A group that monitors hate groups says it sees links between the San Diego Minutemen and white supremacists. The local Minutemen reject any suggestion they are racist. KPBS News Director Michael Marcotte has the story.
In one of his frequent on-line posts to the San Diego Minutemen, Ray Carney revealed he worked as a computer expert for the White Aryan Resistance for eleven years. The White Aryan Resistance is a neo-Nazi group that makes elaborate use of the internet. It's based in Temecula and headed by self-avowed white supremacist Tom Metzger.
Carney denies any racist leanings. He says he needed the money and Metzger paid him three times the going rate for his computer skills. Still Carney is now in the sites of the Southern Poverty Law Center. That center originally formed during the civil rights era to track Ku Klux Klan activity. The center's Mark Potok says the San Diego Minutemen are attracting hate mongers.
Potok: Some of its kind of inner circle members have real connections to White Supremacy. Ray Carney, in addition, there's another member Steve Shine who has posted a series of pictures in his profile on MySpace. What they show is a white pride tattoo across his belly, various white supremacist symbols --including a photo of Hitler and a Confederate flag.
The head of the San Diego Minutemen is Jeff Schwilk. In an email response to KPBS News, Schwilk asserts his group is not racist, and in fact boasts a multi-ethnic membership. And Schwilk says Shine and Carney are not -- and never have been -- members of the Minutemen.
But that hasn't stopped Carney from frequently contributing to the San Diego Minutemen website. In one recent post, he directed Minutemen how to use chemical agents at illegal immigrant protests. He also offered to train Minutemen to use tasers, batons or firearms for self protection.
Shine too has participated in Minutemen activities. A video on-line shows him waving a flag during the group's day labor protest on an Oceanside street corner. And he was interviewed by KPBS while restraining a pit-bull at a north county canyon where local minutemen rallied to evict migrants from outdoor camps.
KPBS News could not reach Shine for comment. But Carney tells KPBS he is not a member of the Minutemen. And he's quick to blast the Southern Poverty Law Center... and its director
Carney: The more he puts out those intelligence reports and makes everybody look under the rocks for racists or skinheads or anti-illegal immigration people, the more money he takes into is group.
The Southern Poverty Law Center estimates the number of hate groups in the United States has grown 40-percent this decade. Growth largely fueled by the immigration debate.
The Center published an intelligence paper on the San Diego Minutemen this summer -- describing its various activities in detail and concluding that the San Diego Minutemen is one of the most aggressive nativist groups in the nation. The report points out that even the national Minutemen groups keep an arms-length distance from the San Diego splinter.
For its part, the San Diego Minutemen maintain their membership is law-abiding, active, concerned citizens who want to secure the border and oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.