LOS ANGELES (Jan. 7)
White supremacist leader Tom Metzger began serving a six-month jail term Monday for his part in a cross-burning eight years ago.
The sentence is Metzger’s first ever despite decades of anti-Semitic and anti-black activities.
The founder of the White Aryan Resistance and former grand dragon of the California Ku Klux Klan was taken into custody by Los Angeles County marshals after he was unable to raise $100,000 bail.
A judgment of $9 million was rendered in 1990 against Metzger, his son John and WAR, in a civil suit brought for inciting Skinheads to attack and kill an Ethiopian man in Portland, Ore.
The California judge, J.D. Smith, refused to release Metzger on his own recognizance, pending appeal. He sharply reprimanded him for using the trial as a platform for his racist views.
“What galls the court most is (that) Mr. Metzger continues to tell the world” his conviction was based on his philosophy, said Smith.
“That’s not true,” he said. “This was a simple trial.”
Even as he was led away, Metzger was trumpeting his beliefs.
“I’m prepared to go to jail. I’ve got a lot of friends in jail already,” he boasted.
He added that “it doesn’t do much good to kill the messenger because the word is out. White people are pissed off all over the world.”
Metzger, 53, was among 15 hooded and robed men arrested eight years ago during a ceremony in which the participants shouted racist slogans, gave Nazi salutes and burned three towering crosses in a canyon overlooking the Los Angeles suburb of Lake View Terrace.
Prosecutors charged that the ceremony was intended to provoke violent clashes, unite several white racist groups and intimidate black and other residents of the racially mixed community.
After an 11-week trial, the jury convicted Metzger on one misdemeanor count of unlawful assembly. Besides the jail sentence, the judge imposed a $200 fine and ordered the veteran racist to perform 200 hours of community service working with minorities or in a hospital.
Metzger will be held in a one-man cell in an isolated area of the jail to protect him from other inmates. For his additional safety, he will be escorted by two sheriff’s deputies each time he leaves his cell, according to defense attorney Kevin Avery. Prosecutor Joan Phillips said the conviction and jailing of Metzger sent a strong message that cross-burning and other racist behavior will not be tolerated in Los Angeles County.
“We like to think that the prosecution impeded the Klan’s activity here in California,” Phillips said.