White supremacist arrested in plot to kill judge

Chicago Sun-Times, Jan. 8, 2003

World Church of the Creator, was arrested this afternoon at the Dirksen Federal Building and accused of conspiring to kill a federal judge.

Hale, 31, of East Peoria, asked “an individual” between Nov. 29 and Dec. 17 last year to kill U.S. District Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow, who ruled against him and his group in a recent court case, prosecutors alleged, providing few other details. The individual was not named.

Hale had been scheduled to appear before Lefkow today for a contempt hearing and possibly faced going to jail for failing to follow the judge’s orders.

Hale’s organization had blasted the judge on its Web site, using anti-Semitic and racial slurs to urge its white supremacist members to “show the k— and n—– – loving judge that the jailing of . . . Hale will not stop our Church of the Creator!”

In May 2000, an Oregon religious organization sued Hale’s group, saying it had registered the term “Church of the Creator” as a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

On Nov. 19, Lefkow issued an order stopping Hale’s group from using the Church of the Creator name and to deliver up for destruction all printed and other materials bearing the Church of the Creator mark.

Hale was expected to make an initial appearance before a magistrate judge later today.

“Freedom of speech does not include the freedom to solicit murder,” U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. “The conduct alleged in this indictment is disturbing on many levels, but particularly so because it targeted a judge, whose sworn duty is to apply the law equally and fairly to all who appear before her.”

Hale was arrested about 1 p.m. after he had given a press conference at the Dirksen Federal Building about his case. FBI agents and Chicago police pounced on Hale after he passed through the metal detectors on the north side of the building and headed toward a bank of elevators. Hale had a scheduled court appearance at 1:30 p.m.

Hale had about a dozen supporters with him, one of whom was taken away by police as he yelled that Hale was being arrested unconstitutionally, authorities said.

Hale’s group has been trailed by a history of violence. It promotes a “racial holy war,” yet Hale has repeatedly insisted it was non-violent.

He calls himself “pontifex maximus” (high priest) of the organization, which he ran for years out of a spare bedroom in his father’s East Peoria home. Hale and the group shot from obscurity to notoriety in 1999 when a member of the organization, Benjamin Smith, went on a two-state killing spree against African Americans, Asians and Jews.

Smith killed two people—including former Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong—and wounded nine others before killing himself.

At the time, an Anti-Defamation League of America official said the group had “a record of violence that surpasses every other hate group at this point.”

The ADL and other monitoring groups link the World Church of the Creator to a string of race-related acts, including bombings in Baltimore and Los Angeles and a murder in Florida.

Hale drew added publicity in his failed attempt to become a lawyer. He graduated from Southern Illinois University Law School and passed the bar exam, but the state Supreme Court found his “claim that he does not advocate violence . . . simply not credible.” The high court turned down his final appeal in 2000.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Wednesday January 8, 2003.
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