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Dallas Times Herald
March 2, 1990 (1A)

Verdict hailed
By Alan Van Zelfden of the Times Herald Staff

Five white supremacists were convicted by an all-white federal
jury Thursday of conspiring to intimidate blacks, Hispanics
and Jews in Dallas, sending what federal authorities say is a
strong message that hate crimes will be punished nationwide.

Cries of joy and sorrow rang out as guilty verdicts concluded
a five-day trial that the U.S. Justice Department had billed
as one of the first major prosecutions of skinheads in the
nation.

Leo Laufer, who had followed the trial from the beginning,
wept as he spoke of modern hate crimes by young, neo-Nazi
extremists.

"I remember 1939 and 1940 in Nazi Germany, and to see
[swastikas] in Dallas today is shocking," said Laufer, a Jew
who spent five years in concentration camps. "I hope this
verdict will give a message not only in Dallas but all across
the United States."

Convicted on two counts each of vandalizing Jewish
institutions and conspiring to chase blacks and Hispanics from
a Dallas park were Jon Lance Jordan, 19, of Garland; Sean
Christian Tarrant, 20, of Dallas; Christopher Barry Greer, 25,
of Irving; Daniel Alvis Wood, 20, of Dallas; and Michael
Lewish Lawrence, 22, of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Wood, Jordan and Lawrence were also charged with using a gun
to commit a felony. Lawrence was acquitted of that charge.
Like Greer and Tarrant, he could receive 20 years in prison,
while Jordan and Wood face up to 25 years.

The convictions bring to 17 the number of local skinheads who
will be sentenced April 19. Twelve members earlier pleaded
guilty to various civil rights charges.

"We believe this should send a warning across the nation that
young racists... better not conspire to vandalize or commit
violence or they'll be prosecuted," lead prosecutor Barry
Kowalski, deputy chief of the Justice Department's Civil
Rights Division, said after the trial. "We have a continuing
investigation of various acts of violence that have been
committed by skinheads in this city and others."

Attorneys representing the defendants, all members of the
Garland-based Confederate Hammerskins, said it was too early
to decide if they would appeal the convictions. Jordan's
attorney, Leon Carter, said the jury convicted the defendants
as a group rather than considering individual roles in the
alleged crimes.

"I think [the jury] said to themselves, 'If we find one
guilty, we have to find them all guilty,'" said Carter, who is
black. "My client was convicted because he was a member of a
group."

Federal authorities began investigating the Hammerskins in
February 1989, when Wood offered the FBI information about the
group's activities in return for leniency. Wood said the group
embarked on a five-month campaign of terror in 1988, chasing
minorities from Robert E. Lee Park and vandalizing Jewish
institutions, according to testimony.

During the trial, 15 former members of the group related tales
of violence against blacks and Hispanics who were beaten in
the park, and told of a plan to inject poison gas into the air
conditioning ducts of Temple Shalom, a Jewish synagogue.

Some members also testified that two groups of skinheads had
planned a nightlong rampage of vandalizing Jewish businesses
on Nov. 9, 1988, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of
Kristallnacht, the beginning of the Nazi Holocaust. One group,
armed with baseball bats, ball bearings, spray paint and
pieces of concrete, was stopped by police while the other
group changed its plans.

Defense attorneys called witnesses who characterized the group
as nothing more than a bunch of non-violent high-school
dropouts who advocated "Christianity, anti-drugs,
anti-abortion and racial separatism."

Mark Briskman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League
of the B'nai B'rith, said the convictions could cripple a
growing skinhead movement in Dallas.

=30=




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