AG Files Suit vs. Supremacist Group

Associated Press/July 14, 1999
By Kate N. Grossman

Chicago -- The state on Wednesday filed suit against the World Church of the Creator, the white supremacist group to which racial spree killer Benjamin Smith belonged, to determine if the group is a charity.

"No organization has the right to exploit the protections and benefits the law affords charities,'' Attorney General Jim Ryan said.

Ryan launched an investigation of the church after learning that Benjamin Smith, who police say killed two people and injured nine during a shooting rampage over the Fourth of July weekend, was once a member of the group.

All the victims were black, Jewish or Asian.

The rampage ended when Smith killed himself as police tried to arrest him. Smith had run-ins with authorities in Illinois and Indiana, where he blanketed communities with the church's white supremacist literature.

The state Department of Revenue is also studying the group to find out whether it violated any tax laws. "They applied to us as a religious organization,'' department spokesman Mike Klemens said earlier this month.

"They are not a religious organization.'' Church leader Matthew Hale said Wednesday he chose not to register the church with the state or pay any taxes based on informal talks he had with an attorney four years ago. He says he believes he followed the law on registration of charities.

The FBI also is scrutinizing Hale's group.

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