Neo-Nazi White's vitriol costs him $545,000

A jury awarded the sum to five black women after testimony about White's slurs and veiled threats.

The Roanoke Times, Virginia/August 28, 2010

Hateful words can carry a high price - $545,000 in the case of racist rabble-rouser William A. White.

That was the amount a jury awarded in damages against White on Friday after hearing testimony about how he directed racial slurs and veiled threats against five black women who filed a discrimination lawsuit against their white landlord in Virginia Beach.

As the commander of a now-defunct neo-Nazi organization in Roanoke, White became so angry when he learned of the lawsuit in May 2007 that he fired off letters to the women that began: "Dear Whiney Section 8 N-----."

It was a tactic that White - described by one hate watch group as perhaps America's loudest and most obnoxious neo-Nazi - employed for years against countless targets before he was jailed in 2008 on charges of making racially motivated threats.

White is serving a two-and-a-half-year sentence. Any hopes he holds of resuming a white supremacy movement upon his release appeared dashed by Friday's civil verdict.

"We have to send a message to all of the Bill Whites of the world, and to Bill White himself, that we will not allow citizens to take the judicial process into their own hands," Tony Troy, the plaintiffs' attorney, told the jury.

During a three-day trial in U.S. District Court in Roanoke, the five black women described their reactions to getting a threatening letter from a neo-Nazi commander. One said she began to suffer seizures. Another developed an ulcer.

All five said that to this day, they live in fear of White and his followers.

Annette Reddick testified that she no longer lets her 10-year-old grandson outside to play or ride his bike alone. "I didn't know what was around the corner waiting for us because of him," she said.

White, 33, presented no evidence. Dressed in a dark suit, he spent most of the trial scribbling notes. From time to time, as the witnesses described the suffering they experienced at his hands, a slight smile crossed his face.

Troy drew the jury's attention to White's demeanor during his closing arguments. "The smirks, the laughter, the gleam in the eye," Troy said. "You're seeing it right now. Look at him."

White, who moved to Roanoke in 2004 to start a rental home business, once owned about 20 houses in the West End neighborhood. He claimed nearly $2 million in assets at one point, but filed for bankruptcy protection in 2008.

As part of the jury's verdict, the $545,000 award against him will stand regardless of the bankruptcy proceedings. It's unclear just what White is worth now, but the plaintiffs can seek to collect any future assets he might acquire over the next 40 years.

After deliberating about three hours, the jury awarded compensatory damages to Reddick, her daughter Tasha Reddick, Arlene Carter, Tiese Mitchell and Crystal Lewis in amounts ranging from $45,000 to $65,000. His now-defunct organization, the American National Socialist Workers Party, was found liable for another $280,000.

Although White did not testify, his own words proved to be the most damning evidence against him.

Time and again, the jury was read the letter he sent to the five women. White called them "dirty parasites," warning that the white community had noticed them and its "patience with you and the government that coddles you runs thin."

Even with White behind bars, the women remain so fearful that two of them almost pulled out of the lawsuit at the last minute.

"It's a nightmare," Carter testified. "I believe no one can protect me, honestly. So whenever he wants to do something, or his followers, it's going to happen."

After hearing from the women, the jury watched a videotaped deposition of White taken two years ago. The defendant appeared bored, yawning often, and spoke in a flat tone.

"I don't like people who lie," he said when asked why he wrote the letters.

"The complaint is so obviously false, it's clearly make-believe. If you read it, it looks like the kind of thing blacks make up. Blacks like to make up crazy stories that make them look like victims when they are wrong."

White then went on to describe blacks as animals and Jews as demons.

"You may find Mr. White reprehensible," his attorney, John Weber, conceded to the jury. But, he maintained, the women had not proven their case, in part because they chose to stay in the apartment complex after receiving White's letters. Weber also noted that they had already won settlements in the lawsuit against their former landlord, John Crockett Henry.

Henry, who ran the 15½ Street Apartments in Virginia Beach, had been accused of using racial slurs and imposing a selective curfew on his black tenants.

In December, White was convicted of intimidating two of the plaintiffs in the civil case and threatening two other people. He faces a Jan. 3 trial on another charge of encouraging violence against the foreman of a Chicago jury that convicted a white supremacist years ago.

When five Virginia Beach women decided to take legal action against their landlord, they had no idea it would provoke the wrath of a white supremacist they had never heard of in a city 300 miles away.

Annette Reddick said it upset her "to know that somebody hates me because of the color of my skin. ... I felt like he had no heart."

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