In the first day of the four-day scheduled trial of former National Alliance Chairman Shaun Walker and his two cohorts, Travis Massey and Eric Egbert, on hate crimes and civil rights violations, a federal prosecutor told a jury that the three men wanted to wage a campaign of terror and hate against non-whites in Salt Lake City when they dragged the manager of the O'Shucks bar outside and beat him during New Year's Eve in 2002. The three all pleaded not guilty on June 26th, 2006. Full story in the Deseret Morning News. Additional reports from KSL Channel 5 Salt Lake City and the Salt Lake Tribune.
However, defense attorneys for the trio countered that it was the government's key witness who was to blame for inciting the beating of the manager, a U.S. citizen of Mexican heritage, as well as the beating of a Native American man at the Port O'Call bar in 2003.
In his opening statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Carlos Esqueda told the jury the three men wanted to send a message to the Salt Lake City community, "that it only belongs to the white people." Esqueda claimed that Walker, Massey and Egbert met with a group of friends, several of who also were National Alliance members, at the O'Shucks bar on New Year's Eve in 2002. At the time, Walker was the head of the group's Utah chapter, later becoming national chairman shortly after the untimely demise of Dr. William Pierce. On July 2nd, 2006, Walker resigned as chairman to satisy a condition of release on personal recognizance imposed by Judge David Nuffer.
The prosecution claims the fight started when a female and her boyfriend at the bar raised their glasses to toast the New Year. Esqueda said the boyfriend toasted his Irish heritage, drawing the attention of one of Walker's group. The woman then said she was a "Polish Jew" and toasted to her heritage, drawing taunts and racist comments from the National Alliance group, the prosecutor said.
Ultimately, the bar's manager James Ballesteros intervened and told the group to not pass out National Alliance fliers to bar patrons. Esqueda said Ballesteros was put into a headlock and dragged outside the bar where he was kicked and punched while being called racial slurs by Walker, Massey, Egbert and Keith Wayne Cotter, one of the government's key witnesses in the case. Other National Alliance members then blocked the bar's door to prevent other bar staff from running to the victim's aid as the assault took place. According to Esqueda, one of the "assailants" told the victim "We are the superior race". Ballesteros suffered some bruises, but no broken bones; nevertheless claims to have experienced "severe emotional trauma" from the incident, the prosecutor said. [Ed. Note: I originally identified the one key witness as Keith Cotter back in June 2006. Also note the use of the term "witnesses" (plural). In an article posted on Overthrow.com in July 2006, Overthrow editor Bill White revealed that former NSM Utah State Leader Rocky Monbaren became a Federal informer to avoid prosecution on DUI charges, and that Monbaren was informing the feds on white nationalist activities. It is not known whether Monbaren is the other government witness in question in this case, but it is possible.]
The prosecutor neither elaborated on whether the victims filed charges with police at the time, nor proffered any explanation on why they would not have filed charges.
Esqueda said the National Alliance has a public image of being a peaceful organization but with a violent underside. He told jurors the men are free to their beliefs of being part of a superior race. "They are not prosecuted because of their beliefs. They are prosecuted because of violent acts," he said.
Defense attorneys pointed out to the jury that it was Cotter who incited both fights but that Cotter had struck a deal with federal prosecutors to testify against his colleagues in exchange for not being charged. Fred Metos, attorney for Egbert, called Cotter a "felon", "coward" and "liar". Metos also said that the defendants may wear Swastikas on their clothing, even sport tattoos of such, but should not be judged by their beliefs.
Walker's attorney, Robin Ljungberg, said his client was not involved in making any racist comments or in the assaults. Ljungberg characterized the National Alliance as peaceful organization. "This organization doesn't allow felons to join," Ljungberg said.
U.S. District Court Judge Dee Vance Benson is presiding over the trial. A former protege of Senator Orrin Hatch, he was appointed to the bench in 1991 by George H. W. Bush. The jury (including one alternate juror) consists of eight men and five women. The racial composition has not been reported.
To refresh people's memory, here is the indictment, originally posted on Alaska Pride back in June 2006:
COUNT ONE 18 U.S.C. Sec. 241 (Conspiracy to Interfere With Civil Rights)
The Conspiracy and its Objects:
1. From in or about December 2002, and continuing until in or about March 2003, in and around the Central Division of the District of Utah, SHAUN A. WALKER, TRAVIS D. MASSEY, and ERIC G. EGBERT, the defendants herein, together and with others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, did unlawfully, willfully, and knowingly combine, conspire, confederate and agree among themselves and each other to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate other persons in and around Salt Lake City, Utah, in the free exercise and enjoyment of rights and privileges secured by the Constitution and laws of the United States; that is, the right to full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages and accommodations of any place of public accommodation without intimidation, threat or coercion because of race, color and national origin.
2. It was the plan and purpose of this conspiracy to band as a group of members and go into public settings and public accommodations and provoke and engage in arguments and fights with persons the defendants perceived to be “non-white,” in order to injure, oppress, threaten and intimidate those persons from exercising their protected rights, including by making such persons afraid to appear in public, work and live in and around Salt Lake City, Utah.
3. Overt Acts in Furtherance of the Conspiracy. In furtherance of the Conspiracy, as alleged above, and to accomplish the objects of the Conspiracy, defendants SHAUN A. WALKER, TRAVIS D. MASSEY and ERIC G. EGBERT, and others known and unknown to the Grand Jury, committed overt acts in and around Salt Lake City, Utah, including but not limited to:
4. On or about December 31, 2002, SHAUN A. WALKER, TRAVIS D. MASSEY and ERIC G. EGBERT, and another person known to the Grand Jury intimidated, threatened, and coerced individuals of minority racial and ethnic heritage in a bar doing business as O’Shucks in Salt Lake City.
5. On or about December 31, 2002, SHAUN A. WALKER, TRAVIS D. MASSEY and ERIC G. EGBERT, and another person known to the Grand Jury intimidated, threatened, coerced and assaulted J.B., a Mexican-American male; in or near a bar doing business as O’Shucks in Salt Lake City.
6. On or about March 15, 2003, TRAVIS D. MASSEY and another person known to the Grand Jury intimidated, threatened, coerced and assaulted an individual of Native-American heritage outside of a bar doing business as the Port of Call in Salt Lake City. All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 241.
COUNT TWO 18 U.S.C. Sec 245 (b)(2)(c) (Interference with a Federally Protected Activity)
7. On or about December 31, 2002, in the Central Division of the District of Utah, SHAUN A. WALKER, TRAVIS D. MASSEY and ERIC G. EGBERT, the defendants herein, while aiding and abetting one another and others, did by force and threat of force, willfully injure, intimidate, and interfere with, and attempt to injure, intimidate, and interfere with J.B., a Mexican-American male, because of the individual’s national origin, and because he was and had been enjoying employment, and the perquisites thereof, of a private employer.
8. The commission of this offense resulted in bodily injury to J.B., a Mexican-American male. All in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 245(b)(2)(c), and Title 18, United States Code, Section 2.
Massey's attorney, Michael Jaenish, said the National Alliance has no history of being involved with violence in Salt Lake City.
On day #2 (Wednesday), the primary victim, Ballesteros, will give his account of the 2002 assault.
Commentary: There are three difficulties the Feds face in this trial. First, it does not appear as if the victims ever filed assault charges with any Utah law enforcement agency. So jurors hopefully will be wondering why this is a Federal issue when it never became a state issue.
Second, the prosecutor is a Latino. Considering how mass immigration, most of it Latino, has inflamed much of the populace, some jurors undoubtedly will wonder if Esqueda can really be fair, or if he may be pursuing this with such vigor because he is Latino.
And finally, the use of at least one informer may backfire. Jurors will want to know what they informer got in exchange for his testimony. The defense counsel is already pounding away at the character of the informer. Most people tend to have contempt for snitches.
One implication is clear - if these three are convicted on all counts, any white person who defends himself against physical attack by non-whites could face similar action.
However, the Feds could very well lose this one, as long as Walker and his cohorts hang tough. And to stiffen their resolve, the National Alliance has set up a defense fund to pay for their counsel. Send any contributions to:
National Alliance General Defense Fund
P.O. Box 90
Hillsboro, WV 24946
Make checks or money orders payable to the "National Alliance General Defense Fund".