On April 14th, 2010, Federal Judge James Turk sentenced national socialist activist Bill White to 30 months in prison for his conviction on two counts of making threats to harm people and one count of intimidation. He will be given credit for 18 months time already served, and with possible good behavior, could be released as early as eight months from now, by December 2010. He was also sentenced to three years supervised release after his prison term; during his probation, he will be banned from using the Internet for business or hobbies such as blogging. In addition, he permanently loses the right to bear arms.
This post combines and summarizes reports from WDBJ Channel 7, the Roanoke Times, and WSLS Channel 10. News video embedded below:
Federal prosecutors had recommended an enhanced range from 57 to 71 months because they claimed White had "targeted children". A probation officer had recommended a more moderate range, now revealed to be between 24 to 30 months, while White's lawyer had asked that he be sentenced only to time already served. Judge Turk disregarded the prosecution's harsh recommendation, but threw them a bone when he sentenced White to the high side of the probation officer's guidelines. Judge Turk did so because of the fear White instilled in many of his victims. Judge Turk told White that when he gets out of prison, "You can have any thoughts that you want to have, but you ought to keep them to yourself. I hope this will teach you a lesson, I really do". White declined a chance to speak at today's hearing.
Bill White had previously filed appeals of his three convictions, and has even hinted at the possibility of suing the Federal government, but did not specifically react to the sentence today. U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy held a news conference this afternoon to speak about White's sentence and the importance of prosecuting civil rights cases. The Department of Justice has now released an official statement on the case; a couple of excerpts replicated below:
"Our nation will not tolerate the acts of individuals who, fueled by bigotry and hate, threaten or intimidate individuals because of their race," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez for the Civil Rights Division. "William White tried to disguise his hateful behavior as speech protected by the First Amendment. The jury rejected this defense in December, and this sentence demonstrates that all threatening and intimidating behavior, no matter how a perpetrator tries to mask it, will be subject to the same punishment under the law."
"Racial prejudice has no place in a civilized society. No one who lives in this community should feel at liberty to threaten or intimidate others as an expression of that racial animus. While the First Amendment protects everyone's right to free expression, it does not protect hate-mongers like Bill White," said U.S. Attorney Timothy J. Heaphy for the Western District of Virginia. "The Department of Justice will react swiftly when anyone attempts to threaten or intimidate other people due to their race. The White case demonstrates our commitment to vigorously prosecuting anyone who commits a hate crime in this district."
Who in hell is Timothy Heaphy to say that "racial prejudice has no place in a civilized society"? That's not his call to make; his call is restricted to passing judgment on one's actions. Attitude and philosophy should never go on trial.
All previous posts on Bill White's trial can be viewed HERE. Ongoing VNN Forum thread HERE, and Stormfront thread HERE. Previous Roanoke Times coverage HERE.
Lessons Learned: This trial established a new standard of legally-acceptable activism. The verdicts revealed a distinction made between public and private personas. White was acquitted on the charges involving Leonard Pitts and Richard Warman because they were public personas presumed to be willing to tolerate the greater risks attendant to public activism. Where White stumbled was in targeting private personas the same way.
But the Feds did not specifically move against Bill White until after he published the edition of National Socialist magazine showing Barack Obama through the crosshairs with the caption "Kill This Nigger?". At that point, it didn't matter to the Feds whether or not he intended to carry out the threat, which he clearly did NOT intend to do. The Feds decided they could not tolerate the risk, and so they rolled him up.
Bill White's sentence was undeserved, but unfortunately our opinion doesn't count with the Feds.