Dallas Morning News
March 2, 1990 (1A)
5 skinheads convicted of conspiracy
By Tracy Everbach
Staff Writer of the Dallas Morning News
A federal jury convicted five white supremacist skinheads of
conspiring to violate the civil rights of Jews,
African-Americans and Hispanics in Dallas.
The five — members of a neo-Nazi group called the Confederate
Hammerskins — were accused of vandalizing Jewish institutions
and assaulting minorities in a park.
The conviction “should send a warning across the nation that
young racists cannot commit crimes of hate,” said Barry
Kowalski, a prosecutor with the U.S. Justice Department’s
civil rights division. “They can believe what they want and
say what they want, but they better not vandalize or commit
acts of violence.”
One of the convicted skinheads gave a Nazi salute as he was
escorted from the courthouse Thursday.
After deliberating four hours, the six-man, six-woman,
all-white jury convicted Sean Christian Tarrant, 20, of
Dallas; Christopher Barry Greer, 25, of Irving; Jon Lance
Jordan, 19, of Garland; Michael Lewis Lawrence, 22, of Tulsa,
Okla.; and Daniel Avis Wood, 20, of Dallas on conspiracy
charges. The jury also found Mr. Jordan and Mr. Wood guilty of
using a firearm in the vandalism of a synagogue. Jurors
acquitted Mr. Lawrence on the firearms charge.
Defense attorneys had contended that the five young men were
not violent and that the Justice Department targeted them
because of their philosophies. The Hammerskins espouse Nazi
beliefs and crop their hair to show unity.
“It is very unpopular, the things they believe,” said Leon
Carter, a Dallas lawyer who defended Mr. Jordan. “But they
have the right to believe it.”
Mr. Carter, who is African-American, said he believes his
client is innocent.
“There was a lot of circumstantial evidence,” he said. “The
jury didn’t hear at one time that my client committed an act
The five Hammerskins are to be sentenced April 19 by U.S.
District Judge Barefoot Sanders.
He could imprison Mr. Jordan and Mr. Wood for up to 25 years
and fine them $500,000 each. The judge could sentence Mr.
Tarrant, Mr. Greer, and Mr. Lawrence up to 20 years in prison
and fine them $500,000 each.
None of the five defendants showed emotion when the verdicts
were read. Some members of their families wept.
Mr. Tarrant’s father, Robert Tarrant of Memphis, Tenn., said
his son had been unfairly portrayed as the leader of the
“He’s a good Christian boy,” Robert Tarrant said. “He’s always
advocated peace, non-violence and love of fellow man. He
believes everyone should be allowed to do what they want.”
As the defendants were escorted from the courtroom by U.S.
marshalls, Mr. Wood gave a Nazi salute.
Also in the courtroom when the verdict was announced were
several members of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, a
Dallas skinhead group that opposes racism. Sporting shaved
heads and jackets emblazoned with the American flag and the
Star of David, the group members said they had come to hear
the verdict read.
After the verdict, Mr. Kowalski shook hands with the
non-racist skinheads and told them he was proud of their
A 15-year-old member of the group said its members do not
believe the white race is superior.
“There is a racial problem going on in Dallas, and the
Confederate Hammerskins and other groups like them are going
around and hurting people because of their race,” said the
young woman, who identified herself only as Shirley, a member
of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice.
The five convicted skinheads devised and participated in a
plan to chase and beat African-Americans and Hispanics in
Robert E. Lee Park between June and September 1988. They
contended that the park, named for the Confederate general,
was reserved for whites.
The five also vandalized the Jewish Community Center and spray
painted anti-Semitic slogans, shot out windows and cut
air-conditioning lines at Temple Shalom in August and October
1988. Witnesses testified that members of the Hammerskins had
plotted to pump lethal gas into the temple.
Mark Briskman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League
of B’nai B’rith, said the verdict culminated a 2 1/2-year
effort by the league to stop skinhead violence.
“I hope this will send a message across the country that this
kind of organized racism and anti-Semitism will not be treated
in anything less than an aggressive manner,” Mr. Briskman
said. “Hatred and bigotry do not belong in this country.”
The Confederate Hammerskins are not the only violent, white
supremacist skinhead group in Dallas, Mr. Briskman said.
Tuesday night, Richardson police arrested seven people
identified as members of a neo-Nazi skinhead group called
Confederate White Vikings. The group threatened a black woman
and broke the windshield of her car, police said.
“We need to keep vigil on this issue. It’s not going away with
this one verdict,” said Peter Johnson, regional director of
the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
“It’s about time we started prosecuting cases like this to end
biased crimes of violence,” he said.
During the trial, witnesses described an incident in which
Hammerskins assaulted a white man they believed was
White the Anti-Defamation League and law enforcement agencies
continue to monitor skinhead groups in the Dallas area,
federal investigations continue in other cities, Mr. Briskman
said. Federal prosecutors said the Dallas cases were the first
indictments in a nationwide investigation.
Twelve former members or associates of the Hammerskins who
pleaded guilty to misdemeanor or juvenile federal civil rights
violations, then testified for the prosecution, will be
sentenced by Judge Sanders.
Mr. Tarrant already is serving a two-year state sentence for
violating probation on a 1987 robbery charge. Mr. Wood is
serving a 10-year state sentence for felony criminal mischief
in connection with the temple vandalism. He pleaded guilty in
that case. Mr. Lawrence faces an Oklahoma state charge of
shooting with intent to kill in connection with the wounding
last September of an African-American teen-age girl in Tulsa.
Dallas Times Herald
September 30, 1989 (A1)
5 more skinheads indicted in Dallas
By Scott Sunde
of the Times Herald Staff
In a blow aimed at the heart of the white supremacist movement
in Dallas, a federal grand jury has indicted five skinheads on
weapons and civil rights charges involving assaults on blacks
and Hispanics at a Turtle Creek park and vandalism of Jewish
Charges against the five, all members of a group known as the
Confederate Hammerskins, stem from a local and federal
investigation into the skinhead violence in the summer and
fall of 1988. So far, a grand jury sitting in Dallas has
indicted 16 people, seven of whom have pleaded guilty.
The most recent indictment underscores the Justice
Department’s intention to give prosecution of hate crimes the
highest priority, said James Turner, acting assistant attorney
general in the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
“These indictments involve interference with basic civil
rights because of a person’s race, religion, national origin
or ethnic background,” Turner said Friday at a news conference
announcing the indictment. “Racial hate crimes are crimes
against the very idea of American freedom and democracy.”
The Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith in recent years has
identified more than 100 skinheads in the Dallas area,
although there usually are 30 to 40 active members at any one
time. Skinheads are known for their shaved heads, stell-toed
boots and quasi-military clothing and racist, anti-Semitic
The three-count indictment unsealed Friday names Sean Tarrant,
20, Jon Jordan, 19, Michael Lawrence, 21, Christopher Greer,
24, and Daniel Wood, 20. All but Lawrence, who lives in Tulsa,
are from the Dallas area. Authorities said Tarrant, Greer and
Wood were in custody Friday.
The indictment’s first count alleges that all five conspired
in the spring and summer of 1988 to deny blacks and Hispanics
their civil rights by chasing them out of Robert E. Lee Park,
which Justice Department attorney Barry Kowalski said the men
view “as a symbol of white supremacy.” The indictment charges
that some of the skinheads assaulted black men in the park,
including one man who was beaten with a baseball bat.
The second count charges that the five men conspired in a plan
that resulted in vandalism at Temple Shalom and the Jewish
Community Center, both in North Dallas. It also alleges Wood,
Jordan, Lawrence and Greer decided on Nov. 9, 1988, to vandalize
Jewish businesses to mark the 50th anniversay of Kristallnacht —
a night of widespread violence against Jews and their
property in Nazi Germany.
Police stopped Wood and Jordan the night of Nov. 9 in a truck
carrying baseball bats, ball bearings, concrete blocks and
spray paint — items the indictment said were to be used to
vandalize Jewish businesses.
The final count accuses Wood, Lawrence and Jordan of using a
gun while committing a federal crime.
Dallas County Assistant District Attorney Mike Gillett, who
helped in the investigation, said the crimes spelled out in
the indictment are the product of “warped-thinking political
cowards” and “simple-minded terrorists” who “attack not only
fundamental freedoms guaranteed by law but a code of moral
The first two counts carry a penalty of up to 10 years in
prison and a fine of $250,000. The last carries a mandatory
five years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Wood was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a state court in
January for defacing Temple Shalom in October 1988. Earlier
this month, he pleaded guilty in federal court to fleeing the
state to avoid testifying before a grand jury about the
attempted fire-bombing of a Kaufman County church.
Federal agents declined to say whether the five men held posts
of importance in the Confederate Hammerskins. But Mark
Briskman, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League,
said the five are leaders of the group.
He and local and federal authorities agreed that the combined
federal-local investigation, which continues, has reduced
skinhead violence in Dallas. The most recent indictments,
Briskman said, represent “a very important national statement
by this administration and by the Justice Department that they
are not going to tolerate this kind of assault on minorities
in this country.”
He also noted that the indictment was announced just hours
before the start of Rosh Hashana, the celebration of the
Jewish new year. The indictment will affirm to Dallas Jews
that they can attend Rosh Hashana services “without having to
fear being able to worship freely,” Briskman said.
But Rabbi Kenneth Roseman said he could not look upon the
indictments without some sadness.
“We’re saddened by any violence or prejudice by any groups
whether it’s directed against us or any groups,” he said.
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Dallas Morning News
February 21, 1990 (20A)
All-Anglo jury selected in trial of five white supremacists
By Tracy Everbach
Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News
A jury of eitht men and six women – all Anglos – was impaneled
Tuesday in a Dallas federal court for the trial of five white
supremacists accused of violating the civil rights of
African-American, Hispanic and Jewish people.
Opening arguments will begin Wednesday.
The jury was chosen from a pool of 60 people that included
Prosecutors say the five defendants in the case are members of
a white-separatist “skinhead” group — called the Confederate
Hammerskins — who assaulted and chased minorities out of a
Dallas park and vandalized a Jewish temple and community
center in 1988.
Before the trial began, defense lawyers had sought a change of
venue, arguing that a jury would be prejudiced by extensive
news coverage of the temple vandalism and park assaults. US
District Judge Barefoot Sanders denied the request.
Judge Sanders asked prospective jurors whether they had heard
news reports about the trial or the park and temple incidents.
The five defendants have pleaded not guilty to charges of
conspiring to violate the civil rights of citizens. Four of
the defendants, Michael Lewis Lawrence, 22, of Tulsa, Okla,
Christopher Barry Greer, 25, of Irving, Jon Lance Jordan, 19,
of Garland, and Daniel Alvis Wood, 20, of Dallas, also pleaded
not guilty to charges of using a firearm during the temple
vandalism in October 1988. The fifth defendant, Sean Christian
Tarrant, 20, of Dallas, is not charged with the firearms
Skinheads shave their heads as a sign of unity.
The trial is expected to last about two weeks. Prosecutors and
defense lawyers have submitted a list of about 120 possible
witnesses, but not all are expected to testify.
Several prospective jurors told Judge Sanders on Tuesday that
they had heard of skinheads in general and knew of the
vandalisms or the park assaults. All but a few of them,
however, daid they would be unbiased by the news reports.
One black woman in the jury pool told the judge that she had
heard about skinheads and heard they were ‘racist,’ but she
aid she could remain impartial. She was not chosen for the
Another black woman in the pool told the judge that ‘really –
I don’t think I could be fair’ about the case. The judge
dismissed her and eight others from the jury pool because they
said they could not be impartial or because of hardship.
= 30 =
Dallas Times Herald
Feb. 22, 1990 (A13)
Ex-member details plan by skinheads
Poison gas part of plot for synagogue, he says
By Alan Van Zeifden, of the Times Herald Staff
Members of a white supremacist group known as skinheads
embarked on a three-month reign of terror that included plans
to inject poisonous gas into a North Dallas synagogue’s
air-conditioning ducts, a former member testified Wednesday.
Gordon Buchanan, 18, testifying against five skinheads accused
of civil rights violations, said one member talked of
poisoning Temple Shalom with cyanide. The alleged plot wasn’t
executed, but testimony showed skinheads had visited the
temple and tampered with the air-conditioning control box.
“He talked about Jews probably more than anybody,” Buchanan
said of Confererate Hammerskins member Daniel Alvis Wood. “He
said, ‘Kill them all and let God sort them out,’ What he
[wanted] to do was put gas in the air-conditioning systems.”
On trial are Wood, 20, of Dallas; Sean Christian Tarrant, 20,
of Dallas; Jon Lance Jordan, 19, of Garland; Michael Lewis
Lawrence, 22, of Tulsa, Okla.; and Christopher Barry Greer,
25, of Irving.
All are charged in connection with attacks on minorities in a
Dallas park. All but Tarrant are charged in the temple
Buchanan, a 10th-grade dropout who testified he turned to punk
rock and racist groups for companionship in 1987, said he
joined the Dallas Hammerskins in May 1988, when he was 17.
Buchanan testified Wood told him about three months later that
he wanted to kill Jewish people.
Buchanan said he, Jordan, Wood, Tarrant and another skinhead
who’s not on trial visited the temple late one August night in
1988 to check out the facility. Jordan and Wood tampered with
the temple’s air-conditioning control box before the group
left, Buchanan testified.
The skinheads had visited the temple on at least one other
occasion, during which they spray-painted anti-Semitic
messages on walls and shot out several windows, according to
Buchanan testified on condtion that he only face juvenile
charges for his actions. He has already plead guilty to those
Buchanan also linked the defendants to the beating of blacks
and Hispanics at Robert E. Lee Park near downtown Dallas in
the summer of 1988.
Alexis Newton, a black Dallas man, testified that a gang of
about a dozen skinheads chased him from the park near Turtle
Creek Boulevard and Hall Street on one occasion that summer.
Fear appeared to be the crux of the argument presented by
“Terror. It’s just a word until it’s been experienced,”
Suzanne Drouet, an attorney with the U.S. Justice Department,
Leon Carter, one of three attorneys representing Jordon,
criticized prosecutors during his opening statement for
focusing on the defendants’ beliefs rather than on their
“Just like I have the right to believe in civil rights, just
like I have the right to believe in affirmative action, they
have the right to disbelieve in civil rights, they have the
right to disbelieve affirmative action,” said Carter, who is
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