An Arizona man associated with a neo-Nazi group was among four arrested on Feb. 26 and charged with conspiracy to threaten and intimidate Mala Blomquist, the editor of Arizona Jewish Life, and an unnamed member of the Arizona Association of Black Journalists.
All four charged are affiliated with Atomwaffen Division, a small neo-Nazi group that became active in 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The group’s members “are preparing for a race war to combat what they consider the cultural and racial displacement of the white race,” reported the ADL. The group’s propaganda includes references to Charles Manson and Nazi iconography.
Johnny Roman Garza, 20, of Queen Creek, Arizona, is accused of leaving threatening, anti-Semitic flyers at Blomquist’s home.
The ADL praised law enforcement for taking swift action.
“The incident, of course, is unfortunate, but it is an arrest that we are really applauding law enforcement for making,” said Keisha McKinnor, assistant regional director of the ADL of Arizona. “The central figure in the organization’s leadership was arrested and that was quite significant for us, given the background of the organization and their violent and criminal nature. We were really glad that this person was taken down immediately.”
Law enforcement saw Garza and another individual drive to Blomquist’s residence, where they “were observed fleeing from the direction of the residence to the vehicle,” according to a complaint submitted to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington by the FBI.
The next morning, Blomquist, who is not Jewish, found a poster glued to her bedroom window. It read “Your Actions Have Consequences … Our Patience Has Its Limits” and included her name and address. A copy of the poster, included in the complaint, shows a hooded skeleton standing outside a home and holding a Molotov cocktail.
“It has death images, basically, and then on the bottom, in small print, it says, ‘You’ve been visited by your local Nazis,’” Blomquist told 12 News. “It’s terrifying to think that someone actually walked onto your property and the fact that it wasn’t just taped on my window, it was glued to my window.”
“I believe the co-conspirators intended for the posters to intimidate, threaten and cause substantial emotional distress to the group’s targets,” Special Agent Michael Stults stated in the complaint.
In addition to Garza, the FBI and local law enforcement arrested Kaleb Cole of Montgomery, Texas; Cameron Brandon Shea of Redmond, Washington; and Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe of Spring Hill, Florida. The complaint identifies Cole and Shea as the creators of the posters and the primary organizers of the threat campaign. Parker-Dipeppe is accused of placing a threatening poster at what he believed to be the home of a journalist in Florida. In the Seattle area, posters were mailed to a TV journalist who had reported on Atomwaffen and to two individuals associated with the ADL.
“These defendants from across the country allegedly conspired on the internet to intimidate journalists and activists with whom they disagreed,” stated Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. “This is not how America works. The Department of Justice will not tolerate this type of behavior.”
McKinnor noted that in spite of these arrests, other anti-Semitic groups continue to pose a threat.
“We see that anti-Semitism continues to be on the rise, across our country and across the world,” McKinnor said. “Even though this particular group is really a shadow of itself — it’s only got about 20 dedicated members — there are a slew of other organizations that are modeled after them, with the same ideological cores and violent and criminal natures that are just sprouting up. That is a contributor to the rise of anti-Semitism, so we are continuing to fight that fight and to partner with law enforcement to make sure that we are combating all of this hate that is especially violent in nature, in anti-Semitic forms and in other forms as well.”
“I’m not Jewish,” Blomquist told 12 News. “It doesn’t matter who you are. They’re just hating to hate.”
McKinnor also said that Blomquist’s safety is a top priority.
“It is unfortunate, and we are thinking about the incident in Arizona and the editor here,” McKinnor said. “She is in our prayers, as her safety is our number one concern, but again, we’re commending law enforcement for the safeguard of her, of our community and of our nation.”
Reprinted with permission of Phoenix Jewish News.