An Alabama-based white supremacy group uses the same internet security company that recently severed ties with the online message board 8chan, which was the online platform for the racist manifestos of three mass shooters this year.
The League of the South’s website security certificate lists the web security company Cloudflare, whose CEO on Aug. 5 announced the company would no longer provide service to 8chan.
Meanwhile, it’s been two years since a young woman was killed by a white supremacist at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017, and civil suit in federal court continues against the League of the South and others over their role in the deadly violence that day. The trial could take place as early as next June, according to the plaintiffs.
Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Saks, on Aug. 6 discussed plans for a congressional investigation into 8chan, which is run by an American living in the Philippines and has become a breeding ground for white supremacists, neo-Nazis and mass shooters who use the site to amplify their racist ideologies, recruit others and advertise their acts of violence.
On Aug. 3, a 21-year-old man posted his racist manifesto moments before allegedly shooting to death 22 people in a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, with an assault rifle. In his writings, the man spoke of what he said is a “Hispanic invasion.” Most of those killed had Hispanic last names and the shooter later told investigators that he was targeting Mexicans.
The suspects in two other attacks this year also posted to 8chan. A white supremacist who shot and killed 51 people in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15 posted a link to his manifesto on 8chan minutes before the attack, which he live-streamed to Facebook.
One woman was killed and three others injured in the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Loway, California, on April 27, when a gunman opened fire with an assault rifle. Before the shooting, the gunman posted to 8chan a racist and anti-Semitic letter that blamed jewish people for the often-repeated conspiracy theory of the “genocide of the European race.”
“I have made clear that hateful ideologies amplified by 8chan and other fringe websites are propelling young people toward violence before law enforcement is able to act,” Rogers said in an Aug. 4 statement after the El Paso shooting. “Yesterday’s events were yet again enabled by the echo chambers these fringe websites have created.”
On Aug. 6, Rogers and fellow House Homeland Security Committee member and chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, cosigned a letter to 8chan owner Jim Watkins that called for him to provide testimony before the committee.
Attempts last week and this week to reach Rogers and a representative for Cloudflare were unsuccessful.
Alabama connection to the violence
The League of the South, headquartered in Killen, Alabama, was founded in 1994 by Michael Hill, who still leads the group.
Numerous LOS members took part in the violence during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, according to court records in which a white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters killing activist Heather Heyer.
The driver of the car that struck and killed Heyer, James Alex Fields Jr., was sentenced to life in prison last month.
LOS member Tyler Davis in February entered an Alford plea for his participation in the beating of a black man, DeAndre Harris, shortly after the Unite the Right rally. An Alford plea means that he agreed that there’s enough evidence to convict him, but that he does not admit guilt. He’s to be sentenced on Aug. 27.
Three other men have either been convicted or pleaded guilty of beating Harris. A Charlottesville judge in March tossed a lawsuit against Harris, brought by North Carolina attorney and LOS state chairman Harold Crews, who alleged he’d been assaulted by Harris.
In a federal civil lawsuit in Virginia 10 victims say they were injured during the Unite the Right rally and named 25 Defendants, which include the League of the South, Michael Hill and LOS Florida chapter leader Michael Tubbs.
Tubbs served fours years of an eight year prison sentence in the 1990s after pleading guilty in connection to a string of burglaries during his time in the U.S. Army in which he and a group of others stole stockpiled weapons and explosives. The men had planned to bomb newspapers, television stations and jewish and black-owned businesses in Jacksonville, Florida, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The suit alleges that Hill, Tubbs, The League of the South and the other defendants “conspired to plan, promote and carry out the violent events in Charlottesville,” using social media and chat websites, according to the complaint.
Attempts this week and last week to reach Hill for comment were unsuccessful.
On April 20, U.S. Magistrate Judge Joel C. Hoppe ruled against a motion by one of the defendants to quash subpoenas for Twitter, Godaddy.com, Hatreon and Cloudflare, which were all subpoenaed by plaintiffs who say the tech companies have evidence no longer publicly available that can prove the defendants conspired to commit the violence.
Court filings state that Cloudflare provided services for three websites run by other defendants in the suit, although the League of the South’s website is not listed among them.
A separate judge on July 9, 2018, ruled against motions to dismiss, filed by defendants, including Michael Hill, Tubbs and LOS who argued that the First Amendment covered their actions.
“Defendants Michael Hill, Michael Tubbs and League of the South were allegedly in the heart of the violence that occurred on Saturday the 12th,” the judge’s order states. “Defendant Tubbs ordered Defendant League of the South members to ‘charge,’ and [a]fter receiving this command, the group streamed past him to attack counterprotesters.”
Amy Spitalnick is director of the nonprofit Integrity First for America, the organization that brought the lawsuit against the defendants in the deadly Charlottesville rally.
Spitalnick, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, told APR in an email Monday that she expects the trail to begin mid to late 2020 and could result in real change.
“This case is about holding accountable the extremists who planned and caused a weekend of violence in Charlottesville,” Spitalnick wrote to APR. “That violence was not an accident — it was the result of months of meticulous planning, in which the defendants discussed everything from which weapons to bring, to whether they could drive over protesters with cars. The case has the potential to bankrupt and dismantle the leaders at the center of this violent movement.”
The Tuscaloosa-based United Klans of America was bankrupted and disbanded in 1987 after a civil suit over the 1981 lynching of a 19-year-old black man, Michael Donald.
On the killings
On Aug. 6, two days after a shooter in Dayton, Ohio, killed 9 people and three days after the El Paso shooting that killed 22 mostly Hispanic shoppers at a Walmart, Hill posted his own comments on the shootings to the LOS website, which seemed to defend the El Paso shooting.
“The ongoing war on Whiteness has reached a fever pitch in America,” Hill wrote, adding that the El Paso shooting has been “Blamed on a “White Supremacist,” and everyone from the Jew-dominated media to the Jew-dominated White House has been quick to condemn any White man or woman who dares defend themselves and their own race.”
Hill wrote that the shootings are being used by the “Establishment” to condemn the white race.
“The people who now are expected to sit quietly while they are replaced by an alien population. If they offer the least hint of resistance to their own replacement, they are demonized as “racists,” “xenophobes,” “anti-Semites,” etc.,” Hill wrote.
On March 16, one day after the murder of 51 people in mosques in New Zealand, Hill published his thoughts to the LOS website that seemed to defend that mass shooting.
“As I write this, the Progressive media are busy trying to link Trump’s support of White nationalism to the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. This is how they choose to handle coverage when Whites have had enough and fight back against, in this case, the invasion of a hostile religious force,” Hill wrote. “When Whites are made out to be criminals for exercising their ancient rights — much like what has already happened in the aftermath of Charlottesville—then there are few options other than to submit to tyranny or to fight back.”
Twitter has banned Hill multiple times for violating the social media company’s terms, but like many other white supremacists banned by the giant social media company Hill has resurfaced more than once. As of Monday evening the LOS was still on Twitter.
Youtube removed the LOS’s channel in June. Hill wrote on the LOS website that it was removed for spreading what YouTube/Google called “hate speech.”
“Of course ‘hate speech’ is simply anything the Jew-dominated left doesn’t like and anything that spreads the truth against their Narrative of Lies,” Hill wrote.
Facebook banned the League of the South and numerous other white supremacist groups in March, but members of many of these groups, still use their personal Facebook accounts to point followers to their websites and to recruit others, Buzzfeed News reported.
28th Alabama inmate dies after testing positive for COVID-19
Since the start of the pandemic, 441 Alabama inmates and 415 staff have tested positive for coronavirus.
Johnny Dwight Terry on Oct. 8 became the 28th Alabama inmate to die after testing positive for COVID-19.
Terry, 74, had multiple health conditions and was taken from Limestone Correctional Facility to a local hospital on Oct. 6 after exhibiting symptoms of coronavirus. He tested positive at the hospital where he remained until his death, the Alabama Department of Corrections said in a press release on Friday.
Two additional inmates and four workers at Limestone prison also tested positive for COVID-19, according to ADOC, bringing the total number of inmates who have tested positive at the prison to 23 and infected staff to 26.
Since the start of the pandemic, 441 Alabama inmates and 415 staff have tested positive for coronavirus. Two prison workers at Julia Tutwiler Prison for Woman died after testing positive for the disease. Of the state’s approximately 22,000 inmates, 2,834 had been tested for coronavirus as of Oct. 7, according to ADOC.
Attorney general opposes motion to reconsider Hubbard’s prison sentence
“Hubbard is not being punished for his reversed convictions. He is being punished for the crimes of which he remains convicted,” Marshall wrote to the court.
Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall in a court filing Tuesday opposed a request by former House Speaker Mike Hubbard’s attorney for the court to reconsider his 4-year sentence on six felony ethics violations.
Marshall in the filing said that after four years of appeals, Hubbard remains convicted of those felonies.
“This Court’s carefully calibrated sentence of a four-year split, among other penalties, properly accounted for the severity of Hubbard’s crimes, the position of trust he abused, and the need for serious penalties to deter other wrongdoers,” Marshall wrote to the court. “In addition, Hubbard’s refusal to admit any guilt or express any remorse makes him wholly unfit to receive any leniency now that he is finally in jail.”
“In sum, nothing material has changed since Hubbard earned his four-year sentence four years ago. It’s simply time for him to serve it. Accordingly, his motion should be denied,’ Marshall continued.
Hubbard had originally been convicted by a Lee County jury on 12 ethics violations, and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals upheld 11 of those convictions, but the Alabama Supreme Court later reversed five of those convictions and upheld six.
He began serving his four-year sentence for the six convictions of using his office for personal gain on Sept. 11.
Hubbard’s attorney argued in a separate court filing that the court should reconsider his sentence because five of the 12 convictions were reversed, but Marshall told the court Tuesday that the sentence Hubbard received was just.
“Hubbard is not being punished for his reversed convictions. He is being punished for the crimes of which he remains convicted,” Marshall wrote to the court.
Hubbard’s attorney in his request to reconsider sentencing also argued that Hubbard has already suffered from a “divestment of his business interests.”
Hubbard’s convictions related to consulting contracts that enriched him while he served as speaker.
The state’s attorney general at the time of his conviction determined that Hubbard had bilked Alabama out of more than $2 million.
“Suffice it to say, it is a bad advocacy strategy for Hubbard to mourn his loss of an income stream worth millions, which he financed on the backs of hard-working Alabamians who expected an honest elected official. That Hubbard has lost some of these ill-gotten gains in no way suggests that Hubbard has paid back his debt to society,” Marshall wrote to the court.
SPLC report: Despite COVID-19 deaths, Alabama isn’t releasing older, at-risk inmates
A report by the Southern Poverty Law Center published Tuesday found that almost 200 older state inmates, at greater risk from COVID-19, were eligible for parole, but either had no hearing or were denied parole over the summer.
Alabama’s three-member Board of Pardons and Paroles denied parole for 44 people who were 65 and older over the summer, SPLC’s report states, and a dozen of the more than 1,100 older inmates identified in a previous SPLC report have since died, either from COVID-19 or other illnesses.
“Despite confirming the deaths, it remains unclear whether the cause could have been COVID-19 as ADOC would not provide information about those individuals in response to a public records request, citing ongoing internal investigations,” the report reads.
The SPLC and several other criminal justice reform groups urged the Alabama Department of Corrections and the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles to take steps to release at-risk inmates as the coronavirus pandemic began, through medical parole, medical furloughs and judicial sentence reviews, but to date, no such larger push to release inmates has taken place.
According to ADOC, 22 inmates have died after testing positive for COVID-19.
SPLC’s report notes that many of the inmates who died had underlying health conditions, which were well known to prison officials.
The Parole Board denied parole to more than three dozen inmates 65 or older since restarting parole hearings in May, according to the report.
“The BPP stopped paroles starting in March, against the demands of activists and legislators who pointed out that hearings could be done virtually. Hundreds of scheduled parole hearings were cancelled. After its hiatus, the BPP scheduled relatively few hearings throughout the summer compared to years past,” authors of the report wrote.
Governor establishes Prison Repurposing Commission
Gov. Kay Ivey and Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn have said that as many as 11 of the state’s 13 existing men’s prisons could close.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Tuesday signed an executive order establishing the commission that will be tasked with deciding what to do with the state’s existing men’s prisons, once three new prisons are constructed, at a cost that’s been estimated to be more than $2 billion.
According to the order, the 15-member Alabama Prison Repurposing Commission will have until Sept. 1, 2023, “or 90 days after the Commissioner certifies to the Commission that construction on the final prison is complete” to submit a report detailing their recommendations for the state’s prisons.
Ivey and Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn have said that as many as 11 of the state’s 13 existing men’s prisons could close. Ivey’s order Tuesday states that the commission is to determine which prisons could be renovated and used as prisons, which could be renovated for other purposes for ADOC and “which should be repurposed to serve a new function, whether by another public entity or the private sector.”
“The Alabama Prison Repurposing Commission will provide recommendations based on in-depth facility analysis considering both the impact on the state and local community as well the financial ramifications to potentially repurpose or decommission some of our current prison infrastructures,” Ivey said in a statement.
“As our Alabama Prison Program moves forward in building three new prisons to provide additional safety for correctional staff and inmates, we will simultaneously need to smartly and safely repurpose or decommission these outdated, aging prisons, many of which were never designed or constructed to be correctional facilities for their current use or capacity,” Ivey continued. “I’m confident this commission, which is comprised of a broad, experienced and diverse group of individuals who represent all regions of our state, will accomplish its mission effectively on behalf of the people of Alabama. This process will allow both public officials as well as members of the general public to have a meaningful voice in the future of our existing prison infrastructure.”
Ivey’s order states that the commission should hold at least one public meeting “in a local community near each existing male prison” but that “other meetings of the Commission shall be open to the extent practicable but shall, in all events, be closed to the extent necessary to protect information related to the Department’s ongoing or anticipated security operations and other confidential information.”
Ivey on Sept. 3 announced the two developer teams that are to build the state’s three new mega prisons, and said those prisons are to be located in Bibb, Elmore County and Escambia counties.
The private prison company CoreCivic is to build and lease back to the state two of the three prisons, according to Ivey’s office; one in Elmore County, where several locations are under review, and the other to be located near Bell Fork Road in Escambia County.
The prison to be located near AL-139 and County Road CR-2 in Bibb County is to be built by a group called Alabama Prison Transformation Partners, made up of Star America, BL Harbert International, Butler-Cohen, Arrington Watkins Architects and Johnson Controls Inc.
ADOC has said the department won’t release financial details of the more than $2 billion prison build-lease plan with the private companies until after the deals are signed. Once those leases have run their course, the state won’t own the three prisons, Dunn told state legislators in June.
The Alabama Prison Repurposing Commission members include:
- Neal Wade (Chair) is the former director of the Alabama Development Office, the precursor to the Alabama Department of Commerce, and currently serves as the Managing Partner of Advanced Economic Development Leadership for the National Economic Development Education Program.
- Sen. Greg Albritton is Chairman of the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee and was elected to represent District 22 in the Alabama Senate, which includes Baldwin, Clarke, Escambia, Monroe, and Washington counties. Senator Albritton previously served in the House of Representatives and is a retired Commander in the U.S. Navy. He is an attorney and a graduate of the Thomas B. Goode Jones School of Law.
- Ben Baxley currently serves as Chief of the Opinions Division in the Alabama Attorney General’s Office. He previously served as the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division in the office of the United States Attorney for the Middle District of Alabama. After graduating from the University of Alabama School of Law, Baxley began his legal career with the Tuscaloosa County District Attorney’s Office and worked as Chief Deputy District Attorney for Dekalb and Cherokee counties.
- Ted Clem is the Director of Business Development for the Alabama Department of Commerce.Clem joined Commerce in February 2014 as a senior project manager and played a key role in two projects in Opelika that involved $340 million in capital investment and nearly 400 new jobs. Clem began his career in Evergreen, as the first Executive Director of the Conecuh County Economic Development Authority. He later served with the Covington County Economic Development Commission before moving on to a business development post at the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce, followed by a stint the Bay County Economic Development Alliance in Panama City. Clem holds the Certified Economic Developer certification and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Troy University, and received a Master’s degree in Economic Development from the University of Southern Mississippi.
- Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison was elected to represent District 20 of the Alabama Senate, which includes Jefferson County. She previously served one term in the Alabama House of Representatives and three terms on the Birmingham City Council. She recently retired from the City of Birmingham as the Americans with Disabilities Compliance Administrator. Sen. Coleman-Madison received her Bachelor of Science degree from Alabama A&M University, and her Master of Arts degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She serves as the Ranking Minority Member of both the Senate Finance and Taxation General Fund and Governmental Affairs Committees.
- Harold Crouch is currently the mayor of Chatom where he has served for 24 years. He was previously on the City Council for two terms. He has also taught government, history, and economics.
- Darius Foster is the CEO & Co-Founder of H2T Digital. He received a BS in Business Administration from Miles College and a GC in Business Strategies for Social Impact from The Wharton School. He is a current member of the Board of Directors for the Business Council of Alabama as well as a former Commissioner of the Alabama Commission of Higher Education.
- Annette Funderburk is the President of Ingram State Technical College which serves a 100 percent incarcerated adult population that delivers career technical, GED and job skills training at six locations across Alabama. She previously served nearly 10 years within the Alabama Community College System where her most recent role was Director of External Affairs. Before working within the two-year college System, Funderburk served in several roles related to local government including a Municipal Consultant, responsible for securing grant funds for infrastructure and development projects, as well as a County Administrator for the Tallapoosa County Commission. Funderburk has a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Montevallo and a Master’s in Public Administration from Troy University.
- Rep. Kelvin Lawrence was elected to represent District 69 of the Alabama House of Representatives which includes Autauga, Lowndes, Montgomery and Wilcox counties. He previously served as the Mayor of Hayneville and worked as a home builder as well as owning several Subway sandwich shop franchises. He serves on the Ways and Means General Fund and State Government Committees in the House of Representatives.
- Merceria Ludgood currently serves as a Mobile County Commissioner, District One, attorney and civic leader. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama, followed by a Master of Arts degree. She earned her law degree from the Antioch School of Law An avid supporter of higher education, Ludgood also earned a Master of Divinity degree from the Alabama Interdenominational Seminary in 1990.Ludgood is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including being selected for Leadership Mobile, Leadership Alabama and the prestigious Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship. The commissioner has distinguished herself as a member of the inaugural class of “Herstory of Mobile,” a Museum of Mobile project recognizing the outstanding contributions of women to the social, economic and cultural heritage of the Gulf Coast region.
- Walter Givhan, Maj. Gen., USAF (Retired) currently serves as Senior Vice Chancellor for Advancement and Economic Development at Troy University. He is also the Commander of the Curtis E. LeMay Center for Doctrine Development and Education and Vice Commander of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base. The center is responsible for the research, development, and production of Air Force doctrine and input for joint and multinational doctrine development activities. The center is also responsible for advocating the proper doctrinal representation of airpower in exercise scenarios, war games, models and simulations, and providing policy and guidance of Air Force doctrine through education and focused outreach. Air University is responsible for Air Force enlisted and officer professional military education, professional continuing education and graduate education, as well as officer commissioning through Officer Training School and the Reserve Officer Training Corps. General Givhan, a native of Safford, Ala., graduated from Morgan Academy in Selma, Ala., and the University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where he was a National Merit Scholar.
- Allen G. Peck, Lt. Gen., USAF (Retired) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Airpower and General George Kenney Chair at the United States Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College (ACSC). In addition to instructing the Airpower Studies courses, Peck has taught the Joint Warfighting and Leadership Development core curriculum courses at ACSC. He also serves as co-facilitator for the joint Air War College/ Air Command and Staff College Airpower Vistas Research Task Force joint elective. Peck served for 36 years on active duty in the USAF, flying the air-to-air and air-to-surface variants of the F-15. He was a key planner for NATO’s Kosovo operation, and later served as Deputy Combined Force Air Component Commander at Al Udeid Airbase, Qatar. Peck holds an MS in Operations Research from the Air Force Institute of Technology, an MA in International Relations from Salve Regina University, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.
- Rep. Connie Rowe is the Vice Chair of the Majority Caucus in the House of Representatives. She also serves as Vice Chair of both the Rules Committee and Military and Veterans Affairs Committee. Representative Rowe was elected to represent District 13 of the Alabama House of Representatives, which includes Blount and Walker counties. She previously served as Police Chief for the City of Jasper as well as a criminal investigator for the Walker County District Attorney’s Office.
- Kyes Stevens is the Founder and Director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project at Auburn University. Starting in 2001, she has worked to design and build an innovative and sustainable outreach program that works with the underserved adult prison population in Alabama. Stevens oversees all aspects of APAEP programming. She has served as a grants reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, was an inaugural member of an emerging arts administrators organization in Alabama, and works in advisory capacities nationally for individuals and programs seeking to develop arts and education programming within prisons. She is the fourth generation of her family to work in Outreach at Auburn University and was awarded an Auburn University Young Alumni Award for her efforts building APAEP. She was also an inaugural recipient of the Lillian E. Smith Writer in Service Award and continues to publish poems.
- Willie Williams, Lt. Gen., USMC (Retired) is a senior consultant and Owner/President of Williams Consulting, LLC based in Huntsville assisting the Department of Defense-supporting contractors and industries in strategic business development. Williams previously served as the Chief of the Marine Corps Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps, Washington, DC, where he was responsible for day-to-day operations at headquarters, coordinating decision-making association activities across internal and external staffs of, in addition to the Marin Corps, principal assistant and adviser to the Commandant and the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps as they led and managed its 200,000 members, and their military readiness effectiveness. Willie was commissioned into the officer ranks after earning his Bachelor of Arts (Cum Laude) in Business Administration from Stillman College. He also holds a MBA from National University and a MS in Strategic Resources Management from Industrial College of the Armed Forces at National Defense University.