Posted: November 17, 2003
A federal judge in Chicago sentenced white supremacist Harley Hermes to 20 months in prison on November 12, 2003, for his role in violating the civil rights of four African-American youths.
Hermes, 21, a member of the Lake County Skinheads, a Chicago-area racist skinhead group, and two other defendants chased the four youths while shouting racial slurs after a Grant Community High School football game in Lake County on August 30, 2002.
Under a plea agreement, Hermes admitted to starting the incident by falsely telling friends that one of the children had provoked him. After the chase, Hermes joined his friends who had cornered one of the children, a 15-year-old girl, and threatened her with a knife.
One of the other defendants, Shaun L. Derifield, 23, founder of the Lake County Skinheads, pleaded guilty to similar charges in September.
Derifield, who has a tattoo of a swastika on his chest, held a knife to the teenager's throat as she begged him not to kill her. According to his plea agreement, Derifield told the teenager, "This is our town and you better get out before we kill you! We're going to kill you and your whole (expletive) family if you don't get out of town!"
Derifield's sentencing is scheduled for November 19.
The third defendant, 18-year-old Michael J. Canlas, served six months in jail after pleading guilty to felony mob action.
Fox Lake Police Chief Edward Gerretsen said that there has been a spike in racist behavior in the area, including racial epithets, taunts and other skinhead activity, since authorities shot and killed Eric Hanson, a Lake Villa white supremacist, in June 2001. A member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance, Hanson was killed by authorities following a 14-hour standoff after he shot two Illinois State Police officers.