A Bowie man has become the target of threats from a national Nazi group for a column he wrote criticizing white supremacist organizations.
Leonard Pitts Jr., a Miami Herald columnist, wrote a column June 3 about white supremacists’ complaints that the media was not giving prominent national coverage to the brutal car jacking, torture, rape and murders of a Knoxville, Tenn., couple earlier this year. The victims, who were white, were allegedly tortured and killed by five black suspects.
Pitts, who is black, wrote that he abhorred the crime, but also attacked claims that the failure to sensationalize the crime was a sign of hypocrisy in the media.
‘‘Part of me thinks I should consider the source and let this slide,” he wrote in the column. ‘‘But the argument being advanced here is so utterly, abysmally, stupidly, self-servingly wrong that I cannot help but respond.”
After the column, Pitts’ Bowie address and phone number and his wife’s name were posted repeatedly on the American National Socialist Worker’s Party Web site. The site lists the group as ‘‘the only organization in the United States fighting for white racial socialism and the white working class.”
Pitts has since received more than 400 threatening e-mails and calls to his home, and a racist flier was left on a driveway near his house, according to a police report.
John Nesky, Bowie’s deputy police chief, confirmed the threats and said the department is ‘‘looking at all the applicable laws” to protect Pitts and his family. After the first posts on the Web site, police were alerted, Nesky said.
The 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner for commentary wrote a second column on the issue last week after the initial threats.
‘‘They say you can tell who a man is by looking at his friends. Which is true,” Pitts wrote in the column. ‘‘But I believe you can also tell by looking at his enemies. Apparently, I have managed to make enemies of haters, bigots and other low, pathetic men. I must be doing something right.”
Pitts declined to comment further when reached last week, saying he did not want to give the group any more attention.
‘‘We should let it die for lack of oxygen at this point,” he said.
Reached by cell phone near his home in Roanoke, Va., last week, Nazi leader Bill White said members of the group in Maryland were trying to organize a visit to Pitts’ house.
‘‘While it wouldn’t be a big media event, I do expect a few supporters to stop by,” he said.
White, a graduate of the University of Maryland, College Park who lived in Rockville before his move to Virginia, defended posting Pitts’ information on the Web site.
‘‘I think he should be held responsible for his comments,” White said.
White said he was calling on members to argue with Pitts, not cause violence.
Pitts’ name is repeatedly prefaced by racial slurs in various postings on the Web site.
‘‘His wife gets very upset when you call,” White wrote on the Web site when he first posted the information.
In a later post, White wrote Pitts’ contact information and followed it by a list of news stories outlining neo-Nazi involvement in everything from racist fliers to killings. The post was titled ‘‘People who screw with us fare badly.”