Some in Pocahontas County like their privacy, but a group of white supremacist can't escape Jerry Dale's watchful eyes

Charleston Daily Mail/August 20, 2002
By Chris Stirewalt

Marlinton -- Jerry Dale has watched what he says is a force of "pure evil" come creeping through the backcountry of Pocahontas County.

In this rugged place almost the size of Rhode Island but with only 9,131 inhabitants, Dale is doing battle with an international group of white supremacists that has chosen to make Pocahontas County its home.

Dale started his fight in the mid-1980s when he was sheriff, but has never given up on his cause after leaving office.

He first discovered the headquarters of the National Alliance on a hillside just outside of town when he was canvassing the county in a helicopter scouting for marijuana.

Since then, he has gleaned information and tips whenever he can, tracking the members' movements and keeping notes on how the group operates.

Some of the members of the group are easily recognizable - young men with cropped hair, black boots and camouflage pants, who stand out among tourists in baggy shorts and farmers in muddy jeans.

Others blend in with their surroundings, and are only given away by the bumper stickers on their vehicles or by the topics of their conversations.

Probably more than 100 members of the group are living right next door to the people of the county - some on hillside camps and others in apartments and homes in town.

Though their headquarters may appear humble, the group of vehement anti-Semitics preaching a message of world revolution and white power boasts thousands of members worldwide and sells an array of literature, music and even video games.

Some monitor groups have estimated that book and record sales brought in more than $1 million last year.

One local tavern owner, who asked not to be identified, said that when the members of the group first started to come by she didn't ask any questions and even welcomed the business.

After a while, though, she said she got tired of the constant preaching and boasting.

"They kept after us about all their Nazi bull, and finally I just felt a little uneasy," the woman said. "I told them I didn't want them around anymore, and they've stayed away."

Alliance members have found a new hangout in town, where members mingle with tourists and others at the bar. Both groups seem to like the imported Czech and German beers.

In the men's room at the new National Alliance watering hole, a graffiti artist has taken all the sevens in the sign advertising "7 cent wings" and turned them into Aryan symbols.

"You can do pretty much what you like around here. We might talk about you. We might wonder about you. But we'll probably leave you alone," Dale said. "Folks around here are real big on 'Don't tread on me.'"

"But if what you do might affect your neighbors and what they do, we tend to take a keener interest."

Now, with the death of the National Alliance's founder, William Pierce, Dale thinks the group, and therefore the county, have come to a crossroads.

"I really figured that when Pierce died, there just wouldn't be anyone who could step in to lead," Dale said. "Pierce never really trusted anyone. He would take people under his wing and teach them, but as soon as they would start to try to exert themselves or try to put their own ideas into the literature - that was it.

"He treated people terribly. That was his reputation; that he was the undisputed leader and wouldn't take any challenges,"

But after Pierce's death last month from cancer, successors emerged to carry forward the message of the man who won thousands of converts, including Timothy McVeigh, to the white supremacist movement with his book "The Turner Diaries."

As the new generation takes the helm at the National Alliance, it is clear to Dale that a man of Pierce's dedication and intellect would not simply have left his vision to founder after his death.

His successors have said that there was a clear protocol in place for carrying forward his message, and that the "transition of power" has been orderly. Even Pierce's will on file at the county courthouse echoes his paternal devotion to the hate group.

In his last testament, Pierce specifically mentions his two sons, and then makes explicit instructions that all of his possessions and assets be left not to them, but to the National Alliance and its members.

Dale had been wrangling with Pierce for more than 15 years, often matching wits with the wily former physics professor who bought about 400 acres outside of Mill Point in 1984.

Now he is tracking two new leaders - Erich Gliebe and Kevin Strom.

Dale said Gliebe is the day-to-day leader of the group, directing its actions and enterprises.

Strom, who took over Pierce's short-wave radio show, is being called the group's ideological leader.

Bob DeMarias, the business manager for the National Alliance, said that Gliebe, a former boxer who fought under the name "The Aryan Barbarian," is moving to the Mill Point compound as he assumes control of the group.

Dale is also trying to find out about a previously unknown board of directors for the group that has emerged since Pierce's death. Dale said he isn't sure such a board really exists, but wonders what it could mean if the group was that well organized.

"I've gone back and forth on the question of whether (Pierce) really believed all of his hogwash about the master race and all that," Dale said. "Like when I saw that he had gone to a Jewish publisher for the reprinting of the Turner Diaries, I figured he wasn't going to let his ideals get in the way of a profit.

"But the new generation - I'm pretty sure they're on the fanatical side. Heavy-duty ideologues who would do anything for the cause. Like most of the people in these kinds of organizations, they are arrogant and a bunch of braggarts. Pierce wasn't like that, but I'm afraid these guys are."

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