Gunman Who Shot the Presidents Linked to the American Nazi Party and a Far Right Para-military Group
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Gunman Who Shot the Presidents Linked to the American Nazi Party and a Far Right Para-military Group

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— John Hinckley, Jr., charged with the attempted assassination of President Reagan yesterday, has been linked to the neo-Nazi National Socialist Party of America and to “Posse Comitatus,” a far rightwing paramilitary organization that circulates anti-Semitic propaganda in several states and trains with weapons.

No official confirmation of his association with either group has emerged from the interrogation of Hinckley conducted by federal authorities in total secrecy at an undisclosed location. But Michael Allen, president-elect of the American Nazi Party, was quoted in various press reports today as saying that Hinckley was a member of that group for less than a year and was expelled in November, 1979 because he “wanted to shoot people and blow things up.” Allen said he met Hinckley at a neo-Nazi rally in St. Louis in March, 1978 and regarded him as a “nut.”

Harold Covington, incumbent leader of the American Nazis, was quoted as saying that Hinckley quit the organization in 1979 because it wasn’t sufficiently “militant.”

The 25-year-old college dropout who fired six shots wounding Reagan, Presidential Press Secretary James Brady, a secret service man and a Washington police officer yesterday, was apparently an admier of Hitler. Prof. Otto Nelson of Texas Tech University told the news media that Hinckley once submitted a book report on Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.” According to Nelson, “it was the first time any student of mine had ever tried to read ‘Mein Kampf’.”


Hinckley’s reputed membership in Posse Comitatus, which means “Power to the County,” was indicated in media interviews with some of his acquaintances but could not be immediately confirmed. According to the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, Posse Comitatus was founded in 1974 by Henry Beach of Portland, Ore. and has been active mainly in Colorado, California and Wisconsin and has a membership of several thousand. Beach was a member of William Dudley Pelley’s Silver Shirts, a virulently anti-Semitic organization in the 1930s.

Posse Comitatus was started as the “Citizens Law Enforcement and Research Committee, ” the ADL said. According to Terry Oaks, described as the leader of its Los Angeles chapter, its basic tenet is that power lies at the county level and with “the people” who can resort to arms to enforce the law if the authorities fail. Oaks reportedly boasted that the group can obtain “mortars, machine-guns’, anything.”


Mortimer Koss the ADL information coordinator, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Posse Comitatus has been especially active in Wisconsin recently. Its “information coordinator” there, identified as James Hickstrom, published a pamphlet in July, 1980 titled “American Farmer: 20th Century Slave.” The pamphlet claimed that Jews congenitally are unable to farm and therefore {SPAN}con-#####{/SPAN} to control the world’s food supply by conspiring to control the international monetary system. It also claimed that Jesus was not a Jew and that the Holocaust never occurred.

The latter allegation has became a major theme of neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic propaganda circulated world-wide. Tons of pamphlets making the claim were seized by West German police in recent raids on the homes of rightwing extremists. According to the German authorities, the material was published mainly in the United States and also in Canada.

Bronson LaFollett, Wisconsin Attorney General, described Posse Comitatus as a “self-styled para-militaristic fundamentalist Christian organization,” according to a recent report in the Milwaukee Journal. According to Kass, its membership is largely rural and made up of “Klan types” and former members of the Minute Men, a far right-wing anti-Semitic vigilante organization active in the 1960s. He said there was a frequent shifting of membership between the Ku Klux Klan, the American Nazi party, Posse Comitatus and similar violence-oriented groups.

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