High Country Extremism: Armed and Dangerous

The third part of our series on the Pioneer Little Europe movement details a series of recent threats made by longtime neo-Nazi organizer Karl Gharst. This section also provides background information on Gharst and other key PLE activists and reports on the Montana Creators, a PLE-allied branch of the neo-Nazi Creativity Movement whose members have repeatedly been spotted in recent months at gun shows near Kalispell, buying firearms while dressed in clothing displaying their group's neo-Nazi insignia.

Neo-Nazi Karl Gharst has declared Media Matters a
“Jewish criminal organization” and threatened to
empanel a sovereign citizen tribunal to try our
employees for “treason to the white race.”

Media Matters for America is under indictment for treason to the white race. So is the American Civil Liberties Union, Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Council of La Raza, the Anti-Defamation League and the Montana Human Rights Network.

This news arrived in a series of bizarre emails sent earlier this year over a six-week period by Karl Gharst, a neo-Nazi organizer who moved to Kalispell, MT as one of the of the most notorious members of the Pioneer Little Europe movement, which encourages white supremacists to form a community in the area. Gharst has a long history of making violent threats.

“I will see justice come to those who lay traps, slander and otherwise persecute good white people for exercising their God given rights,” Gharst wrote in his email to Media Matters. “I promise!” Media Matters had previously contacted Gharst for comment on this series.

In the so-called grand jury ruling he emailed to Media Matters in late October, Gharst used arcane language typical of adherents to sovereign citizen ideology, a pseudo-legal system of beliefs, founded upon elaborate conspiracy theories, that is widely popular with members of the antigovernment Patriot movement as well as neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. Sovereign citizens hold themselves above laws; typically the only legal authority they recognize is their own (illegitimate) common law jury system.

The Gharst email declared Media Matters and the other groups “Jewish criminal organizations” and “illegal operations of whom their intent and demonstrated actions are constitutional violations also violating the sovereignty of Montana by working against and contrary to the lawful and rightful citizens of the SState [sic] of Montana.”

Gharst singled out by name and threatened several “agents” of Media Matters, the ACLU and an Alabama-based immigration rights organization, citing their “treason to the white race.” “I and my appointed/sworn representatives will do all in my/our power...to ensure that [employees of Media Matters, ACLU and the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama] are brought to justice at a time and place of our choosing.”

In a different mid-September email to Montana Human Rights Network executive director Travis McAdam, Gharst likewise branded MHRN a Jewish criminal organization and declared, “These people calling themselves 'Jews' are not citizens of the State of Montana in accordance to the Constitution of the State of Montana.” Gharst wrote that as a “lawful citizen,” meaning white and non-Jewish, “I am giving you proper notice that I am now exercising my duty that I will do all in my power... to see that all MHRN members will stand trial by the lawful citizens of the State of Montana for crimes against the State, and justice returned to lawful citizens.”

A month later Gharst announced the trial of McAdams and his associates will take place “before or on June 6th, 2012, at 2:00PM MST” in the Kalispell town square.

What may sound like gobbledygook actually verges on death threats. Gharst is vowing to punish individuals for treason. He recently boasted online that he carries a “razor-sharp” knife at all times, always keeps a gun within reach, and is an expert sniper.

In 2004 Gharst was convicted of threatening the life of a Native American social worker in Montana and served five months in jail. According to a charging document, Gharst told the social worker he was forming a group in Kalispell to “gather up all the lesbians and mongrels and evil people,” and that she had only a short time to live.

After being released, however, Gharst moved back to Idaho, where he'd long been a recruiter and organizer for Aryan Nation. Then he resurfaced in Kalispell in 2008 and became active with the Pioneer Little Europe movement by, according to Gharst, arranging construction jobs for skinheads who moved to Kalispell and by organizing the PLE's Holocaust denial film series along with PLE spokesperson April Gaede.

This fall, however, Gharst apparently had a falling out with Gaede. “Karl, you really need to stop smoking crack,” Gaede posted in late September on a white supremacist bulletin board. “Or maybe the untreated diseases you got from the filthy Rosebriar whores finally caught up with you and warped your brain.” (The Rose Briar Inn is a boarding house in Kalispell.)

Craig Cobb, another prominent Neo-Nazi
who moved to Kalispell, has feuded
with Gharst.

Some law enforcement investigators suspect the purported Gharst-Gaede feud is a smokescreen to create a false sense of disorganization and infighting. But it wouldn't be out of character for Gharst, who attacked another high-profile PLE activist, neo-Nazi webmaster Craig Cobb, in a vicious online rant in mid-September. Gharst called Cobb a Jew and accused him of informing on a “politician's son who's part of our movement.” Gharst may have been referring to PLE activist Zachariah Harp, a fellow neo-Nazi who grew up in Kalispell and whose father is former Montana legislator John G. Harp, according to a 2010 MHRN report.

Gaede claims the PLE movement has “pro White” supporters who are high up in the Flathead Valley Republican Party. “I cannot say who they are, obviously they would get lots of flack for it, but yes, we do have people who are pro White active in higher places,” she posted online in October. Flathead Valley Republican Party Chairwoman Sandy Welch disputes Gaede's claim. “She says they [PLE-supporters in the local Republican party] are keeping their heads down. Well, they must be keeping them really low because there is no obvious racist or pro-white activity in our party. We are not a racist organization and we condemn their positions.”

Cobb began living in Kalispell in the summer of 2010 after being kicked out of Estonia and then charged with hate crimes in Canada, where he remains a wanted man. (Cobb has dual U.S.-Canadian citizenship.) In September 2010 Cobb and Harp co-hosted a PLE movie screening of a Holocaust denial film at the Kalispell Public Library.

In addition to their PLE activism, Cobb and Harp are both members of the Creativity Movement, a violent white supremacist organization formerly known as the World Church of the Creator, according to the Montana Human Rights Network and other hate group monitors. There have been WCOTC chapters in Montana for at least 20 years, but just in the last two years, correspondent with the rise of the PLE movement, there has been a significant uptick in Creator activity centered in Kalispell, as well as in Bozeman and Billings.

The Montana Creators, as members of the state chapters refer to themselves, have been shopping at gun shows wearing their black and red uniforms or Creator “RAHOWA” T-shirts, according to three gun dealers who asked not to be named out of fear of retribution. (RAHOWA stands for “Racial Holy War.”) Last year one of the leaders of the Montana Creators boasted online that members of his group “take advantage of our state's gun laws.”

Members of the Montana Creators, a violent white supremacist
organization. Creators have been taking advantage of the state's
weak gun laws to stock up on firearms.

A 2010 report by Legal Community Against Violence, Gun Laws Matter: A Comparison of State Firearms Laws and Statistics, ranked Montana among the 10 states in the country with the weakest firearms laws. Montana, the LCAV found, has enacted few gun violence prevention laws. The state does not require background checks before the transfer of firearms between private parties (enabling the gun show loophole), does not license or regulate firearms dealers, does not limit the number of firearms that can be purchased at one time and does not prohibit the sale or transfer of assault weapons, .50 caliber sniper rifles or high-capacity magazines.

Gaede has repeatedly pointed to Montana's pro-gun culture and loose firearms regulations as one of the fundamental reasons for launching the PLE movement in the Flathead Valley. “You're not going to have any trouble building up a self-defense arsenal around here,” she recently informed potential recruits.

In addition to arming themselves, the Montana Creators have also been holding public recruiting drives and leafleting throughout the state.

In late September, for example, many residents of Missoula, Montana, a college town 120 miles south of Kalispell, found Creativity Movement literature on their windshields, and the University of Montana's Native American Center was plastered with Montana Creator stickers reading, “Save the White Race! Earth's Most Endangered Species.”

Members of the Creativity Movement have a long record of racially motivated violence. Most notoriously, spree shooter Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, targeted Jews and non-whites in a two-state, three-day drive-by shooting spree in 1999, killing two and wounding nine others.

The Montana Creators website broadcasts militant rhetoric: “Remember that the inferior colored races are our deadly enemies, and that the most dangerous of all is the Jewish race. It is our immediate objective to relentlessly expand the White Race, and keep shrinking our enemies.”

Prosecutors accused Allen Goff, a young leader of the Montana
Creators, of the racially motivated shooting of a Latino teenager.
Despite the fact that he was armed and his victim was not, he was
acquitted thanks to Montana's “Shoot to Kill Bill.”

In July 2009, Montana Creators ringleader Allen Goff, then 17, shot a Latino teenager in the knee in what prosecutors alleged was a racially motivated shooting. Goff, who was found in possession of brass knuckles and carrying a swastika-decorated backpack containing a Glock 9mm pistol (fully loaded with a 30-round high capacity magazine) and a knife, was charged with felony assault and hate crime charges.

Earlier that year, however, the Montana legislature had passed the “Shoot to Kill Bill,” which codified that Montana residents are legally allowed to use deadly force with a firearm if they are “legally in a place” and feel threatened, whether or not the person by whom they feel threatened is displaying a weapon. The law further declares that its up to prosecutors to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a shooter's actions were not justified.

Although the young man that Goff shot was unarmed, the neo-Nazi's lawyer argued that his client was justified in using deadly force because he felt threatened. The jury acquitted him.

Last year Goff praised the shooting of an anti-racist activist by skinheads in Portland, Oregon, according to an MHRN report: “They [anti-racists] never get brave here [in Montana]. They know we take advantage of our state's gun laws.”

Media Matters extremism reporter David Holthouse can be reached at dholthouse@mediamatters.org

For more on Kalispell from the SPLC, click here.