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.