A racist Stormfront hits Arroyo Grande
March 28, 2011
The Arroyo Grande woman whose house was the scene of a cross burning earlier this month has retained an attorney and wants to know why police officers investigating the crime asked her about her sexual history from the last ten years.
During interviews with the mother, whose name is being kept private, Arroyo Grande police said they needed a detailed accounting of where she and her daughter had lived and the mother’s sexual history.
“They know their department hasn’t handled it correctly,” the mother said, referring to the cross burning incident that took place just after midnight on March 18. “Someone is trying to downplay this.”
The mother’s allegations emerge as new evidence suggests that white supremacists or “skinheads” were seen in Arroyo Grande hours before the incident.
Witnesses tell CalCoastNews that Arroyo Grande police dispersed a crowd at a local drinking establishment on the evening of St. Patrick’s Day.
Several patrons at the popular bar were angered and voiced their disapproval when a man donning a Stormfront sweatshirt, decorated with “White Pride” on the arms and “White Pride World Wide” on the back showed up with a friend. The mood, witnesses say, turned ugly with angry insults flying before the police walked in.
However, while police officers noted in their logs that they had checked out the Village bars, no mention was made of either the controversial sweatshirt or any racial insults. Though interior cameras recorded the events of the evening, the tapes have since been erased.
Later that night, at approximately 12:30 a.m., several vehicles pulled up to a home on Elm Street where an 11-foot cross that had been stolen from a church a few weeks before was nailed on a platform, placed upright and set on fire. A 19-year-old called 9-1-1 after she saw the flaming cross outside their home.
Police arrived and asked the mother if they could use her hose to put out the burning cross, which fell shortly before they arrived. The family heard officers and firefighters chatting and laughing about an earlier incident and said they were upset when police left without talking with them or collecting some of the evidence.
The mother called 9-1-1 for a second time Friday morning at about 8:30 a.m. to ask police to come back and pick up the shovel left by the suspects the night before. She was also worried that police were not taking the burning of a cross, a symbol of racism, seriously.
Police originally reported the incident as embers burning in an empty lot. On Friday morning, when the mother explained her daughter was black, police started referring to the burning of the cross as a possible hate crime.
“It wasn’t embers, it was a fallen 11-foot cross,” the mother said.
While some residents insist that there are no white power groups in Arroyo Grande, basic research on the Internet—including Facebook, MySpace, and Stormfront—suggests the skinhead movement enjoys many followers in this South County community.
Stormfront, for example, is an online forum for white power started by Alabama Ku Klux Klan boss and long-time white supremacist Don Black in 1995. Its mission is “to build a community of white activists working for the survival of our people., white nationalist,” according to the Stormfront website.
Reports of racist actions are not permitted on the site, a place to connect with “like minded people.” An Arroyo Grande man seeking other skinheads to interact with posted for help on the site.
“What has changed for me is the need to be a-c-t-i-v-e,” a man called Jim posted several years ago. “I’ve read Dr. Pierce’s Turner Diaries in the past, but, in reading it last week, I was shamed for my inaction and inspired to act.
“So, I am here looking to find kinsmen and kinswomen–my family–who may live in this area or this part of California. Specifically, I live in Arroyo Grande.”
“As far as my level of belief, I definitely espouse the passion and aggressiveness of a skinhead, but I do so without calling unnecessary attention to myself. My flight is clean and my hair is short, but not shaved.
“This allows me to move amongst the ‘muds’ (anyone who is not white) to potentially wreak havoc in their most vulnerable areas. For lack of a better word, you might consider me a StealthSkin.”
Charles, a fellow member of Stormfront responded telling Jim where to go in the Arroyo Grande village to socialize and even recommended a specific weekly summer event. He notes that Arroyo Grande is primarily white.
Jim responds that he runs into non-white, possible targets regularly at grocery stores and restaurants.
“Needless to say, as a propagandist for the cause, I have a target-rich environment, but, once this area goes, it’s the great white north for me”, Jim added.
Aside from national racist groups, Arroyo Grande also has a thriving skinhead population who support each other on MySpace and Facebook. Photos of some of their members, primarily Arroyo Grande High School graduates, are available online with captions such as a skin get together at my house along with` posts about their beliefs.
“Once upon a time in my life I was nothing more then a shameless heroin addicted junkie, yeah me,” said an Arroyo Grande man named Joshua on his MySpace page. “But I ended up going to prison and that gave me a chance to sober up and meet some really good people who happen to be skinheads.
“So passed on to me from then I learned that to respect others you must respect yourself first. So I shed the low self esteem I had and grew into this person.”
A $3,500 reward offered by the city of Arroyo Grande and San Luis Obispo County CrimeStoppers for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in the theft or burning of the cross has resulted in several leads police are currently investigating.
“You can’t make assumptions about this,” Arroyo Grande police chief Steve Annibali said. “We are looking at organizations, group members and individuals.”