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.