ADL DETAILS WHITE SUPREMACIST TIES OF
SUSPECTED SPOKANE BANK ROBBERS
New York, NY, October 10, 1996...The three men arrested and charged with
bank robbery, auto theft and the use of bombs in connection with two bank
robberies and three bombings in Spokane, Washington earlier this year have
ties to white supremacists, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said today.
The three accused men, Charles Barbee, Robert Berry and Jay Merrell, have
been linked to the anti-Semitic and racist Christian Identity movement.
Christian Identity is a pseudo-religion that preaches that white Europeans
are the true chosen people and that Jews are descendants of Satan. Identity
also regards blacks and other non-whites as sub-human.
Letters left at the scene of the April robbery contained Identity propaganda
as well as diatribes against the banking system. They were signed with
the symbol of the "Phineas Priesthood," a violent credo of vengeance
that has gained some popularity among white supremacists and other extremists
in recent years. The Phineas Priesthood has been used as a calling card
by the perpetrators of several violent crimes, but there is little evidence
of organized activity among its adherents.
So-called "Phineas Priests" are guided by Identity leader Richard
Kelly Hoskins' book, Vigilantes of Christendom: The Story of the Phineas
Priesthood (1990). This lengthy manifesto perverts passages of the Bible
to justify racist and anti- Semitic acts of violence. The Phineas symbol
used by the Spokane robbers is depicted in Vigilantes.
Two of the accused, Barbee and Berry, reportedly met at a Sandpoint, Idaho,
Christian Identity church called America's Promise Ministries (APM). APM
has long promoted a host of anti-Semitic propaganda including the notorious
Czarist forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Henry Ford's The
International Jew and books denying the reality of the Holocaust.
The third man arrested, Jay Merrell, has a longstanding association with
APM. The group's newsletter has listed Merrell as a scheduled speaker at
several of its gatherings and has promoted numerous Identity-oriented video
tapes featuring Merrell.
Barbee has admitted his involvement with other armed anti-government extremists
in the Northwest. In a 1995 interview, Barbee said he belonged to a small
cell of extremists who were training to fight the federal government. "We
have to be ready to conduct guerrilla warfare. That's how it will be won,"
he said. Using a phrase popular in the militia movement, he claimed that
as a "sovereign citizen," he was not obliged to follow laws he
In 1995, Barbee and Berry were found guilty of misdemeanor weapons and
drug charges. At the time of the arrest, police found in their possession
an array of military supplies and weaponry as well as a list of contacts
in the militia movement.
Editors' Note: For additional information on Christian Identity and other
anti-Semitic and racist groups and/or to speak with ADL experts, contact
the ADL Media Relations Department.
The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is the world's leading organization fighting anti-Semitism through programs and services that counteract hatred, prejudice and bigotry.