Hate groups targeting Utah teens

Former skinhead warns of growing recruitment efforts

MSNBC News/April 18, 2002
By Vicky C. Morton

Ogden, Utah -- A former neo-Nazi skinhead sent a powerful message to parents, youth and teachers Wednesday that most major racist groups have targeted Utah for recruitment efforts this year.

"They're coming to get your kids now," said T.J. Leyden during Weber State University's Holocaust Commemoration Day.

Leyden was one of five speakers throughout the day at the university.

High school and junior high school students attended what many said was an eye-opening lecture by Leyden.

Leyden is considered to be a traitor of the highest order for betraying his faction after 15 years of devoted service, loyalty and extreme violence. Once a highly successful recruiter who organized racist groups in Southern Utah and California, he is now on the lecture circuit and is a consultant to the Jewish human rights organization Simon Wiesenthal Center.

His efforts have helped many teens get out of white supremacist groups, but it comes at a price. His former cohorts have death threats posted all over the Internet instructing loyal supremacists to kill him on sight.

And he takes them seriously from experience.

"More so today than when I was a teenager, I can guarantee every parent in this room that your kids are growing up more afraid of gang members than they are of cops," he said.

In graphic detail he reviewed the things he did as a neo-Nazi teen.

He testified racism is not a thing of the past and plans for genocide are still thriving.

It's everywhere, he said.

It's at Toys R Us in the form of Nazi action figures fully equipped with swastikas. It's in all kinds of music. It's in schools and homes all over the country. Thanks to the Internet, it's easy to be involved even if you're from a small community.

There is even a backordered video game called "Ethnic Cleansing" in which the objective is to kill all the nonwhite people. The player even goes hunting for Jews in the subways.

"Who is that targeted toward?" Leyden asked.

They go after teens going through puberty because they are becoming more abstract thinkers and are usually confused and vulnerable. They become devoted parent-like figures in the kids' lives, he said.

And it's not just uneducated rednecks who become white supremacists, he said. The three major founders of modern racist groups are very powerful, highly-educated people. The inventor of electric can openers, Ben Klassen, is one of them.

The second, William Pierce, has a doctorate in physics and is probably the most dangerous man in North America, Leyden said. His influence is deep-seeded. In fact, Timothy McVeigh called him 24 hours before the bombing at Oklahoma City, he said.

Pastor Richard Butler, co-inventor of the tubeless tire, also had a hand in the movement.

Racist ideas are even flown proudly by the U.S. government in Georgia and Mississippi. The Confederate flag is used by racist factions as a symbol of what they stand for.

"This is not the flag of the Confederate States of America," Leyden said pointing to a picture of the flag, which was visible in many of the pictures he showed of his skinhead days. "It's a battle flag. A flag of hate and oppression. That is the flag of the Klan and the Aryan Nations."

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