Supremacist who spewed hate here part of FBI terror report

Local law-enforcement agencies are keeping an eye on white supremacist preacher James P. Wickstrom, who recently was compared to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden in an FBI domestic terror report.

Wickstrom, a nationally known Christian Identity teacher, has stirred controversy in recent years for holding Bible study meetings at the Marquiss Quality Furniture Store, 644 W. Center Road in Hampton Township.

The store was gutted by fire in June; an arson investigation is ongoing.

Wickstrom had been living in the Hampton Township area and holding meetings at the store for about three years, spreading a message that whites are God’s chosen people, Jews are evil and blacks and other races are inferior.

He now is reported to be living in the Pinconning area.

The owners of the furniture store, Mary and LeRoy Marquiss, plan to demolish it soon and rebuild a smaller store for a water conditioning business they’ve operated out of the back of the existing store for years.

“Within a few days, it will be coming down,” LeRoy Marquiss said Wednesday. “We’re putting up a steel building where nobody can torch it this time.”

Marquiss said he does not expect Wickstrom to hold meetings at the new store.

The FBI report, obtained by ABC News, identifies 22 domestic terror organizations as the current subject of hundreds of active FBI field investigations.

Wickstrom recently has risen to prominence as the world chaplain of an Aryan Nations group based in Pennsylvania. The ABC News report says Wickstrom regularly calls for the deaths of government leaders, including the president.

For that reason, federal officials say Wickstrom’s calls to action are not unlike those of bin Laden, according to ABC News.

Wickstrom also has openly called for the death of Jewish people; his previous meetings sometimes attracted more than 100 followers to the Hampton Township store.

Walt Reynolds, regional director for the FBI in Bay City, declined to comment on the domestic terror report. But Reynolds said the FBI keeps an eye on Wickstrom and his followers, and has a dialogue with the preacher.

“You’ve got to consider them dangerous sometimes, because you don’t know,” Reynolds said.

The concern is that someone may act on Wickstrom’s calls for action, Reynolds said.

Wickstrom has been tied to a man who allegedly shot and killed a Michigan State Police trooper in Newaygo County in July 2003; the preacher also served time in prison in the 1990s for a counterfeiting scheme aimed at funding paramilitary organizations.

Reynolds said Wickstrom now is living in the Pinconning area, but he doesn’t appear to be holding meetings. Wickstrom has a post office box in Rhodes, according to his Web site.

LeRoy Marquiss, who originally brought Wickstrom to town, said Wickstrom left the Bay City area without much explanation and he hasn’t spoken to the preacher in about four months.

“What happened, I don’t know,” Marquiss said.

Wickstrom could not be reached for comment Wednesday by The Times.

Terry Spegel, Hampton Township supervisor, said it’s “wonderful” that Wickstrom is no longer living in the township, although he noted that neither the Marquisses nor Wickstrom ever caused any trouble with the meetings in the past.

“Everybody has a right to their opinions.”

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog)
The Bay City Times, USA
Apr. 21, 2005
Jeff Kart, Times Writer

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)