Read the entire report, Alex Curtis: 'Lone Wolf' of Hate Prowls the Internet (PDF).
The Revolutionary Type
Although white supremacists struggle to achieve a racially homogeneous society in America, their methods may differ considerably: some are separatists, isolating themselves from people who are different, more or less happy as long as they can be left alone. Others try to work within the system, appropriating mainstream conservative anxieties over immigration, multiculturalism or "Southern heritage." And some are revolutionaries, eager to overthrow all institutions that promote equality or tolerance. Alex Curtis was a revolutionary: until a jail sentence eventually silenced him (at least temporarily), he advocated a violent revolution that would topple the "Jew-occupied" U.S. government in favor of a "race-centered" state that restricted citizenship and residency to those of "pure white ancestry." In addition, he considered integration and intermarriage to be part of a Jewish plot to commit "genocide" against the white race.
Like many white supremacists, Curtis started young. In 1993, just 17, he founded the Lemon Grove Ku Klux Klan, anointed himself "Exalted Cyclops" and twice burglarized his high school. Authorities say he vandalized the building with swastikas and racist epithets and stole lists of student addresses to write racist letters to parents "alerting" them that their children were friends with nonwhite students. One month prior to his 18th birthday, police arrested Curtis for the school burglaries and held him on suspicion of sending threatening letters to two local newspapers and making a death threat against a sheriff's officer. He was found guilty of the burglaries, but because he was considered a juvenile at the time of his arrest, he was given probation and ordered to perform community service.
Though Curtis himself was still a student who lived with his father, his imagination was grandiose. He envisioned a two-tiered hate movement in which "divisive or subversive" propaganda would be widely distributed and would guide a revolutionary underground. The underground would consist of "lone wolves" - racist warriors acting alone or in small groups who attacked the government or other targets in "daily, anonymous acts." Curtis saw himself as a propagandist sowing the seeds of a racist revolution, and he predicted that "lone wolves" would reap the harvest.
In a diary entry from 1993, later obtained by police, Curtis wrote, "I plan to make it my life's goal to rid the Earth of the unwanted un-Aryan elements, by whatever means necessary and possible." Curtis openly discussed assassination as a realistic and desirable possibility. Borrowing from former Klan and Aryan Nations leader Louis Beam, who had first promoted the idea, Curtis posted to his Web site a "Lone Wolf Point System" that awarded scores to would-be assassins based on the importance of their victims; the goal was to help readers "intelligently judge the effectiveness of proposed acts against the enemy." Few possibilities for attacking "the enemy" escaped Curtis's attention: he contemplated illegal drug sales as a way to further a racist revolution and even postulated the use of biological weapons. His own activities, however, were considerably more modest: in August 1997, police arrested him for distributing fliers that illegally featured police insignia. The fliers were designed to look like a police request asking citizens to "help fight non-white crime." Curtis pleaded guilty and received a sentence of three years' probation and 100 hours of community service.
Howling at the Moon
Curtis employed the Internet, his Nationalist Observer magazine, and his telephone hot lines in an attempt to make his destructive fantasies a reality. Through his "privately controlled media," he claimed to "reach 100s-1000s of the most radical racists in the world each week." In reaching his desired audience, Curtis's youth proved to be little hindrance. A number of prominent white supremacists, some decades older, corresponded regularly with him. He was popular, too, with the foot soldiers of the movement. He claimed to send his e-mail list to more than 800 recipients; an unknown number of racists called in to his various telephone hot lines. Whether his rhetoric actually influenced people to commit crimes is difficult to determine; the very nature of the strategy was designed to obscure such connections. The little evidence that exists is suggestive, however. For instance, police discovered phone records indicating that in March 1999 a call was placed from the Palo Cedro, California, home of Matthew and Tyler Williams to a phone number registered to Curtis. Four months later, the brothers were arrested as the lead suspects in arson attacks on three Sacramento synagogues and in the murder of a gay couple in Redding. Whether the Williams brothers were influenced by Curtis to allegedly commit violent acts or whether they called him because they were already willing is not clear, but the fact remains that Curtis's aims and the brothers' actions were, in essence, identical.
Curtis argued that white supremacists "should never apologize for hate crimes," which he called "the understandable result of the race-mixers' forcing together of the races." Though he refused to condemn hate crimes committed against minorities, Curtis was still critical of them - but for reasons that are perverse. He evaluated these acts according to their "contribution" to the white racist cause. Following the conviction of John William King in the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. in Jasper, Texas, Curtis said, "Here's another crime that wasn't thought out well, since it ended up trading the life of one mud for that of several white men. If King was a good lone wolf, he wouldn't try to start a group. He would take out niggers by other methods that are less obvious and messy. And he would do them alone."
In his e-mail messages, Curtis often reprinted his correspondence with white supremacists serving time for committing hate crimes. For example, Curtis was in contact with James Burmeister, who killed two people on a dirt road in Fayetteville, North Carolina, solely because they were black. Curtis claimed that one out of every three readers of his magazine was incarcerated, and he boasted of having more friends in California prisons than he had "at large." He encouraged visitors to his Web site to follow his lead and send letters of support and money to racist convicts.
Curtis also wanted to help those who were accused of committing hate crimes to stay out of prison in the first place. He suggested that, when arrested and tried, they respond to authorities with the so-called "5 words" - "I have nothing to say." He hoped that this strategy would help to get them acquitted for lack of evidence, reduce the sentences they received, or at least prevent them from incriminating their colleagues.
By the late 1990s, Curtis had developed a reputation as one of the white power movement's most hard-bitten and uncompromising ideologues. At every opportunity, he urged anyone who would listen to strike out against the government and minorities - against all those who stood in the way of a racial revolution. But on November 9, 2000, Curtis himself was arrested and charged with three federal counts of conspiracy to violate civil rights. For each count, Curtis faced 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The indictment stated that Curtis and three allies had embarked upon a campaign of hateful if juvenile crimes designed to harass and intimidate their targets. The group spraypainted anti-Semitic symbols and slogans on two synagogues; placed a gift-wrapped, inactive hand grenade on the front porch of an Hispanic mayor; and left snakeskins at the office of a Jewish congressman and the home of a civil rights worker. The indictment also indicated that Curtis and his friends had placed hateful stickers and pamphlets on and around the homes or workplaces of the mayor, the congressman and the ADL San Diego regional director.
The crimes were somewhat curious. Despite the fact that Curtis claimed to be a propagandist, not an activist, the indictment charged that he had in fact acted on his beliefs; though he advised racists to act alone, Curtis worked with associates, and despite his warnings against cooperating with the authorities, one of his associates quickly turned state's evidence.
I Have Nothing to Say
The arrest of Curtis immediately became a rallying point for extremists. His admirers created a "defense fund" for him and posted his prison contact address on the Internet. White supremacist leaders Matt Hale of World Church of the Creator, Richard Butler of Aryan Nations and Rocky Suhayda of the American Nazi Party spoke out on his behalf. White Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger attended his arraignment, and Vincent Bertollini of the 11th Hour Remnant Messenger traveled from Idaho to San Diego to visit him in jail.
His supporters were unpleasantly surprised, however, when in March 2001 Curtis pleaded guilty in return for a recommendation by prosecutors that he serve no more than three years in prison. In addition to his guilty plea, Curtis agreed to apologize, publicly and privately, to his victims. For the duration of his sentence, he consented to refrain from associating with 138 "known" extremists and to cease promoting hate via his Web site, e-mail mailing list and magazine.
Following his plea, support for Curtis among white supremacists quickly evaporated. Tom Metzger deemed his activities Halloween "pranks" that were "embarrassing and offensive to the general struggle" for white supremacy, as opposed to authentic lone wolf actions, which Metzger strongly supports. According to Metzger, some racists pointed to the Curtis deal as proof that "Lone Wolf does not work." In fact, Metzger asserted, "the opposite is true," for if Curtis "had adhered to strict Lone Wolf methods" he might not have been apprehended and prosecuted in the first place. "I regret Alex Curtis has taken himself out of the game way [too] early," Metzger wrote. "The best times haven't even started yet for the Lone Wolf.