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Poisoning the Web: Hatred Online
Internet Bigotry, Extremism and Violence
Table of Contents

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Responding to Extremist
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10 Frequently Asked Questions
Identity Church Movement:
Posse Comitatus

William Potter Gale created an Identity group named Posse Comitatus, which means "power of the county" in Latin. Other Posses unaffiliated with Gale sprang up in its wake, particularly during the 1970s and 1980s. Loosely affiliated bands of armed anti-tax and anti-Federal government vigilantes and survivalists, these Posses believed that all government power is rooted at the county, not Federal, level.

Because they are convinced that the Federal government is controlled by "enemies" (usually Jews), Posse adherents resist paying taxes as well as other duties of law-abiding citizens. Aspects of the Posse's ideology, most notably its fierce hostility to Federal authority, reverberate among today's militia and common law court activists.

In the 1970s, Posses attracted Klan members and other anti-Semites (among them David Duke), and in 1983, these groups gained nationwide attention when active Posse member Gordon Kahl murdered two Federal Marshals in North Dakota and became a fugitive. When Kahl died in a shootout with Arkansas law enforcement officers, Posses and other Identity groups made him a martyr.

In 1991, James Wickstrom, an Identity minister and Posse leader based in Michigan, was convicted of plotting to distribute $100,000 in counterfeit bills to white supremacists at a 1988 Aryan Nations event. He was released from prison in 1994 and today runs a Posse Web site with fellow Identity "Pastor" August Kreis of Pennsylvania.

At his Posse Web site, Kreis calls "the occupying forces" of the "zionist [sic] or jewish [sic] occupied government" the enemies of "We the People" and describes them as the reason that the government has "grossly overstepped its bounds." Expressing his desire to establish an Identity-based theocracy in their place, he writes:

I have heard it said that if those of us who are adherents to Racial Identity ever come to power there would be less tolerance in this country than there is now. I would have to agree with that statement. Because, we would bring this country back under God's law! We are not in this fight to regain a piece of paper that doesn't even mention God! [i.e., the U.S. Constitution] It's because of that piece of paper that we're in the mess we're in now...Tolerance, is the whole problem! We would have his [sic] law...there would be NO tolerance.25

Kreis and Wickstrom also use their Web site to editorialize about current events. Written by Kreis, "Villain or American Folk Hero?" voices support for alleged abortion clinic bomber Eric Robert Rudolph. Kreis claims that "those who call themselves Identity" and "a growing consensus of conservative Christians" believe Rudolph has "done the will of...God."

In justifying Rudolph's alleged actions, Kreis stresses that "it is...an inarguable matter of Scriptural mandate that those involved with [abortion] have committed capital murder a crime punishable by DEATH!" Kreis maintains that "several hundred [Jewish Occupational Government] agents" are chasing Rudolph to "execute him" on the spot, and he urges "the proud European White folk living in this country" to "rise up against this tyrannical, parasitic [Jewish] communist government." Perhaps Rudolph engenders greater sympathy among this group because he himself may be an Identity believer: in 1984, he and his family spent several months at the Schell City, Missouri, Church of Israel compound run by Identity preacher Dan Gayman.

With regard to the brutal murder on October 23, 1998, of Dr. Barnett Slepian of upstate New York, likely targeted because he performed abortions, Kreis and Wickstrom comment, "Not much needs to be said. The justice in the 'putting to DEATH' of this jewish [sic] abortionist says it all!...Pray that other True Israelite Warriors across this land continue to rid our country of these murdering bastards!"

Next: Aryan Nations


25 "Posse Comitatus," from the Posse Comitatus Web site, retrieved October 1998


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