Neo-Nazi William A. White convicted in Chicago for Web posts

Just two weeks before his scheduled release, William A. White was convicted of soliciting violence.

The Roanoke Times, Virginia/January 6, 2011

A neo-Nazi whose online rants struck fear in Roanoke and across the country was convicted of using his website to solicit violence Wednesday, just two weeks before his scheduled release from prison.

William A. White was found guilty of encouraging harm to the foreman of a Chicago jury that convicted a fellow white supremacist in 2004. The verdict came on the third day of a trial in U.S. District Court in Chicago.

White, 33, the leader of a Roanoke-based white supremacy group, has been serving a 2?-year sentence following his convictions last year in Roanoke of threatening a bank employee in Missouri, a university administrator in Delaware and a group of apartment tenants in Virginia Beach.

Instead of a scheduled Jan. 18 release date, White now faces up to 10 more years in prison.

Defense attorneys had argued that even as bellicose bigot, White was entitled to free-speech protection.

But the all-white jury, which was granted anonymity to protect its members from possible harm or harassment by neo-Nazi sympathizers, rejected that argument after three hours of deliberation.

"While freedom of speech is among our most cherished rights, the First Amendment does not protect anyone who intends to induce others to kill or injure," U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said after the verdict.

White - once described as one of the loudest voices in America's neo-Nazi movement - was charged with soliciting violence with an online post to, a website that served as the megaphone for his racist views.

Mark Hoffman, the foreman of a Chicago jury that convicted white supremacist Matthew Hale in an unrelated case in 2004, testified this week that he was dismayed to learn, four years later, that White had posted his name, address and telephone number to the website.

The post identified Hoffman as the "gay anti-racist" juror who played a key role in convicting Hale of soliciting the murder of a Chicago judge who ruled against him in a civil case. Hale is serving a 40-year prison sentence.

Hoffman testified that within minutes, be began to receive hateful text and phone messages, some of them including racial and ethnic slurs.

"They were coming in every two seconds, so many that they killed the battery" on his cellphone, Assistant U.S. Attorney William Hogan said.

Neither the post nor the responses it generated contained direct threats. Prosecutors argued that White's words amounted to an invitation to harm the juror -- especially when taken in context with other missives that appeared on

The jury was told of numerous posts: White's call to lynch six black youths at the center of a civil rights demonstration in Jena, La.; his delight over the slayings of two family members of a Chicago judge; his opinion that a Canadian civil rights lawyer should "be drug out into the street and shot;" and his own growing urges to "kill, kill, kill."

Defense attorney Nishay Sanan said prosecutors succeeded in scaring the jury into convicting his client.

In fact, jurors asked that all spectators and reporters be removed from the courtroom before they delivered the verdict. They also asked to be allowed to leave from an alternate courthouse exit. Judge Lynn Adelman declined to clear the courtroom, but ordered that jurors be escorted safely from the building.

"The verdict was based on fear and not the law," Sanan said. "This is a sad day for the First Amendment."

Prosecutors said there was more to the case than just inflammatory rhetoric. They cited the testimony of two former members of White's organization, the American National Socialists Workers Party.

Mike Burks and Phil Anderson told the jury about letters they received from White within days of his arrest in October 2008, which came shortly after his post targeting the Chicago juror.

White instructed Burks and Anderson to make sure no harm came to the juror at the hands of white supremacists. Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Ferrara, who prosecuted the case with Hogan, said the letters suggested a plan had already been set in motion.

"Why would he want to ask these people to stand down if they were not asked to stand up in the first place?" Ferrara said.

As in his previous cases, White did not testify or present evidence.

White, who moved to Roanoke seven years ago to start a rental home business, has been called "possibly the loudest and most obnoxious neo-Nazi leader in America" by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups.

Both White's business and his hate group have dissolved since his arrest.

No sentencing date has been scheduled. Although the maximum punishment is 10 years, sentencing guidelines will likely call for a lesser term. Sanan said he will ask that White be released on bond after Jan. 18, the end of his sentence on the Roanoke charges.

A bond hearing would give prosecutors another chance to argue that White is a danger, a theme they have sounded consistently.

White's writings may well have encouraged violence by at least one of his followers in a case cited by the indictment, which takes 12 pages to recount some of his diatribes.

In 2007, Eric Hunt - identified by White on as "a fan of this website" - was convicted of assaulting Elie Wiesel, an internationally known Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel laureate.

In commenting about the case, White included Wiesel's address "in case anyone was looking for him."

In another post two weeks later, White wrote that he had received a call from The Associated Press about the incident. According to the indictment, White made the following statement to the news outlet:

"Insofar as my views may have played a role in motivating Mr. Hunt, I can only say that I hope to inspire a hundred more white young people to sacrifice themselves for our collective racial whole. The only thing more noble than sacrifice is victory.

"Heil Hitler."

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