Tiny North Dakota town reaching out for support in battle against white supremacists

From the Rapid City Journal

BISMARCK, N.D. | The tiny town of Leith in Grant County has established a legal defense fund to help fight off a takeover by white supremacists.

Lee Cook, a Leith City Council member, said his community of 24 needs all the help it can get, not only financially but in moral support from people across the state.

He said the town has felt alone and vulnerable ever since Craig Cobb, 61, purchased property in town with plans to turn Leith into a white supremacist community and control local government.

Cobb’s plans were made public by the Tribune last month. Since then, things elevated with plans by the commander of the largest pro-white group in the country to be in Leith on Sunday and Monday.

Jeff Schoep of Detroit said he’s coming to hold a town hall meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday and to protect Cobb from being ousted.

Since it all started, Cook said Leith has heard a deafening silence from Grant County officials, local legislators and the Capitol.

“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,” Cook 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.

There is one small group — UnityND — that formed in protest to the proposed extremist, neo-Nazi takeover.

Jeremy Kelly of Bismarck said he and other organizers are hoping people will join them Sunday afternoon for a peaceful show of solidarity with Leith.

He said a bus will be loaded up at 1:30 p.m. at the Stamart Truck Stop off Interstate 94, Exit 161, or people can caravan from there.

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

Cook said all of North Dakota should be paying attention, since Cobb said he’s trying to buy property in other locations.

He said Cobb approached several of the community women who were planning a prayer meeting while wearing a gun tucked into his waistband. He said one of the children there was traumatized by the encounter.

Cook said any money contributed to the legal defense fund will go toward the town’s and individual council members’ attorney fees. He said Cobb is already threatening lawsuits, not to win, but “in order to bleed us dry.” A new website, www.leithnd.com, was started Tuesday for people to check in on Leith.

He said people can support the town in many ways — with letters or with visits — but anything is better than leaving so few people to stand alone, he said.

Anyone who wants to make a donation can send it to City of Leith Legal Defense Fund, Grant County State Bank, 202 N. Main St., Carson, N.D. 58529.