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Dallas Morning News Feb. 19, 1990 (A17, A20)

Skinheads' trial starts tuesday
Officials hoping to send message

By Tracy Everbach, Staff Writer of the Dallas Morning News

A trial that prosecutors hope will send a warning to white
supremacists across the country is scheduled to begin Tuesday
in federal court in Dallas.

Five members of a Dallas-based skinhead group called the
Confederate Hammerskins, a white supremacists' faction that
reveres Nazi philosophies, are accused of conspiring to
violate the civil rights of African-Americans, Hispanics and
Jews in Dallas.

Prosecutors contend that the men, who shave their heads to
show solidarity, beat up and chased minorities out of Robert
E. Lee Park in Dallas and vandalized a Jewish temple and
community center in 1988.

The five - Daniel Alvis Wood, 20, of Dallas; Sean Christian
Tarrant, 20, of Dallas; Jon Lance Jordan, 19, of Garland;
Christopher Barry Greer, 25, of Irving, and Michael Lewis
Lawrence, 22, of Tulsa, Okla -- have pleaded innocent before
U.S. Federal Judge Barefoot Sanders.

Their conviction would be a milestone for the U.S. Department
of Justice, which has pledged to vigorously prosecute racially
and religiously motivated hate crimes.

"We hope it will send a message to other communities that the
Justice Department and law enforcement agencies will not
tolerate these types of crimes," said Mark Briskman, Dallas
regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai
B'rith.

He said that despite these five men's indictments, the
Anti-Defamation League continues to track increasing violence
and vandalism against Jews, African-Americans and other
minorities in cities from Houston to Los Angeles to Chicago.

Prosecutors declined last week to discuss the trial. But in
September, when the men were indicted, the chief of the
Justice Department's civil rights division in Washington,
D.C., said the prosecutions would show that federal officials
will exert all efforts to prosecute anyone suspected of hate
crimes.

The indictments capped a high-profile, six-month investigation
of the group by the Justice Department, Dallas Police, the FBI
and the Dallas County district attorney's office. Officials
said the investigation was prompted by a nationwide wave of
racial and anti-Semitic crimes.

Lawyers defending the five avowed white supremacists say the
Justice Department is trying to make national examples out of
their clients. They have filed motions contending that the
prosecutions may be politically motivated.

"It's really regrettable that this thing as become such a
_cause celebre_ for the government," said Cass Welland, a
lawyer representing Mr. Jordan. "I think it's a local matter
that should be handled by the local district attorney."

"We feel like they're (the defendants) being targeted,
exampled because of their beliefs and because they've been
vocal about them," said Blake Withrow, a lawyer representing
Mr. Lawrence.

According to court documents, prosecutors will charge that the
five began planning a string of violent crimes against
minorities after attending an "Aryan festival" in Catoosa,
Okla., in June 1988. There they heard speeches by Tom Metzger
-- considered by many to be the leader of the national white
separatist movement.
 
Afterf the festival, the five defendants and other white
supremacists began patrolling Lee Park in the Oak Lawn area of
Dallas with the intention of intimidating minorities, the
documents say.

The indictment charges the five with beating and chasing
African-Americans and Hispanics out of Lee Park, which the
skinheads regarded as a symbol of white supremacy reserved for
whites only. The indictment also charges Mr. Lawrence with
beating an African-American man with a baseball bat in the
park.

Prosecutors also plan to argue that the five men were
anti-Semitic and believed Jews were "using blacks to destroy
the white race," court documents state.

The indictment charges the five with vandalizing Temple Shalom
in North Dallas in August and October of 1988 and vandalizing
the Jewish Community Center in North Dallas in October 1988.
In the October attacks, windows were shot out of the
synagogue, and swastikas and racist slogans such as "Hitler
was right" were spray-painted on the outside.

The indictment also charges that the five planned to re-create
in Dallas the acts of Nazis on the 50th anniversary of
Kristallnacht -- the night Nazis looted and vandalized Jewish
property in Germany.

Mr. Wood, Mr. Jordan and several others were stopped by Dallas
and Garland police officers on the anniversary -- Nov. 9, 1988
-- as they rode in a truck carrying spray paint, ball
bearings, baseball bats and broken pieces of concrete.

Mr. Wood, Mr. Lawrence and Mr. Jordan also are charged with
using a firearm in the temple vandalism.

Last year, Mr. Wood pleaded guilty to a state charge of felony
criminal mischief in the temple vandalism and is serving a
10-year prison sentence. He also faces up to five years in
federal prison after pleading guilty to a charge of fleeing
the state to avoid prosecution.

Mr. Tarrant, who prosecutors say was a founder of the
Confederate Hammerskins, is serving a two-year sentence in
state prison for violating probation.

Br. Briskman of the Anti-Defamation League said that since the
five were indicted last September, his group has detected
virtually no serious vandalism or violence against Jews or
minorities in Dallas by white supremacists.

"The five set for trial ... are the real backbone of this
group," he said. "Should all five be convicted and put away,
that would have a major impact in curtailing any of this
activity."

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