Category: Dakota Hate

Series of stories on racism in North Dakota, how an isolated state’s small towns are being targeted by white supremacists, and desperate residents fight against the invasion. From Nazis to the KKK, the Creativity Movement to supremacists, the Peace Garden State has been steeped in racism disguised as “North Dakota Nice” for more than 100 years.

City Commissioner’s Recall Petition Dies

By C.S. Hagen

FARGO – The recall petition of City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn fizzled out on Friday after two months of volunteers gathering signatures.

The recall ended because Pipekorn promised to obtain the list of all signatories on the “Scott Hennen Show” AM1100 “The Flag” on May 10, according to a recall committee press release.

City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn – photo provided by City of Fargo

“So when they turn in the signatures for the Freedom of Information Act, I am going to request a copy of the signatures so we can  review them as well,” Piepkorn said on the “Scott Hennen Show.” He added that he was concerned the signatures were not legitimate.

Friday was the final day to handover the petition to the city auditor for certification. A minimum of 3,504 signatures was needed.

“Over the past two months our volunteers have worked ceaselessly to hold accountable a city commissioner who continues to abuse his power in the effort to denigrate and marginalize some of the city’s most vulnerable residents,” the recall committee said in a press release.

“Piepkorn’s actions are the actions of a bully and we will continue to work to ensure that no elected official, especially those installed with a minority of votes, uses their office to spread fear, foment distrust or divide our community.”

The recall process garnered support as well as criticism from around the city. Netizens both left and right of the political aisle took to posting their thoughts about the controversy, which stemmed from Piepkorn’s outburst during a City Commissioner’s meeting last October. Last year, Piepkorn’s scrutiny into unearthing the financial “burden” of specific minority groups brought into the area by Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota sparked the anti-immigrant interest of Breitbart News, the “alt-right” online news forum formerly led by Steve Bannon, a coincidence Piepkorn denied he had anything to do with.

The recall effort stirred controversy between would-be allies as well, when the Fargo/Moorhead Refugee Advisory Council, or FMRAC, issued a statement saying they were against the recall, and that recall volunteers had been threatened.

The recall committee stated at the time that volunteers had not been threatened. Fargo Police also received no reports of threats being made to recall volunteers.

“Even if they were over, the committee wouldn’t give him the chance,” a recall organizer Zac Echola said. “If anyone on the list mistakenly added their name or if they are simply unlucky enough to not be in an ICE database, they could be deported, even if they’re citizens. State Department and ICE don’t share data.”

Piepkorn plans to continue his line of questioning into schools and into West Fargo after he said he received information that the City of Fargo spends approximately $225,000 a year on refugees. Piepkorn also plans to ask police to begin documenting refugee status, according to his interview on the “Scott Hennen Show.” In addition, a legislative study committee will begin looking at Fargo and West Fargo city and school numbers that pertaining to refugee resettlement costs in January 2018, Piepkorn said.

Piepkorn has focused primarily on Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, the organization contracted by the state to manage the arrival of refugees and immigrants to North Dakota. The organization has handed over its 2014 990 nonprofit tax returns, and offered repeatedly to meet with Piepkorn to answer questions. Since the beginning, Piepkorn has refused.

A total of three reports on refugee costs have been handed over to the city since October 2016. The first report filed by the Fargo Human Relations Commission in April stated that statistics were difficult to obtain, but that refugees were good for the city having a cost-positive impact of $3,250 per individual. A second report filed on May 4 by the City of Fargo’s Finance Committee stated that the city has spent up to $750,000 on refugees since 2014, including the hiring of a cultural liaison officer, an interpreter, social service grants, and on the Human Relations Commission.

The third report was handed to Fargo City Commissioners last Monday by Fargo Cass Public Health, reaffirming that government agencies do not track refugees, but that the department did spend $60,100 in nursing costs on refugees in 2016.

A total of $3,895,096 went to refugee programs out of $11 million listed as federal government grants for the period up to June 30, 2016, with the City of Fargo directly contributing $500 for the Building Bridges conference, according to Shirley Dykshoorn, vice president of Senior and Humanitarian Services for Lutheran Social Services. One percent of the dollars expended by city health staff went toward refugees, she reported. “We provide dollars for those services under a contract with the Health Department,” she said.

Piepkorn’s statements pertaining to refugee costs have continuously been disproved.

“When I’m being attacked for asking where our tax money is going, that’s very concerning,” Piepkorn said. “This has upset a lot of citizens of Fargo.

He did not raise funds against the recall, but said he’s had offers of help from around the country.

“I will have people from around the country if I want to raise money that will help me, and I’ve had people offer to come to Fargo to help with the recall.”

Although the recall committee did not succeed in their efforts, they hope the recall petition has awakened people in Fargo to what they consider unfair treatment of New Americans.

“Our efforts began with little time to spare, but we did so in order to show folks that they need not be afraid, that they can stand up and participate in their democracy. Although we did not attain a recall, we have begun a vital conversation.”

Showdown At City Commission Hall

Recall organizers face city commissioner after report on refugees, LSS reveals financials

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – 
As the two-hour-long Fargo City Commissioners meeting prepared to adjourn Monday, Erin Buzick, an organizer of the recall petition for City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, was given permission to speak. 

“Basically, I said that I understand that my inclusion in this community comes with a price tag to the city,” Buzick said. “However, I have never been reduced to a dollar sign. My intrinsic value has never been debated in the commission hall nor in the local media.”  She addressed Piepkorn on ongoing issues pertaining to refugee resettlement. 

“Commissioner Piepkorn, I know you’re fond of saying you’re not very smart,” Buzick said. “I respectfully disagree with you. I find it very difficult to believe that when you started this line of questioning that you didn’t understand the impact of your words.” 

City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn – photo provided by City of Fargo

“If you want to look back and see the numbers we were told the original cost was $28,000 to the city, and now it’s turned out to be $220,000 a year,” Piepkorn said. “Those are specific for refugees. LSS [Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota] told us they were getting $800 per refugee, and it turns out last year they received $4 million dollars. So those are lies, aren’t they? Or are they truths?” 

Abdiwali Sharif, a former refugee, also spoke before the City Commission. 

“As a former refugee myself, and I hope I can relate to many other refugees who have made Fargo their home since World War II, I would like to know why the city is targeting refugees?” Sharif said. 

“While I understand Commissioner Piepkorn’s agenda to prevent more refugees being resettled in Fargo citing cost issues, everyone should know by now that he is not doing it for the right reasons. He is doing this to marginalize refugees, and I am shocked that the city and the mayor has not done anything to prevent such behavior that enables discrimination of thousands of its residents.” 

“I think I said a couple times that the costs are important, but that I hope the city is not going down the road of trying to quantify people,” Buzick said. “I hope that Fargo can recognize that people are people, and should be treated as such.”

Her statement was met with silence. Piepkorn had already moved to adjourn, but the motion was not seconded, which led into a few minutes of back and forth between Buzick and Piepkorn. 

Mayor Tim Mahoney ended the debate, and the recall petition has slightly more than a month to finish, according to State Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. 

On May 5, Stenehjem replied in a letter to Fargo City Attorney Eric Johnson that all recall elections are valid if filed one year before end of term. Apparently, there was confusion about timing specifications within the North Dakota Century Code pertaining to the preceding year or one actual year – 365 days – for a recall to take place. 

Piepkorn’s term ends on June 12, 2018, so as long as the recall filing officer certifies the petition is valid prior to June 12, 2017, the recall election may occur, Stenehjem said. If the petition is not properly filed by June 12, then a recall election cannot occur, according to the North Dakota Century Code.

Minutes before the verbal tit-for-tat, the Fargo Cass Public Health turned in a report to Fargo City Commissioners stating that government agencies do not compile statistics based on refugees. 

The report, the third of its kind, reaffirmed that government agencies do not track refugees, according to Fargo Cass Public Health Director Ruth Roman. 

“But we don’t compile those kinds of statistics,” Roman said shortly before the meeting adjourned. Roman received a request for dollars spent on refugees, she told city commissioners, and approximately 35 to 40 percent of costs from nursing are reimbursed through the federal grants and through insurance.

Under a budget of $549,156 in 2016, Fargo Cass Public Health spent $51,647 on interpreters, $56,749 in 2015, and $47,188 in 2014, according to a report provided by the department.

Fargo Cass Public Health also completed a manual count by referral for the past year, which included 34 new families introduced by Lutheran Social Services from April 1, 2016 until March 31, 2017. The estimated costs for providing services for the 34 families is $5,950, Roman reported. 

The only refugee status Fargo Cass Public Health tracks is nursing, Roman reported, which oversaw 86 individuals in 2016 with a cost of $60,100, another 97 individuals in 2015 at a cost of $52,925, and 160 individuals in 2014 at a cost of $84,060, Roman reported.  

The first report filed by the Fargo Human Relations Commission in April stated that statistics were difficult to obtain, but that refugees were good for the city having a cost-positive impact of $3,250 per individual. A second report filed on May 4 by the City of Fargo’s Finance Committee stated that the city has spent up to $750,000 on refugees since 2014, including the hiring of a cultural liaison officer, an interpreter, social service grants, and on the Human Relations Commission. 

“I would encourage people to look at last October when I brought this point up initially, we were told some numbers that were not even close, they were way low,” Piepkorn said during the meeting. “They were obviously incorrect. The other question I have is ‘Why don’t people want us to know these numbers?’ To me, this is public tax money. When people say ’It’s not our business,’ it is our business. It’s public tax money that we’re spending.” 

City Commissioner John Strand – provided by City of Fargo

City Commissioner John Strand said that the report reflected the “tip of the iceberg” to better understanding the issues. “All of these services would be provided by the city anyway. So it’s hard to tell how many of our existing services like nursing care are for refugees, and then we don’t track refugees, which makes it even more complicated.” 

A legislative study committee will begin looking at Fargo and West Fargo city and school numbers that pertaining to refugee resettlement costs in January 2018, Piepkorn said. 

“The bigger thing that should be happening is that we should be reimbursed by the federal government,” Piepkorn said. “We don’t have anything to do with it. We don’t even know how many refugees are coming this year, and yet we’re having to pay. Eventually what’s going to happen is that we’re going to request the federal government to reimburse us and that’s how it should be.” 

Tensions surrounding refugee resettlement in Fargo and have created strife, ripped allies apart, since Pipekorn’s outburst during a City Commissioner’s meeting last October. Last year, Piepkorn’s scrutiny into unearthing the financial “burden” of specific minority groups brought into the area by Lutheran Social Services sparked the anti-immigrant interest of Breitbart News, the “alt-right” online news forum formerly led by Steve Bannon, a coincidence Piepkorn denied he had anything to do with. 

Lutheran Social Services is the organization contracted by the state to manage the arrival of refugees and immigrants to North Dakota. The organization provides resettlement services in Fargo, West Fargo, Grand Forks, Bismarck, and in Moorhead, Minnesota, according to Lutheran Social Services’ 2014 990 tax filing. 

The organization’s New Americans Services program provided services to 436 new refugee arrivals, 149 secondary migrants, 10 people seeks asylum, two parolees, and 14 unaccompanied refugee minors in 2014, according to tax filings. Of that number, 321 found employment in 2015 through Lutheran Social Services assistance. In 2014, immigration specialists assisted 1,267 individuals with green cards, and provided 19,570 days of care to refugee children who had no parents. 

A total of $3,895,096 went to refugee programs out of $11 million listed as federal government grants for the period up to June 30, 2016, with the City of Fargo directly contributing $500 for the Building Bridges conference, according to Shirley Dykshoorn, vice president of Senior and Humanitarian Services for Lutheran Social Services. One percent of the dollars expended by city health staff went toward refugees, she reported. “We provide dollars for those services under a contract with the Health Department,” she said. 

Lutheran Social Services not only resettles refugees to a state that until recently has remained homogeneously white since its inception in 1889, but helps New Americans find jobs, with emergency cash services, startup food, and other core services. In 2017 alone, the organization has also provided $282,395 worth of awards to units of local government including the Fargo Adult Learning Center, Fargo Board of Education, the Somali Community Development of North Dakota, the New American Consortium, and the Family Healthcare Center. 

“There have been a lot of people feeling they are targeted, by the request of having a whole group of legal immigrants studied,” Dykshoorn said. “You could argue that there are other people in the community that have costs associated with them.”

For instance, college students, Dykshoorn said. Have college students affected increased police numbers? 

“They are legal residents of the community, it’s sort of a carry over from elections and immigration issues that have been put forth,” Dykshoorn said. “That’s the other part of the discussion; it’s difficult to segregate data. As a person who has a legal right in this country you are allowed to move where you choose.

“You can’t look at it with a narrow lens.” 

Her organization has repeatedly requested sit-downs with Piepkorn. So far, he has refused. All information Piepkorn is requesting is through the City of Fargo, which is then sent back to the city and then to Piepkorn, Dykshoorn said. 

Not only has Piepkorn not visited Lutheran Social Services, he is not believing the facts that are being given him, Dykshoorn said. 

Piepkorn has stated that Lutheran Social Services CEO Jessica Thomasson makes $350,000 per year, which is incorrect, Dykshoorn stated. Thomasson’s annual salary is approximately $143,000. Additionally, statements have been made that the organization spent $15 million on a new Fargo office building in 2015, on land purchased in 2008, but the facility actually ran a cost of $5 million paid for with donations, cheaper than renting. Lutheran Social Services conducted a nearly six-year capital campaign before the building was built, Dykshoorn stated. 

“He’s requesting through his city channels, and thinks there are a lot of other costs to city government. In some respects he’s requested the information from the right source, but he doesn’t believe what has been provided to him.” 

Lutheran Social Services is monitored several times every year by the federal government and by contracted voluntary agencies, Dykshoorn said. 

“If they thought we were doing something inappropriate they would be right on us,” Dykshoorn said. “We are regularly under the microscope for the services that are provided. We will try to provide the education and clarity to him [Piepkorn] that he is requesting.” 

Comparing Piepkorn’s inquest into refugee resettlement as fear mongering, the recall petition of Piepkorn began in March, and division was recently incited between recall organizers and the Fargo/Moorhead Refugee Advisory Council, or FMRAC. Council members stated that recall organizers had been harassed and threatened while on their routes; recall organizers said they had not heard of any reports of threats. Fargo Police said no incidents of threats or harassment have been reported. 

“We have a simple message,” FMRAC responded to an email and directed to Piepkorn. “Please do not spread false rumors. Refugees have already suffered enough, and they don’t deserve to be targeted the way they are right now.” 

On April 30, FMRAC directors invited Piepkorn to an honorary membership on the council. So far, Piepkorn has not accepted. The invitation came days after hate fliers were pinned to telephone poles in downtown Fargo. The fliers were reportedly sponsored by “alt-right” and hate groups such as VDare, Occidental Observer, American Renaissance, Counter-Currents, Redice-TV, and the Flyovers. 

Pinning advertisements on public or private property without consent is illegal, according to the North Dakota Century Code. Fargo Police Public Information Officer Joseph Anderson reported no one involved with disseminating the hate fliers had been arrested yet. 

The recall committee has until this Friday to finish the petition, as the city needs up to 30 days to have the petition certified. 

FMRAC Steps Up, Defines Its Stance 

While racist propaganda circulates Fargo, and a city leader targets refugees, divisions among refugee and activist organizations threaten to undo cooperation efforts

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– The Fargo/Moorhead Refugee Advisory Council clarified recent actions Tuesday by doubling down on its stance against the recall effort of a Fargo city commissioner primarily due to threats, but not without admonishment. 

“We have a simple message,” the Fargo/Moorhead Refugee Advisory Council, or FMRAC, said in a response to an email and directed to City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn. “Please do not spread false rumors. Refugees have already suffered enough, and they don’t deserve to be targeted the way they are right now.” 

On Sunday, FMRAC directors invited Piepkorn to an honorary membership on the council. So far, Piepkorn has not accepted. Fauzia Haider, a former FMRAC member, resigned from FMRAC last week stating decisions were being made “behind the scenes.” 

While rumors swirled and fingers pointed in directions few knew how to follow after FMRAC advocated an immediate end to Piepkorn’s recall efforts, FMRAC did admit the controversy created a division within the council. 

The recall committee remains committed to its efforts to recall Piepkorn, organizer Erin Buzick said. 

“One of our former officers was conflicted, and decided to support the recall effort publicly, while many others expressed the support only in an individual capacity,” FMRAC said. Currently, FMRAC has no official council spokesperson, but plans electing one on Sunday, Hukun Abdullahi, a member, said. 

“The council understood the need for people who wanted to do this, but at the same time understood the repercussions this could have in the future. This is our city after all. The council did not want to escalate the cost-issues, which is enabling the commissioner to go after the refugees in the first place.” 

NDSU professor Denise Lajimodiere and Zeinab Egueh, speaking after a meeting on hate issues this past weekend – photo by C.S. Hagen

Piepkorn took aim last year at Lutheran Social Services during City Commissioner meetings, saying he wanted an investigation into how much money LSS was spending on resettlement programs, how much immigrants are costing the city, and if New Americans are related to increased crime rates.  Last October, reporters from Breitbart News, the “alt-right” online news forum formerly led by Steve Bannon, showed up at the meeting, a coincidence Piepkorn denied he had anything to do with. 

Lutheran Social Services is the organization contracted by the state to manage the arrival of refugees and immigrants to North Dakota.

After a six-month study, the Fargo Human Relations Commission released a report declaring that although financial statistics focused on a particular class or race of people were at best difficult to obtain, refugees and immigrants were good for Fargo.

FMRAC further stressed that recall volunteer safety issues are the council’s most pressing concern. 

“As mentioned in the press release, the safety of the community and community members outweighs any issues that are on the table,” FMRAC said. “We were informed about the incidents that were happening during the signature collection process, and in order to prevent any kind of escalation of violence, we decided to take this decision collectively as the council. 

“Fight pushes people away, and puts people in precarious situations to defend rather than negotiate. Ironically, many refugees who are here do understand the consequences of picking up fight especially with their own government. The current political climate and other barriers do not give our refugees a whole lot of wiggle-room to speak up.” 

FMRAC was not aware of any incidents that were reported to police.

Recall committee volunteer Zach Echola said volunteers go out in pairs, and he knows of no instances where they have been threatened. Buzick reported that recall volunteers and organizers have experienced threats by those that should be allies, and discussed one case where a volunteer was met by someone who said they didn’t like foreigners. 

On Monday, April 24, the 27th day of Nisan of the Hebrew calendar, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, racist, Trump-supporting posters were pinned to telephone poles in downtown Fargo. The posters went up shortly after the Fargo Human Relations Commission announced findings of a six-month study that showed refugees and immigrants in Fargo are good for the city. Fargo Police do not have any suspects in custody at this time. 

FMRAC’s initial announcement to end the recall efforts came days after the posters were discovered. 

“We were late in the game to know about the incidents, to be honest,” FMRAC said. “Had we known about this earlier, we would have taken this step calling to end the petition much sooner. It’s our understanding that volunteers were made aware of the resistance they would face, but the remarks from some specific households were truly discriminatory and threatening.

“Even a simple message such as ‘Go back to your own country,’ can be very hurtful and the council understands that.”

FMRAC further reported it is “disheartened that it has lost some of its dedicated allies,” but plans to reunify ethnic communities and the upcoming elections may bring also about some change. 

“Even the commissioner’s great-grandfather left Poland to seek better futures for his children,” FMRAC said. “If you are concerned about the costs, please understand that the initial cost to help us find a job or to learn English is nowhere comparable to the cost of engaging in a warfare with another country, which ends up creating more refugees. 

“Please advocate against wars instead of refugees. The council believes the taxes generated from refugees via employment, property ownership, and entrepreneurship not only replenishes those initial costs, but helps achieve economic stability for years to come.” 

Former City Commissioner Mike Williams said Piepkorn has no credible basis for his statements, which included CEO of Lutheran Social Services Jessica Thompson’s inflated salary, tripling the amount of funds spent on a new “Taj Mahal” building, and blaming LSS for being behind the recall effort. In the past, Williams said he has buried Piepkorn with facts, to prove points.

“I’ve been involved with New Americans for quite a few years now,” Williams said. “I understand we are better together, a stronger community with diversity.”

He disagrees with the recall effort and told the recall committee as much over the weekend when he said they challenged him.

“I was just stunned,” Williams said. “It’s well documented that I’ve been an ally of New Americans. I went on to say that our goal here is to get the facts out, and I don’t see how the recall will help with that.”

Buzick said she challenged Williams on issues. “He pushed very, very hard for us to drop the effort,” Buzick said. “I was not able to get to the end of my inquiry before he cut me off and started screaming.  His tirade was so intense, that one member left the room to compose themselves.  He then basically wrapped it up telling us we were naive idiots.”

Williams, who said he is an activist who happened to get elected, said the recall committee is filled with good people with good intentions, but the dissension is hurting their cause.

“It’s their prerogative, and if they want to do that that’s fine. I didn’t threaten them and I didn’t call them naive. It’s important we keep it together, they’re laughing at us when they see dissent.”

The study released in March entitled Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report, agreed that refugees and immigrants are good for Fargo.

A first generation immigrant is cost positive in North Dakota by approximately $3,250, and long term benefits are incalculable, according to the report. 

Additionally, New Americans, or refugees and immigrants, make up approximately three percent of North Dakota’s population, according to the American Immigration Council. They are employers, taxpayers, and workers in fields few local citizens are willing to go, according to the Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report. Foreign-born residents contributed $542.8 million to Fargo’s GDP in 2014, and have a spending power of $149.4 million, the report states. 

Recall Will Go On

Amidst hate fliers, agendas aimed at city refugees and immigrants, concerned citizens prepare to fight racism

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– Despite an announcement by the Fargo/Moorhead Refugee Advisory Council, the recall petition of City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn will go on. 

“Everyone on the recall committee agreed to continue,” Erin Buzick, an organizer for the recall committee, said. “After discussing the release from FMRAC with dozens of refugee and immigrant leaders we heard only one message. The press release was not agreed upon or discussed as a group.  There were maybe a handful of FMRAC officers told about the letter and it was agreed upon last week that it would not go out.”

On Thursday, FMRAC issued a press release advocating the immediate end to Piepkorn’s recall.

“In light of the potential recall election of City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn, FM Refugee Advisory Council (FMRAC) recommends the recall committee end its recall efforts effective immediately. The decision to reach this conclusion has been made after meeting with ethnic leaders and other ethnic community members affiliated with FMRAC.”

FMRAC has remained neutral on Piepkorn’s recall issue, but stepped up last week reporting that volunteers involved with the recall have recently been threatened. 

“Some of the volunteer ethnic members who have gone door-to-door collecting signatures, have been threatened and treated with profanity,” FMRAC’s press release stated. “This has resulted in the council to take a stand against this recall effort, solely, to protect individuals, and due to violence it may incite which might result in creating unsafe communities for refugees and their families.”

The FMRAC announcement spurred former member Fauzia Haider to resign.

“Just wanted to let everyone know that that I am no longer associated with FMRAC,” Haider said in a statement. “I have my own reasons, lack of communication and lack of trust is one of the major ones. People make decisions behind the scenes and I have no way of knowing who is doing what. Decisions are made on ad hoc basis on the spur of the moment, and I can’t work in that environment.”

Angel Lira of the FM Gay Men’s Chorus speaking – photo by C.S. Hagen

Issues pertaining to violence and the potential for violence were discussed Saturday at the Red Raven Espresso Bar when the North Dakota Human Rights Commission and the Moorhead Human Rights Commission organized a meeting attracting more than 30 concerned citizens, professors, and community leaders. The meeting was organized shortly after hate posters targeting the “parasite class” appeared on telephone poles throughout the downtown area. 

The fliers prompted Mayor Tim Mahoney to condemn the person or persons responsible. 

“North Dakota has the highest per capita hate crime rate in the nation, second only to Massachusetts,” Barry Nelson, of the North Dakota Human Rights Commission, said. Minnesota has hate crime laws; North Dakota does not, he said. 

“Hate crime is a very difficult thing because you have to get inside the mind of the person who committed the act,” Fargo Police Cultural Liaison Officer Vince Kempf said. He searched through the websites allegedly involved behind the fliers and found nothing that raised criminal red flags, he said. 

“Where does the hate come from?” Paul Jensen, a commissioner for the Human Relations Commission, said. “How can we understand each other better? Both cultures must try to find middle ground.” He asked about host families attached with Lutheran Social Services, the organization contracted by the state to manage the arrival of refugees and immigrants to North Dakota. 

The recall began after Piepkorn’s aimed speculations at Lutheran Social Services during City Commissioner meetings. His job, Piepkorn said, is to determine how much money LSS is spending on resettlement programs, how much immigrants are costing the city, and if New Americans are related to increased crime rates.  Last October, reporters from Breitbart News, the “alt-right” online news forum formerly led by Steve Bannon, showed up at the meeting, a coincidence Piepkorn denied he had anything to do with. 

After a six-month study, the Fargo Human Relations Commission released a report earlier in March declaring that although financial statistics focused on a particular class or race of people were at best difficult to obtain, refugees and immigrants were good for Fargo.

Tax records show that LSS received more than $11 million in federal grants in 2015, of which $3.9 million was allocated to refugee resettlement. Additionally, LSS received $500 from the City of Fargo to support an annual conference. 

Foreign-born residents contributed $542.8 million to the city’s GDP in 2014, and have a spending power of $149.4 million, the Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report announced. Police stated that although crime reports do not include immigration statuses, crime rates are not directly affected by immigrants and refugees. 

North Dakota’s resettlement program began in 1946 when the Lutheran Welfare Society, now known as Lutheran Social Services, began admitting Protestants fleeing Nazi Germany. 

“Quite frankly, people are scared,” Zeinab Egueh, from Djibouti, said. Recent hate speech included in the fliers has refugees worried not only for their own safety, but that the issue may be swept under the rug and forgotten. 

“We’re here to create jobs, we are trying to make the country great,” Egueh said. “We came from far worse and we can do better.” 

“I want to mix cultures, I want to diversify myself,” Samuel Frazer, from West Africa, said. “Yes, I am an African, yes, I have an accent, but I can read and write.” 

“In Minnesota, immigrants are an asset; in North Dakota immigrants are a burden,” Hukun Abdullahi, of the non-profit  Afro-American Development Association, said. 

Denise Lajimodiere, an assistant professor at North Dakota State University who plans to retire soon said that prejudice against Native Americans in Fargo is one of the reasons she is leaving.

“It’s killing my spirit to work here,” she said. “It has not been a good experience for my family here and I don’t know what the solution is. It’s been pretty distressing.” 

NDSU professor Denise Lajimodiere speaking, Fargo Police Cultural Liaison Officer Vince Kempf in background – photo by C.S. Hagen

A friend once took her to railroad tracks in Moorhead, informing her that the city had at one time been a Sundown Town, a city where all non-whites had to leave at the sound of a bell at sundown. Her parents went through “absolute hell” through boarding schools, and she testified to as much before the United Nations. 

“There is still settler colonization here in North Dakota. We need to decolonize ourselves.”  

Zac Echola, a volunteer for the recall petition, said he became involved to give voice to those who are constantly marginalized. Volunteers go out seeking signatures in pairs, and he knows of no cases where threats have been involved. 

“Direct action is a hard and necessary approach,” Echola said. “The sort of things FMRAC brought up in their letter would sadly continue regardless of any recall. A recall is a direct action that acts as a check against all of that nonsense. It forcefully says ‘we will not allow you to control this issue.’ Of course that causes tension even among friends. It’s unfortunate that opposition to the recall action have chosen to stoke that fear instead of standing in solidarity.”

Buzick said volunteers of the recall petition have experienced intimidation tactics by those they consider allies, adding that on one occasion a Fargo resident told a volunteer that they didn’t like foreigners. The petition is struggling toward filling half of the required signatures needed, Buzick said. 

“Every time we gain momentum,  there has been another white guy that writes about how we are hurting refugees and immigrants,” Buzick said. “However, they all seem to have forgotten to ask people that worship at the masjid, that wear a hijab, or that were not born here what they think.”

The only time Buzick has felt threatened was when a former city official yelled at her, she said. Buzick was cut off while questioning a former city commissioner, who stated he was against the recall effort.

Concerned citizens – photo by C.S. Hagen

“He pushed very, very hard for us to drop the effort,” Buzick said. “I was not able to get to the end of my inquiry before he cut me off and started screaming.  His tirade was so intense, that one member left the room to compose themselves.  He then basically wrapped it up telling us we were naive idiots.”

Attempts to contact the former city official were unsuccessful. 

Despite the controversy the recall has created, the petition is necessary, Buzick said. 

“It is important because of the very real and very enormous effort being led to stop us. This recall effort has revealed the cowardice of the ‘white moderate’ Martin Luther King wrote about decades ago.  If we stop now, then we allow intimidation and underhanded tactics to win.  

“This is a long game and we are not about to blink.”

The North Dakota Human Rights Commission and the Moorhead Human Rights Commission plan to hold more meetings in the future to discuss methods for better community integration. In the meantime, Nelson said, smile and welcome New Americans. Knowledgable white people also need to step up and begin educating fellow white people not on “white guilt” but on mutual understanding. 

 

White Power Seeking Limelight

Alt White: The Siege of North Dakota. Part five continued – series on racism in North Dakota. The state is no stranger to hate groups seeking attention, and while Pioneer Little Europe and the Creativity Movement form hit lists of North Dakota small towns, a new white supremacist group surfaces in Fargo. 

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– North Dakota has a history of giving birth to Nazis and white supremacists seeking the spotlight. 

Michael Lynn Hansen, would be 63 or 64 years old today – photo from Skyjacker of the Day

June, 1975, Fargo native Michael Lynn Hansen first hijacked a Western Airlines flight in protest of the Vietnam War and in the name of defying American imperialism, threatened to kill President Nixon, according to the Chicago Tribune. After demanding at gunpoint for the pilot to fly to North Vietnam, the plane landed in Cuba, where Hansen spent three years in prison, kickstarting his Nazi indoctrination, Hansen said in an interview with Eguene Register-Guard, an Oregon newspaper. 

Cuban officials released Hansen into US custody, and he was sentenced to ten more years imprisonment stateside. After his release, Hansen planned to unite hate groups including the Ku Klux Klan and Posse Comitatus to start a right-wing newspaper. He founded the Christian Nationalist Socialist White People’s Liberation Army in 1981 declaring at that time that a “white revolution” was brewing across the country, a term that is reminiscent with the Creativity Movement’s belief that RaHoWa, or Racial Holy War, is eminent. 

Hansen later produced the “White Power Hour” in Fargo, carried by Post-Newsweek-owned Cablecomm Fargo, and maintained an audience of about 23,000 subscribers, according to The Free Library. He wore a National Socialist uniform and framed himself before a Third Reich battle flag, taping the show in his living room. Hansen planned to spread his white Aryan views through public access cable in Salt Lake City.

Gordon Wendell Kahl FBI Wanted Poster

In 1983, Wells County native Gordon Wendell Kahl, aka Sam Louden, leader of the militant group Posse Comitatus, an early anti-Semitic, white supremacist organization refusing to pay taxes, gathered local support. Kahl shot and killed two federal marshals at a roadblock outside of Medina, North Dakota, then led federal investigators on a four-month-long manhunt, which ended with the death of a sheriff and Kahl’s own life in Arkansas. 

Kahl’s defiance of the law prompted the 1991 movie In the Line of Duty: Manhunt in the Dakotas, a documentary entitled Death & Taxes, and was included in the novel Downtown Owl: A Novel by Chuck Klosterman. 

More recently, Craig Cobb, born in Missouri, has attempted to takeover small towns in North Dakota, including Leith and Antler. A church Cobb purchased in Nome burned down on March 22. Deputy State Fire Marshal Ken Sisk said in a report the case is being investigated as arson as the structure had no electrical service, no source of heating, and was secured with new locks. 

Craig Cobb – photo from the Southern Poverty Law Center

Cobb has publicly declared ties to the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which consists of Nazis, neo-Nazis, Creativity Movement members, and other hate groups attempting takeovers of at least 12 dying towns in North Dakota. 

In January, Creativity Movement reverend, or “creator,” Nick Chappell, announced that plans were being made for the Fargo/Moorhead area. The group, which Chappell calls a religion, prefers a silent approach to recruit members. 

Once a rising star in the American Nazi party, Chappell left the Nationalist Socialist Movement as director of the Viking Youth Corps during a “Soviet-style purge of its ranks,” according to Nationalist Socialist Files. When he left the Nazi Party, Chappell was ranked high on a confidential Nazi blacklist and labelled by American Nazi Party Commander Jeff Schoep as an “oath breaker” and “race-traitor.” 

“We don’t believe in rallies due to they create a mob atmosphere and people don’t listen they just do what the mob wants when it’s worked up in a frenzy,” Chappell, who calls himself a racial loyalist, said. “You get far more accomplished one on one and in smaller meetings.”

Jamie Kelso – photo from the Southern Poverty Law Center

In Grand Forks, Jamie Kelso, director and membership coordinator for the American Freedom Party – formerly known as the American Third Position, a political party initially established by skinheads, is a well-known figure with political ambitions.

Kelso is a bullhorn for white supremacy ideals, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit hate crime watchdog. He claims he is not a racist, but a “red-blooded American,” and he hosts “The Jamie Kelso Show” for the American Freedom Party. He was once the personal assistant for Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and served as a moderator for hate-web guru Don Black’s forum Stormfront, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Militant and racist groups have hibernated quietly in North Dakota since the 1920s when the Ku Klux Klan grew bold enough to take out advertisements in the Fargo Forum. The Peace Garden State has remained predominantly white since becoming a state in 1889. The US Census Bureau reported in 2016 that North Dakota is 88.6 percent white, with 2.4 percent of the 757,952 population being of African descent, 5.5 percent of Native American, and one percent from Asian origins. 

Another Fargoan sought his 15 minutes of fame earlier this year and this week after hate posters were spread throughout the downtown area. Although nonprofit hate group watchdog Unity-USA is investigating the culprits, netizens, family members, and friends know who the individual was. 

Pete Tefft aka Chad

Chad Radkersburg, which is an online Facebook alias for Pete Tefft, according to family, sent out an advertisement for the First Annual FEHU BBQ at Lindenwood Park on Saturday. FEHU is a Futhark rune representing a new beginning. Tefft also goes by another name, Otto Van Tism’ark, according to friends who wish to remain anonymous and an announcement made by JoAnna Braun, Tefft’s niece.. Tefft was denounced by self-proclaimed Nazi hunter Luke Safely as a Nazi in February. 

“I am not posting this because I am spiteful or because I don’t think it’s okay for people to have different views,” Braun said. “I am posting this status because I believe my uncle is dangerous, and I believe more people probably agree with me. His group of “pro-white” locals only has a small number of members to my knowledge, but hate grows quick. 

“Luckily, love grows quicker.” 

“It seems likely that the use of FEHU in this case means the start of a new supremacist group in the Fargo-Moorhead area,” Unity-USA reported. 

Reportedly twelve people attended the First Annual FEHU BBQ, according to netizens. Radkersburg, or Tefft, was contacted for comment, but did not respond. Posting such advertisements on private or public property is illegal, according to the Fargo Municipal Code. 

The FEHU rune

“No person shall, without first obtaining the consent of the owner or proprietor, post handbills, placards, or posters, or make, print, or mark any word, letter, or advertisement of any kind upon any private house, store or other building, or upon any fence, railing, wall, vehicle, or other property; nor shall any person make, print, post or mark any word, character or advertisement upon any public building, bridge, fence, railing, sidewalk, utility pole, vehicle or other public or private property within the city. ”

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney issued a statement condemning the fliers late Thursday afternoon. 

“This behavior does not advance our mission to preserve the values of diversity and inclusion that help make Fargo stronger,” Mahoney said. “We must commit ourselves to resisting hate, violence, and other practices. To do this, we need to act as a united metro area with the involvement of our civic organization, law enforcement agencies, and community members.

“As your mayor, I have been and always will be proud to promote Fargo as a community that is welcoming and embracing of all people. The Fargo I know is a city that celebrates and promotes diversity, all while preserving and respecting the safety and dignity of our citizens. As parents, we should remember that our children learn directly from us. These young people are the future. Divisive actions, even the isolated incidents like those seen this week, have the potential to alter what the Fargo of tomorrow will ultimately be.” 

Fargo resident Ruth Anna Buffalo, a member of the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition, said she visited Mahoney earlier Thursday afternoon. The racist fliers disturbed her, and the incident is an issue that cannot be overlooked, no matter who the disseminator is, she said.

“My whole point in meeting with the mayor was to see if he could put out a statement saying it’s wrong,” Buffalo said. “How best do you combat something like this? With the Trump wave as it is, it has the potential to embolden a whole group of people.” 

The anti Semitic and racist posters went up in time for the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, Monday, April 24, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The posters began being pinned to telephone poles less than a week after the Fargo Human Relations Commission announced findings of a six-month study that showed refugees and immigrants in Fargo are good for the city. 

Published announcement by Chad Radkersburg, on same day Pete Tefft was published on his views pertaining to the Women’s March -Twitter

One of the posters signed by “The Flyovers” depicted the communist hammer and sickle, the Jewish star, a syringe, and a marijuana leaf as rain falling on a family under an umbrella emblazoned with a sign reminiscent of a swastika. Another poster featured a man wielding a sword on a horse in a battle scene. 

“This country is your birthright,” the poster said. “Don’t give it up.” 

A third poster found near the Downtown Fargo Fire Department, said “Trump was the first step. We’re the Next,” and supported by VDare, Counter-Currents, American Renaissance, The Right Stuff, Redice.TV, and The Occidental Observer, all of whom are listed as nationalistic and racial purist hate organizations. 

Pete Tefft’s editorial to the Fargo Forum January 30, 2017

A fourth flier posted by AltRight.com in Roberts Street alley said, “White people have a right to exist.” 

A fifth flier listing Bible verse John 2:13 pictures a whip and tells “Real Christians, drive out the parasite class.” 

The Flyovers poster – photo provided by Christopher A. Smith

Christopher A. Smith frequently walks through Downtown, and discovered some of the posters over the weekend and on Monday evening. 

“I thought, when I saw the posters, that it was interesting timing with the upcoming Black Lives Matter Banquet at Minnesota State University Moorhead and the Holocaust Remembrance,” Smith said. 

“My first impulse was to rip them down, but then I thought it would be better to document the signs and share them on social media to perhaps bring up awareness that such things are in the area.” 

Unity-USA, a nonprofit local hate watch group, alerted netizens early Tuesday morning. 

Trump poster – photo provided by Christopher A. Smith

“According to sources, several fliers have been posted by an unknown hate group in selected locations in downtown Fargo,” Unity-USA reported. While it is unknown which group is directly responsible, Unity-USA is conducting research and trying to track down suspected groups/group members.” 

VDare was established in 1999 as a nonprofit by the Center for American Unity in Virginia, and is “dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century,” according to its website. 

American Renaissance was founded in 1990 and promotes pseudo-scientific studies and research to show minorities in language that avoids open racial slurs, according to Unity-USA. It is best known for its American Renaissance magazine and website, which regularly feature eugenics and racist articles. 

The Right Stuff blog is a racist outlet hosting podcasts including The Daily Shoah, and popularizes the use of “echoes,” or Anti Semitic markers using triple parenthesis around names to identify people of the Jewish faith on social media, according to Unity-USA. 

Counter-Currents is a website popular among “hipster racists,” according to Unity-USA, and pushes fake news and memes that are considered popular to young adults. 

Birthright poster – photo provided by Christopher A. Smith

The Occidental Observer is a far-right online publication that covers politics and society from a nationalistic and Anti Semitic perspective, according to Unity-USA. 

Redice.TV is an online hate video service with a formal media infrastructure, Unity-USA reported. 

Parasite poster – photo by Christopher A. Smith

The Flyovers is a term designating “Red States” that voted for President Trump. “It is unclear if this is the term they are using to designate this particular group, but it seems that this might be the case,” Unity-USA reported. 

Family members who wish to remain anonymous are trying to help Tefft, but the timing of the posters and Nazi accusations coincide with agendas announced by racist hate groups for the Fargo/Moorhead area, leaving investigators and residents questioning if the posters were coincidence or part of a grander scheme.  The tone of the fliers distributed in downtown Fargo are similar to a leaflet found at the Hjemkomst Center in Moorhead approximately 10 years ago.

Nazi leaflet found at the Hjemkomst Center

White Supremacist Fliers Hit Fargo Streets

Alt White: The Siege of North Dakota. Part five in the series on racism in North Dakota. While Pioneer Little Europe and the Creativity Movement form hit lists of North Dakota small towns, a new white supremacist group surfaces in Fargo. 

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– Three days after white supremacists advertised for a like-minded gathering at Lindenwood Park, posters depicting hate speech were posted on telephone poles along downtown back alleys.

FEHU BBQ Ad – online sources

The posters went up in time for the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar, Monday, April 24, the International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The posters also went up shortly after the Fargo Human Relations Commission announced findings of a six-month study that showed refugees and immigrants in Fargo are good for the city. 

One of the posters signed by “The Flyovers” depicted the communist hammer and sickle, the Jewish star, a syringe, and a marijuana leaf as rain falling on a family under an umbrella emblazoned with a sign reminiscent of a swastika. Another poster featured a man wielding a sword on a horse in a battle scene. 

“This country is your birthright,” the poster said. “Don’t give it up.” 

A third poster found near the Downtown Fargo Fire Department, said “Trump was the first step. We’re the Next,” and supported by VDare, Counter-Currents, American Renaissance, The Right Stuff, Redice.TV, and The Occidental Observer, all of whom are listed as nationalistic and racial purist hate organizations. 

A fourth flier posted by AltRight.com in Roberts Street alley said, “White people have a right to exist.” 

White right poster – photo provided by Christopher A. Smith

A fifth flier listing Bible verse John 2:13 pictures a whip and tells “Real Christians, drive out the parasite class.” 

Parasite poster – photo by Christopher A. Smith

Christopher A. Smith frequently walks through Downtown, and discovered some of the posters over the weekend and on Monday evening. 

“I thought, when I saw the posters, that it was interesting timing with the upcoming Black Lives Matter Banquet at Minnesota State University Moorhead and the Holocaust Remembrance,” Smith said. 

“My first impulse was to rip them down, but then I thought it would be better to document the signs and share them on social media to perhaps bring up awareness that such things are in the area.” 

Birthright poster – photo provided by Christopher A. Smith

Unity-USA, a nonprofit local hate watch group, alerted netizens early Tuesday morning. 

“According to sources, several fliers have been posted by an unknown hate group in selected locations in downtown Fargo,” Unity-USA reported. While it is unknown which group is directly responsible, Unity-USA is conducting research and trying to track down suspected groups/group members.” 

VDare was established in 1999 as a nonprofit by the Center for American Unity in Virginia, and is “dedicated to preserving our historical unity as Americans into the 21st Century,” according to its website. 

Trump poster – photo provided by Christopher A. Smith

American Renaissance was founded in 1990 and promotes pseudo-scientific studies and research to show minorities in language that avoids open racial slurs, according to Unity-USA. It is best known for its American Renaissance magazine and website, which regularly feature eugenics and racist articles. 

The Right Stuff blog is a racist outlet hosting podcasts including The Daily Shoah, and popularizes the use of “echoes,” or Anti Semitic markers using triple parenthesis around names to identify people of the Jewish faith on social media, according to Unity-USA. 

Counter-Currents is a website popular among “hipster racists,” according to Unity-USA, and pushes fake news and memes that are considered popular to young adults. 

The Occidental Observer is a far-right online publication that covers politics and society from a nationalistic and Anti Semitic perspective, according to Unity-USA. 

Redice.TV is an online hate video service with a formal media infrastructure, Unity-USA reported. 

The Flyovers is a term designating “Red States” that voted for President Trump. “It is unclear if this is the term they are using to designate this particular group, but it seems that this might be the case,” Unity-USA reported. 

The First Annual FEHU BBQ was hosted by a person identifying himself as Chad Radkersburg at Lindenwood Park on Saturday. FEHU is a Futhark rune representing a new beginning. 

“It seems likely that the use of FEHU in this case means the start of a new supremacist group in the Fargo-Moorhead area,” Unity-USA reported. 

Reportedly twelve people attended the First Annual FEHU BBQ, according to netizens. Radkersburg was contacted for comment, but did not respond.

Commission Study Shows Refugees Good for Fargo

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Recent attempts to curb the influx of refugees into Fargo fell flat Thursday when the Fargo Human Relations Commission announced its findings after a six-month study into the impacts of resettlement. 

“The nature of the question posed to us was in direct opposition to our existence as set by city ordinance,” Barry Nelson, member of the Fargo Human Relations Commission, said. The commission’s mission is to promote acceptance and respect for diversity and discourage all forms of discrimination and was tasked with determining the costs of immigrants and refugees in Fargo. 

The Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report was instigated by Fargo City Commissioner John Strand in October 2016 after City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn raised the issue one week after an approved budget was made. Piepkorn added the proposal into the city commission meeting questioning federal monies being used through Lutheran Social Services to settle refugees and immigrants in the Fargo area. Coincidentally, last October, reporters from Breitbart News, the “alt-right” online news forum formerly led by Steve Bannon, showed up at the meeting. 

City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn – photo provided by City of Fargo

Despite a six-week notification, Piepkorn did not attend the meeting and was on vacation in Mexico, according to organizers of the Sponsoring Committee to Recall Dave Piepkorn. The petition to recall Piepkorn was approved recently by North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, and the committee is nearing the halfway mark for signatures needed to trigger a recall election.

“Piepkorn was the only commissioner absent from today’s meeting,” the Sponsoring Committee to Recall Dave Piepkorn said in a press release. “When we submitted our petition language for the recall, we specifically noted ‘his refusal to accept facts when presented to him’ as a major grievance. With his feet to the fire, Dave Piepkorn chose a vacation over accountability.”

One person opposed to the recall cursed a Sponsoring Committee to Recall Dave Piepkorn organizer on the way out from City Hall.

Fargo Human Relations Commission Barry Nelson – photo by C.S. Hagen

“The attempt to isolate residents in an attempt to identify costs is next to impossible and illegitimate without context,” Nelson said. “In the context and level of our community assessment it appears that the positive financial and cultural impact far outweigh any initial costs of investment.”

The issue of refugee resettlement is a political issue as much as it is a humanitarian one, Nelson said.

Although Piepkorn stated in October that he did not alert Breitbart News to the issue, and that his main concern was the city’s financial impact of refugees, he also believed refugees were taking jobs away from Fargo residents.

“I’ll get to the nut of it,” Piepkorn said in October 2016. “I believe the refugees that come here, they have health care, they have housing, they have transportation all provided for them. They are competing against the people who live here making 10 bucks an hour, but they have a huge advantage because refugees have all those advantages. We’re bringing in competition against the current residents and I believe that’s hurting our low income people who live here. It’s almost as if it would be better for them to apply as refugees and get benefits than to be an American citizen.”

The Fargo Human Relations Commission disagreed. 

Healthcare benefits are provided by medical assistance through federal government grants and administered through Lutheran Social Services, Dr. John Baird, M.D., public health officer for the Fargo Cass Public Health Resettlement Agency, reported. 

New Americans, or refugees and immigrants, make up approximately three percent of North Dakota’s population, according to the American Immigration Council. They are employers, taxpayers, and workers in fields few local citizens are willing to go, according to the Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report. Foreign-born residents contributed $542.8 million to the city’s GDP in 2014, and have a spending power of $149.4 million, the report states. 

A first generation immigrant is cost positive in North Dakota by approximately $3,250, and long term benefits are incalculable, according to the report. 

During the meeting, testimonies were heard both on video and in person by business owners across the city, all who said refugees are helping local economy. Fargo has more jobs than the city can fill, according to city leaders and local business leaders. Some of the companies involved included the Holiday Inn, Sanford Health, Cardinal IG, the Greater Fargo Moorhead Economic Development Corporation, Rainbow International, and the Immigrant Development Center. 

Approximately 65 percent of Cardinal IG’s workforce are immigrants, Mike Arntson, plant manager, said. “They’re not refugees anymore,” Arntson said. “They’ve found a home. We hire the best qualified applicants that show up at our doorstep.” 

Arntson pointed to similarities between the fear mongering prior to World War II in Nazi Germany attributing high-crime rates and job losses to outsiders.  “And boy, how shortsighted does that look 80 years later? So 80 years from now what are people going to say about us when they read about… Mayor Mahoney in a book?” 

Mayor Tim Mahoney said more than 20 years ago Fargo couldn’t attract many people to stay. 

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney – photo by C.S. Hagen

“This is a great report, I’m very excited about this,” Mahoney said. “In the early 90s, Fargo was struggling as far as growth and development. We had a stagnant population. We weren’t bringing people in, people were leaving our state. So when the governor at that time said we needed to bring people into our state, we needed things to happen here, a lot of us thought that was a dream that we could never fulfill. 

“The reality is that in Fargo that dream has been fulfilled.” Now, the Fargo area has approximately 235,000 residents, and the city is still growing, Mahoney said.

“To me, the things I heard most from new Americans is getting jobs, getting interviews, getting into the workplace, and soccer,” Strand said. “Imagine if you come here and fill out an application for a job, and they ask you, ‘What’s your work record here?’ and you don’t have one. ‘What’s your history of residences here?’ and you don’t have one. ‘What’s your citizenship here, do you have it?’ and you don’t have it. How do you get a job? You might have high level degrees from other parts of the world, but you can’t even get that interview.” 

“I want to thank the community for showing up today,” Strand said. “This is an opportunity for all of us and I want to acknowledge Commissioner Piepkorn for helping us decide to open this dialogue because it’s needed and it’s valuable. We’re all in this together and we’ll all be better for it in the long run.” 

“They should be commended for becoming active in our community,” Cass County Social Services Director Chip Ammerman stated.

Charlie Johnson, president of the Fargo-Moorhead Convention and Visitors Bureau agreed saying that from a workforce perspective, refugees are paramount to the city’s betterment. Refugees go through extreme vetting before arriving in the United States, and local press has frequently not made the distinction between illegal immigrants and refugees, he said. 

“I wish that some people who have been here their whole lives could go through that kind of vetting,” Johnson said. 

Schools are the epicenter of the community, Fargo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Schatz said, but refugees still need more assistance through ELL or English Learner Language programs. 

“Terminating or slowing down the refugee resettlement program would have a negative cycle of effects on the City of Fargo, both immediate and long term,” the Refugee Resettlement in Fargo report stated. “Immediate effects would include further exacerbating the work force shortage, requiring more businesses to leave and/or outsource their operations. Long-term effects include economic slow-down due to a loss of business revenue and creating an inability to keep our younger generation in Fargo and/or attract new talent to the area.” 

Fowzia Adde (right) speaking, Ayat Ibrahim (left) – photo by C.S. Hagen

Ayat Ibrahim was born in Iraq, and life was good for her and her family until the wars began. She waited in Syria for five years before being accepted to come to Fargo. She couldn’t speak English, but now has only a slight accent. She encouraged Fargo residents not to be afraid, but to come and speak to them and learn what they’ve been through. 

Fowzia Adde, executive director of the Immigrant Development Center, helps immigrants with small loans to startup businesses. “There are refugees that are better than me,” she said. “New Americans don’t come with a lot of credit, or a house, so I help them.” She listed companies around town that started from nothing, such as the Fargo Halal Market and the city’s first minority taxi service. 

“They surprise us after two or three years,” Adde said. “They make more than what I am expecting in my mind. It’s a blessing to have new Americans, we just need to teach each other and learn from each other and heal this wound.”

Adde couldn’t imagine when the national controversy over immigration policies started that the conversation would start in Fargo. “We need to figure out how to make this community welcoming to everybody and not just new Americans.”

Precise statistics are difficult to find, but new Americans are less likely to commit crimes than long term residents, Vince Kempf, Liaison Officer for the Fargo Police Department, said. After 25 years of service, and according to information provided by the American Community Survey, male immigrants are nearly three times less more likely to commit crimes that domestically born males. 

“Everybody would feel more at ease with these issues if they would just go out and meet people,” Kempf said. 

Fargo City Commissioner John Strand – photo by C.S. Hagen

“This shows that the community is interested and engaged, and a really good reflection of who we are,” Nelson said.

“I’m not a big conspiracy theorist, I got thick skin,” Piepkorn said last October. “But I’m already getting criticized. I think this is an issue around the country, it’s not just only in Fargo.” At the time, he believed 80 percent of Fargoans were behind his concerns. 

“I really welcome us having this process no matter however uncomfortable it is at times,” Strand said last October. “It’s putting Fargo in a light that I’m just not real proud of. When I read in Breitbart.com that I’m the one with an agenda, and they’re quoting you [Piepkorn], that just startles me, frankly. The way we present our community is so important. I think the news will be good in the end, and i think that good news will prevail, and I think the good news will contribute to Fargo being perceived again as Fargo friendly, a welcoming, inclusive, diverse, forward moving, loving community.” 

White Supremacist’s Church Burns In Nome

Investigators suspect arson, white supremacists question an “Act of God”

Alt White: The Siege of North Dakota. Part four in the series on racism in North Dakota. Pioneer Little Europe and the Creativity Movement plow ahead with plans in making an Aryan enclave in Nome, ND, but an old Lutheran church bought by Craig Cobb burns to the ground. 

By C.S. Hagen
NOME
– Either arson or “an act of God” left the Zion Lutheran Church in ashes Wednesday, according to law enforcement and one of the building’s owners, white supremacist Craig Cobb. 

Welcome to Nome – photo by C.S. Hagen

Residents of the tiny town of Nome, population 62, alerted authorities to the fire Wednesday afternoon at 295 3rd Avenue. Firefighters from the neighboring town of Fingal, Nome’s volunteer firefighters, and the Barnes County Sheriff’s Office responded after the fire was reported. The first pictures of the blaze were published online in Facebook shortly after 3 p.m. Strong winds helped engulf the 110-year-old church in flames, and within an hour only the chimney and foundation remained. 

Nome is on a hit list including 11 other towns by Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota as one of the places marked for “takeover.” Pioneer Little Europe is a white supremacist operation welcoming Nazis, members of the Creativity Movement, Ku Klux Klan, militants, white nationalists, and racialists to build “arks of survival,” or Aryan enclaves. Previously, Cobb attempted to establish white enclaves in Leith and in Antler. He is currently serving four years probation for terrorizing and menacing residents in Leith in 2013. 

Barnes County Sheriff’s deputies, the state fire marshal, and ATF agents began investigating the fire as arson Thursday morning, Barnes County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Don Fiebiger said. 

“There is no power in the building, there is power up to the building, and it is being investigated as arson,” Fiebiger said. 

Liz Brocker, the public information officer with the Attorney General’s office refused to comment except to say, “Information is confidential.” 

Charred remains of Zion Lutheran Church in Nome – photo by C.S. Hagen

The church was sold for $8,000 by Anthony Cibelli of Florida to Alexis L. Wolf and Kevin A. Richman on September 26, 2013, and then for $8,000 on January 14, 2017 to Cobb with a listed address of 208 E. 3rd Street, Sherwood, according to Barnes County Recorder.

“Quiet enjoyment and peaceable possession of the premises” was guaranteed by the grantor, Richman, according to the property deed. Back taxes and specials of $875.80 were paid by Richman, who is listed as the only owner on the new deed before the handover to Cobb.

Investigators on site – photo by C.S. Hagen

Next-door neighbor, Linda Henrickson, has lived in Nome for 49 years. She was preparing to bury her husband who recently died of cancer, and said she hadn’t seen Cobb in months.

“I didn’t even know about it,” Henrickson said. “I heard a noise earlier, but it was so windy.” When she heard the news she ran to the dining room window and saw the church she attended for decades engulfed in flames. 

 A large 1923 painting of “Jesus welcoming the children,” hangs on her wall. She bought if at the church auction in 2012 and said it used to hang above the church’s altar. Across the room a pencil sketch of the church as it used to look was also purchased at the same auction. Her husband was born in Nome, across the street. Her daughter was once the organist. Her late husband, Bruce, was once the town’s mayor who brought running water into the area, Henrickson said. 

“This used to be a nice little community,” she said. “But it’s becoming a tourist attraction lately.” 

Typically, the town is quiet. Henrickson never talked to Cobb, but saw him once carrying a table, chairs, and a propane tank into the church. 

Abandoned building in Nome – photo by C.S. Hagen

Abandoned houses line Nome’s streets. On Main Street, a skeleton of a building sits on one side, a grocery store named Ruud’s Market has the inside lights on, but the front door is locked and the shelves are empty. A half-boarded up post office sits next door. Main Street is a dirt road, as all the other streets in town. 

At the end of one street, slightly apart from the rest of the town, Kenny Ussatis said he had heard about Cobb, but didn’t pay him much attention. 

“Nobody’s really said anything about him,” Ussatis said. “I’m sure some feel they didn’t like it, but to me it does not make a whole lot of difference.” He attended the church all his life until it shut down due to “running out of people.” The town once had up to 400 residents, he said. 

The loss of the church was not a hard blow for Ussatis, he said. “It was time,” he said. 

The only noticeable business in town, Inter-Community Telephone Co., stands close to a cleanly kept park with swings, an aluminum slide, and an old merry go round. Mary Peterson, a town council member since 1990, used to be the church secretary, treasurer, and custodian. She echoed the sentiment that Cobb keeps to himself, and wasn’t making a stir. 

Nome’s playground – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Whatever happens, happens,” Peterson said. “If he did something wrong then we would deal with it, but so far, he minds his own business.” 

Rumors are circulating as to the actual cause of the fire, Peterson said, but would not elaborate. 

Cobb is one of the best known white supremacists in North America, according to nonprofit hate group tracker Southern Poverty Law Center. He had a falling out with white supremacists after a DNA diagnostics test in 2013, which proved Cobb was 14 percent Sub-Saharan African. He is also a professed member of the Creativity Movement, which believes race, not religion, is absolute truth and that the white race is the highest expression of culture and civilization. The movement also believes that a “holy racial war” is eminent. 

Members of Stormfront, a website started by hate-web guru Don Black, congratulated Cobb on the purchase of the church, saying at least Cobb was active. 

Nome’s Main Street – photo by C.S. Hagen

“If it was arson, that reflects very poorly on the townspeople of Nome,” a sustaining member named Richie wrote. 

“Perhaps put it down to an Act of God, presumably him punishing an atheist for buying a church,” a sustaining member named Lord Flints Volunteer wrote. 

“Whatever anyone’s opinion he is not all talk,” Richie wrote. “He gets off his backside and makes an effort.” 

“How has all the crap targeted at Craig not been considered a violation of the Fair Housing Act?” another sustaining member named WhiteNationhood wrote. 

Cobb claims arson, and is offering a $2,000 reward for any information related to the incident,” according to media outlet MyNDNow. 

Investigators on site at former Zion Lutheran Church – photo by C.S. Hagen

The sleepy town air is tinged sweetly with burning wood fires. Wind whispers through tall pines, and returning geese call out noisily. The former town school, an impressive brick structure now shadowed by trees, is used as a storage space. Like many North Dakota small towns, it is dying, and is a perfect target for white supremacists linked with Pioneer Little Europe. 

The final hymn sung at the church’s closing ceremony June 24, 2012 was “The Church’s One Foundation,” which, excluding a cracked chimney and local memory, are all that remains. 

Residents don’t want another Leith, they said, but also don’t appreciate the recent attention. 

“We don’t need all the publicity,” Ussatis said. 

Nome’s dirt roads – photo by C.S. Hagen

Valley City’s Troubles, a Microcosm of the Nation

Despite nearly a dozen city officials pushed from office, Valley City’s 15-year-old infighting is far from over

By C.S. Hagen
VALLEY CITY
– Russell Myhre lit a second cigarette, pulled his wool coat closer against the February chill after proudly revealing a red heart tattoo on his chest. He waved to Fred Thompson, former Valley City Police Chief, from across the parking lot behind his law office. 

“Hey, Mr. Thompson, come on over here, my friend,” Myhre said.  “You just wandering around?” 

“Nope,” Thompson said. No mistaking the man was law enforcement. Large framed, shoulders slightly stooped, he eyed the area before shaking Myhre’s hand. “Taking care of shit.” 

Two survivors of Valley City’s past decade of political turmoil, a verifiable “Game of Thrones,” Myhre described the contention between politicians and a local citizen’s group. One former police chief, retired in late 2016 after months of investigations, now looking for work; one attorney, nearing 70, tired of the fight and on his way out of Valley City’s political arena. Both “moping with intent to lurk” they say jokingly while discussing the city’s fierce struggles. 

Russell Myhre and blood brother Isaac Dog Eagle, Jr., fifth generation direct descendant of Sitting Bull – photo provided by Russeel Myhre

Stories roll from Myhre’s tongue easily, voice purring in English or Lakota like a finely-tuned Harley Davidson engine. He doesn’t fit the stereotype for any city attorney, describes himself at times as a city enforcer. A Harley clock, pictures of years gone by – Isaac Dog Eagle, Jr., a Standing Rock Sioux medicine man who adopted him as a brother, Myhre as a lobbyist for ABATE of North Dakota – hang from his office’s windowless walls.

No windows because in his line of work, he needs to eliminate routes for attacks. He once carried a pistol in his waistband, used to hide another in a desk drawer. Myhre has been shot at, stabbed, beaten and left for dead while busting drug dealers, brushed the fear from his sinewy shoulders and kept cruising. 

“And I’m still alive,” Myhre said. “People who know me say I’ve lived several lives.” One life he led started before 1982 when he became involved in Native American causes, and later met his wife, a model and “aspiring starlet” Benedicta “Bennie” Frances Callousleg, an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, who passed away in 2009. They had two children, Amanda and Joshua. 

Six years of near-constant conflict with the Citizens for Community Involvement, however, and he’s finally following nearly a dozen others’ routes to leave government work in Valley City. He’s rearranging his career, “easing” his law practice to another city, plans to rebuild his former practice, but will not sever ties with Valley City.

Russell J. Myhre, Valley City Attorney in his office – photo by C.S. Hagen

Citizens for Community Involvement, or CCI, is a grassroots organization in Valley City, Keith Colville’s brainchild, former president Robert “Bob” Drake said. The group’s mission for the past 15 years has been to fight city hall on decisions and personnel they don’t agree with. Among other issues, CCI’s goals include abolishing property taxes, opposing real estate assessments, and eliminating the Valley City Police Department,. They’ve called for armed citizen patrols when brawls went viral outside city bars, and they’ve investigated, frequently petitioned, for the dismissals of many city and county leaders they deem corrupt. 

Heroes, some call CCI; others curse the name. 

At least 11 city leaders and employees have left or will be leaving their posts in nearly as many years in Valley City, due in part to the ongoing conflict. Despite the exodus of politicians, CCI’s “duty” isn’t finished. Most recently, after Mayor Dave Carlsrud, a former high school wrestling, basketball, and football referee, made a public plea to residents to recognize rules of order during city commission meetings, CCI member and Valley City resident Lloyd A. Nelson took the podium and refused to leave until police approached him, according to Myhre. 

“I would have to say that virtually all of the appointed officials have had various threats, false charges of corruption and criminal acts, and informal smear campaigns against them,” Myhre said.

CCI members have run for political office; most, so far, have failed. They had a friend with former Mayor Bob Werkhoven, who resigned shortly into his second term due to “health issues,” but only after an investigation and grievance claims that he created a hostile work environment, according to city records. Myhre, Thompson, and current City Administrator David Schelkoph filed grievances against the former mayor, receiving settlements: Myhre received approximately $212,000, Thompson received $110,000, and Schelkoph’s settlement amounted to a three-year extension of contract, legal fee payments, and a “golden parachute” guaranteeing him six-months severance regardless of whether he voluntarily resigns or is involuntarily terminated. 

Today, many people are reluctant to run for government, Myhre said. Many, including him and his daughter Amanda, most of his staff at Myhre Law Office, are moving away. 

“I cannot get other attorneys to come here and take over and you know what?” Myhre said. “They say, ‘Why would I want to move to Valley City?’” Applicants for the police chief position after Thompson stepped down were also few and far between, Myhre said.

“Are the citizens of Valley City going to stand up?” 

So far, mostly at night, in local restaurants and sometimes deep in their cups, Valley City residents sidle close to share their disdain for city politics, whispering support to Myhre, he said. 

“Not many can withstand the constant attacks.”

Myhre says CCI’s actions to replace law enforcement with an elected sheriff’s department is a tactic of the Posse Comitatus, an early anti-Semitic, white supremacist organization that in 1983 found a champion in Gordon Wendell Kahl. After refusing to pay taxes and garnering some local support, Kahl shot and killed two federal marshals at a roadblock outside of Medina, North Dakota, then led federal investigators on a four-month-long manhunt, which ended with the death of a sheriff and Kahl’s own life in Arkansas. 

“Giving all police powers to a locally elected sheriff, of course, is a page right out of the Posse Comitatus playbook,” Myhre said. “Such groups’ goals are to bring a whole bunch of people in and overwhelm a community.” A tactic white supremacist groups also use under the Pioneer Little Europe campaign to buy out properties and infiltrate a small, dying town, and then insert their followers into positions of power. Valley City has been targeted as one of twelve North Dakota towns for takeover, according to Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota. 

“Another goal is to destabilize the existing government, and I think that’s what they’re following here in Valley City. They have gone seriatim against virtually every elected or appointed official in the city and have made accusations against them. Either they have dug up really old stuff that goes far beyond the memory of man, or they make something up out of nothing.” 

“No one has the right to bully or intimidate this question into existence,” Schelkoph said in an email. 

Others aren’t sure about a racist connection, but say CCI’s methods resemble the John Birch Society, a conservative and influential conspiracist group supporting anti-communism and limited government, and is described as being radically far-right in its philosophies, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit hate watch firm. 

CCI members reportedly called the first city administrator, Dave Johnson’s adopted Chinese daughter, a “gook,” which may have been part of the reason Johnson created the 2006 website portraying CCI members as Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members. Myhre’s daughter, Amanda, said she has been called a “prairie n***er” by CCI members while waiting in town for automobile repairs. 

In 2013, when the local Pizza Corner began hiring immigrants and African Americans to expand its business, some of the mostly-white residents of Valley City didn’t like to see their city changing, Myhre said. Fights began breaking out on weekends outside of bars during smoke breaks, and CCI proposed setting up a civilian armed patrol. 

“Especially if non-whites were involved, it soon became very racially tinged,” Myhre said. “It set the city on edge, and that was the first indication of what he [Drake] wanted to do.” CCI’s motion to establish the armed civilian patrol was denied. 

“I think white supremacy is one of the underlying themes we have going here,” Myhre said. The overall theme is about the taxes, the sovereign citizens, some of these concepts that they got, and they have been attempting to disrupt city government. It’s not just the city attorney, or the city administrator, they go after all of them.” 

The connection to CCI’s white supremacist tactics lie with facts, Myhre said, and the groups’ repeated attempts to create havoc in city government. 

CCI members deny having anything to do with racist or white supremacist agendas. 

Wes Anderson, the curator for Barnes County Museum, said racist roots in Valley City date to the 1920s, when the city had a covenant banning all black people from living in Victory Park. The museum holds newspapers and books dating to a time when blatant racism was not only allowed, but accepted. Tucked safely away in back offices and boxes he has a Ku Klux Klan sword discovered in the floorboards of a local home, and Nazi armbands brought home from World War II as souvenirs. 

Wes Anderson, curator of Barnes County Museum – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Dark history,” Anderson said. The items have come out for display before, but Anderson says it’s uncomfortable and awkward. “Not a proud part of our history. There are better stories to tell. I keep the Nazi stuff off display as it is hard to maintain good security on them as there is indeed a value to them.” 

As a historian, Anderson said Valley City struggles can be examined and possibly understood under the Strauss-Howe generational theory. 

“There’s a school of thought that history is on a four cycle pattern of generations,” Anderson said. “There’s a generation of builders, and a generation of users, and a generation that tears down, then a generation that suffers, followed again by a the generation of builders. The World War II generation were the builders, and you can see that, they’re the ones that were in these communities and they created all these groups, the Eagles, the Elks, the Legion, they religiously protected all these groups. 

KKK sword at Barnes County Museum – photo by C.S. Hagen

Each group potentially clashes with the next, and today the theoretical circle lands on Millennials  – or the builders – who have returned with a renewed interest in community involvement and politics.

If the theory is true, it would help explain, at least in part, some of the city’s tensions over the years. 

Citizens for Community Involvement 

A few blocks from City Hall, seated in a semi circle in a back room of Iron Stallion Cycles, a motorcycle dealership, six members of CCI gathered to discuss their 15-year-long fight. None appear tired or ready to give up; they’re energized, preparing for the next battle. 

Their eyes are set on Mayor Carlsrud, who is a “milk toast guy” never listening to the real issues, they said. 

Long time CCI leader Drake, one of the group’s most prominent members, leans his large frame into an office chair, chuckles when asked if CCI is in league with white supremacists. 

“I know all these guys in CCI, and there’s not one of them who is bigoted,” Drake said. “All they want is to make Valley City a better place to live.” 

Nelson, a former command sergeant major who fought in the Gulf War, agreed. He’s elderly, enjoys playing the piano, and is a lifelong Valley City resident who recalled days when he didn’t have to lock his car. Now, he bolts his front door for a short walk to the garage, he said. He is angered by the recent resurrection on Blogpost of a “spoof” website originally created by Johnson in 2006, which depicts Nelson as a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and Drake to Adolf Hitler. The website was last updated on January 27, 2017 from Mountain View, California. 

“They just made a few changes and posted it again,” Nelson said. The website ruined his race for mayor in 2006, he said. “It’s a huge mental disturbance for me. The people who hate the Ku Klux Klan are going to hate me.”

Garbage has been dumped in his yard; swastikas have been painted on his sidewalk, he said. He’s been repeatedly kicked from city commissioners’ meetings. 

“I’m fearful,” Nelson said. “That is a hateful website and people are suffering because of this. People are afraid something is going to happen to them, and I am.”

CCI members (left to right) Lloyd Nelson, Cole Mindt, Robert Drake, and Brian Mindt – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Its unbelievable what they did,” CCI member Jack Ertelt said. He’s tall, wears a cowboy hat, and is a lifelong resident of Barnes County. “Look at what they did? Thirty years in the military and Bob a prominent businessman, and smear them like that? Once they go to that level there is no end to it.” 

They say an arrest on a terrorism charge brought against Drake on September 18, 2016 for threatening former City Commissioner Richard Ross, also ruined his bid for county commissioner. The felony charge was lessened to a misdemeanor, but Drake had a criminal judgment ordered against him stipulating an “evaluation” and requiring that he complete “anger-management” classes, according to court documents. 

At times, the group acts as a godfather for the community, settling issues residents don’t feel comfortable taking to the the authorities. Tips are told to the group’s members sparking many of their investigations and petitions. 

“We’ve had people come to us with an issue, because they’re scared to go to the city for fear of retaliation, so we bring their issues up for them,” Brian Mindt, Iron Stallion Cycles proprietor said. “Either they don’t know the channels, or they’re scared.” 

City officials call their group toxic, Mindt said. A small copy of the US Constitution protrudes from his breast pocket. Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In The Wall” plays over the store’s speaker system. Besides motorcycles and parts, Mindt also has a mini museum of handguns that his son Cole describes. German rifles converted into shotguns after World War II, Confederate and Yankee led bullets from the Civil War. An axe with the word “ISIS” handwritten onto the head hangs from a wall. Above the store’s main counter a sign: “Trump That Bitch 2016.” 

Mindt supports President Trump with a “Make America Great Again” hat. He turned to his computer and opened a picture of a friend he has, a Mexican, who plans to move to Valley City. “It’s all a part of the smear campaign,” he said. “It’s not that we are against government, we just want them to be held accountable for what they do.” 

CCI believes City Hall’s “crimes” have gone mostly unpunished. With nearly a dozen “notches” in their war clubs of former city leaders and employees who have either stepped down or quit because of their pressure, there are more that need to go, they said. 

“Corruption draws corruption,” Ertelt said. “There’s going to be characters forever until we take care of what’s going on at City Hall. Their house of cards could come falling down on them. The exposure is widespread, it’s one article after another.” 

They speak about favoritism shown to city leaders’ children after committing crimes, crooked commissioners who took advantage of the 2009 flood control programs to fatten their wallets through real estate deals. Worse than shady deals they hint at murder by police – unproven – and a case that will probably never see the light through their eyes. 

“I don’t think there is another group like this in the state of North Dakota,” Ertelt said. “A watchdog group that pays attention to their local government whether it’s local or county, and they’ve never had to deal with organized opposition, although it is a loosely-knit opposition, the fact remains it’s here, and it’s staying here, and for how many years before I came on board.” 

Although CCI’s inception dates back further than any of the current members remember, they say it became active in 2003 during controversies surrounding real estate assessments and a 911 emergency telephone center the city and the county both wanted. 

Last week, Drake’s son, Tony, was attacked inside CH Carpenter Lumber Co. building. “They laid in wait for us, or somebody, to walk into the back area where I usually hang out, when Tony went to the bathroom they hit him in the back of the head and knocked him out.

“Whoever it was ran out the front door, and we don’t know who he was.” Drake is following leads, video footage to find the attacker, and doubts the reason for the attack was burglary. “They didn’t leave when they knew we were there, if it was a burglar ready to steal something, he would have run out the front door while we were in the back for five or six minutes.” 

He doesn’t think the attack had anything to do with CCI’s fight against City Hall, but, “I’m not ruling it out.

“He got hit hard, but he was okay by the time police investigated and everything.” He refused hospital treatment, but friends and family are watching him for any signs of concussion. 

Drake described himself as a “bull in a china store,” while his son inherited his more diplomatic genes. 

“I’m more kill people with kindness, he’s more run over them with a truck,” Tony said. Although he and his father do not agree on many issues, their platform is the same.  

Despite Mindt’s gruff appearance, long, greying beard, he’s speaks softly, used to be a Mason and an assistant Boy Scouts leader. Once, with his daughter, he drove more than 400 stuffed animals to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Minneapolis. 

“And I’m still this mean hateful guy,” Mindt said. He recently lost a Supreme Court case involving a district judge, a Hispanic FedEx driver named Sergio Hidalgo Jr., racial slurs including the “N” word, and a secret knock. 

Shave and a haircut, get lost. Mindt taps out the secret knock on his desk. He tells all delivery companies to use the secret knock at the back door to stave potential robberies. Mindt was charged with a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct in October 2015. He filed an appeal in the North Dakota Supreme Court in June 2016, citing District Court Judge Jay Schmitz should have recused himself as he is married to an American citizen from Puerto Rico, and racial slurs including the “N” word were used during the argument.

“There was this FedEx guy, I tried to explain something to and he just went off,” Mindt said. He attempted to appeal the judgment against him in Supreme Court arguing that “Jay Schmitz did not use reasonable judgment in handing down his decision.

“With Judge Schmitz being in an interracial marriage with a black person that is bias and prejudice. He should have recused himself right from the start.” 

“So you would have us say that a white person could not judge a black person?” Justice Lisa Fair McEvers said. 

“Probably not fairly if you are married to one, and your criminal complaint contains alleged racial slurs in there,” Mindt said. “Any reasonable man would say that ‘No, you probably would not.’”

Six other judges could have heard Mindt’s case at the southeast judicial district level, Mindt, who defended his own case, said.  

“So you would have us perpetuate your racial stereotypes by entering that kind of judgment?” McEvers said. 

“…It’s human nature to be at least somewhat biased,” Mindt said. 

“Why should we assume bias?” 

“Because he is in an interracial marriage.” 

“You have pointed to nothing in the transcript that shows bias,” McEvers said. 

“Not in the transcript, no,” Mindt said. “But he is in an interracial marriage. When he goes home he has to answer to that. That is always in the back of your mind.” 

“You are guilty of the crime you are charged with,” McEvers said. 

“No, ma’am, I am not.” 

During the investigation, Mindt hired Darrell Graf as a private investigator, Myhre said. Graf, the former chief of police in Medina during Kahl’s shootout with US Marshals in 1983, has been alleged to be a  Posse Comitatus sympathizer, according to History Commons.

During Mindt’s FedEx trial, Graf came into Myhre’s office. The Kahl shootout in Medina became a 1991 film entitled In the Line of Duty: Manhunt in the Dakotas, and it alleged that Graf warned the Posse Comitatus about federal marshals imminent arrival. Myhre believes that Graf was simpatico with those people, and is partly responsible for deaths of the two US Marshals: Kenny Muir and Bob Cheshire, a personal friend of Myhre’s. 

“Here I am, 30 some odd years later, and I’m talking to the guy I think was responsible for killing my close personal friend sitting across from me,” Myhre said.  

Graf came into his office to complain about not being able to interview police officers involved in Mindt’s case, Myhre said.

The future
Valley City isn’t all infighting and tension, it is the 13th largest city in North Dakota with approximately 6,500 residents. It has an active college, Valley City State University, and is nestled between high hills cozied up to the Sheyenne River.  

Myhre’s last day as city attorney approaches, and he’s glad to be leaving town. He said he has lost hundreds of thousands of dollars due to the conflict, and allegations against him that he gave alcohol to a minor, a charge that was investigated and dismissed by the Bureau of Criminal Investigations. He plans for a fresh start, in a new city.

Thompson is thinking about applying for police work again, possibly “throw his name in the hat” for the recent vacancy in West Fargo. 

He will be sad to leave Valley City, he said, despite his four-year and eight-month term as Valley City’s police chief facing sexual misconduct allegations and an investigation about him drawing his sidearm on a father playing war games with children in a yard, he has fallen for the city. 

But he still harbors ill feelings for the troubles he went through, he said. 

“They didn’t want the guy from the big city, that’s been a continual thing all along.” Thompson was a former captain in the Henderson Police Department in Nevada. “They have no idea what they did when they made me leave. The biggest supporter of this town, and they threw it away. The chances of them finding someone with experience is somewhere between slim and none.” 

If CCI gets their way, for instance by combining the city police with the county sheriff’s department, Thompson said corruption will run rampant. 

“It gives you the opportunity to have corruption in the police department,” he said. “If you control the purse, and control things like housing, it would be pretty easy to make it so certain people don’t live here.” 

“Someone once told me that the nicest thing about North Dakotans is that they leave you alone,” Myhre said. “The bad thing about North Dakotans is that they leave you alone, and that’s part of what this is. No one wants to confront these bad actors, these miscreants and malefactors, who cause all this disruption, because they think it’s not my problem. If I say something then they’ll turn their attention on me, and I don’t want that. That’s why I think they’ve managed to buffalo this city for over a decade.” 

“If you look at this city we have a lot of good things happening here” Thompson said. “This is one of the most beautiful places in North Dakota, we have so many people who are good, honest people, and yet we have this small contingent that has bullied and buffaloed the people, making them afraid to speak.” 

Drake was not born in Valley City, but doesn’t plan on leaving. He owns businesses such as Budget Burger, and other properties, but he’s currently not planning on running for political office again, admitting the fire in his belly has simmered due to aging.

“People in Valley City are the greatest people I’ve ever met,” Drake said. “It’s just the few who happen to rise to the top that basically get in-between a rock and a hard place and say I’m just going to go along with it.”

Once Myhre steps down as city attorney, Drake said their relationship, once at a friendship level, cannot be repaired. 

“It’s all really crooked, and it all stems around incompetent and very vindictive city attorney.” He filed the same complaint that Myhre gave alcohol to underaged girls to the North Dakota Bar Association Disciplinary Board. “And at this moment they’re looking into admonishing him or filing charges of their own,” Drake said. 

“The complaint by Drake to the state bar association’s inquiry committee, while not resolved at this time, appears to be dismissed summarily,” Myhre said. “This is an indication that it lacks merit.” 

Drake is also hoping Schelkoph soon steps down. In a letter written to City Hall, Drake wrote to Schelkoph: “You said if the people don’t want you, you would leave. I think it is past time. I think you should seek employment in another state. Leave.”

When asked if they retaliate against people who disagree with them, CCI members laughed. 

“How am I going to retaliate?” Drake said. “I don’t have authority, I don’t retaliate. All I do is hear an allegation like the chief of police sexually harassing a female officer, and look into it. They’re throwing stones at everyone but themselves. If you go in and put it in writing, they say, ‘Oh, it’s just an allegation we aren’t going to investigate that.’ Well, everything is an allegation until it’s investigated.” 

While Nelson was in Iraq, he once received a report that the leader of the Alabama group under his care was mistreating black people. “I wrote him up, and when he came back to the United States, he was out of the National Guard immediately. So that makes me a racist? They have no idea of the background or what goes on with any of us. You know what the hell they do with white supremacists? Look at that Craig Cobb.” 

As to disbanding city police, that fight isn’t over yet either, Mindt said. “The theory behind that is all we’d be doing is changing these men in blue into brown. We got too many chiefs and not enough Indians,” he said. “They would be held accountable, because in four years we could vote them out.” 

“There are a lot of different people in this country now,” Nelson said. “And there is no more punishment any more. Things have changed, it’s the teacher’s fault, or you shot somebody and it’s the gun’s fault.” 

“We’re a constant nemesis for the city that won’t go away,” Ertelt said. “Every time they mess up it gets exposed, and comes right back to CCI.” 

“If we just gave up, and folded, and quit, things would get so much worse so much faster,” Mindt said. “I want Valley City to be the town of roses and everything they say it is.” 

“They already think we’re a hateful group and that we’re going to bring out the militia and take over the city,” Tony said.

“You’re never popular in your own city,” Nelson said.

“That’s biblical, Lloyd,” Drake said.

Scooting closer, hands folded almost prayer like, Drake said what Valley City needs. 

“Valley City needs an honest newspaper. That would take care of the entire problem.” 

“I see what has taken place here as a microcosm of what is happening on a macro scale, both in terms of local and state political science, but what is occurring in terms of an emerging shift in the political narrative,” Myhre said.

To an extent, CCI agrees on that point. “If you want to know what Valley City is, it is a microcosm of what’s going on in Washington D.C.,” Tony said. “Every person has their kryptonite, and this city’s kryptonite is the truth. And you can quote me on that.”

“Two Worlds Collided” 

Native American Commission holds hearing on the sweat lodge incident, propose mandatory native history classes for Fargo public schools, sensitivity classes for Fargo Police 

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– Lamar Heidersheid brought his 15-year-old daughter Angelina to the Fargo Community Sweat Lodge for the first time last week. 

He wanted the experience to be special for her, and to bring their Cherokee culture one step closer to heart. Instead, nearing the end of their fourth round in the sweat lodge, they were raided by Fargo Police. A fellow Native American, Zebedia Gartner, was arrested, and the group spent at least 45 minutes in the cold, wearing little clothing and covered in sweat, witnesses told members of the Native American Commission, the Fargo School Board, City Commissioners, and members of the Fargo Police Department on Thursday. 

Lamar Heidersheid looks on as his daughter, Angelina, speaks before the Native Amerian Commission – photo by C.S. Hagen

“When I saw the flashlight that night it was a shock to me,” Heidersheid said. “I had just gone through four rounds of sweat lodge so my mind was in a different place, like going to church. It took me a few minutes to realize what was going on until I saw the officer take Zeb to the ground.” 

Gartner, 20, an Anishinaabe from Fargo, tried to rationalize with police who were ordering them out into the cold and wind, but his pleas were ignored. Gartner became angry, witnesses said, and police threw him to the ground, kneed his back, and forced him to walk across half frozen ground in bare feet. Gartner wasn’t released from Cass County Jail for nearly 17 hours, and was forced to pay a fine of $400 for an extra piece of chicken taken from Cashwise Foods on January 24. 

Native American Commission – photo by C.S. Hagen

Angelina was forced outside the sweat lodge in spandex shorts and a wet T-shirt. “I was freezing and nobody asked me if I was okay,” she said. “Zeb was handcuffed really hard, his hands were turning colors.” 

When asked if the police raid was daunting enough to keep her from attending a second sweat ceremony, she said no. “I’m used to disappointment and pretty negative things,” she said. 

Heidersheid and others refused to believe police did not know the area was the Native American equivalent to a Western church. 

“It’s just lies,” Heidersheid said. “How could he not know? He [arresting officer J. Rued] needs to go. This had to have been inspired by the pipeline raids.” 

The same day as the sweat lodge incident hundreds of police finished evicting most of the former Oceti Sakowin camps pitted against the Dakota Access Pipeline near Standing Rock. 

Native American Commissioner Sharon White Bear asked the same question. “We’ve been trying to educate people, but we get road blocked,” she said during the meeting. “The things that happened with that young man, I wonder if it didn’t have any follow up to Standing Rock.” 

Others who were at the sweat ceremony during the incident said they could not believe officers involved did not know of the sweat lodge when it has been at the same site for years. Another person was worried about the women who stood out in the cold, fearful of possible hyperthermia setting in. 

Chairman of the Native American Commission, Guy Fox, said he attempted to tell police on February 23 that the sweat lodge was approved for use and on land donated by the city, but police officers did not listen. 

Fargo Police Deputy Ross Renner speaking to the Native American Commission – photo by C.S. Hagen

“We have to mark the line right now,” Fox said. “This was not that an officer saw a fire, but that he did not see a sweat lodge.” Fox made the suggestion that everyone involved during the sweat lodge incident – participants and law enforcement – get together for a sweat ceremony. Fargo Police Deputy Chief Ross Renner nearly agreed. 

“There’s value in the suggestion and I think we can commit to doing that,” Renner said. “Now I understand it more because of what you’ve shown me here tonight. I do think there is some room for us to really move forward… hopefully it will prevent some of these things similar to this from happening in the future. I understand why that occurred and how we ended up were we are today.”

Renner said he now understands the interruption would have been like police raiding a funeral or a wedding ceremony. 

“Had I not been here tonight, I probably would have responded very similarly to how that officer responded… Those two worlds collided, and it’s because of a lack of understanding.”

Renner and Fox then shook hands. 

Native American Commissioner Maylynn Warne lectured the audience about Native American history, going back to before the 19th century. She described how Native Americans numbered nearly 45 million before Europeans arrived, and then their numbers fell from war, disease, and persecution to 250,000 by 1900. 

Today, there are 5.2 million Native Americans and 566 tribes in the USA. Sweat lodges, among other traditions such as sun dances, war dances, even clothing and hairstyles were illegal when she was three years old. The freedom of religion did not apply to her or other Native Americans until 1978 when the American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed under President Carter. 

“Today, we still face a lot of discrimination,” Warne said. “We still contend with racism and bigotry. We fight for clean water for everybody and when we bring up this whole painful history, we don’t forget because we’ve had to fight for so many years.” 

Proposed new sweat lodge three dimensional design – photo by C.S. Hagen

“Some in our community think there is a scar, there is a fresh wound that hasn’t healed yet,” Native American Commissioner Clifton Alexander said. He wants accountability on all levels in order for healing to take place. “

The Native American Commission displayed a three dimensional design for a renovated sweat lodge area to be constructed from cedar. The Fargo Police Department was asked to consider long term cultural sensitivity classes for all law enforcement personnel, and the Fargo Public School Board was asked to to accept mandatory education on Native American history for all students. 

“If people aren’t willing to learn and change, then more occurrences will continue,” Alexander said. He made the proposal to work with the city to improve the area. 

“Fargo has it within itself to do this. We can do this.” 

Threats Directed At Native American Arrested From Sweat Lodge

Attempts to refurbish area as far back as 2010 were fruitless, area Native Americans fear retaliation 

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO
– Barking dogs don’t bite, but they’re noisy and excitable. The day Zebediah Gartner, an Anishinaabe from Fargo, was released from Cass County Jail after being pulled from a sweat lodge by Fargo police, the “dogs” began to bark. He received threats and derogatory statements from Fargo-Moorhead residents. 

“A couple people talking nonsense but I didn’t give them the time of the day,” Gartner said.  “They’re just talking crap about my mom, and talking about how stupid we are.” 

Gartner, 20, is a traditional singer and drummer, performing around the Fargo-Moorhead area. The threats and derogatory statements didn’t phase him. 

Zebediah Gartner, 20, a traditional singer and drummer – photo from Facebook page

“I’m kind of a big guy, so it doesn’t matter to me too much. People are going to say what they’re going to say.”

Support from the community, however, has been overwhelming.  

“I’ve got a lot of support, and a lot of prayers from people all over the city, a lot of people standing behind me, or next to me, and trying to help get this done in a good way, and hopefully something good will come out of this.” 

The Fargo City Community Sweat Lodge – photo by C.S. Hagen

People who frequent the sweat lodge, or an Inipi in the Lakota language, say they don’t feel safe anymore, and they’re hesitant to speak out from fear of retaliation, Lissa Yellow Bird-Chase, founder at Sahnish Scouts of ND, a missing persons advocate, said. She is from Standing Rock, and enrolled in the Three Affiliated Tribes Arikara, Mandan, and Hidatsa.

“Retaliation stems from what people have witnessed at the Standing Rock Camps and then now this incident at the lodge,” Yellow Bird-Chase said. “People do not trust the law.  It has trickled into our communities. We feel it.”

The sweat lodge, known as Fargo City Community Sweat Lodge, is located on city-owned property in South Fargo donated to the Native American Commission. Known as the closest native structure resembling a Christian church, it has been in use as a site of healing since before 2010. A grant that was applied for at that time to spruce the area up was denied due to zoning laws and HUD restrictions, according to Native American Commission meeting minutes on March 13, 2010. 

Another hurdle the Native American Commission faced in 2010 was that spirituality to Native Americans was a way of life, and not strictly a religion. Willard Yellow Bird, cultural planner for Fargo, also made public his intention of applying for grants in October 2010 for improvements. 

“The Native American Commission used to have a sign designating that area,” Yellow Bird-Chase said. “When they moved the road it disappeared, we brought this to the attention of the commission, nothing was ever done. This could maybe have been prevented if they had followed through.” 

Gartner was pulled from the sweat lodge Thursday night in nothing but his undershorts, he said, approximately seven hours after militarized police cleared the main camps fighting against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Gartner alleges police grabbed him, kneed him, and walked him barefoot and still sweaty in sub-freezing temperatures to awaiting police cars. A friend brought him his shoes before he spent the night at Cass County Jail, he said. 

Ground Zebediah Gartner was forced to walk across barefoot in sub-freezing temperatures – photo by C.S. Hagen

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said the arresting officer, J. Rued, was new to the force, and that those involved responded to an unattended fire in a field. 

“It was a misunderstanding,” Mahoney said. The Fargo Police Department and area fire departments will begin cultural training courses pertaining to Native American traditions. 

The area is muddy, split wood and stones for heating are piled up awaiting use. The Inipi is covered in colored blankets. Stones and a deer antler point to the opening. Two porta-potties and a white shed stand nearby the sweat lodge; the area does not resemble a hastily-made camping site, rather a place of cultural significance. 

“Every time we have a sweat, they [police] drive by,” Yellow Bird-Chase said. Sometimes when police pass by they initiate their siren, but rarely leave their vehicles, she said. Some officers stop and ask how things are going, and non-native locals occasionally stand across the street to stare, calling it an eco village.

“Part of the protocol is that one of the commission members will call it in and let them know that we’re out there,” Yellow Bird-Chase said. Typically, 48-hour notice is given, she said. Yellow Bird-Chase encourages anyone to join in a sweat. “Most people are white who show up and that’s totally cool.” 

In the winter, sweat ceremonies are held at most once a week, while  during the warmer months sweats could occur up to several times a week. Women usually wear dresses, and the men wear swimming trunks or undershorts.

News that the city plans to shut the Inipi down for several weeks to make upgrades to the area was good news to Gartner. 

“It’s good news,” Gartner said. “It’s about time the city steps in and helps out more than what they did with the little chunk of land.”

“We have been promised change before, lots of lip service,” Yellow Bird-Chase, formerly on the Sweat Lodge Committee, said. “Hopefully something good comes of this, maybe more action and not so much lip service.”

Fargo Police Arrest Native American From Sweat Lodge

Fined $400 for an extra piece of chicken from local grocery store

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Fargo Police pulled Native Americans out of a sweat lodge during a spiritual ceremony Thursday night, and took one to jail wearing nothing but undershorts for resisting arrest. 

The resisting arrest charge was dropped for insufficient evidence by the city early Friday, but Zebediah Gartner, an Anishinaabe, pled guilty to a class B misdemeanor for theft of property, which stemmed from a January 24 incident involving a disputed two or three pieces of chicken taken from Cashwise Foods, according to court proceedings. 

He pled guilty to the charge in Fargo City Municipal Court, and was fined $400. 

“Four hundred dollars for a piece of chicken,” Gartner’s mother, Monica Gartner said. 

“I did take the chicken but I didn’t eat it, I threw it away because the guy told me I could only have one, so I threw it away and walked out of the store,” Gartner said during televised court proceedings. “So I guess I plead guilty, your Honor.” 

The city recommended a deferred sentence of 11 months, which means Gartner must steer clear of the law in order for the guilty plea to be withdrawn and the file to be sealed.  Gartner has no criminal record or prior convictions, according to the city prosecutor. 

Monica was visibly relieved when the judge announced the charges had been dropped in court, but couldn’t believe two pieces, or as the city states, three pieces of chicken could be worth $400.

For police to drag people from a Native American sweat lodge is the same as dragging people away from church, Monica said. 

“They were in the sacred lodge, they heard yelling, and opened up the door,” Monica said. “There were more than five police cars and a fire truck.” 

Gartner was released from Cass County Jail at 2:45 p.m. He said the incident was traumatizing. 

“We were in the sweat lodge, basically a Native American church, and we were just finishing up,” Gartner said. “I opened the door and a cop flashed a light on us.” 

The police officer asked for identification, to which Gartner replied he didn’t have to comply as he had not committed any crime. 

“He grabbed my arm, and kneed me,” Gartner said. Then he was pushed to the ground and handcuffed. 

Zebediah Gartner released from jail Friday afternoon after Fargo police pulled him from a spiritual ceremony in a Native American sweat lodge  – photo by C.S. Hagen

Wet with sweat from the lodge, police led him over frozen ground and snow in sub-freezing temperatures toward police vehicles, without shoes, and nothing but trunks on, Gartner said.

“The handcuffs were so tight that my fingers were swelling up,” he said. He revealed minor injuries around his wrists from where the handcuffs were clamped. 

Native American Commissioner Maylynn Warne said Gartner’s arrest was disrespectful of Native American traditions and unwarranted. The sweat lodge located off 38th Street in South Fargo has been used for many years. 

Sweat lodges are a place where people can go to re-purify themselves and find their path back to traditional ways. Traditionally, the lodges are circular, and are formed from saplings. The sweat ceremony includes the chanunpa or the peace pipe, prayers, offerings of tobacco, sage, cedar, or sweetgrass in a sacred fire. Red hot stones are later brought into the lodge and placed into a pit. Much like saunas, water is poured over the stones to induce steam and heat. 

“This is like a church, a sacred ceremony,” Warne said. “If something like this happened at a church, it wouldn’t be this way. This shows how they’re treating American Indians here, and what’s happening out in Standing Rock is playing itself out here.” 

Law enforcement from across the state and Wisconsin finished evicting the main camps outside of Standing Rock Sioux Reservation on Thursday afternoon, the North Dakota Joint Information Center reported. Since August, law enforcement has spent more than $32 million and have arrested nearly 750 people during Standing Rock’s fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Tensions were high this week at the former Oceti Sakowin camps as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ deadline to empty the camps was resisted by more than 100 people. 

“He was dragged out in his undershorts, into the cold, and marched to waiting police cars,” Monica said. “He tried to reason with them, and Zeb is really outspoken, he was standing up for our culture.” 

Photograph of  police Thursday night at the sweat lodge – photographer wishes to remain anonymous

In a post on Facebook related to the incident, Ashley Maye said she was at the sweat lodge when police arrived. 

“It was ridiculous,” Maye wrote. “They tried saying they’ve been patrolling this area for a few years and they weren’t aware of it. I said that’s hard to believe as it’s been operating and running for years. They also tried to allege that it was illegal to burn the fire. The arresting officer was being rude, sarcastic, and snide, and purposely was trying to rile Zeb up. Six squad cars showed up as backup.” 

“Being removed, and thrown on the ground when you are fresh out of lodge and have nothing on but trunks and its cold out, poor discretion to say the least,” Lissa Yellow Bird-Chase, founder at Sahnish Scouts of ND, a missing persons advocate, said in a Facebook post. “I have been told before there has been questionable behavior on police’s part, just another example of North Dakota not so nice.”’

Fargo Police Officer J. Rued is listed as the arresting officer. Fargo Police Officer Cultural Liaison Vince Kempf visited Gartner while in jail, asking him if he needed a ride home, Gartner said.

Warne said the Fargo Police Department does far too little to educate its officers on Native American traditions, and Thursday night’s arrest was little more than institutional racism. 

“We just didn’t show up here, we’ve been here,” Warne said. “The only way to solve this is through education.” 

Mayor Tim Mahoney said the incident was a misunderstanding. Police officers saw an unattended fire in a field, and because of a lack of training, and because the arresting officer was new to the force, made a mistake.

The area also needs fixing up, which Mahoney said will occur during the upcoming weeks. In the meantime he said the sweat lodge will have to be closed until the repairs can be made. Additionally, cultural training courses pertaining to Native American traditions will begin soon for the Fargo Police Department and fire departments, Mahoney said. 

“The police department wants to work with Native American Commission on cultural competency training for all their officers so this doesn’t happen again,” Willard Yellow Bird, cultural planner for Fargo, said in a Facebook post. 

Gartner plans to look into filing a lawsuit against the Fargo Police Department he said, but is unsure how to begin. 

North Dakota’s 100-Year War 

A mirror image of racial tensions from the 1920s and today in the Peace Garden State

Alt-White: The Siege of North Dakota. Part Three in the series on racism in North Dakota. Inescapable comparisons between the political, racial, and economic sectors of the 1920s and 2010s. Local resident hunts Fargo’s Nazis, posts alert advertisements around Fargo. 

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – The day North Dakota women marched on Bismarck, a lone vehicle flying a Confederate flag cruised down Broadway, according to Fargo emergency dispatch. The pickup truck was stopped at Fourth Avenue when a middle-aged man jumped onto the back and attempted to take the Stars and Bars away. 

A fight between three white males ensued. Police responded, but late; all parties had already fled, according to Fargo Police Department Deputy Chief Jospeh Anderson.

“A car drove by and a male took the flag off the car and tried to run, comp [Pete Tefft] confronted him about it and he tried to fight him,” dispatch personnel reported. 

Tefft, who has been anonymously identified as a Fargo Nazi in alert posters stapled to telephone poles around the Downtown area, decided to stop the flag-stealing assailant, according to dispatch personnel reports. Tefft called 911 at 12:13 p.m., January 21, 2017. 

The Fargo Nazi alert poster printed and posted by Luke Safely-photo by C.S. Hagen

Tefft made reference to the incident in a letter he wrote pertaining to the Women’s March on the InForum on January 30. He explained the women’s march was more of an anti-Trump march, and anyone with differing ideologies was shunned. “From muttering curse words and insults like ‘white-supremacist’ at anyone holding even a subtle pro-life banner to a deranged middle-aged man stealing a confederate flag from three jovial teenage counter-protesters, participants did nothing and sometimes were complacent to the point of accessory to what could be categorized as terrorism.

“Stealing someone’s property, a child’s, because they have an opposing political ideology is not an argument but an admission you lost the argument. Everybody that stood by, watched, or attempted to thwart actions to stop the theft, participants and store owners alike, should be ashamed of themselves.”

In Facebook posts Tefft’s political views were made clearer. “I’d oppress anyone that wants to stop me from preserving my race and culture, wouldn’t you?” Tefft wrote in a January 29 Facebook debate. 

Soon after the Confederate flag incident, Moorhead resident Luke Safely started putting up alert posters throughout town naming Tefft a Nazi. He found out about the incident on Broadway, and began research, which led to him naming Tefft a “super Nazi racist. 

“I told Tefft if you want to go out and practice your culture, then go out and practice your culture,” Safely said. “But don’t oppress other cultures. I hope that when people see all this information, and see Pete Tefft for who he is, they can see other people in the community.” 

Luke Safely talking about his decision to publicize what he says is a Fargo Nazi – photo by C.S. Hagen

He first shared the information online, but the “liberal bubble” was not enough. “I thought maybe the community should know.” He alerted Tefft to his intentions, to which Tefft said he defended himself by saying he was merely pro-white. 

Some of Safely’s friends say that the exposure is simply spreading Nazi rhetoric, which will help the likeminded solidify. “But right now, that rhetoric is mainstream,” Safely said. “Look at Breitbart, look at Steve Bannon, the rhetoric is already out there, and the funny thing is we don’t admit that it has spread. 

“That’s willful ignorance, and it’s North Dakota nice.”

Other friends think that since no physical violence has been initiated by white supremacists, he should wait. 

Racism, Safely said, creates emotional and social violence, which leads to physical violence. 

“By not telling someone what they’re doing is wrong, you’re pretty much telling them that what they’re doing is right.” 

There are other verbose white supremacists in the Fargo Moorhead area, Safely said. So far, he’s watching three who claim to be Nazis and have online presences. He’s also not afraid of a civil lawsuit, Safely said, because the evidence behind his claim is overwhelming. 

“I get that people are scared,” Safely said. “The Christians are scared, the Muslims are scared, everyone is scared. I get that the Muslim ban makes people feel safe, but it’s only replying to our fear with more hatred.” 

Tefft refused to comment saying only, “I’ve been consulted by my church elders to not speak with you.” 

Pete Tefft and Nazi salute – online sources

Safely has been threatened by one person online, he said. “I realize that by doing this and by putting my face on it that I was totally going to put myself in a situation of danger, because outing a Nazi like that a lot of other Nazis are going to be scared about it. The thing I realized is that a lot of the direct action against Nazis these days are done anonymously. We need to start putting our faces to it. These “alt-rights,” these neo-Nazis are starting to publicly come out and say ‘look it, hey, I’m brave I’m proud of this’ and we’re sitting here doing this anonymously because we’re scared of them.”

Broadway’s altercation resembles a similar era in North Dakota’s history; a time of national tumult, fear mongering, intensifying racism, purity laws, and the threats of wars. Deep in Fargo Public Library’s microfilm vaults, still available after nearly a hundred years, newspaper stories at the time reflect a mirror image of the 21st century’s second decade. 

The Roaring 20s were an age of plenty for the growing middle class, and of sorrow for many agrarian workers. Newspaper advertisements displayed diamond rings for $12.50, society shirts – mostly with collars attached – for $1.29. Ostrich plumes were back in style. Dances at Island Park featuring Harry Smith and his Red Jackets were the bee’s knees on weekends for drugstore cowboys. A brand new Hudson Coach automobile went for $1,250 on the open market.

Skip past the advertising sections and the headlines are striking. Stories frequently feature the “Chinese problem,” as the Chinese people were banned from immigrating to the United States by the Chinese Exclusion Act. “Aliens blamed for liquor violations,” was another common headline. In January 1923 one story took the front page of the Fargo Forum announcing “Blacks Run Out of Indiana Town” after an anonymous attack on an 11-year-old white girl. 

North Dakota wheat prices were slashed in half. Farmers placed blame with outsiders claiming carpetbagger-types rigged elections from Minnesota hotel rooms. Conspiracy theories alleging grain operators shorted scales, inspectors rigging the system with unfair regulations, became truth. 

Political parties polarized. Corruption ran rampant. Farmers began losing lands and profits. 

Rising urbanization, the influx of immigrants, stirred angst in Fargo and elsewhere, prompted fraternal organizations like the Elks Lodge, the Oddfellows, and the Sons of Norway for like-minded people to oppose big business. 

Isolated. Desperate. Fearful. Deemed an ugly stepchild by Washington D.C.’s politicians, North Dakotans split into two powerful camps: the left’s Nonpartisan League (NPL) and the right’s Independent Voters Association (IVA). The differences between the two parties increasingly left a widening gap, into which walked the Ku Klux Klan. 

On January 26, 1923, one of the first headlines referring to the Klan was splayed above the Fargo Forum’s masthead: “K.K.K. Operating in Cass County, Say Witnesses in Fargo Courtroom.” 

“America First” became their rally cry, and within two years the Klan was buying ads in the paper. 

“The Klan capitalized on isolationist trends, times of increasing hostility to foreign institutions and influences,” Trevor M. Magel wrote in his 2011 “The Ku Klux Klan in North Dakota” dissertation for the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. The Klan brought nationalism, Prohibition and purity laws, the “Red Scare” portraying their enemies as communists, anti-Catholicism; they also supported high tariffs and legislated unceasingly for immigration restriction.

“People felt uneasy about the direction the nation was going.”

Some of the Klan’s meetings were known at the time to be the largest in the nation, attracting thousands as they burned crosses and marched in their white robes, without hoods. North Dakota politicians at times fought the Klan, banning masks in 1923. In 1925 Arthur Sorley, accused of being a Klan member, won the race for the 14th governor by a wide margin. Any allegiance the Klan felt toward Sorley soon broke, however, as his stances softened.  

The Klan eventually had enough of niceties, and launched what the Forum called a “Reign of Terror,” bringing baseball bats to marches, beating those thought to be socialists, kidnapped a Casselton man. A meat market vendor in Minot received death threats and K.K.K. signs were pasted onto his shop windows. 

Although Fargo lacked a charismatic leader for the Klan’s cause, they found a Presbyterian minister in Grand Forks named Rev. F. Halsey Ambrose to preach the Klan’s rhetoric. 

On February 27, 1926, the Kass County No. 57 Klavern Finance Committee in Fargo, Chairman Harry J. Divine, initiated a $10,000 fund drive to purchase the Elks Hall as a meeting place.  In a letter currently at the North Dakota Historical Society, Divine raised $3,700 in one night, and up to 400 more members pledged an additional $6,000. 

“This is a real He Man’s Organization,” Divine stated of the Ku Klux Klan. “Standing for everything that is good, namely our Flag, public schools, Protestant churches, sanctity of the home and respect for law and order. 

“The Kass County Klan No. 5 now has a splendid organization, we have made a nice growth, and we are just rounding into a position where from now on, the organization should be of vital interest to each one of us with so many big things confronting the Real Americans of today.” 

By the end of 1927, the Klan in Fargo and most of North Dakota, fizzled into obscurity. Its demise was brought about by its decision to use violence, which came in the forms of kidnapping, sexual assault, corruption, cross burnings in New Rockford and Fargo, and anti-Catholic rhetoric. Its lack of agreement on a political agenda left followers confused. Infighting followed. The Klan threw a final parade during its 1927 Konklave, complete with a cross with red electric lights attached to an airplane, but only about 1,000 people attended. 

“It tried to be both a secretive and public organization at the same time,” Magel said. “It tried to be both open and exclusive.” 

Some of the Klan’s tenants had a lasting impact in North Dakota. Morality campaigns incited fear and normalized hatred of minorities, which continued long after the Klan was gone. Dueling parties, IVA and the NPL, adopted parts of the Klan’s doctrine they agreed with, such as the IVA adopted the Klan’s reverence for free market capitalism, while the NPL adopted the Klan’s rhetoric about social benevolence, according to Magel.

In time, the IVA merged with the North Dakota Republican Party, and the NPL would go on to become the basis for the contemporary North Dakota Democratic Party. 

Grainy photograph of Klansmen in North Dakota – provided by Wes Anderson, director at the Barnes County Museum

Today, the “Tumultuous Teens” in the Peace Garden State have undergone similar upheaval. Prices for oil has been slashed in half. City, state, and national politicians are vying for immigration restrictions. Local news stations claim immigrants carry tuberculosis and encourage long-term residents – naturally primarily white – to steer clear. A new scare has swept the nation, although this time not directed at Soviets but at Muslims, and more recently potential nuclear war with China. 

North Dakota legislature proposed new laws in January to target refugees and outsiders – primarily activists involved with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. They’re attempting to ban ski masks, authorize the running over of pedestrians on public highways, and the killing of people running away or resisting arrest for violent crimes. Recently, “purity” legislation laws were introduced to turn Internet routers into “pornographic vending machines,” a service the state would charge $20 per device to use. Legislators also debated the blue laws, some saying Sunday mornings should be spent at home, with a wife serving breakfast in bed.  

The 65th Legislative Assembly of North Dakota further proposed House Bill 1427, which effectively states that the Peace Garden State would abide by President Trump’s executive orders and not allow refugees into the state. To disregard the President’s executive order would have an “adverse impact to existing residents of the state,” the house bill stated. Due to hours of testimony against the bill, HB 1427 was slated on February 3 for further research.

After fire debate and hours of testimony last week, the bill was not passed, but an issuance to study the matter further is on the menu. If passed, local governments could impose temporary moratoriums on refugee resettlement and Governor Doug Burgum would have the authority to impose moratorium across the state through executive order. It is a bill that would give communities the ability to evaluate and determine how many refugees it can take in, and stipulates strict requirements for refugee resettlement organizations. 

In Grand Forks, Jamie Kelso, director and membership coordinator for the American Freedom Party – formerly known as the American Third Position, a political party initially established by skinheads, is a well-known figure with political ambitions.

Kelso is a bullhorn for white supremacy ideals. He claims he is not a racist, but a “red-blooded American,” and he hosts “The Jamie Kelso Show” for the American Freedom Party. He was once the personal assistant for Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and served as a moderator for hate-web guru Don Black’s forum Stormfront, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit hate crime watchdog.

People today, as in the 1920s, are afraid about the direction the nation is going. 

Nationally, President Trump has signed more than 14 executive orders pertaining in part to immigration restrictions, penalizing protesters, halting communication of federal agencies. He has also recruited known fascists into the White House’s inner circles, and is cutting trade relations across the world. 

“America first,” Trump said during his inauguration speech. “America first. America first.” 

Trump – POTUS Revealed with Kevin R Tengesdal – photograph for a wet plate series by Shane Balkowitsch

Last week, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, was discovered to have been leader of a student group called the “Fascism Forever Club” in elite high school Georgetown Preparatory, according to the Daily Mail. Trump’s top advisor and chief political strategist, Steve Bannon, is a known white supremacist and former executive chairman of Breitbart News, the main news site for America’s “alt-right” movement. 

On February 2, Trump’s Administration reportedly changed the name of the Countering Violent Extremism initiative to Countering Radical Islamic Extremism, effectively reclassifying the initiative’s goals, which according to analysts would remove national attention away from neo-Nazis and white supremacists and focus solely on Islamic terrorism.

“Donald Trump wants to remove us from undue federal scrutiny by removing ‘white supremacists’ from the definition of ‘extremism,’” the largest neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer reported. “Yes, this is real life. Donald Trump is setting us free.” 

Today’s white supremacists are not dressed in sheets, but in suits and ties. They are eyeballing North Dakota’s small and seemingly forgotten towns as big oil funds line political pockets. Known as Pioneer Little Europe, a hit list of eleven towns are being targeted by white supremacists, according to the group’s Facebook page.

Supporters of the Pioneer Little Europe come from all the corners of the white supremacist world, and have been threatening takeovers of small towns since 2015. 

The towns of Leith and Antler are permanently marked for takeover under the self-titled Honey Badger Principle. “The Honey Badger Principle states that once an area is marked as PLE-friendly, we will pursue it until we get it no matter what,” page organizers for Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota said on the group’s Facebook page. “In other words: Once we bite, we will never let go.”

President Trump’s use of the phrase drain the swamp, is not a new slogan, Safely said. The phrase was used by Benito Mussolini, Italy’s dictator and leader of the country’s fascist party during World War II. Safely studies World War II history, frequently mentioning similarities between the 1940s and today. He’s never called out a Nazi before, and he took a few days to think about the possible repercussions of his decision. 

Symbols used to create the word Coexist

“‘We all need to be talking about this, and thinking about this, hopefully one day we will say enough is enough and put our foot down,” Safely said. “I would much rather be scared of a Nazi hurting me than being scared of a Nazi controlling me.”

“Trump – POTUS Revealed” with Kevin R Tengesdal – wet plate by Shane Balkowitsch

‘Stormfronts’ of North Dakota’s Streets 

White supremacists not finished with the Peace Garden State, form hit list of small towns

Alt-White: The Siege of North Dakota. Part Two in the series on racism in North Dakota, how an isolated state’s small towns are being targeted by white supremacists, and desperate residents fight against the invasion. Not everyone is on board, however, sympathizers to white supremacist agendas could be a next door neighbor, or in city, state government. 

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – 
Since the town of Leith’s victory against white supremacists, eleven towns across North Dakota made their hit list. The towns range from populations of 16 to nearly 7,000.  

Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota banner

Listed by names, pictures, and real estate advertisements by Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota, a white supremacist operation welcoming Nazis, the Creativity Movement, Ku Klux Klan, militants, white nationalists, and racialists, the North Dakota towns are the group’s next targets to become Aryan enclaves.

Known targets: Underwood, Carson, Kenmare, Washburn, Tioga, Newburg, Valley City, Antler, Sherwood, Landa, and Leith.

Operative concept: Pioneer Little Europes are identified as the “vanguard model for the next form of a white community, a vessel for its cultural revival,” according to white supremacist Hamilton Michael Barrett, a prominent figure and author of the operation.

Operative goal: create “arks of survival” for the white race, and prepare for RaHoWa, or racial holy war.

Codename: “Stormfronts of the Street” which operated under the radar in North Dakota until wild-haired Craig Cobb’s “100-day Reich” in Leith, in 2013, and his second attempt in Antler, in 2015.

Supporters of the operation, who come from all the corners of the white supremacist world, are threatening to begin again, and have been since 2015. The most recent threat came on November 9, 2016: “A return to Leith and Antler, ND, is in our future, comrades. This time there are more of us.”

Leith and Antler are permanently marked for takeover under the self-titled Honey Badger Principle. “The Honey Badger Principle states that once an area is marked as PLE-friendly, we will pursue it until we get it no matter what,” page organizers for Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota said on the group’s Facebook page. “In other words: Once we bite, we will never let go.”

The operation has expanded, however, and now includes near-ghost towns, townships, and two larger cities in the Peace Garden State.

“We are not putting all our eggs in one basket this time.”

Craig Cobb and Kynon Dutton marching through Leith with weapons – photo by Gregory Bruce

Pioneer Little Europe’s Facebook pages are deceptively innocent. Profile pictures feature attractive white women, but the threats and rhetoric inside are tiresome to some town leaders, worrisome to others. The Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota page has garnered 1,086 likes, six more than last week. South Dakota’s page has 802 likes. Page organizers frequently post about state and county population growth,

“We have a right to create a community for our people,” a page organizer said. “We have a right to purchase property. We will make it as expensive and inconvenient as possible until we get our PLE. We are never going to give up. To give up now would be to disrespect our ancestors who built this world.”

Danish Mill in Kenmare built in 1902 – photo provided by Kenmare, ND website

Leith, Grant County: population 16, 70 miles southwest of Bismarck

The tiny town of Leith made international headlines with its struggle against white supremacist Craig Cobb’s first hostile takeover. After Cobb’s arrest, Mayor Ryan Schock said his town razed abandoned buildings and tidied the village up. Outwardly, the town has had a makeover, but inwardly, the controversy tore the town apart. To this day he said Leith has not healed. The town was dubbed “Village of the Damned” by Cobb.

Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” is Schock’s mobile phone ring.

“It’s definitely changed, that’s for sure,” Schock said. “It’s 75 percent back to the way it used to be. It drove a wedge into the community.”

One reason Leith has not healed completely is that sympathizers live in town, Schock said. “Still a couple people living here that may agree with them. There are also a few of them straggling around here.

“It’s not the way it used to be.”

The townspeople are now leery of strangers. Hate groups, including the American Nazi Party, or the Nationalist Socialist Movement, still own three barren plots Cobb originally purchased, and there is little the town can do about it, Schock said.

“I am definitely keeping my eyes peeled. I’ve heard the rumors saying that they’re always watching you. I’m watching out for them too, but I’m not going to worry about it either.”

Leith is listed as a “somewhat livable” town, according to AreaVibes, an online real estate research engine. With a cost of living 22 percent lower than the state average, home values and incomes are also lower. Few amenities are in the area, and according to Mayor Schock, the town no longer has any abandoned buildings.

Cobb, now clean-shaven and quiet, was released from jail on probation in April 2014. He deeded the remainder of his Leith properties as gifts to prominent white supremacists, including Tom Metzgar, former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and founder of White Aryan Resistance, Jeff Schoeb, National Socialist Movement Commander, and Alex Linder, owner of the Vanguard News Network, an online hate website.

Old Leith church now demolished – photo by Gregory Bruce

Underwood, McLean County: population 778; 50 miles north of Bismarck and  60 miles south of Minot

In rural Underwood, City Auditor Diane Schell was unaware of Pioneer Little Europe intentions, and news her town was targeted came as a surprise.

“I think we will have to deal with it as it comes,” Schell said. Her town instituted proactive policies in the 1990s for the city to purchase all abandoned buildings, leaving opportunities for cheap real estate difficult to find.

Underwood is a “very livable” town, according to AreaVibes, and while the crime rate is higher than the state average, the cost of living and property values are low. Its median household income is three percent lower than the state average.

Leith Creamery now demolished, plot owned by Nationalist Socialist Movement – photo by Gregory Bruce

Antler, Bottineau County: population 33; 50 miles north of Minot

Antler’s Mayor Bruce Hanson dealt with Craig Cobb’s second attempt at creating an all-white enclave by rallying the town’s people, purchasing the property Cobb intended to buy, demolishing it, and cleaning up the street.

“We went through this a couple years ago, and I don’t want to go through it again,” Hanson said. “Nobody wanted these people in town.”

After the town won the struggle and Cobb left town and moved to Sherwood, Hanson said he went inside the property. The wood floor was rotted, ceilings were caving in. He didn’t dare walk more than 15 feet inside.

“Whoever wanted to move into that thing had to be half nuts and ready to move into the state hospital in Jamestown.”

Antler is “barely livable” according to AreaVibes. Its crime rate is higher than the state average. Its median home value and household income are much lower than the state average, and its cost of living is 19 percent lower, making it an ideal target for a Pioneer Little Europe.

“Everyone in this town gets along,” Mayor Hanson said. “We don’t want any trouble, we don’t want problems. It’s a nice, quiet, small town and we want to keep it that way.”

Leith protest – attorney and activist Chase Iron Eyes – photo by Gregory Bruce

Sherwood, Renville County: population 256, 62 miles north of Minot

The town of Sherwood is situated two miles from the Canadian border, and relies heavily on the oil and agricultural industries for its survival. It has a golf course, three churches, and an active American Legion Post, according to the city’s website. The town also has Craig Cobb, who is on probation and not allowed to leave the state.

Sherwood Police Chief Ross Carter said Cobb is living with a girlfriend.

“He’s still here,” Carter said. “No problems. I’m kinda expecting it, but I haven’t seen anything. Everybody is keeping an eye on him. Everyone leaves him alone. He just wants attention.”

The town’s crime rate is 67 percent lower than the state average; its median home value and income are also lower, but it is listed as “very livable” by AreaVibes.

Leith Jail – photo by Gregory Bruce

Washburn, McLean County: population 1,324, 40 miles north of Bismarck  

Washburn and North Dakota’s 13th largest city, Valley City, population 6,699, present challenges for Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota, and may be targeted for their proximity to surrounding smaller towns. The Pioneer Little Europe movement targets small, dying towns, which can easily be “taken over.” The Flickertail State has approximately 114 towns with less than a thousand people and many more townships, according to City-Data.

“I guess we will need to keep our eyes and ears open and see what happens,” Washburn Mayor Larry Thomas said.

 

Craig Cobb’s residence in Sherwood – photo by Gregory Bruce

Terraform

The Oxford Living Dictionary’s meaning of the word terraform is to transform (a planet) so as to resemble the earth, especially so that it can support human life. It is a word not included online in Webster’s Dictionary, and its usage by white supremacists is puzzling as it connotes planets other than earth.

“We are here to terraform the old white community, not to conform to it,” Barrett wrote in his 2001 book “Pioneer Little Europe Prospectus, a.k.a. ‘Stormfronts of the Street.’”

“The uncontrolled white nationalist culture will displace and destroy all the local values that have never really served whites…For it’s in these places, in Pioneer Little Europes, where the old nationalities can align and evolve into a cultural revival for all white Americans, that a new faith and ethical resistance can take root.”

Barrett doesn’t preach violence, but little pity will be shown to those who resist. The optimal way to exterminating a race, or taking over an area is to take away the living spaces the people within need to maintain economic and cultural integrity, Barrett said.

“Some of the old community whites will not want to live within an area where our numbers are concentrated. They will voluntarily flee this target area. In fact, all who oppose white nationalism will voluntarily quit the area. Many others, however, will welcome their liberators.”

One of Pioneer Little Europe’s tactics used in Leith is called “renter’s blitzkrieg.”

“The large numbers of white nationalists involved will swamp all the existing institutions in the local target area, and will gain enormous respect everywhere else. They will also occasionally connect with militants, those who have long lacked a community to defend.

“Now all will defend their community.”

Barrett adopted the methods behind Pioneer Little Europe from watching what he calls competition and adversaries, mainly Jews, the Chinese in Chinatowns, the Japanese, even homosexuals and hippies during the 1970s, he said. Like-minded individuals would target an area, and then “take it over” en masse before opposition had time to respond.

He proposed tactics not unlike General Patton during World War II where the decorated war hero bypassed entrenched troops to take control of nerve centers and supply lines.

“The faster we build large, powerful communities, the faster our opponent will be inclined to peacefully negotiate beyond their present stingy and condescending definition of what’s fair.”

Barrett condemns what he sees as a white genocide, and called on janitors, bartenders, police, lawyers, teachers, artists, security guards, book shopkeepers, theater owners, drivers, and blood bank operators, to prepare.

Two more principles for taking over towns are revealed within the Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota Facebook page: the “Tightening Rope Principle” and the “Trojan Horse Principle.”

“Those who are hostile at all toward us will be looked upon as tainted,” page organizers wrote. “We will not save them from a heart attack if they have one. We will be like a rope that tightens harder the more you struggle. The only way to escape the rope is to relax.”

The Trojan Horse principle suggests that operations are already in place in small towns across North Dakota.

“We know certain high profile anti-whites live there. Anti-whites who are with UnityND and attacked the original Leith, ND effort. We tracked them down, and we found out they lived in PLE friendly areas, despite preaching ‘diversity’ to everyone else. So we decided to mark those very favorite areas which the prominent anti-whites live in for PLE creation. This will discourage Anti-Whites from attacking an existing PLE effort, because if they do, chances are they will find one in their own backyard.”

 

Leith protest – photo by Gregory Bruce

Why North Dakota?

White supremacist groups prefer low-population areas. Guidelines suggest small towns, a meeting place, and a few shops are enough to begin an all-white enclave. Operatives search for isolated areas, towns on the brink of extinction, of which North Dakota has more than a handful.

“There is a belief by some supremacists that places like North Dakota are easy targets for starting supremacist movements, like Cobb’s attempt to takeover Leith,” Kade Ferris, the social media director for Unity-USA, said. Unity-USA is a nonprofit organization, an educator, and a direct action organizer against hate group activity.

“They think, correctly in some cases, that some people share their racist views,” Ferris said. “They also believe that it would be more difficult for an anti-racist organization to oppose them in such a rural place as North Dakota.

“They were wrong on both points as they were opposed by the town of Leith and Unity-USA organized one of the best anti-racist rallies in recent memory.”

Gregory Bruce, a Navy veteran, and one of the documentarians behind the Leith controversy, is now the media relations director for the city of Leith, and was an associate producer for the “Welcome to Leith” documentary. He has taken and collected thousands of photographs and videos, and hundreds of documents detailing the ordeal, and keeps some on his website.

He said he was one of three people, including the mayor and one other, who actively fought the Pioneer Little Europe operation in Leith, and believes they were surrounded by sympathizers. He was threatened with arrest by the county’s former state attorney, Todd Schwarz, who reportedly told him to stop documenting and bringing attention to the situation as the county was running out of overtime pay, Bruce said.

Two years after Leith’s victory, he took down his website, but he’s bringing it back online. The fight isn’t over, he said.

”There’s more trouble brewing in Leith once again, not from the Nazis, but from the Nazi sympathizers,” Bruce said.

One way to prevent a takeover is to keep towns clean and tidy, destroy old abandoned buildings or invest monies to spruce them up, both Bruce and Leith Mayor Schock said.

The fight against Pioneer Little Europe is also a digital one, Bruce said.

“Instead of shooting him [Cobb] that day with a gun, I decided to fight him using his own weapon, the Internet. And I beat the hell out of him.”

Leith will one day become whole again, the mayor said, but the town no longer feels like the home residents once knew. Schock is distrustful of newcomers, keeps tabs on hate group message boards. Anyone unknown who wants to buy property in Leith will undergo intensive scrutiny.

“I know what they’re looking for, a rundown town, a ghost town, yet still has a governing law,” Schock said.

“I tried my best to educate the people in North Dakota, but they just don’t give a damn,” Bruce said. “They want to believe this will go away, but it’s not going to go away.”

Village of the Damned – photo provided by Gregory Bruce

 

“Cannot Hate Without Love”

Nazis, racialists, and “alt-right:” Peace Garden State a perfect place for white supremacists 

Alt-White: The Siege of North Dakota. Part One in the series of racism in North Dakota, how Nazis plan to infiltrate the state and are being bolstered by Trump’s Administration policies. Hate crimes are not on the rise, but the state ranks high for intolerance to multiculturalism. Today, white supremacists are rarely dressed in white robes or swastikas, but are “Guccified.” 

By C.S. Hagen
FARGO – Nick Chappell no longer resembles the American Nazi he was 10 years ago during a recruitment drive to Fargo. He’s forgotten where he last put his braunhemden, or brown shirt, his black tie, and Nazi pin. The imperious swastika armband once wrapped around his left arm has also been packed away. 

“Not the best way to convert people, I believe,” Chappell said. “The purpose was to grab attention, which it did.” 

Once a rising star in the American Nazi party, he left the Nationalist Socialist Movement as director of the Viking Youth Corps during a “Soviet-style purge of its ranks,” according to Nationalist Socialist Files. Eleven months after his visit to the Peace Garden State, Chappell was ranked high on a confidential Nazi blacklist. American Nazi Party Commander Jeff Schoep labelled Chappell an “oath breaker” and “race-traitor.” 

Now, Chappell, 28, of Irish and English descent, makes occasional trips to Fargo from his home in South Dakota to help organize and educate groups of people involved with the Creativity Movement, which believes race, not religion, is absolute truth and that the white race is the highest expression of culture and civilization. The Creativity Movement rose from the ashes of the Church of the Creator founded in 1973. The organization’s colors evoke the swastika: red, white, and black; its logo is a large “W” representing the white race topped by a crown and a halo. 

2007 Nazi party presidential candidate (center) John Bowles, (left) Nick Chappell and Kevin Swift – photo by NSM International

Chappell prepares for RaHoWa, the acronym for an inevitable racial holy war, he said, which is coming soon. 

“I do believe that eventually this will boil down to a race war as we have already seen with the riots in cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore,” Chappell said. His family doesn’t share his views. 

“They are in denial over what I see as an inevitable war brewing.”

A reverend, also known now as a “creator” for the Creativity Movement, Chappell has been targeted before while he was a Nazi. In 2007, he was attacked by non-racists in Columbia, Missouri; suffered a busted lip.

Hate and love are both parts to his nature, he said. He didn’t learn racism from his parents, but from attending a primarily black school in Edenton, North Carolina. “There were fights on a weekly basis. I tried to avoid them but I got suspended about once a year for a fight. 

“If you were white you had to travel in a group or you would be attacked and picked on for being white.”

When he left the Nazis – a time analysts describe as the most recent resurgence of white-power – smaller groups splintered from larger organizations. After the American Nazi party’s troubles of 2007, Chappell formed a new group called the Nationalist Socialist Order of America, and based it out of “The Redneck Shop,” a memorabilia store in Laurens, South Carolina. It was known as the “site of many NSM gatherings,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate group watchdog and nonprofit civil rights organization. 

Marriage to a woman who shares his beliefs brought Chappell from North Carolina to his current home in a small town in South Dakota. He leads a normal life; has a full time factory job and fathered four children. He purchased a house, invested in four other houses for like-minded people in need, he said. As a reverend in the Creativity Movement, he holds regular weekly meetings for study and discussions, all open to the public. 

The Creativity Movement is a four-dimensional religion, Chappell said, focusing on a “sound mind, sound body, in a sound society, and sound environment.”

Nick Chappell (right) before a vending table in Illinois – photo provided by Nick Chappell

“Our organization is not afraid of confrontation, so if anti-racists wish for a confrontation our meetings are always open to give them that,” Chappell said. “We want a white-only society so it has to begin locally with white racial loyalists congregating together, helping each other. Where I live I purchased a few homes for those facing hard times…brings in people where we can get them jobs, and provide a roof over their heads.” 

He and others fight to protect white culture. They’re persecuted, rejected by many; small town governments fight against their plans at creating white enclaves.  

The current problems in the USA began in the 1960s with the civil rights movement, he said. 

“When we desegregated schools people were forced to intermingle, circles of friends began to blend, and with that black culture injected into ours.” If ethnic minorities can cling to their cultures with pride, whites can do the same, Chappell said. 

Hatred towards ethnic minorities in the USA is not blanketed, but pointed. 

“Do I hate all non-whites? No, but I would hate every single one that is a threat to my race,” Chappell said. “Yes, I hate black and Mexican gang bangers, and I hate drug dealers, and I also hate degenerate whites who do drugs and have been completely obsessed with non-white culture.

“But you cannot hate without love.” 

 

Another white power resurgence

Chappell doesn’t believe Donald Trump’s successful run for presidency is going to help his cause. “I am still waiting to see what he does, instead of what he says.” 

Others disagree. 

White supremacy, in its many forms, sects, and organizations, has been given new life with Trump’s presidential campaign and election, according to The New York Times, the Huffington Post, and AlJazeera. Additionally, nationalist groups like France’s National Front led by Marine Le Pen, and Golden Dawn in Greece led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos, are growing in numbers, threatening power balances, effectively tipping international scales.

Tensions between races are escalating on all sides. Violent crime and hate crime numbers are up, and not specifically white targeting black, but blacks also targeting whites, including the recent kidnapping and torture of a mentally-challenged white person by four young black people in Chicago. 

Or when the Tinsley Park 5 ambushed white supremacists in 2012, injuring ten in Chicago, or more recently the racist and anti-racist stabbings during a Ku Klux Klan rally in California in June 2016, the Neo-Nazi rally in Washington DC in November 2016… or the post-election celebratory “alt-right” Hitler salute hailing President-elect Trump during Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute meeting. 

Hail Trump. Hail our people. Hail our victory,” Spencer said during the meeting. “For us it is conquer, or die… To be white is to be a striver, a crusader, an explorer, and a conqueror. We build, we produce, we go upward.”

Criticism against Spencer’s speech in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana, has caused his family financial suffering, The Daily Stormer reported, forcing his mother to sell property. Neo-Nazis have struck back, announcing plans for an anti semitic “Troll Storm,” in the ski resort town on Sunday, January 15, according to The New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Daily Stormer

Across the racial aisle in June 2015 Dylan Roof, a white supremacist, admittedly fired 70 rounds, killing 9 black people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

“Somebody had to do it,” Roof said in a video released in December 2016. “Black people are killing white people everyday… What I did is so minuscule compared to what they do to white people every day.”

Closer to home since 2004, hate crimes in the Peace Garden State range from threats to explosives, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

  • 2004, feces was spread across a mosque’s doors in Fargo 
  • 2005, at least five swastikas were drawn in the University of North Dakota’s campus in Grand Forks
  • 2008, a Jewish student at the same college was harassed 
  • 2011, a monkey-like figure attached to a large inflatable rat was hung from a noose outside an American Crystal Sugar plant in Grand Forks during a labor dispute in an attempt to intimidate minorities working at the plant
  • 2011, racist quotes, swastikas, and anarchy symbols were written on the city hall, residences, cars, street signs in Harwood, North Dakota
  • 2012, a threatening anti-gay epithet was written on the back window of a car that had rainbow bumper stickers – a symbol of gay pride – in Grand Forks
  • 2013: a man impersonating a Hamas agent threatened a Jewish synagogue in Fargo
  • 2013-2014, Craig Cobb and other white supremacists tried to take over the near-ghost town of Leith, North Dakota, and turn the hamlet of 16 people into a white-only enclave, Cobb plead guilty to terrorizing inhabitants with guns
  • September 2016, Matthew Gust plead guilty to firebombing Fargo’s Somali restaurant Juba Coffee & Restaurant with a Molotov cocktail 

Fargo Police Department reported 48 hate crimes in the city since 2012, which involved 13 assaults, eight threats, and three harassment cases that occurred in 2016. 

Fargo Police Deputy Chief Joe Anderson said his department is aware of Nazis in Fargo. 

“We are aware there are people in our community who have those biased beliefs,” Anderson said. “As far as I am aware, we don’t have any active criminal cases involving their participation or rhetoric.  When a suspected hate/biased crime occurs we investigate the incident as thoroughly as possible, just like any other crime against a person or property.”

 

The Nazi vogue

Not unlike Adolf Hitler’s hiring of Hugo Boss, American Nazis are attempting a makeover, according to the NSM Magazine. Nazis focus much of their resources on external image, rallies, and direct action, while the Creativity Movement attempts to nurture their members. 

Nationally, supremacist leaders are now “Gucci-fied,” dressed in name brand suits and ties, as even the Ku Klux Klan, America’s most infamous and oldest hate group, has recently realized old ways of cross burnings, lynchings, and violence are “out of style.” They now speak from behind platforms; make runs at national office.

Lingo is changing. 

  • Racialist – is the most correct term “with regard to accuracy of implied meanings,” an article in the magazine reported. A racialist is pro-white, and does not hate people or other races. 
  • Neo-Nazis – a term “used by Jewish people as a way of demonizing white people who are decidedly pro-white.”
  • Antifa – a semi-organized group of anti-racists who consider using anti-white actions. 

Uniforms and formal dress for the Ku Klux Klan and for Nazis remain stubbornly unchanged. Nazi patches, “No Mercy” sweatshirts, “100% Politically Incorrect” t-shirts, Skinhead music, and a video game named Zog 2, a first-person racialist shooter game, were for sale on NSM88records.com.

Nazi uniforms were made a requirement at all public functions in July 2008, Shoep wrote to party membership, adding all items must be purchased through Nationalist Socialist Movement website. The style closely resembles those made by Hugo Boss during the 1930s. 

  • Shirt – black BDU (battle dress uniform)
  • Pants – black BDU style or Dickies black slacks (pants should be bloused into boots) 
  • Boots – black military style (black laces only) 
  • Belt – black belt with silver buckle or Stormtrooper buckle 
  • Cap – (optional) black SWAT style cap 
  • Rank insignia – to be worn mid chest along the button line in keeping with current US military standards, sewn on with the upper edge even with the upper pockets, directly on the fabric covering the buttons on the BDU.
  • NSM patch – on left shoulder one inch below shoulder seam 
  • State patch – (optional) only official approved State patch, on right shoulder 1 inch below shoulder seam. 
  • Party pin – one party pin may be worn over the left pocket. 

Most supremacists seek what they call equality, as the white race is in danger of being eliminated while African Americans are being “radicalized and emboldened by the Obama Administration,” according to Shoep. 

Activists argue if Black Pride, Black Power, and Black Lives Matter movements are considered acceptable, so too should White Power and White Pride. American Nazis are fighting to raise awareness of the “plight of whites,” according to the NSM Magazine. 

Chappell offered an example. “A few years ago in Kansas City there was a kid chased home from school by blacks, lit on fire on his front porch,” Chappell said. He referred to the February 2012 incident when a 13-year-old white child was doused in gasoline and lit on fire on mother Melissa Coon’s front porch. 

“The blacks were never charged with a hate crime. If a group of whites did that do you think they would be as fortunate? It is actions like this that influence people to joining organizations like mine. We are a reaction to society’s inaction.” 

The incident has been called a hoax citing the “black boogeyman” by some media outlets and activists, and a hate crime by others. To this day, no one has been reportedly arrested for the crime.

 

“Arks of survival”

Some in the Peace Garden State believe the movement in North Dakota took root in 1983 with Gordon Wendell Kahl, aka Sam Louden, a leader of the militant group Posse Comitatus, an early anti-Semitic, white supremacist organization. After refusing to pay taxes and garnering some local support, Kahl shot and killed two federal marshals at a roadblock outside of Medina, North Dakota, then led federal investigators on a four-month-long manhunt, which ended with the death of a sheriff and Kahl’s own life in Arkansas. 

Gordon Kahl’s Wanted poster – provided by U.S. Marshals

Militant and racist groups have hibernated quietly in North Dakota, but are growing, according to analysts. White-supremacist and now Creativity Movement member Cobb’s attempted takeovers of Leith in 2012, and Antler in 2015, are only a handful of recent endeavors. 

White supremacy’s bite is easily found online; its presence in the real world comes in black, a light shade of brown, in jackboots with white laces, and swastikas. In letters, chats, or emails – 88 – stands for HH, or “Heil Hitler.” Wolfsangles and Odin’s hammers have been taken from Nordic culture to stand as Nazi signs. Another slogan, “14” signifies Adolf Hitler’s 14-word phrase: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” 

A newer campaign known as Pioneer Little Europe has recently spread throughout Facebook. Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota has received 1,080 likes, compared to Georgia’s page with 447 likes. During a recent blizzard, page organizers wished its followers Happy Yule, and “may the leftist terrorists freeze.”

Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota page organizers promise that a return to Leith and Antler is in the future, because “there are more of us.” Instead of targeting one specific city, page organizers plan to expand across the state pinpointing cities of Leith, Underwood, Washburn, and Antler. Advertisements for available homes in Sherwood, ND, where Cobb is currently reported to be residing, are listed.

Craig Cobb – photo provided by Southern Poverty Law Center

Cobb, 65, is listed as a sustaining member of “Friend of Stormfront,” and is active in the Stormfront.org website. According to his posts on White Pride Worldwide chat in Stormfront, he attempted a second takeover in Antler, North Dakota, buying a 111-year-old bank, a septic, and two residential lots in July 2015. He made payments from the Creativity Movement of USD 10,000 to Skywalker Enterprises LLC. 

“Creativity Movement owns the bank, lock, stock and barrel,” Cobb wrote. “Why, I even have the key to the bank.” 

After taking control, Cobb wanted to rename the town of 28 to “Trump Creativity,” or “Creativity Trump” in honor of Trump, whom he admires deeply, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

City pressure on the real estate company’s president left the man in “sheer terror,” Cobb said, and the company promised him a full refund. The building was torn down in February 2016, its debris buried in a hole.

On January 9, Cobb told WDAZ News that he planned to file a racial discrimination lawsuit after verbally agreeing to purchase a home for himself and his girlfriend in Bottineau County city of Landa, population 40.

Because of a DNA Diagnostics test in 2013, which proved Cobb was 14 percent Sub-Saharan African, Cobb claimed the homeowner must have thought he was a mulatto-Nazi, and refused to sell him the house on the grounds that he was part black, WDAZ reported. 

“We the European-American people, and the European people in general have had enough, and if a little civil disobedience and direct action are needed – we are willing to do it,” Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota page organizers wrote. “We will not give in to the genocidal demands of the Antifa terrorists, the corrupt anti-white government bureaucrats, and their diminutive sycophantic yokels, their boot-licking thugs.”

Those that oppose supremacists are brainwashed. They cry out to bankrupt anti-white cities. Anyone opposing them, no matter their skin color, is listed as an “anti-white.” Page organizers also report that Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota is trying to fill the Peace Garden State “with invaders.” They make fun of Standing Rock; call DAPL supporters “Marxist savages.” On October 10, 2015, they also take credit for forcing the city of Antler to spend USD 35,000 in thwarting Cobb’s second attempt for an all-white enclave.

Page organizers also exulted in the fact that Congressman Kevin Cramer R-N.D., beat long-time attorney, activist, and Standing Rock resident Chase Iron Eyes for the position earlier this year.

Pioneer Little Europe, or PLE, is an idea developed primarily in the 1990s by Hamilton Michael Barrett and Mark Cotterill, two white supremacists from British and American connections, according to Mark Pitcavage, director of investigative research for the Jewish human rights group Anti-Defamation League. 

In South Dakota, Chappell has met with more success than Cobb. The Creativity Movement there steers away from political rallies. “They create a mob atmosphere and people don’t listen, they just do what the mob wants when it’s worked up in a frenzy. You get far more accomplished one-on-one and in smaller meetings.” 

During meetings, some members come in from elsewhere and stay in local hotels, fill tanks with gas from stations down the road. 

“Thanks to us, we have created business in the area to improve the local economy in this town,” Chappell said. His organization owns a restaurant, a gym, and a banquet hall, to which they frequent for meetings or for socialization. 

“Less risk of getting booted out last minute or having our food spit in at restaurants,” Chappell said. “Can’t prove people spit in the food at restaurants, but it’s a safe bet.” 

Persecution has made Chappell stronger, he said. “It’s made us more independent, and inspired many to own their own businesses so you’re not fired for your beliefs. 

“We live in a society so concerned about the equality of non-whites, it has been completely unequal to whites. The Constitution doesn’t apply to us anymore.” 

Americans have a long history of “fringe groups trying to form communities of like-minded people,” Pitcavage said. “One can think of Puritans coming to America to escape hostility in Great Britain, or Mormons trekking to Utah to escape aggression from non-Mormons.” 

Two events after World War II heralded white supremacist cloistering: the Cold War and fear of nuclear holocaust, and the success of the civil rights movement in the 1970s. Since desegregation, die-hard separatists and supremacists have called upon followers to travel to states like Oregon and Utah under the auspices of the Northwest Territorial Imperative, also known as the White American Bastion, Pitcavage said. 

Although Cobb’s Leith and Antler projects failed, Cobb and his followers have not given up on the Peace Garden State, according to Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota Facebook page. Cobb could not be reached for comment. 

Historically, most cloistering attempts met little success due to infighting, crime, or lack of followers who were willing to give up their lives, Pitcavage said. The PLE campaign recognizes that such massive dreams are doomed, and believe that whites should form communities within communities as “arks of survival,” in order for racially conscious whites to survive. Their presence would “theoretically force non-whites to depart, leaving white supremacist enclaves whose members would aid and assist each other.”

In Grand Forks, Jamie Kelso, director and membership coordinator for the American Freedom Party – formerly known as the American Third Position, a political party initially established by skinheads, is a well-known figure with political ambitions. In 1976 he ran for Missouri’s House of Representatives as an independent, running a platform to abolish income tax, end Social Security, terminate government control of education, and pull the United States toward withdrawing from the United Nations. 

Kelso is a bullhorn for white supremacy ideals. He claims he is not a racist, but a “red-blooded American,” and he hosts “The Jamie Kelso Show” for the American Freedom Party. He was once the personal assistant for Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and served as a moderator for hate-web guru Don Black’s forum Stormfront, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Under Kelso’s supervision, Stormfront grew from 5,000 members in 2002 to 203,000 members in 2010. 

From 2007 until 2010, Kelso became active helping to promote Republican Presidential candidate Rand Paul. On his radio show on the Voice of Reason Kelso said North Dakota is “an optimal place to live as a pro-white activist,” and further claimed the Peace Garden State is full of opportunities for like-minded people. The American Freedom Party is considered “the most serious nationalist organization in the U.S.” by Southern Poverty Law Center.

Kelso refused to comment when contacted by telephone. 

“I am not interested in your questions at all,” Kelso said.

 

A double-edged sword

Fargo’s countermeasure against racism, classism, sexism, and hate, is Unity-USA. As a nonprofit organization, its directors are educators and watchdogs. One of the organization’s jobs is to stop Nazis and other hate groups from unifying in North Dakota and elsewhere through direct action and strong opposition, according to Kade Ferris, Unity-USA’s social media director. 

“There is a Nazi movement totally under the radar in eastern North Dakota,” Ferris said. “These Nazi groups, they flourish when they’re the only horrid voice in this sea of discourse. The discourse has changed in the last year so that more and more people feel free to spout hate and racism. Your neighbor down the street could be saying more horrifying things than any Nazi would ever think to say. In that sense, this nativist movement that Trump has created is not a movement because the average guy down the street who said something horrible and racist is the same guy who would deny that he would ever join a hate group because he thinks hate groups are for horrible people.” 

Trump’s election is a double-edged sword, Ferris said, as hatred’s wave sweeps the nation it is also drowning out the Nazi’s voices.

“More people will be horrified who would have normally been silent,” Ferris said. “People are standing up and opposing racism as well too. In a way, this discourse had to happen because when racism hides, when it’s quiet, when it’s under the surface, it grows and flows around, but the second it comes out into the open people become horrified by seeing that. I think that is a positive. The more people say horrible things, the more people are taken aback by it.

“When people are silent about racism, racism festers.” 

Racial issues do not rest solely with people like Cobb, or Kelso, but is deeply-rooted within the Peace Garden State. 

“Many people in North Dakota share many of the same views as Cobb and the Nazis, but they don’t see themselves that way and would be offended if you pointed that out. They hate Nazis, but are so similar in so many ways.”

Three years ago, few people were vocal about their own prejudices, Ferris said. Supremacists like Cobb shocked North Dakota, sent international hate group watch dogs and activists into a frenzy of activity. More than 400 anti-racists traveled to Leith in 2012 to face down a few dozen Nazis and supremacists. 

“Now, everyone is a Craig Cobb. They all say what they want to say, they are free with their hate, and they’re proud of it. That right there makes people like Cobb irrelevant. There’s more hate being spread on the local news Facebook page than there is on Stormfront. And that in a way is both a bad thing, and a good thing, as it opens people’s eyes and they see themselves, and they see racism is growing.

“But racism was already there.”  

Founder of Unity-USA, Scott Garman, said he’s been fighting racism and fascism nearly all his life. He and his family have been targeted by Nazis with threatening emails, telephone calls, online “doxing,” when a person’s personal information is released to the public.

Trump’s rise to power has fed hate groups courage, Garman said. 

“For the last five or six years there’s been an increase in Internet chatter,” Garman said. “White nationalists are breaking through the surface now, showing themselves. They’re doing much more, they’re much braver with the election of Trump. Now we’re seeing they’re no longer below the radar, and they’re feeling much more comfortable speaking out, which is frightening.” 

Nazis, skinheads, clansmen, creators, separatists, all come from the same mold, Garman said, the differences are minimal, almost interchangeable. 

“They are all of the same pot. You can’t separate them out. They’re all so full of right wing and nuts that it doesn’t do any good to keep them apart. They are all the same people just in different clothing, or different haircuts, or one is wearing boots and one isn’t. They will constantly change clothes, names, just when they’re being discovered for who they are. They will all of the sudden surface somewhere else under a different name, or under a different group’s name.” 

Most hate groups target the elderly, because they have money, or young people with malleable minds, Garman said. Shared religious beliefs is another tactic hate groups use to entice people to their ranks. 

“It’s just like drugs, once you get a taste, once you show up at a rally with a bunch of shave-headed dudes preaching this tough guy stuff, there’s a feeling of camaraderie, a feeling of belonging,” Garman said. “That’s a huge deal, it’s really powerful, but once you have that taste, maybe later on you do some research, but you’re already hooked.” 

Another reason hate groups are stepping into the light is because people are sipping their “Cool-Aid” for finding scapegoats for their own problems, Ferris said. 

“If you’re down in the dumps how do you push yourself back up? You either work really hard, or you push someone below you. They’ve created these scapegoats, first it was the Mexicans, then it was immigrants, now everybody. I think the people are going to start to see that there is an inherent problem with that. They’re not going to become instant millionaires, and they’re not going to become famous politicians. They’re going to wake up January 22 as refrigerator repairmen, or whatever. They will wake up and their lives won’t be better, but they will be filled with hate.”

Scapegoats are primarily fingered by the elected few, or by organizations such as the American Freedom Party or the benign-sounding National Policy Institute, an “alt-right” think tank, as ways to pass the buck or trigger anger.  

“They play to identity politics,” Ferris said. “They play to the ‘us-and-them’ binary, and in a way it has come down to that, and it’s a bad thing for America. They’re job in their mind is to elect people into power who are of the same mind. They are a dangerous hate group because of that.”

Instead of striving toward a better life, scapegoating onto immigrants or Muslims is the same tactic used by Hitler against Jews before World War II. 

“The poorest of the poor white person has more in common with the poorest of the poor black person, or native, or Latino, than they do with these wealthy, rich businessmen and oligarchs who are running the world. But they’ve been told differently by these very people who don’t have their best interests at heart.” 

Those involved in the Creativity Movement are Nazis who believe white man is God’s number one achievement, Ferris said. He is constantly harassed by Nazis and racialists. On January 7, Pioneer Little Europe Florida issued Ferris a death wish: “This is 2017 and Fidel Castro is dead. The best thing you can do is join him.” 

“My address, workplace, and my family’s pictures were shared all over Stormfront,” Ferris said.  He paused long enough to answer a young Nazi from Florida who believes he has a chance for state office since Trump won the US Presidency. 

“That’s not too nice I guess, but you can’t live in fear of these deplorables.”

 

Preparing for racial holy war

The Nazi party was established in Fargo in 2007, according to the Nationalist Socialist Movement’s NSM International blog. 

“The NSM Hotline was also packed almost to capacity with calls from around the nation asking about joining or supporting the NSM, so you, the members, activists, and supporters of the Party are doing your part in getting the word out about our cause,” Shoep said after Fargo’s Nazi party was officially formed.  

In 2009, secret Nazi emails were leaked onto the Internet by Wikileaks. The Nazi correspondence provides a small glimpse into the shadow world of Nationalist Socialism. More than 600 messages between July 2007 and August 2009 depict Nazis spending as much time pointing fingers, complaining of hard times, and threatening to expose internal fiscal problems as they do at talking about protecting the white race. 

Shoep frequently admonishes members, ordering them to stop squabbling, and in one letter he took a threatening tone.

“The NSM does not operate as a democracy, your Pledge of Loyalty is to the party and its leadership. Honor your oath, and your Pledge of Loyalty to the party, or get out of our ranks now while you still can.” 

William Herring, a staff member and Fargo’s Nazi contact who handled correspondence for the group in 2008. Herring reports his handle in other online chats is odinn88 in the Vanguard News Network, and describes himself as a Nazi skinhead with a satanic temper who has spent eight years in prison. These days, however, he “likes to stay on the right side of the law.

“Law and order are essential or we have chaos,” Herring said in October 2007 on the Vanguard News Network. “I live a clean, honest life now and I obey the law… Make no mistake, I am one crazy, violent mother f*cker. But I choose to stay free and outside of a cell by using reason and logic and following the law – until such time when there is no longer law or order. Then I will cheerfully and enthusiastically pick up a chainsaw or axe and seriously go to town on the n*ggers and Zionist swine. When that horrible day comes, you will see me on the front lines laughing my ass off and taking off heads. Until then, I just want a quiet little life with no mayhem or bullsh*t.”

According to the emails released by Wikileaks, Herring was in contact with Shoep in 2009, apologizing for not paying annual party dues, and saying he values his position with the Nationalist Socialist Movement and with the SS. 

While in Fargo, he described personal struggles to the Nazi commander, writing about a cheating girlfriend, a battle with pneumonia, being free from alcohol for 75 days. When he hit bottom, he began using toilet paper as coffee filters, and was forced to live in a homeless shelter. To friends outside the Nationalist Socialist Movement he wrote his name as Bill; to Shoep and other party members, he was SS Mann Herring. 

The Nazi party’s goals in Fargo are to engage in public speaking events, participate in local and state elections, and to distribute information and literature, according to Herring. 

“Our plan is to convince others that this system is broken beyond repair and that the principles of National Socialism are superior to this ‘democracy’ we find ourselves in.”

Toward the end of 2008, Herring wrote that his office was overwhelmed by the influx of new membership applications. In July the same year, Herring wrote he moved from Fargo to Springfield, Missouri. “I really didn’t have much left for me in North Dakota and I missed the hell out of my girl, so I moved to where she lives.”

By October 2008, Herring’s tone became calmer, telling applicants that the Nazi party doesn’t hate Jews, but is adamantly against Zionism and the dangers of multiculturalism. In 2009, Herring stated he was preparing to move to Oregon. 

“At the same time, we must admit to and report on the terrible crimes that many whites commit in order to show that our race is falling into decadence and that this behavior is further destroying us.

“We are not so one-sided as many think.”

The Nazi party has divisions applicants can apply to, including the Skinhead Division. For those who aren’t keen on wearing the uniforms, support divisions are available. Stormtroopers are the Nazi party’s “fighting force.” 

In addition to Fargo’s Nazi party, nearby Grand Forks has the American Freedom Party spearheaded there by Kelso, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The organization’s mission statement is mellow, citing concerns over the economy, well-armed borders, freedom from foreign ideologies, and fiscal mismanagement. The organization’s leaders, however, include a wide range of white supremacists, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

White nationalist corporate lawyer William D. Johnson practices out of Los Angeles, and is the chairman of the American Freedom Party. In 1985, Johnson proposed a constitutional amendment that would revoke the American citizenship of every non-white inhabitant of the United States, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. 

An excerpt from the “Pace Amendment” to the Constitution proposed by Johnson in 1985: “No person shall be a citizen of the United States unless he is a non-Hispanic white of the European race. … Only citizens shall have the right and privilege to reside permanently in the United States.” 

In 1985, under the pseudonym James O. Pace, Johnson wrote the book Amendment to the Constitution: Averting the Decline and Fall of America, where he advocates for the deportation of anybody with any “ascertainable trace of Negro blood” or more than one-eighth “Mongolian, Asian, Asia Minor, Middle Eastern, Semitic, Near Eastern, American Indian, Malay or other non-European or non-white blood.” 

Johnson was also selected as a California delegate by Trump. 

Both Johnson and national radio host James Edwards, one of six directors for the American Freedom Party, have also been in contact with one of Trump’s sons. Edwards, a member of the Council of Conservative Citizens, reported on his show “The Political Cesspool” that America is on the verge of becoming a third-world nation because of its immigration policies. Edwards’ three-hour weekly show can be heard on its flagship station, the Christian station WLRM-AM in Millington, Tennessee, just outside of Memphis, on stations affiliated with the Liberty News Radio Network, and on the Internet.

“The Political Cesspool” says in its mission statement that it “stands for the Dispossessed Majority” and is “pro-white.” It says the show rejects “homosexuality, vulgarity, loveless sex, and masochism” and believes “secession is a right of all people and individuals.”

“The show has become the nexus for radio-based hate in America,” the Southern Poverty Law Center reports. 

Kevin MacDonald, a former professor of California State University Long Beach, is also a director of the American Freedom Party and has been accused of being an anti Semite by the Southern Poverty Law Center. His Twitter account tweets have been retweeted by by the Trump family, and he was quoted in 2010 by the Long Beach Press-Telegram saying white people have the right to organize to advance their interests, like everyone else. His writings on Jews have also been called anti Semitic by the Anti-Defamation League, and have been quoted approvingly by Duke.

Kelso, also a director for the American Freedom Party, was awarded “nationalist comeback player of the year” in 2014 by Jack Ryan, a writer for Occidental Dissent, an “alt-right” online publication. 

In South Dakota and across the world, the Creativity Movement is preparing for a racial holy war. 

“I am an ordained reverend within the church and it is my duty to educate those in my area on our teachings,” Chappell said. “We prepare for RaHoWa by stockpiling food, water, and protective gear in case riots happen in our areas.”

Creativity Movement gathering in South Dakota – photo provided by Nick Chappell

Leader of the Creativity Movement, Reverend James Logsdon, said in a 2013 interview with Vice, no matter his personal struggles or society’s ostracism, his racist choices are worth his cause. 

“Believe me, things are going to get very, very ugly,” Logsdon said. “You just look at the common decline of society; you’d have to be blind to say that doesn’t exist.” 

The Creativity Movement is gaining ground in Fargo, and across North Dakota, Chappell said. “We have had ups and downs like any organization, but we are making progress.”

The Creativity Movement’s enemies are the fear mongers, Chappell said, and for 14 years – as long as he has been a racial loyalist – only federal informants have tried to incite violence. Most groups are focused on growth, recruitment, adhere to strict legal means and ideals such as creating white enclaves. 

“Should people fear us? No, they shouldn’t, but the should definitely fear for their children’s safety, not from us, but from the society they have created.” 


Only non-whites, or non-racists, should fear them. “You can only push a man so much until he begins to swing back. Even the atrocities of Adolf Hitler were petty in comparison to America’s allies at the time of Stalin and Mao Zedong of China.  Stalin killed 40 million Ukrainians and and Mao killed 90 million Chinese. As far as people using the actions of Hitler and the KKK to justify antifascist actions, I would say unless they want to see atrocities on a greater scale than Stalin and Mao Zedong, they might want to find a better way to take action. Eventually people are going to snap, and it won’t be pretty.” 

In the meantime, white supremacist projects like Pioneer Little Europe and other white enclave endeavors are expanding in North Dakota. 

“I prefer a quieter approach,” Chappell said, referring to Cobb’s two attempts in North Dakota. Nazis also helped hurt the cause at that time as well, he said. “There is no need for so much attention. The economy is good and can attract people with lots of small towns and relatively cheap land. Jews believe in racial loyalty and help each other succeed, so they rise in society easier. That’s something whites should do as well. 

“It’s a successful business model. Why not?” 

Days after the Nazi salute to Trump, which was performed in public, in the nation’s capital, Dan Rather, former reporter for CBS 60 Minutes and the current president of News and Guts, issued a statement

“Now is a time when none of us can afford to remain seated or silent. We must all stand up to be counted. History will demand to know which side were you on. This is not a question of politics or party or even policy. This is a question about the very fundamentals of our beautiful experiment in a pluralistic democracy ruled by law.

“We are a great nation. We have survived deep challenges in our past. We can and will do so again. But we cannot be afraid to speak and act to ensure the future we want for our children and grandchildren.”

Fighting back tears, First Lady Michelle Obama gave her final address to young people from inside the White House on January 5. “It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and the life of this country. Lead by example with hope, never fear.” 

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