These are some of the controversial extremists expected to be outside the GOP convention
Among the extremists expected in Cleveland this week: a white separatist organization whose leader is based in downtown Los Angeles, an anti-government activist who has called for “patriots” to attack Black Lives Matter activists and a black nationalist group whose members once were accused of plotting to kill a police chief.
Combine these groups, the presence of a divisive presidential candidate like Donald Trump and Ohio’s open-carry gun laws, and you get a potentially toxic cocktail.
“It’s absolutely a horrifying thought and … I am literally on my knees begging these folks to not bring these guns,” said Steve Loomis, the president of Cleveland’s largest police union.
The true number of known extremist groups expected to be in Cleveland is hard to quantify, and civil liberties advocates have said additional demonstrators probably will show up without acquiring permits or announcing plans.
Here are the plans and history of some groups likely to show up at the convention.
Westboro Baptist Church
The group is a small Kansas-based organization best known for protesting military funerals and its virulent anti-LGBT agenda. It has obtained permits to speak on two days outside the convention.
New Black Panther Party
The New Black Panther Party, a black supremacy group that had advocated for violence against law enforcement officers in the past but has no connection to the original Black Panther Party, has announced plans to stage several protests against Trump during the convention, the Anti-Defamation League has said.
Reports surfaced earlier this week that the group planned to bring firearms to the convention, but the organization’s chairman issued a statement to Reuters saying he had not instructed members to carry guns.
Members of the New Black Panther Party have been accused of plotting violence at major protests before. Last year, two men affiliated with the group were sentenced to seven years in prison for plotting to acquire bombs to kill Ferguson’s then-police chief, Thomas Jackson, and St. Louis County prosecutor Robert McCulloch during the 2014 protests that enveloped Missouri after a Ferguson, Mo., police officer shot and killed Michael Brown.
There has been no indication that the New Black Panther Party supported the plot, according to a report in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
American Freedom Party
Groups of white nationalists with ties to California also are planning to attend, according to the league. The American Freedom Party, a white nationalist organization whose president once was mistakenly listed among Trump’s California delegates, may have members on the ground in Cleveland. While the group hasn’t been known to be violent, President William Johnson has been clear about the organization’s message.
“I would like a separate white ethno-state. ... I think diversity and multiculturalism is a failure, and I think it’s going to destroy civilization,” Johnson told The Times earlier this year when asked to explain his politics.
The Traditionalist Workers Party, a white separatist organization involved in a violent melee in Sacramento last month that left several people suffering stab wounds, also was slated to attend in Cleveland, but the group since has changed plans, said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism.
Blood and Honour USA
The racist skinhead group known to commit violent acts in the past and whose leaders have a base in Ohio, are expected to attend, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
The Oath Keepers
The Oath Keepers, a militarized group that patrolled Ferguson, Mo., with firearms during the protests following the police shooting of Michael Brown, is expected.
Pamela Geller, the sponsor of a Texas contest that erupted in violence after people were called on to draw the Muslim prophet Mohammed, rounds out the league’s list of planned attendees. Geller is perhaps best known for her vocal opposition to a Muslim community center that was set to be constructed near the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City. Several other anti-Muslim commentators also are expected.
Anti-Black Lives Matter activist
Jim Stachowiak, a former campus police officer turned far-right activist who advocated for attacks against Black Lives Matter protesters at the convention in a since-deleted YouTube video, also likely will be on the ground in Cleveland, the Anti-Defamation League said. The league describes Stachowiak as a “right-wing, rabidly anti-Muslim extremist” who has been arrested several times.
Segal , the league’s director, said the combination of guns and extremism is always a concern, but he also said advance knowledge of the various groups’ plans could help police mitigate potential chaos.
“Do I think it’s a bad idea to have the New Black Panther Party near the American Freedom Party? Yeah,” Segal said. “But I suspect that’s not going to happen.”
Follow @JamesQueallyLAT for protest coverage at the Republican National Convention.
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