Beach tenants among victims in Illinois neo-Nazi case

The Roanoke Times/December 12, 2008

Neo-Nazi leader William A. White, awaiting trial in Chicago on a charge of encouraging violence against a juror, was indicted Thursday on seven counts of threats and intimidation.

The indictment returned by a grand jury in U.S. District Court charged White with targeting victims by telephone, e-mail and on the Internet - either on his Web site, or in chat rooms visited by white supremacists.

Victims, the indictment said, included a group of tenants in a Virginia Beach apartment complex in a discrimination case, a bank employee in Kansas City, a human rights lawyer in Canada, a newspaper columnist in Maryland, a university administrator in Delaware, and a small-town mayor in New Jersey.

White has said his posts were satire and protected free speech, a claim that federal prosecutors rejected during a news conference to announce the indictment.

"This case will not serve as a referendum on freedom of speech," acting U.S. Attorney Julia Dudley said. "This case is about innocent people being threatened, intimidated and extorted by a man that in most cases, they did not know and have never met."

White's indictment is a blow to the white supremacy movement nationwide, said Mark Potok of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama organization that monitors hate groups.

"White has been seen as the leading threat maker in the entire white supremacy scene for many years," Potok said. "He really specializes in pushing the First Amendment to its absolute limits."

White, 31, the self-proclaimed commander of the Roanoke-based American National Socialist Workers Party, was indicted as he sat in a Chicago jail.

He is awaiting trial on a charge of encouraging violence against a Chicago man who served on a jury that convicted a fellow white supremacist, Matthew Hale, in 2004.

In that case and most of those cited in the Roanoke indictment, White is accused of entering race-related disputes and subjecting the people involved to verbal attacks, veiled threats and death wishes.

White is accused of trying to influence witness testimony by sending inflammatory letters to black tenants who were involved in a housing discrimination case against their landlord in Virginia Beach.

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