When I first told my friends that I was taking a white power studies class, the typical reaction from my friends was that I would be enrolled in class where we talk about all sorts of racism and where it exists and watch chappelle show every class period. Since being in this class, I have realized how far away from the truth that reality is. So, when prompted to ask my friends what their thoughts were about white nationalists movements in comparison to what I learned I jumped at the chance.
First of all, I must insert a disclaimer that I have many ignorant friends who were relatively unaware (with the exception of the Ku Klux Klan) of that white supremacist groups were still in relative existence and striving to push their views on others. As I explained to them what we were covering in class, their motivation for knowledge overrode their capacity for ignorance and were actually very much interested in what I had to say. Although they did not know much of white nationalist movements in current times, after I filled them in on current events a discussion ensued on how people with such obscure and backwards views were still in existence in our progressive society today. With the first amendment still holding strong, much of the knowledge held by white supremacists can still be printed and distributed and with the distribution of easy access to internet, white supremacist ideologies can be found from anywhere with an internet hookup.
The topic of the internet then brought on another discussion about how anyone who can operate a computer has access to the internet and can thus voice their opinion somewhere. A quote that I found to pertain to this though from one of my friends says it all “If you yourself are allowed to rummage through the internet for obscure data on prison gangs and then post a blog about it simply for a collegiate course, the possibilities seem endless for any idiot with an internet connection and something to say” (Taylor Jones, next door neighbor). Upon discussing the internet, it became apparent that my friends had finally figured out why white supremacist discourse still exists today. The fact that anyone can post anything provides an outlet for people with these obscure ideas to express themselves. This is where most of the discussions with my friends started to peak and then fizzle out and they began to lose interest. It was actually pretty interesting and fun talking to my friends about something they had previously not known about. Spreading knowledge of something happening in out society to ignorant people is empowering simply on the basis that knowledge is power and the more you have the more rounded and educated person you become.
My Neighbor, Taylor Jones.
My topic as a whole is an illustration of the idea of Mainstream vs. Extreme in white supremacist ideologies. I derive this logic from the though that white supremacist groups outside of prison walls can be seen as mainstream in their attempts to recruit and further their cause. With that said, white supremacist gangs inside of prison can be viewed as the extreme for their adoption of loose white supremacists beliefs to justify their criminal organization in their conquest for prison domination.
Moving forward, the differences between the mainstream and extreme groups in this light is their overall goal and motives to reach that goal. As seen in white supremacist groups outside of prison, their goal is to educate the public and recruit members to their cause in order to move forward with their racist ideologies. In their mind they are fighting for a just cause to salvage the pure white race and reclaim the country. Differing greatly from this perspective is the logic behind white power prison gangs.
Originally, all-white prison gangs were formed as a way to protect the white inmates in prison from racially charged attacks from colored gangs. As time went on, and into current times, the overall goal of the larger white prison gangs is to control all business that happens inside prison walls. This includes but is not limited to drug trafficking, sex trafficking and murder-for-hire which are very common aspects of interest in federal penitentiaries. As mentioned in an earlier post, much of the gangs recruitment strategies involve seemingly white supremacist views which later dissolve in the eyes of controlling illegal activities. The sense of false views for other motives causes white power prison gang membership to lose people who actually believe and follow white supremacist ideologies thus weeding out the true criminals who are a best fit for the organization.
With these two types of organizations now discussed, it is easy to see why white supremacist prison gangs offer a look at the extreme side of white supremacy. With their loosely held beliefs in white supremacy they find solace in justifying their actions against other powerful prison gangs (MS13, Bloods, and Crips) with similar motives for prison dominance. When inmates first reach prison, they have a crucial decision to make. That decision is based off how they want their time in prison to be served, it could be served joining a gang according to the color of your skin or it could be spent hiding and doing others bidding. This is where white supremacist gangs gain membership to carry out there tasks for prison dominance. To be viewed as the extreme end of white supremacy, racial wars are attempted and racial killings ensue but no furthering of white supremacists ideologies take place thus extreme white supremacy inside of prisons will not be viewed as a valiant effort in furthering the white race.
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As one may assume, there are not many organizations in place today that can actively combat criminal organizations behind prison walls. That task is more so left up to the United States Justice system to place certain “high risk” offenders … Continue reading
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There are a variety of programs today on television that dedicate themselves to documenting what life is like behind bars in various prisons around the United States. While most end up touching on the subject of prison gangs, specifically the … Continue reading
As with any gathering of people considering themselves a group, or in this case a prison gang, there most definitely a few if not one person who can be pronounced as the official leader or organizer of that group. For this post I will be delving into the inception and involvement with a gang I have mentioned previously in which Mark Gaspard could be seen as the leader. The organization he founded has been reveared as one of the more serious gangs with heavy white supremacist beliefs. The Aryan Circle offically branched off from the Aryan brotherhood in 1985 in an attempt to salvage the more radical white supremacist beliefs when the Aryan Brotherhood tried to claim itself a “church” and renounce its roots in violence (source 1). Beyond his involvement in breaking away from the Aryan Brotherhood, Mark Gaspard also founded “The Circular” which is a bimonthly magazine dedicated to the spreading white supremacist discourse to the outside world (source 2).
According to the head of the Texas Criminal Justice System Sigifredo Sanchez, Gaspard is not threatening in stature but is extremely charismatic in coercing people to do his bidding (source 1). Furthermore, according to Sanchez Gaspard did not form the Aryan Circle with the notion that he would be leading the gang although he is responsibly for instilling the ideas that
“All who oppose the white race are sworn enemies and that all crimes against the white race are punishable by death” (source 1).
It seems as if his original vision for an organization based off of white supremacist ideologies has spun out of proportion and he has since stepped down from a leadership position in the gang as General in 2000 because the gang was growing towards too radically. The image to the right is that of a member of the Aryan Circle in which he explains the significance of the ink as loyalty to the organization with subtle markings to indicate stabbings and killings of members of other races and rival gangs.
His decision to step down illustrates the debate I would like to raise that incarcerated members of white power prison gangs do not follow ideologies of white supremacists groups on the outside. As other gangs who hold this ideology in prison, the criminals that run these gangs eventually move away from the sophisticated beliefs in white supremacy and move towards more criminalistic activities such as drug trafficking and use. In a report conducted by the Anti-Defamation-League, they state that
“The Aryan Circle is a white supremacist prison gang, but its white supremacy often takes a backseat to traditionally criminal motives”(source 2).
Also stated in their report, the authentic views of white supremacy have become refined and that many circle members only possess an elementary understanding of the ideologies originally envisioned by Gaspard. I believe that these claims from the ADL identify an unwanted truth in these gangs that their grass-root beliefs upon inception often become diluted by criminal activities and higher motives of new age leaders. Thus as seen with the Aryan Circle and even the Aryan Brotherhood, white supremacy can be used as an effective recruitment tool in a penitentiary but will filter our the hardcore white supremacists through the contradictions in their philosophies and the actions they take as a criminal organization.
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The issue of “racial purity” within white power prison gangs can be attributed back to essential beginnings of any of these groups. Prisons provide a place for people found guilty in the American justice system to serve their time obviously, … Continue reading
The video posted above is that of the introduction to a documentary the National Geographic Channe did on the presence on the Aryan Brotherhood in Americas prison system. It encompasses the nature in which many people view the gang and how violence is a part of their daily regime. There is a strong overall perception of all prison gangs today pertaining to violence and hatred towards others not involved with gangs activities or more specifically race. None could be more true than that of the Aryan Brotherhood in which I described in a previous blog post. The article I researched about my topic of prison gangs was a review of the trial of several members of the Aryan Brotherhood. The prosecutors aimed their case at many counts of racketeering and murders throughout the ranks of the brotherhood. The “said” goal of these operations was to control the inmates through the use of terror tactics such as vicious assaults and murders (source 1). I believe that this deals explicitly with my topic because it showcases some of the inner-workings of Aryan prison gangs and how they operate to keep order within their ranks and the prison that contains them. As stated in the article, the Aryan brotherhood operates on a “Blood-In Blood-Out” policy which all members of gang are held accountable until they eventually end up dead through inter-gang violence seemingly caused by racial issue that they stir up. Furthermore, the prosecutions statements about the gang in the courtroom detail the how the organization functions and how well organized the gang has become since its inception in 1960.
Barry "The Barron" Mills
Tyler "The Hulk" Bingham
Edgar "The Snail" Hevle
Christopher Overton Gibson
The four main people on trial are pictures above two of which I have discussed before, Barry Mills and Tyler Bingham (senior-most members and creators), and two other senior members Edgar Hevle and Christopher Gibson. According to another article by NPR that detailed the trial in another light, the secret message that the heads of the gang were passing around were warnings of a potential race war within the prison and encoded messages about who was to be killed (source 2). This being said, the purpose of most of these killings was to eliminate high ranking members of other gangs within the prison more specifically members of the Mexican and black gangs. Both articles that I found talk about the case in fairly sure light that there is more than enough evidence to lead to justifying evidence for harder sentencing and many more years behind bars. In another article I found describing the outcome of the trial (also on NPR), Bingham and Mills may be facing death row after the sentencing and Hevle and Gibson are almost positively facing life in prison. The defenses justification for the heinous criminal charges brought to the table is that “their clients had only banded together to protect themselves in the violent and racially divided prison system.” This statement alone seemingly provides the justification for the leaders of the Aryan Brotherhood to order the murder of other inmates in order to keep their organization in check and “on top”. All of these articles I have found are written with a demeanor that these men are hardened criminals finally being tried for the wrong things they have done in their prison careers. While every person has the right to a fair trial, they seem to have an overwhelming amount of evidence and people who are ready to see be taken down by the U.S. Justice system in what was “believed to be one of the largest federal capital cases in the United States” (source 2)