographed hours earlier carrying the emblem of Vanguard America, one of the hate groups that organized the “take America back” campaign in protest of the removal of a Confederate statue. The group on Sunday denied any association with the suspect, even as a separate hate group that organized Saturday’s rally pledged on social media to organize future events that would be “bigger than Charlottesville.”

The mayor of Charlottesville, political leaders of all political stripes, and activists and community organizers around the country planned rallies, vigils and education campaigns to combat the hate groups. They also urged President Donald Trump to forcefully denounce the organizations, some of which specifically cited Trump’s election after a campaign of racially charged rhetoric as validation of their beliefs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced late Saturday that federal authorities would pursue a civil rights investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash.

Weimer recalled that school officials had singled out Fields when he was in 9th grade for his political beliefs and “deeply held, radical” convictions on race and Nazism.

“It was a known issue,” he said.

Weimer said Fields left school for a while, and when he came back he was quieter about politics until his senior year, when politicians started to declare their candidacy for the 2016 presidential race. Weimer said Fields was a big Trump supporter because of what he believed to be Trump’s views on race. Trump’s proposal to build a border wall with Mexico was particularly appealing to Fields, Weimer said. Fields also admired the Confederacy for its military prowess, he said, though they never spoke about slavery.

As a senior, Fields wanted to join the army, and Weimer, a former officer in the Ohio National Guard, guided him through the process of applying, he said, believing that the military would expose Fields to people of different races and backgrounds and help him dispel his white supremacist views. But Fields was ultimately turned down, which was a big blow, Weimer said. Weimer said he lost contact with Fields after he graduated and was surprised to hear reports that Fields had enlisted in the army.

“The Army can confirm that James Alex Fields reported for basic military training in August of 2015, said Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson. “He was, however, released from active duty due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015,” she said.

Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, told the AP late Saturday that she knew her son was going to Virginia for a political rally, but she had no idea it involved white supremacists.

“I just told him to be careful,” she said, adding she warned him that if there were protests “to make sure he’s doing it peacefully.”

“I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” said Bloom, speaking from the condominium in Maumee, Ohio, where she had lived with her son until he moved out a few months ago.

In photos taken before the rally, Fields was shown standing Saturday with a half-dozen other men, all wearing the Vanguard America uniform of khakis and white polo shirts. The men held white shields with Vanguard America’s black-and-white logo of two crossed axes. The Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee was in the background.

The photo was taken about 10:30 a.m. Saturday just hours before authorities say Fields crashed his car into the crowd at 1:42 p.m. The Anti-Defamation League says Vanguard America believes the U.S. is an exclusively white nation, and uses propaganda to recruit young white men online and on college campuses.

In a Twitter post, the group said it had handed out the shields “to anyone in attendance who wanted them,” and denied Fields was a member. “All our members are safe an (sic) accounted for, with no arrests or charges.”

In blog posts after the violence, the Daily Stormer, a leading white nationalist website that promoted the Charlottesville event, pledged to hold more events “soon.”

“We are going to start doing this nonstop,” the post said. “We are going to go bigger than Charlottesville. We are going to go huge.”

Saturday’s chaos erupted as neo-Nazis, skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and other white supremacist groups arrived for the rally. Counter-protesters were also on hand, and the two sides clashed, with people throwing punches, hurling water bottles and unleashing chemical sprays. Officials have not provided a crowd estimate but it appeared to number well over 1,000.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, police in riot gear ordered people out of the streets, and helicopters circled overhead. Then, as the counter-protesters marched a few blocks from the statue, the Dodge Challenger tore into the crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer as she was crossing the street.

Hours later, the helicopter crashed, killing two state police troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Berke M.M. Bates, one day shy of his 41st birthday.

Trump criticized the violence in a tweet Saturday, followed by a news conference and a call for “a swift restoration of law and order.”

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” he said.

The “on many sides” ending of his statement drew the ire of his critics, who said he failed to specifically denounce white supremacy and equated those who came to protest racism with the white supremacists.

Trump “needs to come out stronger” against the actions of white supremacists, McAuliffe told reporters at the First Baptist Church in Charlottesville on Sunday. “They are Nazis and they are here to hurt American citizens, and he needs to call them out for what they are, no question.”

Associated Press writers Alan Suderman in Richmond, Virginia; Heidi Brown in Charlottesville, Virginia; Claire Galofaro in Louisville, Kentucky; John Seewer in Maumee, Ohio; and AP News Research associate Monika Mathur in New York contributed to this report.

This story has been corrected to show that Derek Weimer said that James Alex Fields Jr. was a big Trump supporter, not that Weimer was.

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It may not be ripe for a large white supremacist rally, but there’s hate in CT – The CT Mirror

MARKESHIA RICKS / New Haven Independent Nearly 300 people gathered Sunday at Chapel and Church streets in New Haven, one of several rallies around the state to protest white supremacist violence and hate. Washington Connecticut may not be fertile ground for a white supremacist rally like the one that turned violent in Charlottesville, Va., but the state is not immune to hate. The Southern Poverty Law Center, headquartered in Montgomery, Ala., says there are several active hate groups in the state. Perhaps the leading white supremacist figure fromthe stateis KennethZrallack, described by the Anti-Defamation League as one of the founders of the White Lives Matter movement, a small network of hardcore white supremacists with connections to a variety of hate groups. Zrallack and his brother Matthew organized the Connecticut White Wolves shortly after their graduation from high school in Stratford. In 2004, ADL called the group a collection of racist skinheads that has grown into the largest and most active extremist group in the state, promoting an ideology espousing hatred of Jews and racial and ethnic minorities. Members, though typically young, have been involved in a number of criminal acts in Connecticut and have forged ties with nationally recognized hate groups, including the National Alliance, the Creativity Movement, White Revolution and the Ku Klux Klan, the ADL said. The White Wolves seemed to disband after Ken Zrallack was arrested in 2010 and charged withconspiring to sell guns and hand grenades to an FBI informant brokering a deal for a Ku Klux Klan offshoot. A jury acquitted him of those charges. Zrallack then became one of the very first activists in the White Lives Matter movement in the spring of 2015, the ADL said. That movement was a reaction to the Black Lives Matter movement that grew out of frustration at a spate of police killings of black youth. A chapter of the ACT for America in Cheshire is also considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The center said that in the nine years since it was founded by Brigitte Gabriel, ACT, which stands for American Congress for Truth, has grown into far and away the largest grassroots anti-Muslim group in America. The group says it is planning a number of America First rallies across the nation on Sept. 9. The nationalgroup has condemned the violence in Charlottesville, which resulted in the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer. MARKESHIA RICKS / New Haven Independent Jesus Morales-Sanchez, an organizer with Unidad Latina en Accion, speaks to the crowd Sunday in New Haven. ACT for America stands squarely with the rights of all Americans to peacefully rally on behalf of their own beliefs, or in opposition to those of others, Gabriel said. Heather Heyer was murdered for her beliefs, and we join in sorrow with her family and friends. Her killer will be brought to justice, and while that cannot undo what has been done, it sends a powerful signal to the forces of hate and intolerance that they will be dealt with swiftly and according to the American rule of law. The third Connecticut hate group identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center is a black separatist organization known as the New Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The SPLC calls the organization a virulently racist and anti-Semitic organization whose leaders have encouraged violence against whites, Jews and law enforcement officers. Connecticut is more likely to hold rallies in support of those who are the targets of hate groups, like it did in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, said Steve Ginsburg, ADL Connecticut regional director. He said white supremacists are not a real force in Connecticut, but there are people in every state with extremist ideologies who connect with others over the Internet. I dont think we are ripe to be the next Charlottesville, but I could be wrong, Ginsburg said. The state legislature voted unanimously this year to toughen Connecticuts hate crime laws. But still, there is evidence of hate in the state. In February, hundreds of printed fliers from a white supremacist group were found on driveways and in mailboxes along the Newtown Turnpike in Weston, Wilton, Westport and Norwalk. The fliers read, We must secure the existence of our race and a future for white children. Make America White Again. There are also dozens of hate crimes reported each year to the state police, a requirement of Connecticuts hate crime laws. Reports from 2003 to 2012 show a slight increase in hate crimes, with 166 reported in 2012. But the FBI says that two-thirds or more of these types of crimes go unreported. Tom Condon / CTMirror.org An anti-hate rally in West Hartford Sunday Bridgeport author Andy Piascik, who has written about the Ku Klux Klans history in Connecticut, said its difficult for the United States to shake off the white supremacist movement. The ideology of white supremacy is a central aspect of U.S. history, he said. The society was founded on the slavery of African Americans and we live with that legacy today. The Ku Klux Klan appeared first in Connecticut in the 1920s, he said, when there was concern about continued immigration of Italians, Poles and Jews from Europe, increasing labor unrest and large socialist and anarchist organizations who tried to appeal to everyone. The latest Klan rallies in the state occurred in the early 1980s, but counter-protesters vastly outnumbered the marchers. Today, counter-protesters in Connecticut would significantly outnumber the white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Piascik said. The sort of KKK-type groups are likely to be small in Connecticut, Piascik said. But look at how quickly they came out of the woodwork (in Charlottesville.) They want to announce to the world we are here. Steve Thornton, a retired labor organizer in West Hartford who has written about fascism in America, predicted the violence in Charlottesville is going to spur more, not fewer, hate crimes.

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Pennsylvania fifth in nation for hate groups – Allentown Morning Call

Pennsylvania is home to more than three dozen hate groups ranging from local chapters of the Ku Klux Klan and a violent skinhead group to anti-LGBT and anti-Muslim organizations, according to a national watchdog group that tracks extremist organizations. In its annual Intelligence Report, released in February, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported the number of hate groups had surged nationally to 917 in 2016, within 100 of the all-time high recorded in 2011. Forty of the groups were in Pennsylvania, making it the fifth most active state behind California (79), Florida (63), Texas (55) and New York (47), according to SPLC. Theres no question about it that theres a decent white supremacist presence all throughout the state, said a senior investigative researcher for the Anti-Defamation League in Philadelphia, who asked that his name not be published because of the nature of his work. But, he cautioned, white supremacist and other hate groups are difficult to quantify because they exist in shadows and are often little more than clusters of like-minded people who ascribe to the ideology of a larger group. Such pockets of hate group activity exist throughout the state, in urban areas including Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and rural places like Potter County, in north-central Pennsylvania, where one of the nations largest neo-Nazi groups has a regional headquarters. Much of the activity is private or anonymous, such as distributing leaflets in neighborhoods or on college campuses, but in the last year Pennsylvania white supremacist groups have staged public events. In November, about 50 members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement held an anti-diversity rally on the Pennsylvania Capitol steps, drawing about 200 counter-protesters and dozens of police in riot gear, according to published reports. And in May, the East Coast Knights of the Ku Klux Klan drew attention and protests after their announcement they would burn a cross in rural Lancaster County, although the event happened on private property, according to news reports. The presence of hate groups in the Lehigh Valley has been visible this year with the arrest of several men following an April raid by federal agents on the home of a known skinhead leader in Phillipsburg, N.J. Federal authorities charged Joshua Steever, 37; Henry Lambert Baird, 49, of Allentown; and Jacob Mark Robards, 40, of Bethlehem and three other men from Maryland and Virginia with drug and weapons trafficking conspiracy. They were members, prosecutors allege, of Aryan Strikeforce, a skinhead white supremacist organization active throughout Pennsylvania. Steever, Baird and Robards have been convicted of violent felonies, according to court records. Prosecutors allege they transported and sold what they believed was methamphetamine and parts of automatic weapons to earn money for the group. That was a substantial blow to that organization, but it hasnt made Aryan Strikeforce dissolve altogether, the Anti-Defamation League researcher said. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists the following hate groups active in Pennsylvania: peter.hall@mcall.com Twitter @phall215 610-820-6581

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August 14, 2017   Posted in: Anti-Defamation League  Comments Closed

FBI arrests Oklahoma man after anti-government bomb plot at local bank – PBS NewsHour

Jerry Drake Varnell, is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on Aug. 14, 2017. Photo by Oklahoma Department of Corrections via Reuters The FBI has arrested an Oklahoma man who took actions to develop and detonate what he thought was a vehicle bomb targeted at a local bank, the Department of Justice said. Jerry Drake Varnell, 23, was arrested early Saturday morning in Oklahoma City after he was flagged by the FBI in a long-term undercover investigation the agency says revealed the extent of his hatred against the government. According to court documents, the FBI opened a domestic terrorism investigation when an unnamed source told the agency they believed Varnell was planning to blow up a federal building in Washington, D.C. An undercover FBI agent kept in touch with Varnell via encrypted texts and Facebook messages, offering assistance to advance a plan to assemble an explosives-laden vehicle and drive it to downtown Oklahoma City, the DOJ says. After Varnell attempted to detonate his bomb which the DOJ said was inert and posed no danger to the public the FBI arrested him. The DOJ said Varnell initially planned to target the Federal Reserve Building in Washington, D.C., among other buildings in Maryland and Texas. The unnamed source who approached the FBI said Varnell expressed his anger with the government as well as a desire to develop and arm a small militia group, according to the complaint. According to a criminal complaint filed in federal court, Varnell was charged with attempting to use explosives to destroy a building in this case, the BancFirst in downtown Oklahoma City. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years of imprisonment if convicted, the DOJ said in a statement released Monday. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorneys office says Varnell has not yet been indicted; the office will seek an indictment within the next 30 days. If the bombing was successful, Varnell had planned to have a message posted on Facebook referencing the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing orchestrated by Timothy McVeigh, the court documents said. What happened in Oklahoma city was not an attack on America, it was retaliation. Retaliation against the freedoms that have been taken away from the American people, the would-be message said. In his conversations with the FBI agent, Varnell said he followed the ideology of the Three Percenters, one of the nations largest armed right-wing groups that pledges resistance against the U.S. government. The group is named after the incorrect notion that 3 percent of the colonies population fought in the American Revolution. The Anti-Defamation League has said that more than 10,000 people identify with the right-wing group, the NewsHour reported in April. NewsHours P.J. Tobia looks at why armed militia groups are surging across the nation. Varnell said in one conversation with the undercover agent in June that he wanted to do something that would somehow cripple the government. Something that sends a message that says, You are a target.’ When the agent, at one time, raised the possibility of deaths from the explosion, Varnell responded, You got to break a couple of eggs to make an omelet. Varnell later said he wanted to conduct an attack after closing hours to limit the amount of casualties, the complaint said. READ MORE: Judge denies bond for suspect in Charlottesville attack at white nationalist rally

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Connecticut no stranger to political protests – WTNH Connecticut News (press release)

Related Coverage NEW HAVEN (WTNH) The alt-right has had a presence within the state of Connecticut. Last month, the far right political group known as The Proud Boys faced off with demonstrators on the New Haven Green. Four people were arrested for disorderly conduct. Earlier this year, an anti-black slur was found on a Stamford interracial couples garage. Related Content:Stamford couple faces possible arrest for refusing to remove racial graffiti The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says that, although the main groups that were involved in the Unite the Right protests and riots have members theyve tracked locally, the groups are not active. I cant promise that something like this wont happen here in Connecticut and there arent people who might form groups to tie in with what happened in Charlottesville. But I also know there are hundreds and thousands of people who will form groups to combat and confront that ideology, Steve Ginsburg, Director of the ADL-CT regional office said. The overwhelming sense from our leaders here in Connecticut and the populous is that is not who we want to be. Related Content:New Haven Green political protesters identified According to the ADL, there have been 10 anti-Semitic incidents in Connecticut since April. Nationally, there has been an 86% increase. Hate crimes and convictions have stayed fairly static in the past few years, according to the state. In June, Connecticut unanimously passed one of the strongest hate crime bills in the country, which makes any hate crime a felony as opposed to a misdemeanor. Related Content:Hate crime bill passes Connecticut State Senate Like Loading…

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Anti-Defamation League calls for Trump to ‘denounce white supremacy in all forms’ – WJLA

President Donald Trump walk up to the podium to speak to members of the media regarding the ongoing situation in Charlottesville, Va., Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017 at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais) The Anti-Defamation League is asking for President Donald Trump to “clearly denounce white supremacy in all forms” following the violence at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left multiple dead and injured. President Donald Trump condemned the violence in Charlottesville on Twitter hours before he addressed the incident during a press conference in New Jersey on Saturday afternoon saying, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” Many have said they were not satisfied with the President’s response. The ADL says they support Trump’s condemnation but wants him to “name the hate” according to their CEO Jonathan Greenblatt. Below is Greenblatt’s full statement: “The gathering of extreme hate yesterday in Charlottesville is something we have not seen in at least a decade and it continues a troubling pattern: these extremists are emboldened and are making every effort to exploit their visibility for their hateful cause. Now is the time for our leadership across the board to name the hate. This is a moment that demands moral leadership. President Trump should acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation. We call on the White House to terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement. They do not serve the values embodied in our Constitution nor the interests of the American people. We expected this to be the largest white supremacist gathering in the last decade. Unfortunately, it turned out to be one of the most violent as well. ADL has been sounding the alarm about domestic terrorism and hate crimes in America. This consistent threat requires consistent resources. It is long overdue for the President to develop a plan of action to combat white supremacy and all forms of hate, including investing funds in countering violent extremism from all ideological corners. We stand ready to partner in this effort. Without a clear denunciation and plan of action, these bigots are only emboldened.”

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Civil rights leaders demand Trump disavow white supremacists – CNN

“It represents a failure of leadership from the nation’s chief executive,” the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, an umbrella group, said in a statement. “It is long past time for Trump to personally and unequivocally denounce white supremacy, violent extremism, and hate in all its forms.” Vanita Gupta, the Leadership Conference’s president and CEO, said on a conference call with reporters to discuss her group’s demands that supporters of white supremacists “should not serve in the White House or in any level of government.” Farhana Khera, the president and executive director of Muslim Advocates, said that Bannon and Gorka’s presence in the administration sends the “silent message to extremists to continue their march of terror.” The White House did not return a request for comment Sunday night. Before becoming Trump’s campaign chief last summer, Bannon ran the conservative news site Breitbart, which he called “the platform for the alt-right.” Meanwhile, Gorka, a former Breitbart national security editor, has been outspoken on the need to confront Islamist terrorism, drawing fire last week week when he spoke with the news site about terrorism and said white supremacists were not the problem. “It’s this constant, ‘Oh, it’s the white man. It’s the white supremacists. That’s the problem,'” Gorka said. “No, it isn’t.” When asked on CNN’s “State of the Union” about Gorka’s comment to Breitbart, Bossert said it was “certainly not” the position of the White House that white supremacy was not a problem and added he was not certain of the context of Gorka’s quote. “I condemn white supremacists and racists and white Nazi groups and all the other groups that espouse this kind of hatred,” Bossert also said when pressed on the President’s position towards the white supremacists. A White House official, who requested anonymity and ignored attempts to go on the record, told reporters Sunday that it was obvious the President condemned “white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups” despite Trump not mentioning those groups during his remarks at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Saturday; Trump instead blamed the violence in Charlottesville on “many sides.” “The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred, and, of course, that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups,” the official said. “He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.” The Leadership Conference’s statement called Trump’s response to the unrest in Charlottesville “weak, insufficient and unacceptable.” Gupta demanded the President personally disavow the white supremacists and call the violence over the weekend “domestic terrorism.” The group added that Bannon and Gorka were responsible for stoking hate and division. Richard Cohen, the president and CEO of the Southern Poverty Law Center, echoed those statements during the conference call. “President Trump should apologize for what he has done, and he should follow up his apology with concrete actions to un-do the horrible damage that his campaign, his rhetoric and his policies have caused,” Cohen said. “Firing Mr. Bannon and Mr. Gorka would be a sign that he is serious about changing direction.” Gupta also called for Congress to hold a hearing with the departments of Justice and Homeland Security to address investigate, and root out hate crimes. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign, and the National Council of Churches also participated in the conference call. In a separate statement Sunday, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum condemned the “violence and neo-Nazi, racist and anti-Semitic symbols and language used by some of the participants” in the protests, which were sparked by the city’s plans to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a downtown park. The museum also said neo-Nazism in any form is “antithetical to Americans values and has no place in American society.”

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ADL Calls On Trump To Condemn ‘Extreme Hate’ In Charlottesville – TPM

The Anti-Defamation League on Sunday called on President Donald Trump to condemn white supremacy without hesitation after violence broke out at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The gathering of extreme hate yesterday in Charlottesville is something we have not seen in at least a decade and it continues a troubling pattern,ADL CEO Jonathan A. Greenblatt said in a statement. Now is the time for our leadership across the board to name the hate. He called on Trump to acknowledge that this is not a matter of equivalence between two sides with similar gripes. Trump on Saturday did not remark on the white supremacist movement but insteadcalledthe clashes anegregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. This is a moment that demands moral leadership, Greenblatt said. There is no rationalizing white supremacy and no room for this vile bigotry. It is un-American and it needs to be condemned without hesitation. We call on the White House to terminate all staff with any ties to these extremists, he added. There is no rationale for employing people who excuse hateful rhetoric and ugly incitement. They do not serve the values embodied in our Constitution nor the interests of the American people. Greenblattsaid it was long overdue for Trump to develop a plan of action to combat white supremacy and all forms of hate. We stand ready to partner in this effort, he said. Without a clear denunciation and plan of action, these bigots are only emboldened.

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Former ADL Head Defends Sebastian Gorka on North Korea: ‘I Have No Problem with Gorka’s Reference to the … – Breitbart News

I have no problem with Gorkas reference to the Holocaust. He is not comparing the North Korea situation to the Holocaust, Foxman, who previously served as the national security director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told Jewish Insider. He is quoting a Holocaust survivorsharing a universal lesson of the Holocaustwhen somebody threatens to kill you take him seriously. Too many people in Europe, including the Jews of Europe, did not take Hitler seriously. Gorka is saying, take a lesson from then and take North Korea seriously. Foxman currently serves as the Director of Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Museum of Jewish Heritagein New York. His remarks came in response to Gorka saying, When a group of people repeatedly says they want to kill you, sooner or later you should take them seriously. Dr. Gorka made the statement while recalling advice hed received from a Holocaust survivor to explain to BBC Radio 4 why he believes North Korea leader Kim Jong-uns repeated nuclear threats should be taken seriously. What is your one take-home? What is your one lesson learnt from the horrors of the millions killed? Gorka said he asked the unidentified Holocaust survivor. And he said, Its very simple. When a group of people repeatedly says they want to kill you, sooner or later you should take them seriously.’ Iran has made similar threats against the United States with their constant chants of Death to America and Death to Israelconsidered the great and little satansand using the Star of David as a target during ballistic missiletests. Gorka reportedly also said, North Korea has said they wish to annihilate the United States and use nuclear weapons. Sooner or later someone should take them seriously. The Clinton administration did not do so. The Obama administration did not do so. That stopped on January the 20th. We are not giving in to nuclear blackmail any longer. President Donald Trump vowed to inflict fire and fury on North Korea if Kim threatened the United States again. The commander in chief also stated, If anything happens to Guam theres going to be big, big trouble in North Korea. Echoing the strong rhetoric in defense of Guam from the White House, this weekDefense Secretary James Mattis stated, The [Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea] should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people. Guams Homeland Security Department has distributed a two-pagepamphlet titled, In Case of EmergencyPreparing for Imminent Missile Threat,advising the islands residents how to prepare and react in case North Koreafollows through on Kims threats tolaunch anuclear strike against the U.S. territory. While there is no way to confirm whether North Koreas regime would use a nuclear weapon in a potential attack on Guam, it is worth noting that Kims threat to Guam hinted at the use of conventional missile strikes and did not specifically refer to nuclear weapons. Adelle Nazarian is a politics and national security reporter for Breitbart News. Follow her onFacebookandTwitter. P.S. DO YOU WANT MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ONE DELIVERED RIGHT TO YOUR INBOX?SIGN UP FOR THE DAILY BREITBART NEWSLETTER.

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Crash suspect’s ex-teacher says he idolized Hitler, Nazism – ABC News

The young man accused of plowing a car into a crowd of people protesting a white supremacist rally was fascinated with Nazism, idolized Adolf Hitler, and had been singled out by school officials in the 9th grade for his “deeply held, radical” convictions on race, a former high school teacher said Sunday. James Alex Fields Jr. also confided that he had been diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was younger and had been prescribed an anti-psychotic medication, Derek Weimer said in an interview with The Associated Press. In high school, Fields was an “average” student, but with a keen interest in military history, Hitler, and Nazi Germany, said Weimer, who said he was Fields’ social studies teacher at Randall K. Cooper high school in Union, Kentucky, in Fields’ junior and senior years. “Once you talked to James for a while, you would start to see that sympathy towards Nazism, that idolization of Hitler, that belief in white supremacy,” Weimer said. “It would start to creep out.” Police charged Fields with second-degree murder and other counts for allegedly driving his silver Dodge Challenger through a crowd of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, killing a 32-year-old woman and wounding at least 19 other people. A Virginia State Police helicopter deployed in a large-scale police response to the violence then crashed into the woods outside of town and both troopers on board died. The 20-year-old Fields had been photographed hours earlier carrying the emblem of Vanguard America, one of the hate groups that organized the “take America back” campaign in protest of the removal of a Confederate statue. The group on Sunday denied any association with the suspect, even as a separate hate group that organized Saturday’s rally pledged on social media to organize future events that would be “bigger than Charlottesville.” The mayor of Charlottesville, political leaders of all political stripes, and activists and community organizers around the country planned rallies, vigils and education campaigns to combat the hate groups. They also urged President Donald Trump to forcefully denounce the organizations, some of which specifically cited Trump’s election after a campaign of racially charged rhetoric as validation of their beliefs. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced late Saturday that federal authorities would pursue a civil rights investigation into the circumstances surrounding the crash. Weimer recalled that school officials had singled out Fields when he was in 9th grade for his political beliefs and “deeply held, radical” convictions on race and Nazism. “It was a known issue,” he said. Weimer said Fields left school for a while, and when he came back he was quieter about politics until his senior year, when politicians started to declare their candidacy for the 2016 presidential race. Weimer said Fields was a big Trump supporter because of what he believed to be Trump’s views on race. Trump’s proposal to build a border wall with Mexico was particularly appealing to Fields, Weimer said. Fields also admired the Confederacy for its military prowess, he said, though they never spoke about slavery. As a senior, Fields wanted to join the army, and Weimer, a former officer in the Ohio National Guard, guided him through the process of applying, he said, believing that the military would expose Fields to people of different races and backgrounds and help him dispel his white supremacist views. But Fields was ultimately turned down, which was a big blow, Weimer said. Weimer said he lost contact with Fields after he graduated and was surprised to hear reports that Fields had enlisted in the army. “The Army can confirm that James Alex Fields reported for basic military training in August of 2015, said Army spokeswoman Lt. Col. Jennifer Johnson. “He was, however, released from active duty due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015,” she said. Fields’ mother, Samantha Bloom, told the AP late Saturday that she knew her son was going to Virginia for a political rally, but she had no idea it involved white supremacists. “I just told him to be careful,” she said, adding she warned him that if there were protests “to make sure he’s doing it peacefully.” “I thought it had something to do with Trump. Trump’s not a white supremacist,” said Bloom, speaking from the condominium in Maumee, Ohio, where she had lived with her son until he moved out a few months ago. In photos taken before the rally, Fields was shown standing Saturday with a half-dozen other men, all wearing the Vanguard America uniform of khakis and white polo shirts. The men held white shields with Vanguard America’s black-and-white logo of two crossed axes. The Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee was in the background. The photo was taken about 10:30 a.m. Saturday just hours before authorities say Fields crashed his car into the crowd at 1:42 p.m. The Anti-Defamation League says Vanguard America believes the U.S. is an exclusively white nation, and uses propaganda to recruit young white men online and on college campuses. In a Twitter post, the group said it had handed out the shields “to anyone in attendance who wanted them,” and denied Fields was a member. “All our members are safe an (sic) accounted for, with no arrests or charges.” In blog posts after the violence, the Daily Stormer, a leading white nationalist website that promoted the Charlottesville event, pledged to hold more events “soon.” “We are going to start doing this nonstop,” the post said. “We are going to go bigger than Charlottesville. We are going to go huge.” Saturday’s chaos erupted as neo-Nazis, skinheads, Ku Klux Klan members and other white supremacist groups arrived for the rally. Counter-protesters were also on hand, and the two sides clashed, with people throwing punches, hurling water bottles and unleashing chemical sprays. Officials have not provided a crowd estimate but it appeared to number well over 1,000. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency, police in riot gear ordered people out of the streets, and helicopters circled overhead. Then, as the counter-protesters marched a few blocks from the statue, the Dodge Challenger tore into the crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer as she was crossing the street. Hours later, the helicopter crashed, killing two state police troopers, Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Berke M.M. Bates, one day shy of his 41st birthday. Trump criticized the violence in a tweet Saturday, followed by a news conference and a call for “a swift restoration of law and order.” “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” he said. The “on many sides” ending of his statement drew the ire of his critics, who said he failed to specifically denounce white supremacy and equated those who came to protest racism with the white supremacists. Trump “needs to come out stronger” against the actions of white supremacists, McAuliffe told reporters at the First Baptist Church in Charlottesville on Sunday. “They are Nazis and they are here to hurt American citizens, and he needs to call them out for what they are, no question.” Associated Press writers Alan Suderman in Richmond, Virginia; Heidi Brown in Charlottesville, Virginia; Claire Galofaro in Louisville, Kentucky; John Seewer in Maumee, Ohio; and AP News Research associate Monika Mathur in New York contributed to this report. This story has been corrected to show that Derek Weimer said that James Alex Fields Jr. was a big Trump supporter, not that Weimer was.

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