The 2002 Temple Beth Israel Attack and Laskey’s Time in Volksfront
On October 25, 2002, Jacob Laskey, his younger brother Gabriel Doyle Laskey, plus Gerald Anthony Poundstone, Jesse Lee Baker and Jereomy Allan Baker threw rocks etched with swastikas at Temple Beth Israel, breaking the Temple’s stained glass. Approximately 80 people were inside Temple Beth Israel at the time, attending a religious service. The neo-Nazi attackers were arrested only after a lengthy investigation, with Jacob Laskey charged in 2005. Laskey was eventually sentenced in 2007, not only for civil rights charges related to the rock-throwing against the synagogue, but for being a felon in possession of a firearm and for charges from his attempts to obstruct the federal case against him. Laskey had solicited the murder of a witness and also solicited a bomb threat against the courthouse where the grand jury was being held. Before this federal case, Laskey had a criminal record in Florida and Oregon for violent acts against perceived racial and political opponents.
Jacob Laskey not only supported racist prisoners in the name of Volksfront, but also received support from Volksfront when he faced his own (pre-synagogue attack) legal problems. On January 25, 2003 Volksfront held a “Rock Against Communism” show in the greater Portland metro region. (We have written elsewhere about the racist assault in Vancouver, Washington which took place before this concert.) The Volksfront benefit concert raised funds for Laskey’s defense when he and another bonehead faced charges for an assault against someone Laskey described as a “Jew SHARP [Skinhead Against Racial Prejudice]” and who Volksfront called an “ARA (Anti-Racist Action) terrorist.”
Laskey did more than just prisoner support for Volksfront. In 2004, Laskey was one of the organizers for the Volksfront “Aryan Fest” in Phoenix, Arizona. In one of his writings from prison that has been posted online, Laskey claims that he “personally invited” Richard Butler, then the head of Aryan Nations, to speak at Aryan Fest. Laskey helped Butler to “come to the [Aryan Fest] show with his Security Guard, which was his [Butler’s] last public speech before his death.” It appears that at this time Laskey subscribed to Christian Identity, the belief system also preached by “Pastor” Butler within the Aryan Nations. Christian Identity proclaims that white people are God’s true chosen people; that people of color are inferior; and that Jewish people are imposters and literally of Satanic descent.
Laskey’s Changing Affiliations and the American Front
In early 1990s, the American Front moved its headquarters to Portland, Oregon, where it was for a while one of the more visible neo-Nazi groups in the city. (See the report “The Northwest Imperative: Documenting a Decade of Hate” here for information about the American Front in early-1990s Oregon.) The American Front changed leadership from Heick to James Porrazzo in the mid-1990s, with new leader Porrazzo leading the organization away from the bonehead subculture and more deeply into “Third Position” and “National Revolutionary” political territory. The organization declined during this period from a mixture of infighting, Porrazzo’s increasingly arcane politics, and his alienating AF’s on-the-ground bonehead support. However, in places such as Florida and California clusters of American Front boneheads continued, maintaining an orientation closer to the first generation American Front.
In a piece of prison writing, Laskey states: “A few years later [than a 2002 Hammerskin event Laskey wrote about] after I parted ways with Volksfront (who I always will have a lot of love and respect for), knowing that good comrades like Roy [from the white power music act Final War] was American Front and true National Socialist, I heeded the call and accepted membership into AF (Also Dave, Rob, Rabbitt, Chris, Big Bryan, and others were influential in my decision).” It is clear from this account that Laskey was more drawn towards the bonehead part of the American Front, with its links to the white power rock scene. Laskey would have encountered bonehead American Front from the West Coast white power circuit, and perhaps even earlier from when Laskey was in Florida with the Navy.
The “Letters from Jake” blog also features an “Aryan Resistance Manifesto” written under Laskey’s name. In the Manifesto, Laskey writes that “The Race War is fought between the oppressed Aryan Race and an alien, degenerate, unwanted system under the control of Zionists [clearly meaning Jews], who are destroying our land and our rights.” Laskey outlines his plan to “make America ungovernable” for the “Zionist Occupational Government” by organizing a paramilitary force divided into secretive cells. The manifesto then fills pages with Laskey’s fantasies about assassination and bombing campaigns before concluding “Hail the Aryan Revolutionary Movement! White Power!”
It appears as though Laskey organized within an “Aryan Resistance Movement” on the inside. In an article titled “The Movement Inside” on yet another blog, Laskey discusses the Aryan Resistance Movement and provides a (real or imagined) genealogy connecting it to the white power terrorist organization The Order/Brüder Schweigen of the 1980s. (The Order did briefly refer to itself as the “Aryan Resistance Movement.”) The current “ARM” within the prison system does not seem to solely be a figment of Laskey’s imagination, since a Department of Justice press release from 2013 discusses an assault by someone else affiliated with the “Aryan Resistance Movement, a violent white supremacist prison gang.”
Laskey connected with Edgar Steele while in the federal prison system, when Laskey was transferred to the same prison as Steele in 2013. Steele was once a major figure on the white nationalist scene, having served as the lawyer for the Aryan Nations. (Steele was also the main speaker at the Volksfront “AryanFest” in 2005, held at Cascade Locks, Oregon.) In 2011, the 66-year-old Steele was sentenced to fifty years for a murder-for-hire plot against his wife. Some far-Right activists (and even Steele’s own wife) proclaimed Steele’s arrest and sentencing to be a giant frame-up, the result of a nefarious conspiracy to silence Steele.
Laskey interviewed Edgar Steele from prison in 2014, this text being placed online by long-running white supremacist Harold Covington of the Northwest Front. In the interview, Steele claimed that he was being looked after in prison by “members of ARM, which is the Aryan Resistance Movement.” Later in 2014, Steele died in prison after weeks of declining health. In another message to Harold Covington circulated online, Laskey claimed that “It was obvious […] that Edgar was drugged” prior to his death–this has predictably given rise to further conspiracy theories regarding Steele, transforming Steele in some quarters into a sort of white nationalist martyr.
The American Front went through something of a rebirth–followed by another collapse–while Laskey was serving his prison sentence. The rebuilding of the American Front began before Laskey was even arrested. David Lynch led this American Front resurgence. Originally active as an American Front leader on the East Coast a decade earlier, by 2002 Lynch was based in Northern California and took over what remained of the American Front after the Porrazzo years. Rebirth and expansion followed. Lynch dropped Porrazzo’s more esoteric Third Position politics, returning the American Front to more typical bonehead activities, such as white power music festivals and rallies. Lynch was also heavily involved with the Sacto Skins–another white power group–and built alliances between the revived American Front and other white supremacist organizations, such as Volksfront and Blood & Honour American Division (one of the groups competing for the “Blood & Honour” Nazi music franchise in the US at the time.)
Lynch’s leadership of the American Front came to an abrupt end in March 2011 when he was shot to death in his home. Although another bonehead was arrested as a person of interest, murder charges were never brought against this individual. The murder has not been solved. It was however likely the result of conflict within the bonehead milieu. After Lynch’s murder, he became thought of by true believers as another white power martyr. The American Front was however left without a leader.
James Porrazzo briefly made a bid for the leadership of the American Front after Lynch’s death, taking over the American Front website. By the end of the year Porrazzo had given up this effort, declared the American Front dissolved, and was focusing on his “New Resistance” project which even further delved into obscure political territory (this time with an emphasis on the thought of Aleksandr Dugin.)
The following year, fourteen American Front members were arrested in Florida, where an AF presence had remained and indeed resisted Porrazzo’s attempted power grab. Those arrested in Florida faced a large number of charges stemming from their preparations for cataclysmic race war. Included in this sweep was Marcus Faella, an American Front militant whose political history included working alongside David Lynch in the 1990s. While the case against Faella and others largely fell apart–Faella was convicted of lesser charges and two others took pleas, all rest having their charges dropped—the 2012 arrests are still credited with having “destroyed the American Front in Florida,” its other stronghold.
Small clusters of American Front activists still exist. For example, the West Coast bonehead musical project Ironwill incorporated an American Front symbol into an early version of its logo. However the American Front is currently without clear leadership to unite any remaining activists. It is this situation, it seems, that Jacob Laskey wishes to remedy.
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