Felton: I'm cursed by mixed-race family

Boston Herald/July 11, 2001
By Robin Washington

An alleged terrorist charged with plotting to bomb black and Jewish landmarks says he joined hate groups because of the "curse" of being born into an interracial family, according to a letter received by the Herald.

Leo V. Felton, who authorities say wanted to start a "racial holy war," wrote the letter in response to a Herald opinion piece questioning his alleged actions given his racial background. "What they (his parents) did in comingling (sic) their blood was wrong. Evil, even. A government that permits such conduct is also, to that extent, wrong," Felton said in the neatly written, four-page account of his beliefs and racial identity.

Acknowledging his roots as the child of a black father and white mother, Felton said he has good relations with both of his parents. But he strongly decried the idea of any interracial couple, including his parents, having children.

"For two consenting adults of different races to decide that they will brave the criticism of their families and whatever degree of ostracism in our `racist' society for the sake of being together is one thing," Felton wrote from the Plymouth County Correctional Facility. "But to forcibly introduce a third party into the situation by procreating is something else entirely. This third party, the child, did not enter the equation knowingly and voluntarily, and unlike the parents, is not only burdened in his or her physical appearance with their choice but cannot back out of it if he or she doesn't like being an outcast."

To practice what he preaches, Felton said he will not have children of his own. "For my part I have not bred, nor would I ever," he wrote. Though authorities could not confirm the authorship of the letter, sources said it appeared to be genuine.

A spokeswoman for the federal prosecutors in the case declined comment on the letter. Philosophically, however, the letter is consistent with white supremacist teachings believed held by Felton, who was first jailed for a racially motivated attack at 19.

In his own case, Felton said his feelings of being "a man in the margins" led directly to his political beliefs, which authorities suggest culminated in a plot to blow up the New England Holocaust Memorial. Though he did not profess innocence of the charges against him, Felton blasted the media and public officials for trying his case in the public arena rather than the courts.

Felton, 30, and Erica Chase, 21, the girlfriend with whom he shared a North End apartment, were indicted June 21 for federal bomb, weapons and counterfeiting charges. Authorities learned of the alleged bomb plot after he and Chase were arrested in East Boston for attempting to pass a counterfeit bill on April 19.

"By a disastrous and completely unforeseeable turn of events, I have been splashed all over the newspapers and televisions in a major city, with my biology and my politics (or the government's contorted version thereof) at the forefront of the whole thing," he wrote.

"I'm staring down the barrel of a life bid right now for crimes which, judging from the media, I was convicted of before even being arraigned. Mayor (Thomas) Menino said in a public gathering . . . that Erica and I are `obviously' guilty."

Saying that he is more white than black because his father is "not entirely" black, Felton said his beliefs were strengthened by a connection to the white part of his heritage. "Having the preponderance of my blood from White (sic) ancestors my sense of connectedness to them and to the culture they created is not only spiritual but physical as well.

"That I have an admixture of non-White blood in my veins is a fact, and one that has made my life more difficult than it had to be." But in recent days, that life has gone from difficult to unbearable, Felton said, following the exposure of his biracial identity in the media. The outing of his secret may have forever ended the relationship he has had with white supremacists since his teen years.

"I have been publicly vilified and had my one `skeleton,' namely my racial origin, put on display in the worst imagineable (sic) way, alienating me from the only community I've known since I was 17 and undermining the few meaningful relationships I had with other people," he wrote.

On his fifth day in jail, that alienation led to a suicide attempt. "The skeleton is in fact the reason I opened my jugular veins," he wrote. He was not seriously hurt in the suicide attempt.

The son of Calvin and Corrine Vincelette Felton, who divorced when he was a child, Felton grew up in Maryland near Washington, D.C. but offered scant insight into his early life. However, he referred to a remark that may have turned him to a life of hate. "(My views have) been developing in me since the day I heard the word `half-breed,' some 21 years ago," he wrote.

Harvard psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint called Felton's letter a textbook example of disproved racial theories and self-denial. "It's typical, almost medieval, twisted biblical stuff that people say," Poussaint said. "He uses that and roots it in genetics. In doing that, he's denying what his genetics are about. He wants to do away with them."

Yet in his own words, Felton appears to realize that he cannot escape his heritage. "I am what I am. Contaminated, falsely condemned, and alienated from my comrades. But a lover of Nature (sic) nonetheless, and a lover of the West, and ever an unrepentant enemy of the multicultural myth," he wrote.

Editor's note:

In response to an Op-Ed piece written by Herald staffer Robin Washington, accused terrorist Leo V. Felton wrote a four-page letter explaining much of his philosophy on race. Washington, who is black and Jewish, castigated Felton, whose father is black and whose mother is white, for his self-hatred and alleged bomb plot.

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