Nazis go to court

It’s a busy week ahead for neo-Nazis and other extremists facing charges in federal courts across the nation. Here's what you need to know.

Hi, and welcome to The Informant, a publication covering hate and extremism in America, written and edited by me, Nick R. Martin.

Today marks one month since The Informant launched, and I want to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has signed up and supported the publication already. You’re part of something exciting. You’re proving that independent journalism on important topics like these can thrive. I’m looking forward to the months to come, and I hope you are too.

If you’re reading this and haven’t signed up for The Informant yet, please take a moment to do so. It’s free and really easy to do. Eventually, I’ll have ways that you can support my work financially, but for now, the biggest thing you can do is to sign up.

Oh yeah, and don’t forget to click the little heart icon at the top of this post. It shows me that you appreciate the work and want to see more of it.


Nazis go to court

A LOOK AHEAD… Starting today, it’s going to be a busy week for neo-Nazis and other assorted extremists facing charges in federal courts across the nation. The victims in the cases include religious institutions, a politician, a gay bar, an abortion clinic, and more.

Here’s what you need to know about what’s on the calendar in the world of hate and extremism (all times local):

TODAY

Yousef Omar Barasneh, an alleged member of the neo-Nazi group The Base who is accused of vandalizing a synagogue, is scheduled to be arraigned at 10 a.m. in Milwaukee.

MONDAY

Samuel James Gulick, who is accused of vandalizing and firebombing a Planned Parenthood clinic, is scheduled to face a detention hearing at 11 a.m. in Wilmington, Delaware.

Holden James Matthews, a white man accused of setting fire to three predominantly black churches, is scheduled for a change of plea hearing at 11 a.m. in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Conor Climo, an alleged affiliate of the neo-Nazi group Feuerkrieg Division who admitted to plotting attacks on a synagogue and a gay bar, is scheduled for a change of plea hearing at 10:30 a.m. in Las Vegas.

Jarrett William Smith, an Army soldier and self-described Satanic neo-Nazi who is accused of distributing bomb-making plans online and suggesting targets like CNN headquarters and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, is scheduled for a change of plea hearing at 1:30 p.m. in Topeka, Kansas.

FEBRUARY 13

Fred Arena, who pleaded guilty to lying to the government about his membership in the neo-Nazi group Vanguard America, is scheduled to be sentenced at 10 a.m. in Philadelphia.


JOURNALISM WITH IMPACT… On Tuesday, I brought you the scoop that an Arizona man named Jan Peter Meister had been arrested on suspicion of threatening to kill Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead prosecutor in President Trump’s impeachment trial. The news made a big splash, even in the midst of a busy cycle with the Iowa caucuses and the president’s State of the Union address. Outlets across the nation followed The Informant on the story. Here are a few of the places that cited my reporting: The Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times, The Hill, Politico, The Daily Beast, Talking Points Memo, Los Angeles Magazine, Vox, Daily Mail, Raw Story, and Mother Jones.

In Arizona, the nonprofit Tucson Sentinel also picked up the story and managed to get a quote from Meister’s attorney, Brad Roach:

"Mr. Meister is looking forward to proving that he did not engage in any criminal conduct and being acquitted at trial," defense attorney Roach told TucsonSentinel.com on Tuesday. Roach declined to comment in detail regarding the charges.

Meister’s trial is scheduled to begin March 9.


Also on my radar…

DEFENSE SPEAKS OUT… “Bombs, drugs, white supremacist lit part of case against Niagara Falls man,” by Lou Michel of the Buffalo News: “The federal government says Jeffrey Richards is a self-proclaimed white supremacist who makes bombs, sell drugs, owns a small arsenal of guns and holds membership in an outlaw biker gang.

“In a photo posted on Facebook, Richards holds his right arm up in a Nazi-style salute between two friends, one wearing a T-shirt with a Confederate flag image and the other holding a Viking horn.

Yet, his defenders say the 29-year-old Niagara Falls man is mentally troubled, possesses a heart of gold and is willing to do anything to please others, even if it leads him into bad company.”

RELATED: “Defense Attorney: Niagara Falls man is not a terrorist”

WHITE SUPREMACIST ARRESTED… “Portland man arrested, charged with rape of 4 women,” by Jayati Ramakrishnan of The Oregonian: “Court records say [Anthony] Swift was a co-founder of the Krude Rude Brood, a white supremacist gang based out of Portland.”

CALIFORNIA CHAOS… “Pro-Trump group disrupts forum,” by the Antelope Valley Press: “The agitators called Muslims un-American and tried to remove a woman’s hijab…”

HATE GROUP MEMBER GETS GOVERNMENT SEAT… “Fennville commissioner's links to controversial Proud Boys group splits town,” by Francis X. Donnelly of The Detroit News: “Within a week of the Dec. 2 appointment, it was discovered [Morgan] Bolles has a long criminal record and belongs to the Proud Boys, which several civil rights organizations describe as a hate group.”

RELATED: “Proud Boys Leader Has Raised Basically No Money for Miami Congressional Run”

THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT? … “Google is selling (and profiting from) QAnon apps despite prohibiting apps with content that ‘incites violence’,” by Alex Kaplan at Media Matters for America: “Google is making money off of multiple apps in its Google Play Store that promote the QAnon conspiracy theory, even though Google prohibits apps that can incite violence and an FBI field office has listed the conspiracy theory — multiple adherents of which have committed violent acts — as a potential domestic terrorism threat.”

UPPING THE ANTE… “Racially-motivated violent extremists elevated to ‘national threat priority,’ FBI director says”

SIKH DEPUTY SHOT… “Detectives Investigating ‘Ambush’ on Deputy as Possible Hate Crime”

LOOKING FOR MOTIVE… “CAIR calls for probe of bias motive in vandalism against Islamic Center of Charleston”

TWO TRIALS FOR ‘WHITE RABBITS’ MILITIA LEADER… “Alleged domestic terrorist faces two trials after judge's ruling”

LEAGUE OF THE SOUTH… “N.C. State Bar says Walkertown lawyer and onetime leader of white supremacist group is not cooperating with investigation into his alleged mishandling of client funds”

ROOF’S APPEAL… “Dylann Roof’s lawyers revive mental health defense in latest court papers”

A WANTED MAN… “Lexington [Kentucky] police investigating possible hate crime”

ATOMWAFFEN CASE… “Former neo-Nazi accused of killing roommates appears to choke himself in court”

NEW DIRECTIVE IN LOS ANGELES… “LA City Council Passes Hate Crime Prevention Legislation”

ANTI-MUSLIM FACEBOOK PAGES… “Far-right 'hate factory' still active on Facebook despite pledge to stop it”


Have feedback or a tip? Reach me at nick@informant.news.