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Strange Twist in the Clements Murder Case

Suspect Evan Spencer Ebel

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COMMENT: Pterrafractyl has noted in a comment that the chief suspect in the murder of Colorado Corrections chief Tom Clements was affiliated with white-supremacist prison gangs, according to authorities. 

In turn, we have responded that, if true, this raises more questions than it answers.

Now, it turns out that the Governor of Colorado is close friends with the suspect’s father, with whom he worked at an oil company. Governor Hickenlooper says that he mentioned the younger Ebel to Clements when he interviewed for the job.

The suspect’s father had contributed to Hickenlooper’s election campaign.

This superficially reminds us of the case of John Hinckley, the neo-Nazi who was convicted of shooting Ronald Reagan and whose family were close to George H.W. Bush, as well as being in the energy business.

“Gov. Hickenlooper Friends with Father of Dead White Supremacist” by Jeremy Meyer; Denver Post; 3/22/2013.

EXCERPT: Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Friday he is close friends with the father of the white supremacist who is the focus of the investigation into the killing of one of his cabinet members and of a pizza delivery man.

But the governor vehemently denied he had anything to do with the release of parolee Evan Ebel from prison earlier this year. Ebel was killed Thursday after a chase and shootout with Texas authorities.

Ebel’s father, Jack, is an attorney who lives in Boulder. Hickenlooper said he has known Jack Ebel for years. They worked together at an oil company when Hickenlooper was a geologist, and they have stayed close.

He also said he knew that Ebel’s son was in prison and that the family had been upset that he had spent a large amount of time in solitary confinement. . . .

. . . .He did say he mentioned the younger Ebel to Clements. . . .

. . . . Hickenlooper said when he interviewed Clements for the director job he did mention that he knew someone whose child was in administrative segregation. . . .

. . . . Jack Ebel did donate to Hickenlooper’s campaign for governor. . . .

Discussion

13 comments for “Strange Twist in the Clements Murder Case”

  1. Here’s another strange twist in terms of the motive for Ebel targeting Clements: Ebel has the potential to become a sort of White Supremacist Willie Horton for John Hickenlooper, a rising star in the Democratic Party. Clements wasn’t working for the Colorado prison system unti l2011. Ebel had already spent years in solitary confinement and his father, Jack, had testified before the Colorado Legislature that the solitary confinement was destroying his son’s mind. During Clements’s interview for the job, Hickenlooper specifically brought up the case of Evan Ebel’s years in solitary confinement as an example of the need to for reform of the solitary confinement system. And after he took the job, Clements eased the rules and also made it easier to re-enter society. Ebel was released on parole in January. That all makes Clements a rather unusual target for a revenge killing:

    The Daily Mail

    Did solitary confinement turn an affluent attorney’s son into ‘white supremacist gunman ‘Evil Evan?”

    Evan Ebel is a known member of ‘211 Crew,’ a Colorado prison gang responsible for at least one hate-crime murder of an African immigrant
    Father Jack Ebel testified before Colorado Legislature that solitary confinement was destroying his son’s psyche
    Had the word ‘hopeless’ tattooed on his body and signed his name ‘Evil Evan’
    Ebel’s black Cadillac matches the description of a car seen fleeing the home of Colorado prisons director Tom Clements after he was shot dead
    Detectives also investigating connection to the murder of a pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon, 27, in Denver on Sunday
    Ebel shot and wounded a sheriff’s deputy who pulled him over in north Texas this morning
    Spent shell casings found at the scene of the Texas shootout appear to match those at Clements’ home
    Ebel had violated probation and shot himself twice in 2004

    By Michael Zennie and Daily Mail Reporter

    PUBLISHED: 02:59 GMT, 23 March 2013 | UPDATED: 11:41 GMT, 23 March 2013

    Is it possible that years of solitary confinement in a Colorado prison turned the son of a well-liked and wealthy oil and gas attorney in a white-supremacist and cold-blooded killer?

    Attorney Jack Ebel testified before the Colorado Legislature two years ago that solitary confinement in a Colorado prison was destroying the psyche of his son Evan.

    When Jack Ebel’s longtime friend, Gov. John Hickenlooper, was interviewing a Missouri corrections official for the top prisons job in Colorado, he mentioned the case as an example of why the prison system needed reform.

    And once Tom Clements came to Colorado, he eased the use of solitary confinement and tried to make it easier for people housed there to re-enter society.

    Now authorities are investigating whether Evan Spencer Ebel, who was paroled in January, is linked to the assassination of Clements, who was shot and killed Tuesday night when he answered the front door of his house in a rural neighborhood.

    The bullet casings from that shooting are the same type as those found at the site of a bloody gun battle Thursday between Evan Ebel and Texas law enforcement officers that ended with Ebel being shot and killed, according to court records.

    The car Ebel drove matched the description of the one spotted outside Clements’ house on the night of the prison director’s death.

    Authorities also found a Domino’s pizza delivery box in the trunk and a jacket or shirt from the pizza chain. Denver police say Ebel is now a suspect in the Sunday slaying of pizza delivery man Nathan Leon.

    Hickenlooper confirmed his relationship with Jack Ebel to The Denver Post and KUSA-TV Friday evening, and state records show Ebel donated $1,050 to the governor’s 2010 campaign. But there’s no indication that Hickenlooper’s relationship with the Ebels played a role in the shooting.

    Hickenlooper denied that he had any role in Evan Ebel’s parole.

    State prisons spokeswoman Alison Morgan said Ebel was paroled Jan. 28 as part of a mandatory process after serving his full prison term. He had most recently been sentenced to four years for punching a prison guard in 2008, according to state records.

    Hickenlooper said he never mentioned Ebel’s name to Clements or anyone else connected with the prisons system. He said he only heard about the role of his friend’s son Thursday night.

    ‘I didn’t know Evan was out,’ said the governor, adding that he called Jack Ebel after being told of the connection. ‘He was distraught, he was devastated. I’ve never heard him so upset, and he’s had some hard things in his life.’

    Lt. Jeff Kramer of the El Paso County sheriff’s office said Friday evening that he was unaware of the relationship between Hickenlooper and Ebel’s father.

    Jack Ebel did not return multiple phone calls seeking comment.

    Gov. John Hickenlooper was red-eyed and somber Wednesday at a news conference in which he said he doesn’t think the killing was part of any larger attack against his cabinet.

    ‘Tom Clements dedicated his life to being a public servant, to making our state better, to making the wold a better place. And he is going to be deeply, deeply missed.

    ‘His unfailing good nature would come through in everything that he did and the depth of his caring about again not just the people that he worked with,’ said Hickenlooper. ‘But the inmates that were there, about those of us here that he worked with was remarkable.’

    In a statement released earlier in the day and sent to 6,000 department employees, Hickenlooper said he was in disbelief over the killing.

    ‘Last night, Tom Clements was killed at his home in Monument. I can hardly believe it, let alone write words to describe it,’ Hickenlooper wrote.

    ‘As your executive director, he helped change and improve (the department) in two years more than most people could do in eight years. He was unfailingly kind and thoughtful, and sought the “good” in any situation.

    ‘I am so sad. I have never worked with a better person than Tom, and I can’t imagine our team without him,’ Hickenlooper said.

    Clements is survived by his wife, Lisa, who is director of the state Office of Behavioral Health, and their two daughters, Rachel and Sara. Hickenlooper asked the public to respect their privacy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 23, 2013, 11:12 am
  2. @Pterrafractyl–

    Good thinking. Clements was clearly targeted for deliberate assassination. As to why, you may have the answer.

    Certainly, Hickenlooper’s links to Ebel, Sr. look embarrassing.

    This MAY be part of the GOP’s strategy to do better at the polls.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | March 23, 2013, 3:43 pm
  3. @Dave:
    According to the following article, Clements recently ordered the moving of several core leaders of the 211 gang to a different facility in recent months, including 211’s founder “Benjamin Davis”, in order to dilute their strength and this is seen as a possible motive for the assassination. But as the article also points out, calling for a hit on a high-level security official is pretty much a guarantee that law enforcement is going to go crack down severely on the gang (as Mark Potak describes it here, if 211 called that hit on Clements, law enforcement is going to war with them). So, from that perspective, the moving around of 211’s prison leaders still doesn’t provide a very sensible motive for this kind of action:

    Clements murder: Coloado prison shuffle jarred gang
    By Kirk Mitchell
    The Denver Post

    Posted: 03/24/2013 12:01:00 AM MDT
    Updated: 03/24/2013 12:06:10 AM MDT

    One month before Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements was shot to death in the doorway of his home — a shooting now linked to a white supremacist — prison officials shook the world of hundreds of members of the suspect’s prison gang, the 211 Crew.

    The Denver Post has learned that Clements’ Department of Corrections staff moved a core group of white supremacist leaders held at Sterling Correctional Complex to Buena Vista Correctional Center, diluting their numbers and strength.

    “There was a group up there and (prison officials) decided to break them up,” said a DOC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

    Now DOC officials and others are investigating whether Clements’ killing was an ordered “hit,” or whether the gunman was acting alone, a source told The Denver Post.

    Four DOC and federal officials spoke to the Post on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak officially due to the ongoing criminal investigation.

    In court papers obtained by The Post, authorities in Texas said the same type and brand of 9mm bullet casings were found at Clements’ Monument home and at the scene of a gun battle with Evan Spencer Ebel, 28.

    Ebel — a 211 soldier with an extensive criminal history — was killed in a shootout Thursday with Texas deputies and officers after a 100 mph chase in his black Cadillac. The car is also believed to be tied to the scene of Clements’ killing Tuesday night and the murder of pizza-delivery driver Nathan Leon two days earlier.

    Lt. Jeff Kramer, spokesman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, said investigators do not know the motive for killing Clements. But they have said there is no evidence it was a home-invasion robbery.

    On Saturday, El Paso County authorities indicated they have “strong, strong evidence” that Ebel was involved in Clements’ murder. Texas authorities also found a Domino’s pizza delivery box and jacket or shirt in the trunk of Ebel’s car.

    State prison officials decided to move 211 members to other prisons as a means of blunting the power base of the 211 and stem gang recruiting, DOC spokeswoman Katherine Sanguinetti said in an interview last week before Clements’ death.

    One DOC source said the shuffling of 211 Crew leaders could have provided the impetus for the gang to seek retaliation by killing Clements, DOC’s top official.

    The urgency of the murder investigation is compounded by the fact that if a gang leader, or “shot caller,” ordered Clements’ hit, other state officials could be targeted.

    “Obviously something is happening with the 211s,” the source said. “It means other people could be in danger.”

    Since Clements’ murder, Colorado law enforcement has increased security for Gov. John Hickenlooper and put all 20 of Colorado public prisons in modified lockdown as precautions against further violence. The lockdown continues at least until Monday.

    The decision to move 211 Crew members was made, a DOC source said, shortly after a 211 member incarcerated at Sterling committed suicide during a transfer to Jefferson County Detention Facility for a court hearing.

    Jefferson County Sheriff’s spokesman Mark Techmeyer said that on March 7, Eric Vasquez, 24, hanged himself in the jail’s holding module. Vasquez had been transferred to Jefferson County a day earlier from Sterling Correctional Facility. Vasquez’s body was discovered at 10:15 p.m., the day before he was to appear for a court hearing, Techmeyer said.

    According to DOC records, Benjamin Davis, who is serving a 108-year prison term for racketeering and conspiracy and solicitation to commit assault, is incarcerated at Buena Vista.

    Nationally recognized gang expert Robert Walker, who once taught a seminar on prison gangs to correctional officers at the federal Supermax prison in Florence, said Davis is the 211 “shot caller,” the general who can order gang-sanctioned hits.

    Walker said he believes DOC officials should be able to quickly determine whether a 211 shot caller ordered a hit on Clements. Other gang members who know the origins of such a hit may be motivated to “snitch” for special privileges or sentencing concessions, he said.

    “They may be able to find some evidence of a communication between the shot caller and the killer,” Walker said. “It’s just like the shot caller pulled the trigger. He is as guilty as the person who pulled the trigger.”

    Ebel had been in prison most of his adult life and was just recently released from prison and the direct control of the 211 gang. He was released on mandatory parole on Jan. 28, said Eric Brown, Hickenlooper’s spokesman.

    A DOC source said Ebel had most recently been in the Sterling prison, which until the DOC shake-up had been considered a 211 stronghold.

    Gang shot callers must approve key hits, Walker said. Failure to obtain the sanction of a gang before killing could bring punishment, Walker said.

    When a member of the Mexican Mafia killed children contrary to gang ideology, a gang shot caller ordered a hit and the member was murdered, Walker said.

    Getting gang approval for a hit is all the more crucial when the target has a high profile because of potential backlash the gang as a whole could suffer, Walker said. He said unquestionably, every identified 211 member in the Colorado penal system will undergo intense scrutiny as a result of Clements’ murder.

    “That’s a lot of heat on the 211s now,” Walker said. “They are going to suffer the consequences. It will have long-lasting implications.”

    He said that doesn’t mean that the threshold for a gang deciding who lives or dies is not high. The creed all gangs live by is “reputation, respect, retaliation,” Walker said.

    “Something deemed disrespectful to the gang, like stepping on someone’s toes, could draw retribution,” he said.

    Gang members don’t always seek approval before killing, though, and Walker said he has no idea whether Ebel, if he killed Clements, was acting on orders or because he had a personal beef with the prisons director.

    “He should know he needs to get approval — unless he acted on his own and didn’t give a damn what the gang thought,” Walker said.

    Moving a shot caller from one prison to another would not necessarily diminish his power, Walker said.

    “He is still the man in charge,” he said. “He’ll still call the shots in the state of Colorado.”

    One Denver gang expert is skeptical that Clements’ murder was ordered by the gang, adding that it is more likely that Ebel acted on his own motivation.

    “It is my opinion whoever did this did so to get themselves established,” said Rev. Leon Kelly, founder of a Denver parolee gang reform group called Flip The Script. “He was a nobody. This would give his group boasting rights. In death he’s made history. Now he is going to be known across the country. He’s immortalized.”

    Scott Levin, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, also said such a shooting would be an unusual action taken by a white supremacist prison gang.

    “The 211 gang has been identified with bias-motivated incidents,” Levin said. “On the surface we don’t see any evidence of a typical white supremacist action.”

    If Ebel acted on his own, is seems that he was basically on a suicide run just months after getting released. First he murders Nathan Leon, a pizza delivery man, for maybe $20 in cash and a pizza, then he kills Clements, and then he drives off to Texas, dying in a shootout where they find the same cardboard pizza box. He basically guaranteed that he’ll become an instant national story as the guy that killed the guy that got him released from prison and ensured a crackdown on his gang. It’s an odd way to seek “glory” in death if that was the motive. And if he was acting on the orders of 211’s “shot caller”, Benjamin Davis, that would indicated that a prison reshuffling was enough of a motive to do something that would guarantee making life much worse for the entire 211 gang even though the reshuffling didn’t appear to reduce Davis’s leadership clout (as evidenced by the ability to call a hit on Clements). Very very strange.

    In related news, given Wayne LaPierre’s and the NRA’s fixation on cracking down on gangs as the appropriate response to the Newtown shootings and given that Hickenlooper signed into law three new gun laws the day after Clements was killed, the role gun control plays in the 2013 elections in Colorado should be interesting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 24, 2013, 4:01 am
  4. Bomb-making material was found in Evan Ebel’s car along with surveillance equipment. Investigators are also wondering whether the presence of Nathan Leon’s pizza delivery uniform in Ebel’s car indicates that the uniform was worn by Ebel and used to get Clements to open his door although they haven’t been able to tie the gun found with Ebel to the one used to kill Leon(raising the question of accomplices). It would appear that someone really wanted Clements dead. It also appears that a fair amount of planning went into Ebel’s actions:

    Bomb-making Materials Found In Colo. Suspect’s Car

    ANGELA K. BROWN and P. SOLOMON BANDA March 26, 2013, 3:59 PM
    AP

    DECATUR, Texas (AP) — Investigators found bomb-making materials and pants that appeared to have blood on them in the car of a man suspected of killing Colorado’s prisons chief, according to documents made public Tuesday.

    Authorities also found maps, handwritten directions and documents from the Department of Corrections in Evan Spencer Ebel’s black Cadillac. Also found were a Domino’s Pizza worker’s shirt and visor, and a pizza carrier bag along with zip ties and duct tape.

    Ebel was killed in a shootout with Texas authorities last week after a high-speed chase.

    Authorities in Decatur, where Ebel’s car crashed before the shootout, sent the items they found to Colorado agencies investigating the death of corrections chief Tom Clements and the slaying of a pizza deliveryman whose body was found two days before Clements was killed.

    Investigators haven’t released a motive or commented on Ebel’s ties to a white supremacist prison gang. The documents from Texas authorities detailing what they found in Ebel’s car are not specific enough to shed additional light on the matter.

    But Capt. Kevin Benton of the Wise County Sheriff’s Office in Decatur said the handwritten directions that were found would be useful to Colorado authorities’ investigation. He didn’t elaborate.

    Also in the car were black powder, a surveillance system, a digital voice recorder, and handwritten documents and letters, according to the documents.

    Colorado investigators refused to discuss the evidence.

    “We don’t want to speak about their relevancy or what they might mean to our investigation,” said Sgt. Joe Roybal, spokesman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

    A week after Clements died after opening his front door, investigators were still trying to determine Ebel’s role in the slayings and whether others were involved. El Paso County authorities said they were able to match the gun Ebel used in the Texas shootout to the one used in Clements’ slaying through microscopic marks left on the shell casings.

    Authorities in Denver have said they’re confident that Ebel is linked to the slaying of pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon, 28, a married father of two, but they have not said whether they’ve also been able to link the gun found in Texas to Leon’s slaying.

    Investigators are trying to determine whether Leon’s slaying was to procure a pizza box and Domino’s Pizza uniform to help persuade Clements to open his front door, El Paso County authorities said.

    In Texas, authorities were trying to find out why Ebel was there and where he was going. After discovering bomb-making materials in his car, a Wise County detective was assigned to help the Texas Rangers investigating the case, Benton said.

    “Everybody wants to know where he was headed to and why,” he said.

    A deputy in nearby Montague County who was shot by Ebel during a traffic stop before the March 21 chase was released from the hospital Tuesday and moved to a rehabilitation facility to recover from a severe concussion.

    Clements’ funeral was Sunday, and hundreds of law enforcement officers, corrections workers, lawmakers and state dignitaries attended a memorial service for him Monday. Clements was remembered as a prison system reformer with a strong belief in redemption and who worked to reduce the use of solitary confinement in Colorado prisons.

    ….

    Hickenlooper has said he did not mention Evan Ebel by name in that conversation, and there was no indication that his relationship with Jack Ebel played a role in the shooting. Hickenlooper also said he did not having any role in Evan Ebel’s parole in January.

    Bomb-making Materials Found In Colo. Suspect’s Car

    ANGELA K. BROWN and P. SOLOMON BANDA March 26, 2013, 3:59 PM
    AP

    DECATUR, Texas (AP) — Investigators found bomb-making materials and pants that appeared to have blood on them in the car of a man suspected of killing Colorado’s prisons chief, according to documents made public Tuesday.

    Authorities also found maps, handwritten directions and documents from the Department of Corrections in Evan Spencer Ebel’s black Cadillac. Also found were a Domino’s Pizza worker’s shirt and visor, and a pizza carrier bag along with zip ties and duct tape.

    Ebel was killed in a shootout with Texas authorities last week after a high-speed chase.

    Authorities in Decatur, where Ebel’s car crashed before the shootout, sent the items they found to Colorado agencies investigating the death of corrections chief Tom Clements and the slaying of a pizza deliveryman whose body was found two days before Clements was killed.

    Investigators haven’t released a motive or commented on Ebel’s ties to a white supremacist prison gang. The documents from Texas authorities detailing what they found in Ebel’s car are not specific enough to shed additional light on the matter.

    But Capt. Kevin Benton of the Wise County Sheriff’s Office in Decatur said the handwritten directions that were found would be useful to Colorado authorities’ investigation. He didn’t elaborate.

    Also in the car were black powder, a surveillance system, a digital voice recorder, and handwritten documents and letters, according to the documents.

    Colorado investigators refused to discuss the evidence.

    “We don’t want to speak about their relevancy or what they might mean to our investigation,” said Sgt. Joe Roybal, spokesman for the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office.

    A week after Clements died after opening his front door, investigators were still trying to determine Ebel’s role in the slayings and whether others were involved. El Paso County authorities said they were able to match the gun Ebel used in the Texas shootout to the one used in Clements’ slaying through microscopic marks left on the shell casings.

    Authorities in Denver have said they’re confident that Ebel is linked to the slaying of pizza delivery driver Nathan Leon, 28, a married father of two, but they have not said whether they’ve also been able to link the gun found in Texas to Leon’s slaying.

    Investigators are trying to determine whether Leon’s slaying was to procure a pizza box and Domino’s Pizza uniform to help persuade Clements to open his front door, El Paso County authorities said.

    In Texas, authorities were trying to find out why Ebel was there and where he was going. After discovering bomb-making materials in his car, a Wise County detective was assigned to help the Texas Rangers investigating the case, Benton said.

    “Everybody wants to know where he was headed to and why,” he said.

    A deputy in nearby Montague County who was shot by Ebel during a traffic stop before the March 21 chase was released from the hospital Tuesday and moved to a rehabilitation facility to recover from a severe concussion.

    Clements’ funeral was Sunday, and hundreds of law enforcement officers, corrections workers, lawmakers and state dignitaries attended a memorial service for him Monday. Clements was remembered as a prison system reformer with a strong belief in redemption and who worked to reduce the use of solitary confinement in Colorado prisons.

    ….

    Hickenlooper has said he did not mention Evan Ebel by name in that conversation, and there was no indication that his relationship with Jack Ebel played a role in the shooting. Hickenlooper also said he did not having any role in Evan Ebel’s parole in January.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 27, 2013, 9:26 am
  5. In the latest bizarre update to Ebel’s case, it turns out Ebel was released four years early back in January of this year due to a clerical error in the 11th Judicial District Court that took place in 2008 when the four years for assaulting a prison guard was added to his eight year sentence. The judge didn’t specify that the four years were supposed to be served consecutively instead of concurrently. The default thing to do when that’s not specified in the legal form is to make it a concurrent sentence. In this case, at three years into an eight year term, a concurrent term would not extend the sentence at all. The Colorado Department of Corrections was given a sentencing order that only referenced a concurrent sentence according to officials. That was quite a clerical error:

    Court apologizes for clerical error that led to Ebel’s release four years early

    By Sadie Gurman
    The Denver Post
    Posted: 04/01/2013 04:31:25 PM MDT
    Updated: 04/02/2013 12:12:47 AM MDT

    A district court on Monday apologized for a clerical error that resulted in the release from prison of Evan Ebel four years too soon and said it would review its practices to avoid another mistake.

    The mistake allowed Ebel to be released from prison Jan. 28 without serving any additional time for a 2008 conviction for assaulting a prison guard, despite the terms of a plea agreement.

    The April 2008 agreement called for Ebel to serve a prison term of four years — consecutively after completing an eight-year stint — for slipping out of handcuffs and punching the corrections officer Nov. 27, 2006.

    Judge David M. Thorson announced the sentence at a June 2008 hearing but did not specify that it was to be served consecutively.

    That led to prison officials imposing a sentence that was concurrent, meaning Ebel served no additional time for the conviction.

    Because the judge did not expressly state that the sentence was consecutive, the court judicial assistant did not include that term in the mittimus, the sentence order that went to the Department of Corrections,” 11th Judicial District Administrator Walter Blair wrote in a statement. “The court regrets this oversight and extends condolences to the families of Mr. Nathan Leon and Mr. Tom Clements.”

    Prison officials are required to impose a concurrent sentence when a judge does not specify how it should be served, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Alison Morgan said. She declined to comment further.

    Eleventh Judicial District Attorney Thom LeDoux said Monday he would consider reviewing other cases for similar mistakes, though he did not believe the problem was widespread.

    Lane said her family was considering legal options. But local attorney Dan Recht said the families of the men who were killed will have no recourse as far as suing the 11th Judicial District because the court has immunity.

    “The court has immunity from civil lawsuits from the actions it takes,” Recht said. “One of the most strongest entrenched immunities is for judicial officers.”

    In addition to the clerical error, Ebel was released nearly four months early as a result of a 2011 law that allowed him and others to earn time off their sentences for their months and years spent in administrative segregation.

    Ebel was shot to death during a gunfight with sheriff’s deputies in Wise County, Texas, where he crashed his 1991 Cadillac DeVille on March 21. Authorities have not said why he headed to Texas, but court records show that they found bomb-making materials, instructions and handwritten directions in his car. Neither the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office, which is investigating the Clements killing, nor Denver police would elaborate on the significance of those discoveries.

    Stevie Marie Anne Vigil, 22, the Commerce City woman charged with illegally buying Ebel the 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun used in Clements’ death and the Texas shootout, has been released on $25,000 bond, her attorney said Monday. Court documents show that she bought the gun from a shop in Englewood between March 6 and March 13.

    Attorney Normando Pacheco did not know how Vigil was able to post bond.

    “All she said was family,” Pacheco said. He spoke with her briefly and “I told her to get some rest.”

    It’s going to be fascinating to see how this new detail affects the overall interpretation and political positioning that’s building up in the state of Colorado around the event. Ebel had to know he was released early, so he may have been fearing getting rounded up again, making him more likely be willing to go on a suicide-run-for-the-border murder-spree. It’s unclear why Hickenlooper would have known about the prison guard incident via is job as governor but Ebel’s dad might have known. So this bizarre backstory-twist to the case would have been part of the knowledge that Evan Ebel and any other planners would have known about in advance of the attacks. It Ebel went down Taliban-style, he’d be an instant scandal for a major Democratic political figure. So it’s looking increasingly possible that he would have been a “hot commodity” in those months following his release.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 1, 2013, 11:35 pm
  6. Ebel spent much of his time behind bars in solitary confinement and had a long record of disciplinary violations. Records show he joined a white supremacist prison gang.

    Ebel’s early release was just the latest twist in a case full of painful ironies. His father is friends with Hickenlooper and had testified before the Colorado Legislature about the damage solitary confinement did to his son. Clements was worried about that very issue.

    Hickenlooper raised the case with Clements when the governor hired him to come to Colorado in 2011. The Democratic governor said he never mentioned Ebel’s name and the inmate received no special treatment.

    With all of these bizarre twists it’s going to be interesting to see how this case get’s politicized in Colorado’s upcoming races. It’s a high-profile crime that can get pointed to as an example why more “tough on crime” policies are going to be needed to “lock away violent felons up for good” or something along those lines. But what are the actual policy responses going to be? More solitary confinement? Longer sentences with fewer chances for parole? Those are the predictable responses so you still have to wonder what the 211 gang and/or Aryan Brotherhood wanted to achieve? If harsher sentencing laws emerge after future elections that’s likely to extend the sentences of ALL prison gangs, not just the white supremacists, so it’s unclear that this assassination spree is going to elevate these white supremacist gangs’ status within the prison system. This assassination spree is sort of like the Taliban’s ongoing attacks on schools in Pakistan: it’s hard to see how terrorizing school girls or martyring public officials is going to garner much support except amongst the truly warped. But the truly warped are sort of prime demographics for these groups. Are these assassinations part of a white-supremacist attempt to recruit the most extreme fringing from the growing anti-government movements in the country?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 2, 2013, 12:28 pm
  7. And another twist:

    APNewsBreak: Colo. suspect slipped ankle bracelet
    By NICHOLAS RICCARDI, Associated Press
    Updated 12:36 pm, Tuesday, April 2, 2013

    DENVER (AP) — Parole officials did not realize that a white supremacist gang member had slipped his ankle bracelet and fled custody until five days after the system first flagged him as being delinquent, according to records released Tuesday.

    They sent a warrant out for his arrest the next day, one day before he was killed in a shootout with Texas authorities and a day after police now say they think he was involved in the slaying of Colorado prisons chief Tom Clements.

    “We have to do better in the future,” said Tim Hand, director of the Department of Correction’s parole division.

    Evan Spencer Ebel had been a model parolee until his electronic monitoring bracelet stopped working March 14. Before that, he called in daily, even once calling in alarm because no one had requested his weekly urinalysis test to show he hadn’t been using drugs.

    His father provided him housing and a job at his law firm, but on the afternoon of March 14, a “tamper alert” automatically went to a prison computer system showing the bracelet had stopped working.

    Two days later, corrections officials called Ebel and told him to come in to repair the bracelet. He did not show up.

    It was not until March 18 that parole officers spoke to Ebel’s father, who told them he feared his son had fled and gave them permission to search his apartment. The next day, two parole officers saw Ebel had taken a large amount of clothing and apparently fled.

    That night, Clements was shot and killed as he answered the front door at his house. The next morning, parole officers obtained a warrant for Ebel’s arrest for parole violations and sent it to Colorado State Patrol. They had no indication he was involved in the Clements’ killing until the shootout March 21.

    Ebel is also suspected of killing a Denver pizza delivery man and father of three on March 17.

    It’s the latest break that Ebel seems to have caught as he spent nearly a decade in Colorado’s criminal justice system. Court officials on Monday vowed to release procedures that led to a clerical error that allowed Ebel to leave prison four years early.

    Judicial officials acknowledged Monday that Ebel’s previous felony conviction was inaccurately recorded and his release in January was an error.

    Ebel spent much of his time behind bars in solitary confinement and had a long record of disciplinary violations. Records show he joined a white supremacist prison gang.

    Ebel’s early release was just the latest twist in a case full of painful ironies. His father is friends with Hickenlooper and had testified before the Colorado Legislature about the damage solitary confinement did to his son. Clements was worried about that very issue.

    Hickenlooper raised the case with Clements when the governor hired him to come to Colorado in 2011. The Democratic governor said he never mentioned Ebel’s name and the inmate received no special treatment.

    With all of these bizarre twists it’s going to be interesting to see how this case get’s politicized in Colorado’s upcoming races. It’s a high-profile crime that can get pointed to as an example why more “tough on crime” policies are going to be needed to “lock away violent felons up for good” or something along those lines. But what are the actual policy responses going to be? More solitary confinement? Longer sentences with fewer chances for parole? Those are the predictable responses so you still have to wonder what the 211 gang and/or Aryan Brotherhood wanted to achieve? If harsher sentencing laws emerge after future elections that’s likely to extend the sentences of ALL prison gangs, not just the white supremacists, so it’s unclear that this assassination spree is going to elevate these white supremacist gangs’ status within the prison system. This assassination spree is sort of like the Taliban’s ongoing attacks on schools in Pakistan: it’s hard to see how terrorizing school girls or martyring public officials is going to garner much support except amongst the truly warped. But the truly warped are sort of prime demographics for these groups. Are these assassinations part of a white-supremacist attempt to recruit the most extreme fringing from the growing anti-government movements in the country?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 2, 2013, 12:28 pm
  8. Here’s the first official indication that Ebel may have had help from other gang members:

    2 Men With Ties To White Supremacist Gang Sought In Colo. Prison Chief’s Killing

    CATHERINE TSAI April 4, 2013, 6:17 AM

    DENVER (AP) — Two more men connected to a violent white supremacist gang are being sought in connection with the slaying of Colorado’s prisons chief, and authorities are warning officers that they are armed and dangerous.

    The search comes about two weeks after prison gang member Evan Ebel — a suspect in the death of Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements on March 19 and of Nathan Leon, a pizza deliveryman, two days earlier — was killed in a shootout with Texas deputies.

    While it’s not clear whether the gang, the 211 Crew, is linked to the killing, the warning bulletin issued late Wednesday by the El Paso County Sheriff’s Department is the first official word that other gang members may be involved.

    James Lohr, 47, and Thomas Guolee, 31, aren’t being called suspects in Clements’ death, but their names have surfaced during the investigation, El Paso County sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Kramer said. He wouldn’t elaborate.

    Kramer said the two are known associates of the 211 gang.

    Ebel is the only suspect that investigators have named in Clements’ death, but they haven’t given a motive. They have said they’re looking into his connection to the gang he joined while in prison, and whether that was connected to the attack.

    “Investigators are looking at a lot of different possibilities. We are not stepping out and saying it’s a hit or it’s not a hit. We’re looking at all possible motives,” Kramer said Wednesday.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 4, 2013, 6:37 am
  9. Well this is unexpected even by the standards of this crazy case: Evan Ebel appears to have filed a number of grievances with the Department of Corrections shortly before his release where he voiced his concerns about his ability to transition back to society after spending so many years in solitary confinement. So Ebel apparently didn’t want to be released without a rehab program after the confinement. At a minimum, it would appear that Ebel wasn’t faking it when he claimed solitary confinement was destroying his mind. As the article points out at the end, Tom Clements’s was championing the reform of exactly this type of practice of releasing prisoners straight from solitary confinement back into society:

    Evan Ebel, Suspect In Tom Clements Murder, Was Concerned About Transition Back Into Society

    The Colorado Independent | By Susan Greene Posted: 04/26/2013 6:09 pm EDT | Updated: 04/28/2013 11:32 am EDT

    Evan Ebel, suspected murderer of Prisons Chief Tom Clements, filed a series of grievances with the Department of Corrections shortly before his release from prison that document his concerns about transitioning directly from years in solitary confinement to the free world.

    “Do you have an obligation to the public to reacclimate me, the dangerous inmate, to being around other human beings prior to being released and, if not, why?” Ebel asked in three formal grievances, each almost verbatim, filed in the months before he walked free in January.

    Ebel’s concerns fell on the deaf ears of prison officials who, documents suggest, seemed to care less than Ebel himself about the volatility and threat posed by a prisoner who had a history of threatening and injuring prison guards. Instead, the officials to whom the grievances were addressed focused on Ebel’s failure to dot the I’s and cross the T’s in his paperwork. They repeatedly found cause to dismiss them. Ebel “failed to follow the grievance procedure,” they wrote, and his messy handwriting failed to stay within the lines of the forms.

    In fact, the department didn’t answer Ebel’s final complaint until he already had been set free. The DOC wrote its final grievance rejection letter on February 11, two weeks after it had released Ebel on parole. The letter gives a glimpse into his frustrations with the prison system, what Ebel saw as its soullessness and counter-productivity. Earlier grievances show Ebel felt those conditions were crushing his humanity.

    It’s unclear if Ebel ever really expected to receive a considered response to his anxious questions. What he got was bureaucrateze.

    “In this instance, you have written two lines of narrative into many of the lined spaces intended for just one line of narrative,” Grievance Officer Anthony A. DeCesaro wrote in a response dated February 11. “This resulted in a great deal of your grievance becoming illegible. So, when you claim in the Step 2 that the Step 1 response didn’t read your grievance perhaps it was because the Step 1 was the most part illegible. In addition, you claim that you are just looking for answers to questions about policy, Grievance Procedure is not the appropriate method for debating policy questions nor is it designed to address the policy questions you have posed. Please review AR 1350-03 Constituent Services Coordinator for more information about directing your concerns.”

    For Ebel, “offender #125083,” as for about 800 other state prisoners still living in solitary confinement, “ad seg” is an existence that cuts off virtually all social stimulation, normal conversation and human interaction. It’s marked by an enduring sameness that, study after study has shown, exacerbates mental illness, atrophies social abilities and can beat down the psyche with hopelessness or spite.

    Some prisoners cope by taking up meditation or religious practice. Some read and reread as much as possible, given the limited number of books they’re allowed in their cells. Some tune into TV and radio, if and when they’re allowed those privileges. Some draw or compose songs that nobody hears them sing. Some do push-ups. Some pace in circles. Some incessantly write letters to relatives, friends, friends of friends, politicians, clergy members, journalists and anyone else they hope will open their envelopes.

    Instead of using violence or smearing feces on the wall – two other ways Ebel used to voice his frustrations in isolation — filing formal grievances is the prison system’s suggested method of voicing concerns, big and small.

    Ebel’s grievances were well written in relatively neat penmanship that degenerated near the time of his release. They generally were succinct and polite — usually ending in “thanks” or even an underlined “thanks” – but they were also demanding and at times idiosyncratic.

    The subjects of his grievances included problems sending and receiving mail and DOC’s decision not to let a woman visit him on grounds that her driver’s license wasn’t valid. Ebel complained about what he called inadequate medical treatment for a knee problem, tremors and spasms, intestinal issues, a colostomy bag and a persistent eye infection. He grieved that the prison censored his “Resistance” magazines, a publication popular among white supremacists. And he decried the confiscation of his literature about Asatru, a faith based on Northern European white lineage that Ebel listed as his religion. He complained about the cost of canteen items, and the lack of food products with protein for sale to prisoners. He grieved about his laundry going missing.

    Ebel’s use of the grievance process took a turn in November 2012 when, in handwriting that was remarkably smaller and more frenetic than before, he started asking broader questions of the DOC. He apparently had been released from, then sent back to solitary confinement after a fight with another prisoner involving a knife.

    “It’s important that you understand I’m not grieving the ad seg level review…nor your decision regarding my own level review but rather have a few questions regarding your general policy,” he wrote.

    He wanted to know the department’s position on self-defense.

    “I have a basic and undeniable right as a human being to defend my life. If I’m being attacked with a knife am I just supposed to lie down…?” he asked.

    He wanted to know how the DOC justified his placement back in solitary confinement for gang activity when he said the department couldn’t prove any active gang involvement.

    And he wanted to know why the department was about to release him directly out of solitary confinement without preparing him for human contact.

    The DOC didn’t answer, dismissing his questions “because the grievance procedure cannot be used to review convictions or segregation placement….”

    Ebel wasn’t satisfied. On December 12, 2012, he filed a follow-up complaint, starting with “Clearly you didn’t actually read my grievance.” He went on to pose the same three questions to the department.

    DOC’s response read as follows: “A Warden review was conducted on October 24, 2012. The decision at that time was that you be retained in Administrative Segregation. It has been your continued negative behavior that has resulted in your retention in your current status. You have been (sic) multiple opportunities to progress as we strive for you to be given opportunities to succeed. I do not see a requested remedy, however, if you are requesting release from Administrative Segregation I need you to understand that AR850-4, Grievance Procedure, section IV.D states, 2. This grievance procedure may not be used to seek review of any of the following: a. Code of Penal Discipline convictions, administrative segregation placements, Parole Board decisions, and decisions of the Reading Committee have exclusive appeal procedures. b. Classification is entirely at the discretion of the administrative head and classification committee of each facility.”

    Ebel kept at it, filing yet another follow-up grievance on January 11, 2013.

    “Again, now for the third time what I’m looking for here are answers to 3 questions,” he wrote.

    Among those questions, again, was the issue of his forthcoming release from prison without step-down programs preparing him for social interaction and life beyond prison walls.

    “Do you have an obligation to the public to reclimatize ‘dangerous’ inmates to being around other human beings prior to releasing them into society after they have spent years in solitary confinement? If not, why? The remedy I’m requesting is answers to these 3 questions. Thank you.”

    DOC’s non-answer about Ebel’s messy handwriting was written two weeks after his release. By then, he was living in Commerce City and confiding in his friend, parolee and former CSP inmate Ryan Pettigrew, about his struggles adjusting to regular social interaction, handshakes, eye contact and other aspects of life outside isolation. Text messages from Ebel show he was anxious about his freedom and tempted by the urge to ease that anxiety through violence.

    “…im just feeling peculiar & the only way i know i know to remedy that is via use of ‘violence’ even if that ‘violence’ be something as petty & inconsequential as a fist fight which id prefer be with someone i can trust as opposed to some renegade civilian who odds are will tell,” Ebel texted Pettigrew in mid-February, just as his grievance officer was citing problems with his penmanship in belatedly dismissing his concerns about his release.

    A month later, Ebel is believed to have gunned down the DOC director at his front door in Monument.

    Since Clements’ murder, much has been reported that Ebel was released four years early because of a clerical error failing to log his additional sentence for the attack on a prison guard. Questions also have been raised about why Ebel’s sentence was cut for participating in rehabilitation programs that he didn’t complete. In Clements’ honor, state lawmakers are contemplating measures to prevent such errors and loopholes in the future.

    What’s not slated for consideration in the remaining 12 days of the legislative session is one of Clements’ top priorities: to improve rehabilitation services and end DOC’s practice of letting prisoners walk straight from isolation onto the streets. Clements wanted step-down programs and longer transition periods instead of releasing prisoners directly from solitary confinement.

    “You have to ask yourself the question – How does holding inmates in administrative segregation and then putting them out on a bus into the public, [how does that] square up?” Clements said in an interview last year. “We have to think about how what we do in prisons impacts the community when [prisoners] leave. It’s not just about running the prison safely and securely. There’s a lot of research around solitary and isolation in recent years, some tied to POWs and some to corrections. My experience tells me that long periods of isolation can be counter-productive to stable behavior and long-term rehabilitation goals.”

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | April 30, 2013, 12:32 pm
  10. Was Evan Ebel helped by al-Turki, the Saudi prisoner originally suspected in Clements’s killing? Investigators are looking into that possibility:

    Talking Points Memo
    Saudi Inmate Back On Radar In Case Of Killed Colorado Official
    Eric Lach April 30, 2013, 6:35 PM

    Authorities investigating last month’s killing of Colorado Department of Corrections chief Tom Clements settled on a suspect weeks ago. But the case hasn’t been closed.

    Evan Ebel, a 28-year-old parolee with a long criminal record and ties to a white supremacist prison gang, the 211 Crew, died after a shoot-out with Texas sheriff’s deputies just days after Clements’ killing. Authorities later determined that Ebel had been carrying the gun that had been used to kill Clements.

    According to an article published late Monday by The Denver Post, investigators still don’t have an answer for why Ebel may have killed Clements, and are looking at whether he had help. And, in that context, the name Homaidan al-Turki has resurfaced.

    Media reports in the days following Clements’ killing speculated that the crime was connected to al-Turki, a Saudi national serving time for a 2006 conviction for what the Post described as keeping a woman as a sex slave for years. Earlier in March, Clements had written a letter informing al-Turki that he was denying al-Turki’s request to serve out the remainder of his sentence in Saudi Arabia.

    According to the Post, FBI agents are investigating “any possible financial transactions between al-Turki and 211 Crew members to determine whether he had hired the gang for protection, among other things.” Investigators are also interviewing “al-Turki associates who run errands for him outside of prison,” one source told the paper.

    The El Paso County Sheriff’s Office told the Post that al-Turki remains of interest to the Clements’ case.

    “I don’t think that is a chapter that has been closed,” Lt. Jeff Kramer, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, said.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 1, 2013, 8:17 am
  11. @Pterrafractyl–

    Another thing to keep in mind in the context of the Clements case is the fact that the Saudi milieu involved with the entities busted in the 3/20/2002 were funding Muslim chaplains in U.S. prisons.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-398-more-on-the-virtual-state-manipulation-of-political-polarities/

    In addition to the fact that we’ve seen Saudis and Nazis (“neo” and otherwise)this should be kept in mind.

    Might a Saudi-influenced Muslim chaplain in the corrections system helped to forge such a link, if there is one?

    Best,

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | May 1, 2013, 5:11 pm
  12. @Dave: That raises the question of just what kind of prison chaplain services a follower of the Asatru variant of Odinism might expect. According to this 2009 SPLC piece below, a 2005 Supreme Court ruling should is starting to ensure that Asatru worshipers have access to some sort of outside religious leader, although it sounds like implementation of that right it taking a while (only 15 states had services for Odinist prisoners at the time of that article). Who knows if Ebel or other 211 gang members would have had access to an Asatru chaplain. Ebel spent so much time in solitary confinement so he probably didn’t have too much access. But in an interesting tangential fun-fact pointed out the article, it sounds like the most violent form of Odinism, Wotanism, isn’t protected by that Supreme Court ruling. It was also cooked up in Colorado’s Supermax prisons system by David Lane of The Order. The article below also notes that Texas’s prison system doesn’t allow gang members to access religious services and refers to ABT Odinists. So if Colorado is amongst the states that recruits non-prisoner Odinist to provide services it’s unclear that Ebel or any other 211 gang members would have been given access to them anyways as recognized gang members. But one really has to hope there’s an effective screening process for the Odinist leaders allowed into these prison programs because as we’ve seen with the Muslim Brotherhood’s infiltration of these programs the possibility of white-supremacist Odinist chaplains can’t be discounted:

    SPLC
    Intelligence Report, Fall 2009, Issue Number: 135
    Supreme Court Requires Prisons Give Special Consideration to Racist Pagans

    Supreme Court Ruling Boosts Odinist Inmates

    By Casey Sanchez

    Clarification: This story originally contained a description of litigation brought by a group of plaintiffs including several members of the Caucasian Cartel prison gang. It never intended to suggest that the Asatru adherent who originally filed the case was a member of the Caucasian Cartel or any other gang.

    Each month, Laurel Owen leaves her home in Arkansas and drives to prisons as far away as Texas and Kentucky, where she is paid to teach inmates the rituals of a Norse pagan religion known as Odinism or Asatru. Owen, who heads a support group called the Prison Affairs Bureau of the Odinic Rite, says many inmates she meets have suffered for their beliefs. “Most of the guys you encounter inside will have spent time in the hole and been labeled a Security Threat just for being Odinist,” she writes. “They have fought to be who they are.”

    As practiced by Owen and others outside prison, Odinism tends to be a benign form of paganism, tolerant of others and close to nature. Behind the walls, however, it is likely to take on a more sinister cast, and many prison wardens have long regarded Odinism as the religious arm of white supremacist prison gangs. The U.S. Supreme Court has nonetheless ruled that Odinist inmates have certain rights that prisons must recognize. So while a decade ago a pagan volunteer like Owen would have been dismissed as a kook or, at worst, a gang liaison, Odinist inmates today can wear Thor’s Hammer pendants under their jumpsuits and request visits from outside leaders.

    The Supreme Court ruling in 2005 involved a case brought by a band of Satanist, Odinist and white supremacist Church of Jesus Christ Christian inmates, including some who are serving time for racially motivated killings. The justices ruled that prisons must accommodate these unusual faiths. Four years and several inmate lawsuits later, more than 15 state prisons now recruit non-inmate Odinists to develop policy, write scripts for rituals and lead ceremonies behind bars. Along with this new wave of religious rights has come a raft of litigation from inmates seeking to build fire pits in their cells, from convicted hate crime perpetrators joining class-action lawsuits to take 60 Odinist holidays off work, and from white supremacists demanding the right to read literature exhorting followers to wage wars of race purification. As security-screened, non-racist Asatru volunteers like Owen stream into the system, they face suspicion from prison chaplains and competition from better-established racist Odinist groups with clout among inmates.

    The Devil’s Advocate
    Asatru and Odinism have had inmate adherents since the mid-1980s. (Among believers, Asatru is sometimes used interchangeably with Odinism, and at other times it designates an Icelandic sect that venerates a separate family of gods.) While some prisoners have embraced a non-racial Asatru as a faith whose warrior ethos speaks to them in a hostile environment, white nationalist inmates have imported a Nordic racial paganism from the racist-right subculture of the early 1990s.

    Both types of inmates got a boost from the 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case, Cutter v. Wilkinson, brought by incarcerated Asatruers, Satanists, Wiccans and adherents of the Aryan Nations church, who sought the right to worship in a group, wear religious medallions and read literature from their faith. An Ohio prison had denied their requests, arguing that their religion was just a front for gang activity. The inmates filed the original case in 2000, only months after President Bill Clinton signed into law the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which placed prisons that restricted religious expression under heavy legal scrutiny.

    At latest count, 15 states allow some form of group Asatru or Odinist worship. In a 2007 affidavit for a Utah prisoner suing for damages after being denied the right to use ceremonial altar cloths and drink mead from a bull horn in an Asatru ceremony, a fellow inmate stated: “Every prison I’ve been to has a Asatru/Odinist program. While in Federal custody in Colorado we won a Federal legal proceeding for our own outdoor area similar to the Native Americans. Our sponsor was actually one of the prison’s correctional officers.”

    Not all correctional officers are so sympathetic to Odinism. In a 2004 report, the National Gang Crime Research Center surveyed prison officials in 49 states and found that Odinists, Asatruers and Wotansvolk were the most common “white racist extremist religious front groups proselytizing American prison inmates today.”

    One chilling example of Odinism in prison gone haywire is the case in Virginia of Michael Lenz, a self-described high priest of Asatru. In 2000, he and five Asatruer inmates met around a makeshift altar for a “blot,” in which followers make an offering of food and drink to the gods. As Lenz would later testify, he became convinced that inmate Brent Parker was not taking the ceremony seriously and had to die to protect the honor of the gods. Lenz and another inmate, Jeffrey Remington, stabbed Parker 68 times with a makeshift knife. Lenz was executed for the murder in 2006; Remington committed suicide in 2004 while on death row.

    Aryan Prisoners of War
    Odinism’s most violent prison strain was cooked up in the Colorado Supermax cell of lifer inmate David Lane. Lane drove the getaway car for The Order, the right-wing terrorist group that in the 1980s netted more than $4 million in robberies of armored cars and murdered liberal talk-show host Alan Berg in his Denver driveway. In 1995, Lane, along with wife Katja and business partner Ron McVan, created Wotansvolk, a religion that refers to the Christian New Testament as “the Ten Commandments for racial suicide” and offers in its place Wotanism, which Lane described as religion that “preaches war, plunder and sex.” Lane noted that Wotan, in addition to being the Germanized spelling of Odin, is also the acronym of “Will Of The Aryan Nation.”

    “Wotansvolk’s name-recognition is high among the Aryan prison population,” writes Swedish scholar Mattias Gardell, a leading authority on racist Nordic paganism. “Katja Lane’s campaigning has contributed to the fact that all states now permit the wearing of a Thor’s hammer as a religious medallion.” In 2001, at the height of its popularity, Wotansvolk boasted a membership of 5,000 inmates. Today the organization is defunct, but its lavishly illustrated books remain in print and in demand among prisoners who have brought state suits to possess them. In contrast with their Asatru kin, however, the Wotanists’ claims have been uniformly rejected by the courts, as judges say violence advocated by the religion’s texts outweigh its free speech merits in a prison setting.

    Lane remains a mythic hero in white power circles and was, until his 2007 death, the top “Aryan Prisoner of War,” noted for coining the “14 words” that serve as a rallying cry for militant white nationalists: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.” Lane’s devotion to Odinism lives on among dozens of other so-called Aryan Prisoners of War, white inmates lionized by the white power movement for their racist activism.

    “Odinists represent a significant subgroup of white supremacists in prison known as the Aryan Prisoners of War,” says Randy Blazak, a sociologist at Portland State University in Oregon who studies prison Odinism. For his research, Blazak has interviewed dozens of Aryan Prisoners of War, including Lane before he died and other members of The Order. “The growth of the religion of Odinism among racist inmates has significant implications for the spread of hate crimes, domestic terrorism, racial divisiveness and the destabilization of prison populations,” he says, noting that frequently “the racist Odinist ideology follows inmates upon release.”

    Some Aryan POWs, Blazak says, embrace Odinism not as religion but as a consoling ideology in support of their view that the white race is being “assaulted and emasculated by social forces.” As one inmate wrote in response to the study, “I’m of the subset of that community that do not believe in literal Vikings in the sky, but do think the values embodied in the Odinist ‘God-sense’ are especially pertinent for imprisoned Caucasians. Most prisoners are victims of religious intolerance; they’re convicted of ‘offenses against [the idea of] the United States.'”

    Aryan POWs represent racist Odinism’s violent fringe, but many jailhouse conversions to neo-pagan faiths are, in fact, more benign. “Some prisoners see the appeal of prison Odinism as an avenue to win prison privileges such as time for religious ceremonies, as well as a way to cope with prison life and society in general,” Blazak writes. “However, those recognized as ‘Aryan POWs’ by the white supremacist community identify with the need for aggressive racist activism. … The question that remains is which end of the spectrum attracts more inmates?”

    How many Odinist inmates subscribe to racial supremacy is a question that generates more heat than light. Valgard Murray, an Asatru leader and consultant to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, contends that “less than ten percent are racial fanatics.” But in Texas, which boasts the largest prison system in the country, security threat group coordinator Sigifredo Sanchez says 90% of Odinist inmates are classified as belonging to white supremacist gangs. They, like all other gang members, are relocated to separate wings of the prison where they cannot access group religious services. “It’s been my experience that legitimate groups will carry some of these more racist members because it swells numbers,” said Blazak. “Among them there’s a real serious dislike of racist pagans, but at the same time, numbers count in prison.”

    Between the racist and non-racist believers are a large number of “Odinists until release” who join in meetings and make offerings to the gods at blots less for spirituality than to break up the boredom and isolation of prison life. “They’ve got plenty of time on their hands. There’s also the practicality of it. It gets you out of [your] cell, there may be food and drink available,” says Blazak.

    Sanchez, the Texas prisons’ security coordinator, adds, “We have had Odinists for quite awhile. You have to look at the historical basis. Aryan groups are looking for anything that would be beneficial and a place where no one will stop them from meeting. They’ve always tried to use a religion that somebody can bond with.”

    Rune Stones or Gang Signs?
    After a two-year lawsuit, the Texas Department of Corrections is negotiating with an inmate who is seeking the right to lead his own Asatru group service and use rune stones, a set of 24 small blocks or stones carved with ancient symbols that make up an alphabet. Sanchez is wary of both developments. “Not all of our officers are trained to look at runic codes,” he says. We had a guy out there who was ABT, Aryan Brotherhood of Texas – that’s what he had in runic type writing on a tattoo. The guy was able to make it out there in general population [and not be segregated as a gang member] because the officer did not recognize the runic symbols.” Prisons that use the rune-stone-as-gang-sign policy to deny access to Odinists have had little sway with courts, most of whom cite the large presence of Muslim, Jewish and Latino inmates who use Arabic, Hebrew and Spanish in their services.

    Donald Rothstein, who has spent more than 20 years investigating security-threat groups for the Minnesota corrections system, said that Odinist religious services, just like any religious group meeting, provide an opportunity for him and his colleagues to gain intelligence on security threats. Asatru or Odinist inmates are allowed to meet for group worship in four of the state’s prison facilities, and they are monitored when they do. “If for some reason white supremacist inmates are having an action [and] fifty of them show up – say that’s five times the normal service — we know something is going on.” Rothstein says Minnesota inmates are observed based on behavior, not for gang or religious affiliation.

    Not all racist forms of Asatru are so difficult to decode. In Maine, inmate Dale Wood, who referred to himself as the “gothi,” or leader, of his Asatru group, sued the state’s prison system after his group was disbanded by correctional officers. While inspecting the group’s religious lockers, authorities found pictures of Hitler, swastikas and the Ten Commandments from “Wotansvolk Wisdom for Aryan Man,” a violently racist revision of Jesus’ parables whose fifth commandment reads: “Cut off ZOG’s head and feed it to the dogs. Government beyond the consent of the governed is tyranny and theft; obedience to tyranny is slavery.”

    “Prior to this time, I and the other prison staff thought that the prison Asatru group was religious group,” said a corrections sergeant in a court affidavit. “I determined that the Asatru group at the facility was really a white supremacist gang.”

    Pagan vs. pagan
    Correctional officers aren’t the only ones motivated to expose sham Odinist groups. In 2007, Murray, the Asatru leader who consults for the federal prison system, took the unusual step of testifying against Odinist inmates as a paid witness for the State of Ohio. The case, which is still in litigation, is a class action suit led by an Asatru adherent who believes his faith entitles him to more than 60 days a year off work.

    “It’s a frivolous lawsuit,” Murray told the Intelligence Report. “I’ve written the runic calendar for the federal Bureau of Prisons. There are only 12 recognized holidays.” Other neo-pagan groups have called Murray a traitor for his action. Laurel Owen, the Odinist prison volunteer from the Arkansas Ozarks, writes in a how-to guide for outside Odinist volunteers that there are real dangers involved in teaching Odinism to inmates. “Rival gang members will compete for your attention and for a place of leadership. … You may even be asked to join a gang.” She adds, “The first day you go in, tell your group that gang affiliations are not your business and that you don’t want to know. Tell them the important thing is this: You are there for spiritual reasons, not to front for a gang.” Owen believes Odinism is a positive force in inmates’ lives and she has even developed an Odinist alternative to Alcoholics Anonymous that is in use at two Texas prisons.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 2, 2013, 1:30 pm
  13. @Pterrafractyl–

    The Asatru milieu and David Lane hook up with some “interesting” elements in the so-called counterculture.

    Check out FTR #437.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-437-counter-culture-fascism/

    The Order, of which he was a member, was financed by German “families” in Latin America.

    Check out FTR #272.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-272-they-shall-reap-the-whirlwind/

    Best,

    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | May 2, 2013, 1:52 pm

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