NEW YORK (Aug. 30)
A major neo-Nazi ring has been uncovered by New Jersey police in the course of an investigation of racist and anti-Semitic graffiti found scrawled on the Rutgers University Hillel building and on a New Brunswick high school baseball dugout.
The two separate incidents provided the vital link that helped solve the case of a third neo-Nazi arson incident and ultimately lead to the uncovering of an active, militant neo-Nazi Skinhead ring in the Middlesex area of New Jersey.
The entire ring is thought to be composed of between a dozen and two dozen members.
The investigation began Aug. 24, when police found graffiti, including “Six million, why not?” “No kikes,” “white power,” “boot boys,” “Niggers out” as well as swastikas among the epithets scribbled in white paint over 200 feet of wall space at the Rutgers Hillel building.
The Rutgers police and the Middlesex County prosecutor’s office joined efforts to investigate the matter, and by last Friday had apprehended three young perpetrators, all said to be Skinheads.
Arrested were 18-year-old James Donato, 20-year-old Frank Bruno and a 17-year-old juvenile whose name has not been disclosed. None was affiliated with the university, and all were said to have sympathy for the white supremacist movement, although they have not been identified with a particular organization.
“Donato was the only one who looked like a Skinhead,” said James Pickering, captain of detectives at Rutgers Police, who orchestrated the investigation. “He was wearing punk Nazi boots and his head was shaved. The other two looked pretty much like the boy next door.”
Donato, it was later discovered, is a self-professed neo-Nazi and serves as the “torchman,” or ringleader for a local heavy metal, Satanic, anti-Semitic group. Both Bruno and the unnamed juvenile were mere followers, investigators said.
The adult offenders were charged with desecrating a venerated object, placing people in fear of bodily injury by threat of violence, damage of religious and educational property and criminal mischief. They face a maximum penalty of eight years in prison, six months in a county workhouse and a $22,500 fine.
The juvenile has been charged with juvenile delinquency, but Middlesex Prosecutor Alan Rock-off is hoping to transfer his status to adult offender, as the youth is three months shy of his 18th birthday.
The investigation of the Rutgers Hillel incident led to a major breakthrough in solving New Jersey area neo-Nazi crimes.
On Saturday, similar neo-Nazi graffiti were discovered scrawled along the dugout and loading dock of a New Brunswick vocational high school.
This new graffiti, in turn, bore likeness to that discovered at a cold-storage warehouse in East Brunswick that was the site of an arson attack July 29. Police on Monday then arrested five other neo-Nazis, as well as Donato and Bruno again, and charged all of them with aggravated arson.
According to Rockoff, comparable “scurrilous neo-Nazi murals” were found along the walls of the warehouse, school, Hillel and even the walls of Donato and Bruno’s homes.
“It was incredible. The walls show a progression of the type of activities these neo-Nazis were involved in since 1986. It shows how they started as a heavy metal group and got into Satanism, sadomasochism and eventually neo-Nazi ideology. It was almost like watching the evolution of cave men.”
The warehouse had apparently been used as a clubhouse for the group. Police discovered various neo-Nazi and Ku Klux Klan pamphlets there that originated from Idaho, Minnesota and Tennessee, areas known for neo-Nazi activity.
Rockoff was most concerned, however, with two brochures, “Five Faces of Jews” and “Fire and Ice,” because they came out of Bayonne and Freehold, N.J. The first brochure preaches, “He who fights Jews fights the Devil.”
“Although they are not highly organized or dangerous,” says Rockoff of the neo-Nazi ring, “they are definitely militant. They have now been detected and prevented from becoming a nucleus of a problem.”
The Rutgers Hillel incident is just one example of what is becoming a nationwide problem, according to Rabbi William Rudolph of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation in Washington. There have been 19 such incidents at various Hillel chapters in the last year, compared with 10 in 1988.