White supremacists recruiting in Red Deer

Calgary Herald/April 18, 2001
By Jeremy Hainsworth

Southern Alberta officials are concerned a U.S.-based white supremacist group that may have inspired Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh sees the region as fertile recruiting ground in light of recent leaflet and poster campaigns.

This week in Red Deer, residents found handouts extolling the virtues of a dominant white culture posted on light poles and stuffed in doorways. The pamphlets put forth the beliefs of West Virginia's National Alliance. The group advocates the supremacy of the so-called white race.

Red Deer Councillor Dennis Moffat said the group's decision to target the city for potential recruits is "scary."

"Alberta has a rotten reputation," he said. "We're not rednecks out here, but we do have that reputation."

"I think they're wasting their time and they should all move back to Alabama," Moffatt said. "They're wrong. It's like Satanism. I don't know what we're going to do. They're instilling hate."

The pamphlet, written by National Alliance founder William Pierce, was dropped onto the doorways of many downtown Red Deer stores. Recent Alberta National Alliance activity appears confined to Calgary and Red Deer. Police between Red Deer and Edmonton say they've seen little white supremacy agitation in the past five years.

Calgary police were on alert for the group in January after pamphlets were found inserted into the University of Calgary's student newspaper, The Gauntlet, and left at city libraries. Pierce's book, The Turner Diaries, is believed to have inspired McVeigh's bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma April 19, 1995.

McVeigh was found guilty in 1997 for the deaths of 168 people and is awaiting execution. He recently claimed he was avenging the Waco, Tex., suicide cult where David Koresh led more than 80 people to their deaths April 19, 1993.

Red Deer RCMP, who investigated the material after several complaints, say while they would like to talk to those responsible, no laws have been broken. "The fact the propaganda has not identified a specific group does not fall under a chargeable section of the Criminal Code," said Const. Dave Henderson. "We would be obviously interested in identifying and discussing the issue with the person responsible for spreading this information in our community."

That provides little comfort to Red Deer residents. Student Kent Keys wondered why anyone would want to dredge up memories of Nazi persecution of minorities in the 1930s and 1940s. "It was probably one of the darkest times in our history. To try to bring it back is not right," he said.

While Elnora resident Shirley Hughes believes in free speech, she said those responsible for the leaflets are sick. "What they're doing is not right," she said. "It's the same as cults. People are gullible."

Const. Doug Jones, who deals with hate-motivated crimes for the Calgary Police Service, said while there's been no National Alliance activity in the city recently, the group remains a concern.

"They're quite active at the university, it seems," Jones said. "They distribute pamphlets and put up stickers. It's rare that we ever have them handing them out personally to people. They just leave them in a bathroom or on a bulletin board."

The National Alliance claims thousands of members worldwide and a "healthy" membership in Calgary.

In January, National Alliance flyers and business cards were found in books at public libraries as well as inserted into copies of U of C's student newspaper, The Gauntlet.

The group started a "Ralph Klein Sucks" Web site leading up to last month's provincial election, expressing disappointment with Premier Ralph Klein's government and encouraging Albertans to visit its West Virginia-based home page.

The group was formed by Pierce in 1974 to advance the "white race" and begin a "thorough rooting out of Semitic and other non-Aryan values and customs everywhere."

One poster bears the legend: "Missing: A Future for White Children," while another carries testimonials from National Alliance members.

"I joined the National Alliance because I wanted my children to grow up in a clean, healthy White world where they won't be a minority," says a testimonial attributed to a Missouri woman. "I want them to go to White schools and live in a White community.

In January, a local group representative who identified himself only as "Graham" said the group will continue its Alberta activities. "We intend to build upon our success, increasing both our membership base and level of activism," he said in e-mail interviews.

The leader of an American anti-Nazi group says white supremacists who have been handing out leaflets in central Alberta must be stopped before their actions escalate into violence.

"They tend to start off with leaflets, and then it tends to accelerate to something worse when the community doesn't (fight back) and respond," said Eric Ward, of the Seattle-based Northwest Coalition for Human Dignity.

"What you can look forward to is the organization will try to divide your community." Calgary police investigated 133 hate and bias crimes last year, compared to 125 in 1999 and less than 50 in 1998.

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