We learned today from CBS 6 News (WTVR) in Virginia that due to the vigilance of federal authorities, an attempt by three white supremacists in Chesterfield County, Va, to start a “race war was prevented”. Court documents reveal the men, Robert Doyle, Ronald Beasley Chaney, and Charles Halderman, were members of a white supremacist group worships the ancient Norse gods. The FBI apparently received a tip that the group met in late September to discuss “acting out their extremist beliefs by shooting or bombing occupants of black churches and Jewish synagogues and plotting to kill an Oklahoma gun store owner…It also alleged that (they) planned to murder of a local jeweler, rob an armored truck and harm a Virginia gun store owner.”
“Federal court documents provide some disturbing details about an apparent plot by white supremacists in Chesterfield to incite a race war. They include plans to bomb and shoot up black churches and Jewish synagogues, as well as a plot to kill a local jewelry dealer, and rob an armored car, among other crimes. The crimes were to provide the proceeds to purchase land, weapons and training for the so-called coming race war.”
The unfortunate reality is that according to The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups in the United States, there are more than 930 such groups in the country now – up from 602 hate groups in 2000. Fortunately, according to Mark Potok, senior fellow at the SPLC “these groups spout hatred, but most never turn to violence…Even as their numbers have grown, these groups are constantly at each other’s throats, which means they are not tremendously well-organized.” Alarmingly, but not unsurprisingly, there has been enormous growth in ‘patriot’ or militia groups since the election of President Barack Obama. “There were 194 such groups in 2000, a number that dropped to 149 by 2008, but after President Obama’s election, the number jumped to more than 1,000 by last year,” Potok says.
We all hoped that the capture of white supremacist Dylann Roof – who failed in his attempt to incite a race war in June at the AME Church in South Carolina but succeeded in his murderous rampage, taking nine innocent lives and destroying those families – would mark the end of these kinds of domestic terrorist attacks. The depressing words of Rodney Clarke, chairman of the trustees of a Baptist church near the spot where the extremists’ meeting was apparently held, say it all: “It’s always in the back of your mind…“This is right around the corner…It’s a shame you can’t worship your god in peace…You try to have your focus on him, but you have to worry about what’s coming through the door.”
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.