Portland neo-Nazi indicted in mailing of noose to Ohio NAACP officer

The Oregonian/October 8, 2009

Daniel Lee JonesMultnomah County SheriffDaniel Lee Jones A Portland-based organizer for a national neo-Nazi group was brought before a federal judge in shackles Thursday, accused of mailing a hangman's noose to the president of an Ohio chapter of the NAACP.

Daniel Lee Jones, the 33-year-old regional director of the American National Socialist Workers Party, was in court to make his first appearance on two criminal civil rights charges.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dennis J. Hubel in Portland appointed Harold DuCloux, a public defender who is African-American, to handle Jones' legal affairs in Portland. The magistrate also freed Jones from jail as he prepares to face the charges in Ohio, but he put restrictions on his travel and ordered that he part with his guns.

Jones was indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Toledo.

The government accuses Jones of mailing the noose to the home of F.M. Jason Upthegrove, the African-American president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Lima, Ohio. He mailed that symbol of racism to threaten Upthegrove and interfere with his public activities, according to the indictment.

Upthegrove spoke out publicly last year after police officers knocked down the front door of a Lima, Ohio, home to arrest a drug suspect and shot to death Tarika Wilson, a 26-year-old African-American woman, and wounded her 14-month-old son, Sincere.

When Jones mailed out hate fliers about the incident, Upthegrove condemned the white supremacist organization.

According to the government, Upthegrove received a package containing the noose on Valentine's Day 2008. The indictment did not spell out how investigators concluded the noose came from Jones.

The Portland area is no stranger to virulent racists. A national civil rights organization once designated the town "Skinhead City," and the 1988 slaying of Ethiopian student Mulugeta Seraw by a trio of skinheads on the city's southeast side drew national headlines.

But as the ailing economy prompts an uptick in hate group membership in some corners of America, membership in Portland's few white supremacist organizations has held steady,said Randy Blazak, a Portland State University professor and skinhead expert.

Blazak described the American National Socialist Workers' Party as a neo-Nazi group based in Roanoke, Va., with a cadre of adherents in Portland and its suburban communities.

"They're general white supremacists," said Blazak. "They believe the federal government is controlled by a Jewish cabal and needs to be overthrown."

Blazak attended Jones' court appearance Thursday, partly out of academic interest but mostly because he's had personal run-ins with him.

Jones has publicly described Blazak, who is white, as a traitor to his race. On Sept. 14, 2008, Jones posted a photo of the professor's Toyota Prius - the one with an Obama sticker on the bumper - on his group's Website. The photo showed Blazak's home in the background and listed his address and where Blazak's then-wife worked.

"Luckily," Jones wrote, "we have a few comrades who live near him."

Blazak asked Jones to take down the posting and told him police would know where to go if his house was broken into or someone harmed him. But the post stayed up. So Blazak shot a photo of Jones' house and published it on the Website of the Coalition Against Hate Crimes, identifying it as the home of a local Nazi.

Jones' group pulled its photo of Blazak's car and home from its Website. Eventually, the entire site vanished because the founder of the American National Socialist Workers' Party, Bill White, was arrested last October by the FBI.

The government accuses White of threatening a juror in the criminal case of Matt Hale, a notorious white supremacist now serving a 40-year term in the government's supermax prison in Florence, Colo., for soliciting an FBI informant to kill a federal judge.

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