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Two years after Charlottesville, civil suit ongoing against Alabama-based white supremacy group

Eddie Burkhalter

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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.” 

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“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. 

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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. 

 

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Crime

Alabama Department of Corrections investigating inmate death

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating the death of an inmate at the Donaldson Correctional Facility.

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

“While Adams’ exact cause of death is pending the results of a full autopsy, at the time of his passing inmate Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, was not under quarantine following direct exposure to an inmate or staff member who previously had tested positive, and was not in medical isolation as a result of a positive COVID-19 test,” said ADOC spokeswoman Samantha Rose in the message.

Because Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, he had not been tested, Rose said.

An ADOC worker who contacted APR Friday morning about the death, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from ADOC administrators, said it’s suspected that Adams may have overdosed after being given a cigarette laced with a drug.

Adams is at least the sixteenth state inmate to die this year from either homicide, suspected drug overdose or suicide. Additionally, fifteen inmates and two prison workers have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Crime

Alabama House speaker addresses arrest of Rep. Will Dismukes on theft charge

Eddie Burkhalter

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Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, turned himself in at the Montgomery County Detention Center Thursday.

Speaker of the Alabama House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, on Friday said a state representative arrested and charged with theft on Thursday is alleged to have committed the theft before he was elected and is due a presumption of innocence. 

Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, turned himself in at the Montgomery County Detention Center Thursday after a warrant for his arrest was issued for felony theft from a flooring business where he worked. The theft occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said Thursday.

“Like all Americans, Rep. Dismukes is due the presumption of innocence, and it is important to note that the crime of which he is accused was said to have occurred well before he announced his candidacy for the Alabama House,” McCutcheon said in a statement Friday. “As a former law enforcement officer, I have faith in the criminal justice process and trust that he will receive a full and fair hearing.” 

“Both Democrats and Republicans have been accused of similar crimes in the past, and we cannot tolerate such behavior whether the lawmaker involved has a D or an R beside their name,” McCutcheon continued. 

Dismukes in recent weeks has faced a torrent of calls for his resignation in recent weeks after posting to Facebook an image of himself attending a birthday celebration for the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

Dismukes has said he has no plans to resign, but if convicted of felony theft, Dismukes would be removed from office.

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Corruption

Arrest warrant issued for Rep. Will Dismukes for felony theft

Dismukes is charged with first-degree theft of property in connection with a theft that occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018.

Eddie Burkhalter

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Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, has been accused of theft of property, a Class B felony. (WSFA)

An arrest warrant has been issued for Alabama State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, for felony theft from a business where he worked, Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey said Thursday.

Dismukes is charged with first-degree theft of property in connection with a theft that occurred at his place of employment between the years 2016 to 2018, Bailey said during a press conference.

Bailey said the charge is a Class B felony and levied when a person steals in excess of $2,500 and that “I will tell you that the alleged amount is a lot more than that.” 

“The warrant has just been signed, his attorney has been notified and we are giving him until late this afternoon to turn himself in,” Bailey said.

Bailey said the employer contacted the district attorney’s office with a complaint about the theft on May 20, and after reviewing bank records and interviewing witnesses, the decision was made to charge Dismukes with the theft. 

WSFA reported Thursday that the theft occurred at Dismukes’ former employer, Weiss Commercial Flooring Inc. in East Montgomery. Bailey did not provide any more specifics on the charge but said the employer signed the arrest warrant after countless hours of investigation on the part of the DA’s office.

While the charge stems from a complaint filed months ago, Dismukes been in the headlines recently and faced a torrent of calls for his resignation in recent weeks after posting to Facebook an image of himself attending a birthday celebration for the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, Nathan Bedford Forrest.

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The event was hosted by an individual with close ties to the League of the South, a hate group, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In response, Dismukes stepped down from his post as a pastor at an Autauga County Baptist church but defiantly refused to step down from the Legislature.

If convicted of the felony, Dismukes would be immediately removed from his seat in the Alabama House, to which he was elected in 2018.

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In June, the Alabama Democratic Party called for his resignation over previous social media posts glorifying the Confederacy.

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Crime

Alabama Department of Corrections investigating death of 28-year-old inmate

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating the death of a 28-year-old inmate at the St. Clair Correctional Facility as a possible suicide. 

Charles Labarron Braggs was found unresponsive by prison officials in his cell on Monday, and life-saving attempts were unsuccessful, the department said in a message to APR on Thursday.

Braggs was not on suicide watch at the time of his death, and the department said in the statement that there’s “no evidence of a use-of-force incident” and that the investigation into his death is ongoing. 

“Use-of-force” refers to instances when correctional officers use physical force with an inmate. 

Braggs’ death is at least the sixth suspected suicide among those serving in Alabama prisons so far this year, according to the ACLU of Alabama’s Campaign for Smart Justice.

The U.S. Justice Department in April 2019, released a report detailing what federal investigators found were systemic problems of violence, sexual assaults, drugs, high levels of homicides and suicides and corruption in Alabama prisons.

ADOC continues to defend the department in a lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center over mental health care and treatment of inmates in state prisons, arguing in the complaint that the department was indifferent to the health of those inmates, who were dying by suicide in greater and greater numbers.

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The U.S. Department of Justice last week released a scathing report detailing systemic excessive use-of-force by Alabama correctional officers against inmates in the state’s prisons for men. The federal government believes the acts of violence against inmates violates the Eighth Amendment protection from cruel and unusual punishment.

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