Supremacist Church Leaving Midwest for Riverton, Wyo.

The Associated Press/December 10, 2002

Riverton, Wyo. -- The white supremacist World Church of the Creator has moved its world headquarters to Riverton, a central Wyoming city on an American Indian reservation.

The move was announced online last week by the leader of the group, Matt Hale of East Peoria, Ill.

Hale said the group's move from Illinois means Wyoming residents will begin to see more leaflets and literature, more demonstrations and more recruiting. He refused to say why the church was moving.

Hale, who has a law degree, said he will not move to Wyoming but other church members might.

Evan Zuckerman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the group's literature has inspired members and former members to commit violence. "Wyomingites should be concerned," he said.

In 1999, former church member Benjamin Nathaniel Smith went on a shooting spree that targeted minorities in Illinois and Indiana, killing two people and wounding nine before he killed himself. Killed were a former basketball coach and a member of a Korean United Methodist church.

Hale said he has appointed Thomas Kroenke as the group's leader for Wyoming and its world leader of operations.

Kroenke has been a caseworker for the Wyoming Corrections Department, according to his Web site and the 2002 state government directory. He says he became a follower of the church after hearing about it from an inmate.

Riverton, a community of 9,000, is 87 percent white in a state that is 92 percent white, according to 2000 Census figures.

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