Friday, November 28, 2008

Men Accused in Obama Plot Plead Not Guilty

By WOODY BAIRD | Associated Press Writer

JACKSON, Tenn. (AP) - Two white supremacists charged with plotting to kill President-elect Barack Obama and dozens of other black people pleaded not guilty Wednesday to new criminal charges added to an earlier federal indictment.

Daniel Cowart, 20, of rural West Tennessee and Paul Schlesselman, 18, of Helena-West Helena, Ark., entered the pleas on firearms and conspiracy charges. They were originally indicted on Nov. 5, but a new indictment, with three additional charges, was handed up by a federal grand jury on Nov. 20.

Wearing black and white striped jail uniforms with chains around their ankles, the two stood silent before Magistrate Diane Vescovo except to say "Yes, ma'am" when asked if they understood the new charges. Not guilty pleas were entered by lawyers.

Cowart and Schlesselman are being held without bond and no trial date has been set. Their next scheduled court appearance is Dec. 12 in Jackson, about 75 miles north of Memphis. At that hearing lawyers are to discuss a timetable for further court proceedings.

Cowart and Schlesselman are accused of plotting a robbery and killing spree targeting African-Americans that was to culminate with an attack on Obama. A federal affidavit says the two planned to dress up in white tuxedoes and top hats and attack Obama by blasting with firearms from a speeding car.

Joe Byrd, Cowart's lawyer, said outside the courtroom that he has seen no evidence his client could have carried out such attack.

"It tells me we're not dealing with Lee Harvey Oswald," Byrd said.

Prosecutors refused to comment on the case, as did the federal public defenders office which is representing Schlesselman.

Authorities describe Schlesselman and Cowart as white supremacist skinheads. They were initially arrested last month by local authorities investigating reports of a window being shot out at an unoccupied, predominantly black church.

They are accused of possessing a sawed-off shotgun, carrying guns across state lines to commit crimes of violence, planning to rob a licensed firearm dealer and threatening a presidential candidate.

The new indictment includes a charge of conspiring to violate the civil rights of African-Americans and two firearms charges against Cowart related to the church shooting.

Byrd refused comment on the shooting except to say, "There is some point at which there's a gulf separating malice and stupidity."

Cowart is charged with nine criminal offenses while Schlesselman is charged with seven. The charges each carry maximum penalties of five to 20 years in prison plus fines of $250,000.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


More than 150 protest "KKK" graffiti in Maine

Article Date: Friday, November 28, 2008

HALLOWELL, Maine (AP) _ People in central Maine are speaking out against "KKK" graffiti that showed up along a popular walking and bicycling trail.

More than 150 people gathered Wednesday on the Kennebec River Rail Trail in Hallowell to speak out against the more than 20 red and black "KKK" markings — shorthand for the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group — that were found along the trail last weekend.

The protest was organized after the Center for the Prevention of Hate Violence was overwhelmed by phone calls.

Steve Wessler, director of the center, said the markings are "messages of hate and terror."


Information from: Kennebec Journal,


Sunday, November 23, 2008

GOP faces disaster unless it can win back Latinos

By Ruben Navarrette
San Diego Union-Tribune
November 22, 2008 6:00 AM

Some Republicans are saying the party was on a fool's errand trying to win over Latinos.

In this election, most Latinos voted for the Democratic nominee for president, just as they have in every presidential election since they helped elect John Kennedy in 1960. There have been elections where Democrats ran away with the Hispanic vote (i.e., Bill Clinton) and others where they were barely able to gain a majority (i.e., John Kerry).

When it comes to winning over Latinos, Barack Obama is no Bill Clinton. The former Illinois senator received 67 percent of the Hispanic vote, while Clinton got 72 percent in his 1996 re-election bid. Still, it was an impressive showing for the president-elect.

Obama also had the benefit of GOP mistakes. Republicans who second-guess their party's Hispanic outreach efforts have short memories.

The real foolishness occurred earlier, when some decided to pander to nativists at the cost of alienating a community that adds a million people to the voter rolls every four years.

In fact, a lot of the GOP faithful are worried that - given changing demographics - they may never win another presidential election if they don't make peace with Latinos. According to census estimates, Hispanics will make up a quarter of the U.S. population by 2042. Those are likely to be dark days for the Republican Party unless it can find a way to appeal to Hispanic voters.

During a recent appearance on the Hugh Hewitt radio show, neoconservative commentator John Podhoretz described the GOP's anti-immigrant saber-rattling as a "political and demographic disaster" for Republicans.

You're probably thinking the issue isn't immigration but illegal immigration. But that doesn't hold up. Many people like to tell themselves they're opposed only to illegal immigration, but when they list the reasons, it usually boils down to fear of a changing culture. It's not just illegal immigrants who are bringing about those changes. It's also legal residents and U.S.-born Latinos.

And so, the debate has taken on a sweeping anti-Hispanic flavor. When Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado - who, by the way, I am convinced is a secret agent for the Democrats - called Miami a "Third World country," it was Cuban-Americans who took offense.

Think about it. Technically, immigration isn't their fight. The Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966 gives Cuban immigrants a red carpet to the United States, provided they make it to shore. But because of the impolitic and imprecise rhetoric surrounding the immigration debate, many Cuban-Americans are jumping into the fray.

Cuban-Americans used to be a solidly Republican constituency. But in this election, Obama made significant inroads, especially with young Cuban-Americans. For that, Obama should remember to thank Tancredo and the other GOP culture warriors.

Podhoretz is right. "Disaster" is a good word for what is lurking around the corner for Republicans if they don't wise up and change their ways.

Every week, I hear from dozens of Latinos who say they don't feel welcome in the Republican Party, and they resent it - even though many of them confess to having doubts about the Democrats. In the end, they find their doubts easier to overcome than their resentments.

I'm often asked by local Republican leaders around the country what the party can do to stop the hemorrhaging. Many assume it would take some sort of extreme makeover and the complete renunciation of everything for which their party stands.

That's ridiculous. It's what the Republicans stand for that represents the GOP's best hope at attracting Latinos. Empowering individuals and promoting values such as personal responsibility work in their favor. So do policies that lower taxes, strengthen the military, make schools more accountable and protect the homeland.

As for the thorny immigration issue, contrary to what many conservatives assume, it's not that Latinos want an open border. They don't. Most Latinos recognize that the United States has the responsibility to protect its sovereignty. They don't like the idea of building more walls and fences, but most of them have no problem with adding more Border Patrol agents and giving them the best equipment to do their jobs. What Latinos object to is the tone of the debate. They've had their fill of ugliness, racism, hypocrisy and falsehoods spread by opportunistic politicians offering nothing more than simplistic solutions and overheated rhetoric.

That sort of thing might have helped the GOP win a few battles here and there. But it ensures Republicans will lose the war.

Contact San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Ruben Navarrette at


NY Hate Crime Suspect Now Charged With Murder

NY Hate Crime Suspect Now Charged With Murder
Prosecutors say NY teenagers accused of killing immigrant carried out larger crime spree
The Associated Press


Suspects in the stabbing death of Marcello Lucero, inset, are led in shackles at a court hearing. His murder has shed light on what some say is an ongoing problem of anti-Hispanic sentiment in Long Island's Suffolk County.

The killing of an Ecuadorean immigrant by seven high school students was part of a spree in which the teenagers tormented other immigrants while armed with knives and BB guns, prosecutors said.

The teens were indicted Thursday on more serious offenses — including murder as a hate crime for one accused of wielding the knife — than they initially faced when arrested in the Nov. 8 killing of Marcelo Lucero.

About 300 people gathered Thursday in Gualaceo, Ecuador, for a funeral for Lucero, who worked in a Riverhead dry-cleaning store after arriving in the United States 16 years ago. His gray casket was draped with an Ecuadorean flag, and rose petals were tossed on top. Some in the crowd carried signs saying "No to Racism."

Lucero's mother and sister carried his remains in two wooden urns from the church to the cemetery, somberly walking about a half-mile through the quiet town of 18,000 in the Andean foothills.

A priest at Gualaceo's main church, the Rev. Jorge Moreno, called Lucero's death "a product of a feeling of xenophobia that makes some people believe they are worth more than others."

Prosecutors on Long Island said the teenagers had been hanging out with friends when someone suggested they go "beaner jumping," a derogatory term they used as a euphemism for attacking Hispanics. The group drove around Patchogue and encountered a Hispanic man and attempted to rough him up, but the man escaped, prosecutors said.

Shortly before midnight, the group came upon Lucero and a companion walking near the Patchogue train station. The group surrounded their victims, but Lucero's friend managed to flee the scene unharmed, prosecutors said. Lucero tried to fight back, smacking one of the teens with his belt, but was soon overwhelmed by the mob, prosecutors said.

Jeffrey Conroy ended the fight by plunging a knife into Lucero's chest, authorities say. District Attorney Thomas Spota said the other six were unaware that Conroy had stabbed Lucero until he told them as they fled the scene. The prosecutor said that because the other teens did not know about the stabbing until afterward, they were not being charged with murder.

The six suspects were arraigned Thursday on charges including gang assault, conspiracy, attempted assault and attempted gang assault. Lawyers for the six entered not guilty pleas.

Conroy will answer to an upgraded charge of second-degree murder as a hate crime, as well as manslaughter, gang assault and other crimes at a Monday hearing.

Conroy could face 25 years to life in prison and the others could be sentenced to five to 25 years if convicted of the most serious charges. Attorneys for all seven have said their clients are innocent.

Advocates for Hispanics and others have spoken out against the killing, which took place days after Barack Obama was elected as the country's first black president.

"It is tragic that a crime of this nature, a xenophobic lynching, happened just as the United States celebrates a historic step forward in which racial barriers have been overcome," Ecuadorean Ambassador Luis Gallegos said last week.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright © 2008 ABC News Internet Ventures

Source: ABC News

4 Anti-Obama Hate Crimes Reported In Torrance, California