Local News

Effectiveness of Army's Anti-Racist Policies Questioned

Posted June 22, 2007

— After neo-Nazis and other white extremists were found in the 82nd Airborne Division a dozen years ago, the Army implemented policies barring soldiers from taking part in racist hate groups.

But the recent arrests of two paratroopers that authorities say were linked to extremist groups have prompted questions as to whether those policies are working.

Joffre J. "Trey" Cross III and Jason Scott Niewoit have been charged with selling controlled substances, carrying a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime and selling U.S. property without consent.

The two members of the 82nd Airborne are accused of selling narcotics and body armor stolen from the Army to an undercover FBI agent outside a Concord motel last month. They are being held without bond in the Durham County Jail.

Army officials said both men have a history of conduct problems and were in the process of separating from the Army when they were arrested.

Photos of Cross' and Niewoit's MySpace.com pages show them flashing guns. Cross listed two Nazi officers as his heroes, and he sent a white supremacist video to Niewoit.

The incident stirs up decade-old memories of James Burmeister and Malcolm Wright, who were convicted of killing a black couple in Fayetteville. The two paratroopers were known to be white extremists, and 19 other soldiers stationed at Fort Bragg were subsequently kicked out of the Army for their involvement in neo-Nazi gangs.

"We reject extremism in any way shape or form. This is not the norm," 82nd Airborne spokesman Maj. Tom Earnhardt said of the latest arrests. "It's always a concern. We're always looking out for things like that. We don't want it to be part of what we're known for."

Earnhardt called the arrests an "isolated incident." Neither he nor the U.S. Attorney's Office would comment on whether other soldiers are under investigation.

But the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Birmingham, Ala.-based group that tracks racist groups in the U.S., released a report last year that claimed white supremacy continues to thrive in the military.

The watchdog group estimates thousands of white extremists are enlisted in the Army. According to the report, the Iraq War has created such a strain on recruiting that the military is looking the other way when it comes to neo-Nazi and skinhead activities.

"People have openly displayed their neo-Nazi leanings, and the military, for some reason, will not kick them out. It's ridiculous," said Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

14 Comments

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  • Steve Crisp Jun 24, 5:11 p.m.

    To choirgirl:

    White power groups and neo-nazis do not attack islamic extremists because they both hate Jews; they believe they are in a common fight against what they percieve as evil.

    To gzchem:

    The NAACP is most certainly racist in that it makes social, econcmic, political, and theological distinctions between races that are completely predicated on race. Racists do not have to wield torches and machetes to be racist.

    To Glocfu:

    That is why there can be little movement on the issue of racism. The second someone who is white makes any statement about someone who is black -- and regardless of the truth behind that statement -- they are labeled racist. And most whites have no clue how to stand up to that charge so they cave immediately and start apologizing for absolutely no reason.

    When any group can control the discourse simply by throwing out an epithet, then something is seriously wrong with the state of modern rhetoric and oration.

  • emory24 Jun 24, 12:20 a.m.

    Why can't we all just get along....

  • choirgirl Jun 23, 7:45 p.m.

    While the NAACP does not promote or condone violence, many remarks can be indicative of inciting racism. They are instigators. And when is the last time you've heard of a killing by the KKK or any other group? Not saying that they have never but I mean recently. I'm sure it'd make the news. I'm actually surprised that these groups haven't attacked those of arabic decent since 9/11. As far as the army, it is full of racists on both sides just like society. And with the war going on and the need for new recruits they are allowing more and more people of questionable backgrounds to enlist.

  • SANDHILL Jun 23, 2:10 p.m.

    The military can control what it's people do but not what they think. When I was in the Navy aboard the F D Roosevelt a white sailor better not go into the ships library in the evening. We called it "No mans land". The blacks made it clear we were to stay out.

  • MeatHead Jun 23, 7:40 a.m.

    Cry me a river!There is no place for organized hate groups in the U.S. military. The reason these white hate groups get a lot of attention is because the have a history of violence.You can't pick a choose which part of your history you want to promote.You have to accept all of it.This country has a history of white extremist that terrorize and murder american citzens, from Timothy Mcveigh to the race riot in Wilmington. So just accept it,and quit making comparisons.

  • many moons Jun 23, 1:38 a.m.

    Boy , get yall facts straight, THE NAACP ever had anyone kill or murder, can u say that the klan or any other white racist group.The NAACP was created to protect people rights not to promote hatred.

  • ussstink Jun 23, 12:47 a.m.

    Hey gzchem-You are correct, the NAACP does not comdone "racial violence" or "racism". But they do nothing when it occurs! Does Reginald Denny bring back any memories, the Duke Lacrosse players(A case of racism at it's most glaring) Tawana Brawley, anyone? Yes, they were all over Imus, but let's be sure to nail EVRYONE using degrading remarks similar to IMUS. And for the Army, just ask the recruits if they belong to any groups, we are sure they will tell you.

  • lizard Jun 23, 12:35 a.m.

    What is the "Council of Conservative Citizens?" I may be in that group and not know it.

  • Lit Jun 22, 10:19 p.m.

    "the naacp is one of the most racist groups there is in America today" -WhyWhyWhy

    The NAACP does not condone, or sponsor racism or racial violence against anyone.

    On the other hand the Nation of Islam, the KKK, the Aryan Brotherhood, the National Alliance, the American Nazi Party, Stormfront, the New Black Panthers, the Council of Conservative Citizens, and others, are racist groups (most whom promote violence).

    Those are the real racist groups in America. The amount of destructive venom that these groups are spreading across this nation is sickening....

    http://www.splcenter.org/intel/map/hate.jsp (a map of hate groups in the U.S.)

  • Kimber .45 Jun 22, 10:10 p.m.

    Let us only call on the white extremist and racist that are serving our country. No one dare mention the gangbangers that are being trained only to take that knowledge back to their homeboys. And GOD forbid a black panther or black extremist be spoken of. But, of course, that is unheard of.

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