A 61-year-old neo-Nazi is trying to turn his small town in North Dakota into a stronghold for white supremacists.
Paul Craig Cobb, a neo-Nazi who lives in Leith, N.D., is quickly buying properties in the small town, which has a population of 19 people. Abandoned houses are scattered throughout the desolate town and there is only one storefront business for miles.
“I didn’t have a clue who the guy was until he showed up. All I know is he bought that house sight unseen, $5,000 cash, and had no idea what it looked like, where it was, other than he knew the directions to get to Leith,” Mayor Ryan Schock told the Hatewatch blog, which is a media project by a civil rights group called the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Cobb hopes to turn Leith into a haven for white supremacists. Last year, he posted in an online forum called Vanguard News Network (VNN), claiming that he will build an all-white bastion of racists as fast as possible. Ultimately, he wants white supremacists and neo-Nazis to take over the country and control the government. He also hopes to rename the town “Cobbsville”.
Tenants of Cobb’s properties will be required to fly a “racialist banner”, such as the Nazi flag, on a daily basis. They would also be required to become legal residents of the state for voting purposes, as well as join his recruiting effort to attract “radical, hard-core” white nationalists.
North Dakota is already 90 percent white, and Grant County – where Cobb currently lives – is 97 percent white, according to the US Census. But for Cobb, the racial diversity in his state is still too high for him to be satisfied.
Racist organizations across the country have already supported the 61-year-old’s vision. Tom Metzger, founder of the White Aryan Resistance, purchased one of Cobb’s abandoned lots for $1 – a move that is largely symbolic. Alex Linder, operator of VVN, also purchased a lot. Cobb told the Hatewatch blog that he also donated several buildings to the National Socialist Movement, which the New York Times in 2011 described as “the largest supremacist group, with about 400 members in 32 states.”
“Imagine strolling over to your neighbors to discuss world politics with nearly all like-minded folk,” Cobb wrote last year in the VNN. “Imagine the international publicity and usefulness to our cause! For starters, we could declare a Mexican illegal invaders and Israeli Mossad/IDF spies no-go zone. If leftist journalists or antis come and try to make trouble, they just might break one of our local ordinances and would have to be arrested by our town constable.”
In 2010, Cobb, who has both US and Canadian citizenship, was arrested in Canada on federal charges of willful promotion of hatred. Grant County Sherriff Steve Bay told the Bismarck Tribune that he will keep an eye on Leith, but that Canada has no interest in extraditing the man on hate crime charges.
Mark Potok, editor of the Intelligence Report and Hatewatch blog, said people should be concerned about Cobb, since “he’s one of the most vicious neo-Nazi activists around.”
But now that the media has caught wind of Cobb’s plans, both Potok believes the neo-Nazi will fail in his endeavor to create a white supremacist haven. Bobby and Sherrill Harper, a mixed race couple that currently resides in Leith, said they were vilified on a white activism website, but that it only helps the word about Cobb’s racist intentions get out and be put to a stop.
“The more the word gets out, the better chance that we can move him out,” Sherrill Harper told the Bismarck Tribune.
“People are welcome if they’re here to improve our community, but they’re here to bring hate,” Bobby Harper added.