North Dakota town rallies against white supremacist takeover

From UPI

Members of one of the nation’s largest white supremacist organizations, the National Socialist Movement, will descend upon the 24-person town of Leith, N.D., this Sunday in support of one man’s efforts to turn it into an all-white hub for neo-Nazis.

Paul Craig Cobb, 61, starting buying up property in the Grant County town two years ago, in the hopes of starting a whites-only takeover of its local government.

“I don’t understand why all the different other people don’t say ‘whitey’ is pretty darn nice and clever,” Cobb, a well-known white supremacist, told CNN. “There are many organizations [in] which whites have to support other cultures… Where is the organization of people from around the world that says let’s keep these white people?… They’re pretty darn good, all in all.”

“It would be extraordinarily beautiful when people enter the town, particularly at night,” he told NPR of this weekend’s gathering. “We will probably have the National Socialist hunting flag with stag horns and a very small swastika in the center — very discreet.”

With failing businesses and empty buildings lining its streets, Leith has been on the decline for years. But some town residents and members of surrounding communities are pushing back against Cobb’s racist initiatives.

Leith City Council member Lee Cook told the Bismarck Tribune that his tiny town needed outside help.

“We need people from across the state to come alongside of us and show support that they don’t believe in what this guy is doing,” he said. “There are a lot of people who could speak up. It’s not tricky. Silence, to me, means that whatever he’s doing is OK,” he said.

Organizers of the group, UnityND, have formed in the hopes of fighting Cobb’s planned takeover. They’ll gather in Leith to counter-protest the white supremacists’ meeting this weekend.

“We cannot accept this racist hatred they are bringing here. Leith is in a crisis and is crying out for help,” Bismarck’s Jeremy Kelly said. “We need to show the Nazis that they are absolutely not wanted there.”

Town members also said up the website, http://www.leithnd.com, in order to give Leith “a more peaceful makeup than what it has been getting in the national news media.”

The website also asks for donations to the City of Leith Legal Defense Fund “to help fight off being overtaken by white supremacists.”

Mayor Ryan Schock called Cobb’s efforts “shocking,” and said that the town’s government would consider dissolving itself to transfer power to the county.

Cobb has already bought 12 plots of land in the hope that white-supremacist families would consider moving there.

Sheriff ready for white supremacists, protesters in Leith, N.D.

From the Grand Forks Herald

LEITH, N.D. — Grant County Sheriff Steve Bay said he’s not sure what to expect Sunday when Jeff Schoep, the leader of a national white supremacist group, drives into town.

But Bay says he is ready for upwards of 300 to 400 people in Leith, the town of 24 residents about 70 miles southwest of Bismarck that another white supremacist is eyeing as a haven for those who share his beliefs.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” Bay said, adding that he has extra help lined up in case it is needed.

Bay wouldn’t provide details about backups, but said two to four Highway Patrol officers will be monitoring the roadways.

Schoep, who’s traveling from Detroit with other members of the National Socialist Movement, has planned a 3 p.m. town hall meeting and news conference to talk about his group and answer any questions from residents.

His main intentions are to show support for Craig Cobb, a white supremacist who has purchased land in Leith to turn it into a small all-white enclave. Cobb has given land to Schoep; Tom Metzger, a onetime grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan; and Alex Linder, creator of the Vanguard News Network, a white supremacist website.

Schoep said he hopes to “knock out the misconceptions people may have about us and set their minds at ease.”

Schoep sent Leith Mayor Ryan Schock a letter announcing the visit and town hall meeting.

Schoep said he has held other town hall meetings before that went well and hopes there is a good turnout of area residents.

“The only thing they may know about the movement is that we are a bunch of violent, crazy people out there doing something harmful,” Schoep said. “When they have a chance to interact with us and see we are just like your neighbors, with some political beliefs, but aren’t here to force our agenda down your throat.”

Although Cobb and Leith residents both have told Bay they intend to keep the meeting peaceful, Bay is still worried.

“I’m worried for all concerned because it has the potential to turn into something bad or it can be a peaceful demonstration,” he said. “It’s one of those things you don’t know until it starts.”

One large concern is the planned protest by former members of the Anti-Racist Action group.

Scott Garman, who grew up in Casselton, and Cade Ferris and Jeremy Kelly, both of Bismarck, have formed UnityND.

Garman said Thursday they plan to counter each step the National Socialist Movement makes, but he doesn’t know what that might be since he doesn’t have any details about the group’s visit.

“We’re trying to find out more about the Nazi schedule,” he said. “We have talked to residents and we are welcome on some of their properties, so we plan on being as close as possible to wherever the Nazis are to make sure they feel our presence.”

He said the group has some plans for a protest but isn’t ready to share them.

He said a bus will be loaded up at 1:30 p.m. at the Stamart Truck Stop off Interstate 94 in Bismarck on Sunday, or people can caravan from there.

He did say the group plans to have a peaceful protest and use a speaker system for protesters to share stories.

It’s unknown how many people will take part, but Garman said they have received more than 500 messages from people sending their best wishes from more than 30 states.

“It’s tough to tell, but I’d be happy if 50 show up, but now there could be anywhere from 200 to 300 people,” he said. “That’s probably going to fill every square inch of the town.”

The group has been soliciting donations through its Facebook page so that people otherwise unable to afford the 530-mile round trip from Fargo can attend the protest. So far, he said they have collected more than $1,000 in the past week.

But Schoep said he is not too concerned about the protesters.

“The main thing with them, and what the police department should be concerned about, is it’s not so much they are going to come in and fight with us, what they tend to do, come in the night before and vandalize things.”

Schock, the Leith mayor, could not be reached for this story.

The town has created a legal defense fund that will go toward attorney fees for the town and individuals, as Cobb has threatened a lawsuit “to bleed the town dry,” according to the Bismarck Tribune.

Schoep said once the media hype goes away, everything will be back to business as usual and with more people planning to move into the area, “it’s important people get a chance to know their neighbors.”

White supremacist leader visits ND town

From the San Francisco Chronicle 

LEITH, N.D. (AP) — Hundreds of people from three states converged Sunday on the tiny southwestern North Dakota town of Leith to support the community of 16 people as the leader of a white supremacist group paid a visit.

The event drew a heavy law enforcement presence that included a dozen officers in riot gear, but the protests and a community meeting remained for the most part peaceful.

Jeff Schoep, leader of the National Socialist Movement, traveled from Detroit to hold a town hall meeting Sunday afternoon in support of Craig Cobb, a white supremacist who has been buying up property in Leith with the hope of developing an all-white enclave.

Schoep said in an interview before the town hall meeting that his group doesn’t want to force its agenda on anyone, but he also said Leith could be a “test ground” for the takeover of a community by white supremacists.

“You have to start somewhere,” he said.

Cobb, 61, who is wanted in Canada for allegedly promoting hatred in Vancouver in 2010, was drawn to Leith by jobs in the western North Dakota oil fields. He has been living for the past year and a half in a house with no water or sewer service, and says local officials are trying to condemn his property to run him out of town.

“We’re here to support him, make sure his civil rights aren’t violated,” Schoep said.

Cobb on Sunday decorated his property with dozens of white power flags and signs, and said he was glad for all the attention because it would help his goal of drawing people with like-minded views to help him take over the town.

“How come we go all over the world with B-52s and B-1s (bombers) in the name of democracy and call it world-building?” he said while giving a reporter a tour of his home, where he keeps a couple of guns and a bulletproof vest in one corner for protection.. “I’m doing village-building, except I’m not using violence.”

Schoep’s visit drew protesters from around North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. A group of 150 American Indians from several reservations in the Dakotas marched down Leith’s main street along with a couple hundred people with the group UnityND — some of whom arrived in a school bus.

“We won’t condone outsiders coming in to spread bigotry in our homeland,” said Chase Iron Eyes, 35, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux and leader of the protest group.

Leith’s lone black resident, Bobby Harper, who lives across an alleyway from Cobb, was out Sunday thanking the protesters. Harper said he was overwhelmed by the turnout.

“I never dreamed so many people would come out against hate,” he said.

After the march, the protesters — many of them carrying signs with messages such as “No hate in our state” and “You are not welcome here” — stood across the gravel road from Cobb’s home and shouted at him and the handful of his supporters. Scott Garman, a leader of the protest group, told Cobb that the group planned to monitor him and that the protest was “not a one-day thing.”

Darrell Cook, 29, who is black, and his wife, Heather, 30, who is white, came from Bismarck to be part the protest group.

“You’ve got to stand for something,” Darrell Cook said. “You can’t complain about how bad the world is and not stand up and say something.”

Schoep said during the town hall meeting that his group aims to protect white civil rights and is not a white supremacist organization, but he had a hard time convincing the crowd. An older man and woman who became so upset they began shouting at him were escorted from the building by sheriff’s deputies.

Grant County Sheriff Steve Bay would not say how many law officers were in the town, but he acknowledged it was more than two dozen and said some officers were hidden. Others waited outside the town hall in riot gear. Police used metal gates to block off all of the roads leading into the town to keep vehicles outside. But Bay said Cobb and his supporters were doing nothing wrong.

“There’s certain rights that they have, and as long as they stay within the law, we’re not going to get involved,” he said.

Many people in the rural, farming area say they just want Cobb gone.

“These communities are peaceful, quiet, everybody’s family,” said John Parker, 36, an oilfield worker who lives in nearby Elgin. “All people want is a peaceful, quiet place to raise their family.”

White supremacists stake claim to North Dakota town as sheriff’s office prepares for trouble

From the New York Daily News

Grant County Sheriff Steve Bay is ready for fireworks if clashes break out between a band of neo-Nazi white supremacists and protesters determined to keep them from taking over the tiny North Dakota town of Leith.

With a population of just two dozen in a mostly white county, Leith is an attractive destination for members of the U.S. National Socialist Movement, who recently revealed that they are joining plans to turn the disintegrating town into an all-white enclave.

Group members plan to be in town on Sunday and Monday to introduce themselves to the community in what their organization’s leader, Jeff Schoep, calls an “act of good will and faith.”

“We have every intention of legally assuming control of the local government,” Schoep said in a statement.

The group is America’s largest neo-Nazi organization, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups.

According to the center, for more than a year, white supremacist activist Craig Cobb has been buying up properties in Leith and inviting his fellow supremacists to move in and set up a “Pioneer Little Europe,” as some supporters have called it.

In an interview with WXMB-TV in Bismarck, Cobb said he had gotten a lot of offers to buy up land from what he termed like-minded people who believe white people should not be punished for wanting to live near each other.

“It’s fine for all these other minorities, but not us,” he said in the televised interview. “If you merely speak about it, you’re going to be defamed in this country.”

Schoep said that the visitors would inspect the new property, raise ceremonial flag poles, and hold a town meeting and a news conference.

“We know that opinion is divided in the town and in the media,” Schoep said in the statement, adding that the trip was “a symbolic gesture of good will and faith.”

Schoep will be met by a grassroots group organized through social media to protest the National Socialists’ presence in the time. Organizers are hoping several hundred will attend.

“We are planning a true grassroots peaceful protest to demonstrate that we are united in a stance against hatred, violence and prejudice,” reads a statement by UnityND, an anti-racism group organizing the protest, on its website. “Join us as we take to main street rural America to fight against racism.

Sheriff Bay said does not expect any trouble to break out among the 350 people expected at the event and protest, but he is prepared.

He has his officers, members of the North Dakota Highway Patrol and others coming to Leith on Sunday to help in crowd control.

“Both sides say they plan on having their demonstrations,” Bay said. “They have both indicated to me that they will be peaceful demonstrations. They may be a little loud, but peaceful.”

Cobb’s plans were revealed in August after the Montgomery, Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center published a report detailing his land purchases in Leith, which is located in a county that is 97 percent white.

The center’s report also cited county tax and property records showing that other leading supremacists, in addition to the National Socialists, had followed his lead, including Tom Metzger, leader of the White Aryan Resistance, and Alex Linder, who runs the Vanguard News Network, an online forum for the neo-Nazis.

Native American peacekeepers urged to protect Leith, ND, from white supremacists

From the Narcosphere

LEITH, North Dakota — Native American peacekeepers defended the Treaty Territory and the local community of Leith on Sunday, as neo-Nazi white supremacists arrived with plans to take over the town.

During a powerful rally led by Lakotas and Dakotas from Standing Rock Indian Nation and Last Real Indians, Native Americans voiced opposition to the National Socialist Movement.

A Dakota grandmother told them that Native people were ready to rid the town of “Nazis like you.”

“The grandmothers will stand up to you! The mothers will take you on!”

Chase Iron Eyes, Standing Rock Lakota of Last Real Indians, told them, “You’re 30 miles from our border. If you think we’re going to let you come into our territory and affect our children, you’ve got another thing coming. What you see here are the mouthpieces. The warriors aren’t even here. You have come here thinking we are going to react out of fear, but we won’t do that. We are Dakota and Lakota people.”

“You are a dying cause.”

During the town hall, after playing bagpipes, white supremacists played the role of victims, while making it clear they were there to take over the town.

Earlier, the Last Real Indians, comprised of Native American journalists, sent out a message, which was shared 315 times in 40 minutes on Facebook on Saturday night, urging Natives to rally with them at Leith.