Wisconsin Center for Pluralism
Winter/Spring, 2003 Report

CONTENTS:
Militant Preacher Seeks School Board Seat
"Paper Terrorist" Gets Five Years in Prison
Wisconsin Featured in Book on Domestic Terrorism
KKK and Nazis Greeted with Derision, Cleansing
Hate Crimes Up in 2001; Madison Logs Most Reports
Appellant Seeks Right to Trespass on Clinics to Prevent Abortions
W-2 Contracts Extended Despite Failing Standards
Legislators Seek Return of Death Penalty to Wisconsin
Phelps to Unleash Anti-Gay Vitriol in State
Thompson Campaign Money Funds New Think Tank
State Briefs

EDITOR: Jamakaya, Executive Director, Wisconsin Center for Pluralism



Militant Preacher Seeks School Board Seat

Matthew Trewhella, a fundamentalist minister who advocates the formation of Christian militias and weapons training and who has been arrested repeatedly for anti-abortion protests, is running for a school board seat in the Richfield School District in Washington County. Trewhella is pastor of the Mercy Seat Christian Church, based in West Allis.

Trewhella, who home-schools his own kids, is on record as saying: "I do not believe the state should be in the business of educating children." He has called members of Congress "traitors" and other government officials "low-life swine" and "totalitarian dogs." He has repeatedly advocated the formation of citizen militias and urged churches to train members in the use of firearms.

In 1999, in the wake of several massacres at schools around the U.S., educators and police condemned Trewhella for distributing pro-gun flyers shaped like bullets at Waukesha South High School (and other schools). Waukesha School Board member William Domina told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "To stand out in front of a public school where young people are entering and to promote guns is an atrocity."

At the 1994 state convention of the U.S. Taxpayers Party (now the Constitution Party), Trewhella urged the formation of militias and said he advised his congregation: "This Christmas I want you to do the most loving thing, I want you to buy each of your children an SKS [semi-automatic] rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition."

Trewhella, a convicted arsonist, is co-founder of the militant anti-abortion group Missionaries to the Preborn and admits to being arrested more than 70 times. He has served time in prison for disorderly conduct and contempt of court for blocking abortion clinics, harassing clients and staff, and defying court orders. In 1993, he signed a petition stating that the murder of physician David Gunn by anti-abortionist Michael Griffin and "taking all godly action necessary to defend innocent human life including the use of force" was "justifiable." The petition was the brainchild of Floridian Paul J. Hill, who was later convicted of murdering another doctor and a clinic worker.

In the catechism of the Mercy Seat Christian Church found on its web site, Trewhella claims: "Civil government was instituted by God (Rom. 13:1, Prov. 8:14-16)." In a published sermon, Trewhella refers to Social Security as "idolatry and slavery." In another, he calls the property tax "an evil which the Scriptures speak against and which pulpits across this nation should denounce ... The land belongs to God, not the State. A property tax is the State declaring that it owns the land, and worse than that, it is the state attempting to usurp the place of God by saying it owns the land."

--- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, www.mercyseat.net

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"Paper Terrorist" Gets Five Years in Prison

MADISON: In January, Dane County Circuit Judge C. William Foust sentenced Stephen Magritz to five years in prison for filing thousands of false legal claims against public officials in Ozaukee County. Magritz reportedly retaliated against the officials for seizing his 62-acre lot in the Town of Fredonia after he failed to pay $30,000 in property taxes.

Magritz filed involuntary bankruptcy petitions and liens against 37 officials, including Sheriff Maury Straub and county supervisors. Many victims had their credit cards cancelled and are still struggling to correct credit histories and regain their financial reputations. Authorities say that while in the Dane County Jail awaiting sentencing, Magritz tried to file a bankruptcy petition in federal court naming Judge Foust as a creditor.

The practice of filing bogus legal claims to harass government officials or fellow citizens has long been advocated by some right-wing groups, including the Posse Comitatus. The growing Sovereign Citizen movement, an amorphous collection of virulently anti-government extremists, promotes the tactic as a means of challenging government authority.

--- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, www.adl.org

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Wisconsin Featured in Book on Domestic Terrorism

Wisconsin has the dubious distinction of being featured prominently in The Terrorist Next Door: The Militia Movement and the Radical Right by Daniel Levitas, published late last year by St. Martin's Press.

An entire chapter of the book, "The Posse Rides Wisconsin," focuses on the anti-government views and actions of the Posse Comitatus, which was based in Shawano and Marathon counties in the 1970s and 80s. Levitas traces the sagas of Thomas Stockheimer and James Wickstrom, who played pivotal roles in the development of the modern militia movement by spreading the Posse's anti-tax, anti-government message through Wisconsin and beyond. The Posse's mixture of tax resistance, firearms training, pseudo-Christian doctrine, racism and paranoia fuel many separatist and extremist groups today.

The Terrorist Next Door is a detailed, troubling but fascinating read.

--- The Terrorist Next Door by Daniel Levitas

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KKK and Nazis Greeted with Derision, Cleansing

A small band of Ku Klux Klan-ers and neo-Nazis who dared to hold a rally on the steps of the federal courthouse in Milwaukee last November 23 were soundly drowned out by a diverse and spirited crowd of hundreds of counter-demonstrators. Nazi shouts of "Seig Heil!" were met with equally vociferous cries of "Go home!" Chants included "No hoods in our hood!" and "Sheets on the bed, not on your head!" Noisemakers carried by protesters, including drums, maracas, and whistles, made the Klan/Nazi speeches impossible to hear.

The anti-Klan rally, organized by Education for the People, brought together an impressive coalition of community groups representing all races, religions, ages, and income levels. Except for a few eggs thrown at the Klan, the afternoon was peaceful, albeit loud. The following day, another group of concerned citizens led by Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan performed a ceremonial cleansing of the steps of the federal building to wash away the hatred.

The groups represented at the "White Power" rally included a chapter of the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan from Mercer, Wis., the Wisconsin branch of the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC), and the National Socialist Movement. (Illinoisan Matt Hale, WCOTC leader, was charged in January with conspiring to arrange the murder of a judge who was presiding over a trademark infringement case in which Hale was accused of illegally using the WCOTC name.)

In related news, a Center for Pluralism volunteer in northern Wisconsin sent us an unsolicited mailing she received urging her to join the Brotherhood of Klans - Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, based in Prospect Heights, IL. A quick search of the BOK web site (which was riddled with typographical errors) revealed two Wisconsin chapters: South Central, based in Westfield, and Northern, based in Hurley. The site promotes the first annual "Brotherhood of Klans Unity Gathering" on Saturday, May 3, 2003, near Hampshire, IL. Among the guest speakers touted are "Grand Dragon of Wisconsin Terry Ballog" and "Wisconsin State Kludd Sue Lord."

--- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, www.bokkkkk.net

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Hate Crimes Up in 2001
Madison Logs Most Reports

According to the FBI, the number of hate incidents in Wisconsin rose from 47 in 2000 to 61 in 2001. Thirty-five of the 61 incidents were motivated by racial bias, ten were motivated by religion, ten by sexual orientation, and six by ethnicity. The crimes ranged from vandalism to intimidation to aggravated assault. They occurred in cities like Appleton, Kenosha and Milwaukee, but also in rural Ashland and Grant counties. (For the full FBI Hate Crime Statistics Report for 2001, log on to: www.fbi.gov).

The true number of hate crimes may never be known due to the reluctance of some victims to report them and to the lack of training which renders some law enforcement officers unable to fully identify and investigate such crimes. Of the 359 law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin, for instance, only 24 reported any hate incidents to the FBI in 2001. The city of Madison reported 22 of the total of 61 incidents, while Milwaukee logged just 3.

The significantly higher number of reported incidents in Madison can be credited in part to the proactive stance the Madison Police Department and the Dane County District Attorney's office have taken toward hate crimes. Personnel from both agencies have undergone special training and participate in a county-wide Hate Crimes Task Force made up of police, prosecutors, victim advocates and concerned citizens. Together, they exchange information, further their own knowledge of hate crimes and provide public education and outreach to encourage reporting.

--- FBI, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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Appellant Seeks Right to Trespass on Clinics
to Prevent Abortions

MADISON . . . In February, an appeal was filed in Wisconsin's Fourth District Court of Appeals which seeks permission for anti-abortion protesters to trespass on abortion clinics to stop what the suit calls "involuntary" abortions. The appeal, filed by the Thomas More Law Center, is based on the common law idea that one is allowed to enter another's property if it is or reasonably appears to be necessary to prevent serious harm to a third person. It is called the "necessity defense." The appeal argues that in the Wisconsin State Constitution common law is preserved in the state until it has been altered or changed by the legislature.

The appeal was filed on behalf of anti-abortion crusader William Goodman, who was removed by police from the Madison Abortion Clinic in December, 2000. Goodman had entered the clinic and claimed to be assisting women whom he says had not given their informed consent for abortion procedures. In a flurry of litigation following the incident, a court enjoined Goodman from trespassing on clinic property.

According to Robert Muise of the Thomas More Law Center: "We are not asking the court to determine the legal status of abortion. Rather, we are asking the court to determine whether the common law privilege of necessity is available to pro-life demonstrators as a defense against a claim of civil trespass."

The Thomas More Law Center, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., calls itself "The Sword and Shield for People of Faith," and says it promotes "time-honored family values and the sanctity of human life" through education and litigation. Among its board members are the hard right conservative Allan Keyes and anti-abortion Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA).

--- www.thomasmore.org

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W-2 Contracts Extended Despite Failing Standards

MILWAUKEE . . . The state of Wisconsin has extended the contracts of the non-profit and private agencies that manage its Wisconsin Works (W-2) welfare reform program despite the fact that a whopping 93% of those agencies do not meet the state's perfor-mance standards.

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development contracts with 67 agencies statewide to implement the W-2 program whose goals are to promote education, training, employment counseling and job placement to former recipients of AFDC. They share an annual budget of $74.2 million. The Department says the faltering economy has created unexpected obstacles and the W-2 agencies need more time and money to comply.

Critics say that extending the agencies' contracts rewards them when they are failing to meet their goals. "The same latitude has never been extended to the W-2 participants," noted Pam Fendt, a policy analyst at UW-Milwaukee's Center for Economic Development, who sits on Milwaukee County's W-2 monitoring committee.

The ACLU of Wisconsin, Legal Action and the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights charging that W-2 agencies discriminate on the basis of race and disability. Meanwhile, despite the increasingly bleak economic climate, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Republican-sponsored bill which limits the amount of time welfare recipients can spend in education and training while requiring that they perform more hours of work each week.

--- Business Journal of Greater Milwaukee, Associated Press

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Legislators Seek Return of Death Penalty to Wisconsin

MADISON . . . At a time when other states are halting their executions of prisoners due to concerns about discrimination and violations of due process, Wisconsin State Sen. Alan J. Lasee (R-De Pere) has introduced a bill which would restore capital punishment to Wisconsin after a 150 year hiatus. His colleague Rep. Dean Kaufert (R-Neenah) is pushing for a statewide referendum on the death penalty.

Lasee's narrowly drawn bill -- which some see as opening the door to broader efforts -- addresses the murder of children. It would allow the death penalty only for individuals convicted of the first degree intentional homicide of anyone under the age of 16 including a woman's fetus. The offender must be at least 16 years old him/herself and must have directly committed the crime (rather than being a party to the crime).

Death penalty bills have been introduced in the past, only to die in committee, but civil liberties advocates believe the greater conservative tilt of both the State Senate and House could help advance the bill. Gov. Jim Doyle, a long-time opponent of capital punishment, would likely veto the bill, setting up the possibility of an override vote and further divisive debate.

Last year, former Gov. George Ryan of Illinois imposed a moratorium on the death penalty after evidence was introduced exonerating 13 death row inmates. He then commuted the sentences of 167 other prisoners awaiting execution, citing systemic flaws in Illinois' adjudication of capital cases. A study committee established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recommended that all executions in that state be suspended pending a fuller investigation of each of the cases. Meanwhile, more than 100 convicted felons have been released from prison after DNA evidence helped to establish their innocence.

--- Capital Times, Center on Wrongful Convictions of Northwestern University, New York Times


Phelps to Unleash Anti-Gay Vitriol in State

WAUSAU . . . As we went to press, the Wausau Daily Herald reported that Fred Phelps and members of his Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church were coming to Wausau to protest a production of The Laramie Project, a play about the anti-gay murder of Matthew Shepard. Phelps is notorious for a web site called www.godhatesfags.com, for harassing patrons at gay pride events, and for picketing funerals of gay people with banners like "Fags Burn in Hell!" During a visit to Madison in 2001, local groups launched a campaign, "Every Minute Counts," in which gay-supportive citizens pledged money for each minute Phelps picketed. It raised thousands of dollars for gay organizations.

--- Wausau Daily Herald

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Thompson Campaign Money Funds New Think Tank

MILWAUKEE . . . Former Gov. Tommy G. Thompson emptied the remainder of his longstanding campaign treasury in 2002, transferring $513,225 to a new non-profit organization called the New American Policy Institute. The institute, led by Thompson loyalists James Klauser, Ed Aprahamian Jr. and Nick Hurtgen, was established to "enhance public understanding of federalism." Federalism, as promoted by many conservatives, usually refers to limited or decentralized government. When quizzed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, however, Aprahamian said: "I don't have a great explanation of what it is."

--- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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STATE BRIEFS

Feds Nab Supremacist Felon

FRANKSVILLE . . . Michael Kenneth Faust, who ran for the Caledonia Town Board as a white supremacist in 1990 and was convicted of attempted homicide for shooting a 14-year-old boy, was arrested in December and charged with firearms violations. According to the Associated Press, authorities acted on a tip from a young member of the National Socialist Movement who said that Faust had been conducting firearms training for neo-Nazis on his Racine County property.

--- Associated Press

"Creationism" Reportedly Divides Badgers

MILWAUKEE . . . A recent poll of 514 randomly selected Wisconsin residents revealed that 50% favored the teaching of the "biblical theory of creation as an alternative to the theory of evolution," according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Forty-three percent were opposed. The poll, conducted by the University of Wisconsin Survey Center, had a margin of error of 4%.

--- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

"Nunga-Nungas" OK in Oregon School

OREGON . . . The Oregon School Board has voted unanimously to keep the book Knocked Out by My Nunga-Nungas in the middle school's library. A parent had accused the popular book by Louise Rennison of being "smut." Nunga-Nungas contains the comical diary entries and misadventures of a 14-year old girl.

--- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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