August 29, 2013

Man hopes to build neo-Nazi stronghold in North Dakota

Craig Cobb, 61, has purchased about a dozen lots in the community in hopes of an Aryan town takeover.

LEITH, N.D. — In a tree-fringed grassy lot with a lone picnic bench in the tiny North Dakota farming town of Leith, Craig Cobb sees the perfect venue for a white power music festival.

click image to enlarge

In this Aug. 26, 2013, photo is Paul Cobb's house on Main Street in Leith, N.D., where he spends his days posting online comments advocating for white supremacists to join his settlement. Cobb, 61, a self-described white supremacist, has purchased about a dozen lots in Leith and over the past year he has invited fellow white supremacists to move there and help him to transform the town of 16 people into a white enclave. No one has come, but the community is mobilizing to fight out of fear that Cobb could succeed, and the mayor has vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure Cobb’s dream remains just that. (AP Photo/Kevin Cederstrom)

click image to enlarge

In this Aug. 26, 2013, photo Craig Cobb stands in an empty lot he owns on Main Street in Leith, N.D., where he envisions a park _ perhaps with a swimming pool _ dedicated to the late neo-Nazi and white supremacist activist William L. Pierce. Cobb, 61, a self-described white supremacist, has purchased about a dozen lots in Leith and over the past year he has invited fellow white supremacists to move there and help him to transform the town of 16 people into a white enclave. No one has come, but the community is mobilizing to fight out of fear that Cobb could succeed, and the mayor has vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure Cobb’s dream remains just that. (AP Photo/Kevin Cederstrom)

Additional Photos Below

Across a gravel intersection between two abandoned buildings, he envisions a park — perhaps with a swimming pool — dedicated to a neo-Nazi and white supremacist activist. He pictures the town decorated with fluttering flags and banners bearing the swastika — the symbol of Nazism.

"They would have to be approved by the town council, of course," Cobb said, gazing out over Leith's sparse downtown from his overgrown, weed-infested front yard.

Cobb, 61, a self-described white supremacist, has purchased about a dozen lots in the community about 60 miles southwest of Bismarck. Over the past year he's invited fellow white supremacists to move there and help him to transform the town of 16 people into a white enclave. No one has come.

Still, the community is mobilizing to fight out of fear that Cobb could succeed, and the mayor has vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure Cobb's dream remains just that.

Last week, while news of Cobb's plan was being splashed across the front pages of The Bismarck Tribune and The Forum, about two dozen people — mostly residents of Leith and concerned friends from neighboring towns — showed up for an impromptu meeting in nearby Carson.

"We all share kind of the same concerns that people living in the community of Leith have — just the unknown," said Kathy Hoff, who lives just south of the town and attended the meeting.

Cobb spends his days in his ramshackle two-story home with no running water, posting online comments advocating for white supremacists to join his settlement.

"I only need 17 people," he said with a chuckle. "You have to have a majority to win an election. If we get 22 we've got a landslide."

Cobb's neighbors across a back alley are Sherrill Harper, who is white, and her husband Bobby, who is black. Bobby Harper, a 52-year-old welder, said he has spoken to Cobb only once, and that Cobb's plans don't bother him much.

"The most extreme thing you can do is hate another man because of the color of his skin, (but) I don't think we should get too excited," he said. "I believe right will prevail."

Officials are considering enforcing health codes and ordinances relating to the upkeep of Cobb's run-down property. A proposal to disband Leith's government and turn over control to the county is even on the table.

"He would still own his property," said Mayor Ryan Schock, a 38-year-old farmer and lifelong Leith resident. "But ... he can't control the city if there's no city government."

No decisions have been made, but the six-member town council that usually convenes once a month might call a special meeting to discuss the matter soon, Schock said.

Ryan Lenz, a writer with the Alabama-based civil rights nonprofit Southern Poverty Law Center, said his organization has long tracked Cobb, who is wanted in Canada for willfully promoting hatred in Vancouver in 2010 via a blog.

"It's a pipe dream for white nationalists to have an entire area in which their neighbors are Aryan," Lenz said.

That's hard to achieve, Lenz said, but Cobb has made strides because he has gobbled up land — even transferring some to Tom Metzger, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and founder of the White Aryan Resistance.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors


Additional Photos

click image to enlarge

In this Aug. 26, 2013, photo Craig Cobb sits on a picnic bench in and undeveloped park in Leith, N.D., where he would someday like to hold a white power music festival. Cobb, 61, a self-described white supremacist, has purchased about a dozen lots in Leith and over the past year he has invited fellow white supremacists to move there and help him to transform the town of 16 people into a white enclave. No one has come, but the community is mobilizing to fight out of fear that Cobb could succeed, and the mayor has vowed to do whatever it takes to ensure Cobb’s dream remains just that. (AP Photo/Kevin Cederstrom)

  


Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)