Supremacist may gain release

Pending trial: Court imposes conditions; the defendant is charged with hate crimes

A federal magistrate in Salt Lake City has agreed to release the national head of a white supremacist organization pending his trial on hate-crime charges once the defendant meets certain conditions, including finding a place to live in Utah and surrendering his passport.

After hearing arguments at a Wednesday morning hearing, Magistrate David Nuffer said his release order also will require Shaun A. Walker to have no contact with co-defendants, victims or witnesses in his case or with any members of his National Alliance or of other groups that have “racial or national sensitivities” as their basis.

Walker will remain in the Salt Lake County jail at least until July 5, the date Nuffer set for another hearing to get confirmation that the living arrangements have been made. The 38-year-old was transferred over the weekend to Utah from West Virginia, where the National Alliance is based.

His attorney, Robin Ljungberg, said Walker resigned his position as national chairman of the group after his June 8 arrest.

Walker and two Salt Lake City members of the organization – Travis D. Massey, 29, who has served as a spokesman in Utah for the group, and Eric G. Egbert – were indicted June 7 on charges of conspiracy to interfere with civil rights and interference with a federally protected activity. A federal grand jury alleges that the three conspired to provoke fights with persons perceived to be “nonwhite” to make them afraid to work, live or appear in public in Salt Lake City.

The indictment says the men assaulted a Mexican-American employee of O’Shucks, a downtown Salt Lake City bar, on Dec. 31, 2002. And on March 15, 2003, Massey assaulted an American Indian man at Port O’ Call, another Salt Lake City bar, according to the indictment. Both victims allegedly were targeted because of their ethnic heritage.

Each charge carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

The three defendants have pleaded not guilty and are scheduled to go to trial on Aug. 21. Massey and Egbert were released earlier this month under conditions similar to the ones that Nuffer is imposing on Walker.

At Wednesday’s hearing, prosecutor Carlos Esqueda argued that Walker is a flight risk and asked the magistrate to keep him behind bars. He said the National Alliance, while professing to be a political organization, is really a hate group with cells in the United States and Europe.

“This is a dangerous group,” Esqueda said. “There is this deeper, darker side to the National Alliance.”

He added that in the past few years, Walker has traveled to European countries, including England and Germany, to given talks to National Alliance members.

Ljungberg countered that membership itself in the National Alliance is not a crime.

“He’s spoken at a number of places, including here in Utah to the Legislature,” the defense attorney said.

He did not give details of his client’s appearance before Utah lawmakers, except that it was before 2003, when Walker was living in Utah.

In 2004, the group sparked controversy when it bought space on a billboard on State Street in Salt Lake City and posted the message “Securing the Future for European Americans.” The organization says it opposes “out-of-control” immigration by nonwhites, an alleged Jewish monopoly of the mass media and political correctness in education.

The National Alliance was founded in 1974 by William Pierce, whose novel The Turner Diaries inspired acts of domestic terror, including the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, prosecutors say.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Salt Lake Tribune, USA
June 29, 2006
Pamela Manson

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday July 1, 2006.
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