Thursday, August 29, 2013

White supremacist puts down roots in North Dakota

John Eligon reports in today's New York Times form Leith, North Dakota, population 16 (or 24, depending on your source), where white supremacist Craig Cobb has been buying up parcels of land since last year.  Eligon reports that Cobb plans to turn the place into a white nationalist center, and that he has transferred some of the lots he has purchased to fellow white nationalists. Eligon writes:
In the past two years, Mr. Cobb, a longtime proselytizer for white supremacy who is wanted in Canada on charges of promoting hatred, has bought a dozen plots of land in Leith (pronounced Leeth) and has sold or transferred ownership of some of them to a couple of like-minded white nationalists. 
He is using Craigslist and white power message boards to entice others in the movement to take refuge in Leith, about two hours southwest of Bismarck. On one board, he detailed his vision for the community — an enclave where residents fly “racialist” banners, where they are able to import enough “responsible hard core” white nationalists to take control of the town government, where “leftist journalists or antis” who “come and try to make trouble” will face arrest. 
* * * 
It is all people are talking about, in bars and in their homes, at funerals and at church. They are poking around on the Web to read Mr. Cobb’s positions for themselves. A stream of cars creep through the streets where horses occasionally trot, their passengers hoping to catch a glimpse of some action or take a peek at Mr. Cobb’s peeling, two-story clapboard home. Sheriff’s cars, too, are making more rounds.
Cobb said he was working in the state's booming oil fields until last week, when he lost his job after the story broke regarding his plans for Leith.  

Amazingly, Leith is large and organized enough to have a mayor, Ryan Shock, who says he and the city council have put in place a "suicide pact."  Well, Eligon calls it a "doomsday plan":  
If enough of Mr. Cobb’s friends move in to gain a majority that could vote out the current government, the Council would immediately dissolve the town.
Leith is in nonmetropolitan Grant County, population 2,394, in southwest North Dakota.  The population is 97.3% white, and the poverty rate is a shockingly low 12.4%.  One of very few African Americans in the county lives in Leith, and he features in Eligon's story, as do religion and community.  It's worth a read in its entirety.  

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