Arrest Opens Window into Local Supremacist Group

Creswell man had denied ties to American Front

Jacob Albert Laskey, back row third from left, poses for a group shot June 10, 2017 with members of the racist skinhead group American Front and American Patriots Brigade, a so-called "feeder group" for American Front prospects. Devin Reid Wolfe, who Laskey allegedly stabbed Jan. 20, is third from right and wearing a red shirt. The patches on the jackets signify official group membership. Per conditions of Laskey's probation, he is prohibited from associating with white supremacists.

A Creswell man with white nationalist ties was arrested Jan. 19 and charged with assault in an incident involving a weapon. Eugene Weekly broke the news of Jacob Laskey’s arrest Jan. 20.

Since the publication of that report, EW has obtained evidence indicating both Laskey and the victim are members of a nascent local chapter of the racist skinhead gang American Front.

Lane County Sheriff’s Office (LSCO) spokesperson Sgt. Carrie Carver told EW that LCSO received a report Friday night of a stabbing at the Creswell Mobile Home Park. After investigating, deputies identified Laskey, 37, as a suspect and arrested him a short time later in Springfield.

Laskey was booked into Lane County Jail in the early hours of Jan. 20 on charges of second-degree assault, menacing, unlawful use of a weapon and second-degree criminal trespassing.

LCSO did not identify the victim at the time but said Laskey knew the victim. According to court charging documents released Monday, Jan. 22, the stabbing victim was Devin Reid Wolfe, 41, of Eugene.

The anti-fascist anarchist website It’s Going Down alleged in February 2017 in an article widely shared on social media that Wolfe was an associate of Laskey. The article featured a photo of Wolfe wearing a T-shirt with an image of the white supremacist version of a Celtic cross. That report fell short of presenting direct evidence of either man’s current involvement in American Front.

In the days following publication of the news of Laskey’s arrest, sources with direct knowledge of Laskey and Wolfe’s activities provided EW with information about the circumstances surrounding Friday’s stabbing, as well as information regarding the two men’s white supremacist ties.

Those sources have requested anonymity, citing fears about their safety, but EW has been able to independently confirm Laskey and Wolfe’s association.

Additionally, EW has received an unaltered photograph showing Laskey has gathered with other members of American Front since his 2015 release from prison. Previous published versions of it and a similar photo had the faces blurred out. Wolfe is among those in the photo.

The sources allege that after his release from federal prison in 2015, Laskey began associating with area white supremacists with the intention of resurrecting American Front in Oregon. Between late 2016 and early 2017, American Front propaganda began showing up in the Eugene/Springfield area.

At the time of his arrest Saturday, Laskey was on federal probation, having served 11 years in prison for his involvement in the 2002 hate crime against a Eugene synagogue. As a condition of Laskey’s probation, he is prohibited from associating with white supremacists.

Laskey, who had been at the center of a 2002 attack against Temple Beth Israel in Eugene, was featured prominently in a Eugene Weekly cover story on Antifa and racism in Lane County and later in an Oregonian article about the rise of racist activity in Oregon.

In a YouTube video created as a response to an EW reporter’s inquiries at the time, Laskey denied current involvement with American Front or any other white supremacist groups, though he declined to renounce his past actions. Instead, he called himself an “anti-antifa supremacist.”

The Anti-Defamation League describes American Front as being one of the United States’ oldest continuously existing racist skinhead groups, having been originally formed in the 1980s. The group’s membership appears to have declined in recent years, with remaining members concentrated mostly in California and Florida.

Laskey’s effort to resurrect the gang in Oregon indicates the group’s attempt to expand in the midst of a racially charged political climate typified by nationalist and anti-immigrant fervor.

American Front’s increased activities and visibility are part of a national trend that has seen white supremacist, fascist and white nationalist groups emboldened by the election of Donald Trump.

Some of those groups and individuals, such as Identity Evropa and Richard Spencer, have made it their goal to advance the cause of white supremacy, and as part of their strategy they have declared college campuses and surrounding communities as targets.

The University of Oregon has been vandalized with racist propaganda several times in the last year, with the most recent being anti-immigrant, pro-Trump graffiti appearing in several locations on campus at the start of the winter term.

When asked for comment, Tobin Klinger, the UO’s senior director of public affairs, directed EW to the university’s official statement. It reads, in part:

“The nature of community is one where people feel accepted for who they are. Existing in a place where that is constantly being challenged and called into question can be mentally and emotionally taxing. It’s important that all members of our community see these actions as problematic and work to ensure that they are addressed.”

The rise of racist activity in Lane County has not gone unchallenged by the community. Antifa has been increasingly active locally, but perhaps even more important, local community members have come together in solidarity with those who are at-risk and marginalized to reject messages of separatism and hate.

Local restaurateur Ibrahim Hamide immigrated to the United States from Palestine in spring 1969. He says he has seen racism in the area rise and fall repeatedly — his restaurant was vandalized twice in the aftermath of 9/11 — but he echoes those sentiments of solidarity.

“The reaction from the community definitely makes me feel safer,” Hamide says. “There is a unity of voice that says ‘not in our town.’ Find yourself another place where you can spread your venom.”

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