Thursday Reads: Hate Groups, Child Abuse, and MurderPosted: May 12, 2011 Filed under: morning reads 74 Comments
Good Morning! I’m going to focus on just one news story this morning, but it’s a story that encompasses several important issues that we have discussed here at Sky Dancing.
It happened in the early morning hours of Sunday May 1, 2011 in Riverside, CA. A ten-year-old boy shot his father in the chest and killed him.
Before I get started, I want to note that parents injure and kill their children every day of the week–so often that these incidents generally don’t become high profile cases unless there is something unique or unusual about them. On the other hand, when children kill their parents there is usually a great deal of news coverage and public outrage, because these events are extremely rare–especially when a child as young as 10 is involved. But this case has many more unusual elements than the age of the perpetrator.
I’ve been following this case since the beginning. Here are the basic facts, drawn from a number of different news stories. Police were called to the home of Jeff Hall because of shots fired. They arrived at 4:04AM to find 32-year-old Jeff Hall on his couch with a serious gunshot wound. Paramedics tried but were unable to revive him, and he died.
Hall’s 10-year-old son, his eldest child, was arrested for murder. The boy admitted to killing his father, and police now say they believe he did it intentionally, but no motive has yet been revealed. The other four children were put in protective custody, according to the LA Times.
Hall was a plumber and also a leader of the largest Neo-Nazi group in the U.S., the National Socialist Movement. Interestingly, on the NSM memorial page, there is no mention of the fact that Hall was killed by his own son. In fact it says he “was a dedicated Father, his children were his life.” According to a comment on a white supremacist website, he home schooled his five young children.
Hall also used his home as headquarters for the regional branch of the NSM, of which he was the leader. He held meetings in his living room and allowed his children to watch and listen. By coincidence, a New York Times reporter has been present at a number of NSM meetings and events recently and was present at a group meeting the night of the murder.
Over the last two months, The New York Times attended and documented a series of events held by Mr. Hall and the National Socialist Movement, or N.S.M., including virulent, hate-filled rallies as well as barbecues and baby showers in the backyard of his Southern California home.
According to reporter Jesse McKinley,
The day before he allegedly shot his father, the sandy-haired 10-year-old boy showed off a prized possession to a visitor. It was a thin leather belt emblazoned with a silver insignia of the Nazi SS.
“Look what my dad got me,” the boy said shyly, perched on the living room stairs, one of the few quiet spots in a house with five children.
That night after the meeting,
The boy sat nearby on the steps. Was he having a good time? a reporter asked. Yes, he said, though he was annoyed by his four younger sisters. But he was the eldest, he added, and a boy. “And boys are more important,” he said.
McKinley also recalls a video that Hall made that ends with the Battle Hymn of the Republic, but with altered lyrics, including “The white man marches on!” One of Hall’s daughters said, “I love that song, Daddy.” As the NYT headline says, these children were apparently “steeped in” Hall’s racist, xenophobic ideology. Furthermore, Hall was training his son to use night-vision goggles and handle firearms.
Neighbors said they felt intimidated by the family. One went into some detail.
“Honestly, I feel like it’s over,” said Juan Trejo, who lives across the street from Hall’s home. “It was scary here. Hopefully we’ll never see any of them again.”
Trejo described a Halloween party at the home last year, when Hall flew a swastika flag from the home and guests wore KKK hoods. Trejo said Hall lived there with his wife and several children, one of whom called his son a “beaner” when the boy skateboarded near the Hall home.
On Wednesday, May 4, Hall’s son was charged with murder and gun possession.
During his appearance in Riverside Juvenile Court on Wednesday, the shaggy blond-haired boy sat at an attorney’s table in shackles, wearing an orange Juvenile Hall uniform. The small, skinny, baby-faced boy was slouched in a chair, dwarfed by his attorney.
His stepmother, aunt and grandmother sat behind the boy. His biological mother sat on the opposite side of the courtroom.
The boy’s mother, Leticia Neal, had not been part of his or his sister’s life since 2004, when Jeff Hall won custody of the two children from his first marriage. Neal and Hall had been fighting over custody of their two children for a decade, with each partner accusing the other of abuse, including an accusation by Hall that Neal had sexually abused their son. Earlier this year Neal had gone to court again to argue that Hall’s racist ideology and activities could be harmful to the children, but the judge decided she could not see the children without a therapist present. According to the LA Times,
In a Nov. 8 court filing opposing Neal’s request, Hall stated that his son and daughter had not seen Neal for more than six years, and “not so much as received a phone call, card, birthday present” from their mother during that time. Hall also described his son’s troubled past, saying he was just getting back on track.
His son “was removed from several schools for his wild and sometimes violent actions. Both [children] … struggled socially and academically when they were first placed with me,” Hall stated.
Hall apparently devoted most of his time to the Neo-Nazi cause, taking trips to Arizona to patrol the border, organizing rallies, and even running for office as the Nazi candidate for a seat on the water board. During his campaign he
called for water conservation and affirmed his belief that all non-whites should be deported.
“I want a white nation,” he said. “I don’t hide what I am, and I don’t water that down.”
Hall has been campaigning by handing out business cards, he said, but turned down an invitation to a candidate forum because it was sponsored by the League of Women Voters and a Latino community group.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC),
NSM ideology mirrors that of the original American Nazi Party. The group openly idolizes Adolf Hitler, described in NSM propaganda as, “Our Fuhrer, the beloved Holy Father of our age … a visionary in every respect.” NSM says only heterosexual “pure-blood whites” should be allowed U.S. citizenship and that all nonwhites should be deported, regardless of legal status. As Schoep put it: “The Constitution was written by white men alone. Therefore, it was intended for whites alone.”
The NSM is probably best known for carefully staged protests, carried out in full-blown Nazi uniforms and swastika armbands, that have managed to win substantial news coverage for the group. The best example of the NSM’s provocative rallies came on Dec. 10, 2005, when the group made international news after a planned march through a black neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio, sparked rioting by residents and counter-protesters. The riots cost the city more than $336,000, though the NSM members escaped the violence and were not liable for any of the destruction. “The Negro beasts proved our point for us,” [Jeff] Schoep [national leader of the NSM] crowed after the rally.
Here is one of Schoep’s famous quotes, from the SPLC website:
“When … you take a German Shepherd and mix him with a Golden Retriever you have a worthless animal that nobody wants and that isn’t worth anything if you’re trying to breed him or sell him. … [T]hese degenerates that allow their children to race mix and this sort of thing, they’re destroying the bloodlines of both races.”
— NSM leader Jeff Schoep, July 25, 2007, interview
So we have a young boy who probably has Post-traumatic Stress Disorder from years of abuse by both parents, from being separated from his mother, and from being exposed to hate-filled rhetoric at Neo-Nazi meetings and probably from his father. It’s like something out of American History X. How could a judge allow children to live in a home like that? To me, exposing young children to racist, anti-semitic, and anti-immigrant vitriol is in itself abuse.
Since the boy is under the age of 14, he cannot be tried as an adult and will likely be put in a youth offender facility. According to the articles I read, he will probably get out when he is 25 years old. By that time, he’ll most likely be a hardened criminal.
I looked at several studies of young children’s understanding of death. A ten-year-old has barely begun to comprehend the irreversibility of death. His brain development has not reached a point where he has good impulse control or the ability to manage strong emotions well. This story makes me heartsick. I haven’t shared even a tenth of what I’ve read about the NSM–the group that Jeff Hall was a leader in. Can you believe they even have a youth organization? I’ll continue to follow the case and post about it again when I learn more.
I’m going to end with an op-ed that Dakinikat sent me earlier today. It is written by a well known researcher on trauma, Bessel A. van der Kolk of Boston University.
Rather than being subjected to bullets and bombs, children are victimized by those who are meant to care for them. These are children like a 3-year-old girl in Anchorage who was found by a police officer in her crib, hungry, underweight and covered in her own feces; an 11-year-old boy in New York City who has had violent outbursts since he was sexually molested, and whose terror of being alone makes him a subject of ridicule by his classmates; or a 14-year-old girl in Boston who set fire to a church and repeatedly attempted suicide after being beaten at home. The Pew Charitable Trusts estimates that the annual cost of childhood maltreatment like this is $103.8 billion.
Inspired by the work of the National Center for PTSD, Congress authorized the establishment of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network in 2001 to evaluate and develop treatments for traumatized children nationwide, with a budget that is now $40 million — about the cost of keeping 40 soldiers fighting in Afghanistan for one year.
President Obama’s 2012 budget has proposed a 70 percent reduction in financing for the network. That would be devastating for these children. The network has knitted together 130 clinics and universities in 38 states that specialize in helping traumatized children and adolescents. It has allowed the members to develop treatment programs and to hire and educate the staff to run them, enabling 322,000 children nationwide to get treatment from July 2002 to September 2009.
According to the latest figures available, 2.9 million children were mistreated in 2006, many of whom manifested serious behavioral and psychological problems. The network has started to document how trauma affects developing brains differently from those of adults exposed to wartime violence.
Thanks to this administration and the deficit-obsessed GOP, we are likely to see more children acting out violently and then being sent to facilities in which they are irreversibly damaged. It’s a crying shame.
Jeff Hall bred violence and his unlucky child was forced to live with this violence as a daily staple.
This poor suffering little boy will be marked for life and god only knows if he will be able to overcome the insanity of his existence. So sad.
Thanks for reading, Pat. It is so sad. It just breaks my heart.
The Casey Anthony case in Florida is also intriguing. How a mother could do that to a helpless child is beyond comprehension.
These poor kids are nothing but “throwaways”.
After I wrote this post, I found this article at Slate: Can a parent lose custody of his child because he’s a neo-Nazi?
I just signed the petition to stop the judge in NC from taking away custody rights of the woman who has breast cancer. The judge ordered to children to live in custody with the father, because of the cancer.
Talk about malfunctioning judges.
Thanks for stepping up and signing the petition. I think it is the new era of fighting for parental rights of parents with illness, as a Civil Right, as they are not even allowed to see their children because of something they can’t control, but are living with.
It is a shame, but you can go to court and loose custody of your children for merely having an illness. As to why that happens, I personally believe the judges don’t fully read the cases and that they ‘assume’ too much, rely on incomplete reports and lying in court is rewarded (I have never heard of anyone being sanctioned, or reprimanded for doing so in these types of cases and attorneys will tell you that it doesn’t matter).
That’s terrible. That’s all she needs–the stress of losing her children on top of the stress of cancer.
I can speak from experience that the scars from psychological and physical abuse suffered in childhood never disappear, and my experience was nothing compared to what these children have suffered. It would take a tremendous amount of time, money, devotion, and love to undo what has been done to them, and that is simply not available. Top the years of abuse from parents with the fact that this young boy watched his father die as a result of his own action, and I can’t even begin to imagine the level of PTSD.
I grew up in a violent family, and it affected my life a great deal. It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I really began to deal with the pain. In my experience, the verbal and emotional abuse stays with you longer than physical abuse.
I can’t begin to imagine the damage that this father’s beliefs may have done to his children. I just found this article at SF Gate.
I agree, with you BB on the words/verbal/emotional Abuse. Remember this ad from the 80’s?
80’s PSA Child Verbal Abuse
What a heartbreaking story about this young boy. I hope he can be helped but I fear our “justice system” will simply inflict further abuse.
I, too, suffered abuse from various family members when I was growing up, including being threatened with an ax by my grandmother who thought I was demon-possessed and should be murdered. I can tell you that is something from which one never fully recovers. The damage done remains throughout life. No therapy can take it away.
I agree, children learn what they see and this child was left with a father that wanted to rid the US of anyone not white and who was teaching him misogyny. We know that abuse, such as his (dealt out by the father), also is given to anyone that doesn’t go with the program, only the program is ever changing and the child can’t keep up, living constantly in a state of walking on eggshells.
A very powerful ad (Children learn what they see!)
Oh Beata, that’s terrible! It’s true that you never fully recover, but I think going through traumas does make you stronger in the long run if you can get help to heal.
I’m just afraid this boy may not get the help he needs, plus he’s already indoctrinated.
Terrific article, BB and so sad that children are forced to live in situations like this. I will never understand how people can treat children, animals and the elderly with such abuse. It really sickens me.
I’m looking forward to reading more about this case.
Thanks, Delphyne. I will continue to follow this case.
I think Dak said it earlier in the week, something about mentally illness and drug abuse needing treatment.
This boy will get due process in a prison, and not in a hosptial. Yes, he’s sick, but will forever be treated like a criminal. He will be resocialized, and given stronger drugs than we can ever imagine, to the point he’ll never be able to function in society.
Thanks BB, because the strange thing is, this child could well serve a longer sentence than an adult, and may not get the help needed to sort himself out in the system.
He won’t be in a prison, Fannie. It will probably be a youth treatment facility. But it still will probably be a difficult place to heal in.
BB,the system will likely be the a youth correctional insitiute and not a mental health facility. I hope he heals too.
I didn’t mention it, but the boy’s lawyers are considering an insanity defense.
Thank you for this post BB – it is heart wrenching to think that adults would treat their anyone is this manner, not to mention their own children. What a mess
oops -guess I’m not quite awake yet – sorry for the typos
You and me both, when I work late or have gotten up with no coffee. 😉
I, like Delphyne, will look forward to more articles. Unfortunately, like janicen wrote, abuse like this doesn’t disappear overnight, so the child, if he indeed killed his father, is a ticking time bomb. The problem is that people think that children are a necessity to prove their virility, their skills etc. It’s similar to the designer dog syndrome. What people forget, or don’t know, children and dogs require careful nurturing which means time, money and care. This man should never have had children, and I don’t understand an aid society that left those children in his care. Easier and less paperwork perhaps?
I don’t understand it either, but usually social services offices are so overworked and underfunded that they can only deal with emergencies–if that.
I can’t believe Obama wants to cut a program that is helping traumatized children by 70 percent!
I hear ya completely in finding it unbelievable. It is unreal… and yet sadly, I can believe it. After seeing how he handled healthcare, it removed any doubt in my mind that he will do whatever social darwinist thing that Wall Street asks of him.
@ wonk 9:42
Yup, Just like Reagan with the mental hospitals. We all know how that turned out.
Yup, how’s all that hope working? Instead he has been increasing the power of government over society, and this does nothing but add to the HOPELESSNESS of children. He knows exactly what and why is doing this, it’s social injustice for women and children.
Oh, but those poor, poor Wall Street Greedos need their bonuses (funded by tax payers) and their Golden Parachutes (Million dollar ones, paid via taxpayers).
Goodness, just look at the poor Texas Millionaires that have the GOP all in a flutter trying to save them sales taxes on their Yachts! They have it rough, and need a new yacht, but we tax payers have to pitch in for another one… Priorities, of those in office today.
Wall Street megalomainics don’t care about the hoi polloi, and if anyone is in doubt, Obama is controlled by the Wall street boys . If one checks carefully, all his policies and the few decisons he has weighed in on benefit the upper 1 percent. He will be re-elected sad to say, and he will continue on the same track, which means the middle and lower economic classes have no hope but they will get change – not what they were hoping for, but change nonetheless. No wonder the Republicans aren’t interested in fielding a viable candidate – not one of their guys could have done this, and there is still social security and medicare to gut. Obama is their guy.
Hard to imagine a President Hillary Clinton– who Wall Street didn’t trust no matter how much money they threw at her, having to bankroll another campaign against her in Barack Obama after they’d already filled her campaign coffers, and with her roots as a children’s advocate and a mother (Dorothy Rodham) whose very rough childhood molded her advocacy–cutting back a children’s trauma network by 70 percent.
Thanks for spotlighting this important story and drawing out the connections between the consequences of hate, violence, child abuse, the failures of the legal system,
putting a mother under a virtual burqa, and the current austerity push.
So when are you going to collect your investigative/sociopolitical commentary posts together and publish them in a book? 😉
Thanks, Wonk. What a nice thing to say.
Ok, you were probably confused by the comment on the mother. I crossed it out, after reading the part about her telling the judge Hall was harmful in context.
Still don’t understand how the judge could think either of them was okay for the kids to live with.
We have to get rid of the notion that children are parent’s property. There are still a lot of people that feel this way. There are ways of removing parents from the equation but until we recognize that children have inherent rights as individuals we will never get beyond this problem. We often free them from abusive situations way after the damage has been done.
Keep in mind her age when she wrote this stuff:
“The basic rationale for depriving people of rights in a dependency relationship is that certain individuals are incapable or undeserving of the right to take care of themselves and consequently need social institutions specifically designed to safeguard their position. It is presumed that under the circumstances society is doing what is best for the individuals. Along with the family, past and present example of such arrangements include marriage, slavery, and the Indian reservation system.”
“Even though state interference with family privacy should be minimized because of the state’s unwillingness, or inability, to care for children as well as most families do, the state, representing the community of adults, has the responsibility to intervene in cases of severe emotional deprivation or psychological damage if it is likely that a child’s development will be substantially harmed by his continued presence in the family.”
–Hillary Rodham, 1973, “Children Under the Law”
“In a recent address to a conference on children’s needs, a United States senator admitted he knew nothing about the subject and would have felt more comfortable discussing energy. Policymakers are simply not accustomed to thinking about children’s needs in the same ways they think about missile development, dam construction, or even old-age assistance.”
–Hillary Rodham, 1977, Yale Law Journal
“Even among persons in the children’s rights movement, there is a concern that extending rights to children against their parents is too difficult to control and in all but the most extreme cases such questions should be resolved by the families, not the courts. We prefer that intervention into an ongoing family be limited to decisions that could have long-term and possible irreparable effects if they were not resolved. Decisions about motherhood and abortion, schooling, cosmetic surgery, treatment of veneral disease, or employment and others where the decision or lack of one will significantly affect the child’s future should not be made unilaterally by parents.”
–Hillary Rodham, 1979, Children’s Rights: Contemporary Perspectives
🙂 The piece on the congressman and his dealings was book worthy in my opinion. Kept us all waiting for the second with baited breath…
O/T – this from Women’s News about the cheerleader being forced to cheer for her rapist. The author of the article is working with the family and her attorney to try to get rid of the $45K costs.
What on earth does this mean? Are the little girls jailed somewhere too because their brother turned violent?
I think it means child protective services, though it sounds like they should probably be with their mother.
Three are the children the second wife, one girl and the ten year old boy are the children of the the first wife, that was not given custody. I wonder if the judge was intimidated by the hate leader and if this played any role in the custody decision.
I think the court system is now going to review the case and see what may be best for the children and thus the four younger children are more than likely in foster homes.
But where are they being kept? Some juvenile hall?
Thx, WV, I posted the above before reading your comment.
It sounds like the mother was abusive too. One of the articles said they were constantly hungry and neglected when they were with her and there were numerous calls for social services workers to visit the home. Those poor kids never had a chance.
The mother is forbidden to see the children without a therapist present, so they couldn’t live with her.
They will either be in foster care or in a facility that cares for children in these kinds of circumstances. They won’t be in jail. That’s a very strange question.
Don’t forget that those children are witnesses to a crime. They can help investigators understand what happened and why. They can’t be returned to the stepmother and grandmother until they have been interviewed. But I’m sure the stepmother will be with them when they talk to investigators.
There’s nothing strange about it. Abused and neglected girls have been housed in juvenile halls in the past. See the history of MacLaren Hall. I read about MacLaren Hall once and that’s why I asked.
BB, I sincerely apologize, I didn’t skim carefully enough. This was the only sentence I read about the mother:
And, I’d gotten a wrong impression about why the judge didn’t want her to see the children without a therapist present. (i.e. that she was crazy for saying Hall was harmful to the children.)
Thanks for correcting me.
That’s a difficult call. I mean when you consider that these children were subjected to this guy to begin with because of the mom’s poor judgment from the get go and couple that with allegations of abuse….. you almost wonder if these kids would have better luck finding adequate parenting in foster care.
It absolutely kills me how poorly our system treats the most vulnerable of our citizenry and the future of our country.
We value the dollar more than we value our future. If we didn’t then we’d have spent more time studying where these young people belonged rather than just dumping him with an admitted racist, misogynistic xenophobe and hoping for the best outcome. God forbid we actually spend money on social workers or case workers that might carefully review an environment carefully over time. God forbid we ensure that children aren’t brainwashed by insisting that children like these at the very least have access to other adults through programs like Big Brothers/Sisters or other mentoring programs.
I agree they’d stand a better chance of finding a good parent in foster care than going to the mother. I just didn’t read the paragraph about the mother properly.
It probably means that there are issues around the parenting that have finally been illustrated by the death of the father. And by that I mean that there is concern about the welfare of the children – too late for the boy, however…..
Here is a legal definition of child protective custody:
Why is it that I find myself saying live by the sword, die by the sword, so much these days?
What a powerful piece BB!! Thanks for taking so much time to show us that children can be tortured in many ways by the very people who are tasked with their care.
For every abused child who commits a violent act against another person, I wonder how many commit suicide?
Good point! I was very happy about the Trevor Project :
1-800-SUICIDE – The Hotline for Suicide Crisis
Trevor, does also offer a support service for teens and chat.
Wow McCain just went old school on torture lovers @ThePlumLineGS http://wapo.st/igoXAw
McCain slammed the torture apologists in an op ed today.
Will the real John McCain please stand up? Looks like he did this time. Good for him.
Well, he knows what it is like, day after day and has his body to remind him of the five years he was held as a prisoner of war and tortured.
Good for McCain. Credit where it’s due.
Tepco: Fukushima Fuel Rods Are Fully Exposed
Wow, just read a piece about Facebook’s undermining Google – I never warmed to Facebook.
Interesting. Makes me wonder about all op-eds. Are they legitimate opinions, or just stories planted by PR firms bought and paid for by interested parties? Cynical me suspects the latter.
Totally OT: My corner of S. Texas is getting its first rain since last freakin’ year today. Not much so far, more like a drip than a shower, but it’s almost pitch dark–streetlights and solar-cell security lights have come on–and the temperature is dropping rapidly (thank Goddess!) Anyone who works from home or is off is out on the porch staring at it, vaguely remembering that they’ve seen something like this before. . ..
Update: actually raining now.
Great, great, I like the rain.
Terrific! Dance in the Rain!
Amazing story. Heartbreaking and horrifying all at once.
I guess I can reveal now that I lived in Riverside for over a year before moving East. Nice people, mostly. Not much in the way of culture — one used bookstore, an art museum, a few galleries, and that’s about it.
Folks there are pretty conservative. It’s a reddish city in a blue state. But I never ran into a single person who expressed racist views. There’s a heavy latino presence, of course. As I recall, most of the kids at UCR are non-white.
I’m shocked to discover that there was a prominent neo-Nazi in that environment. Genuinely shocked. It’s just not the kind of place where you would expect that sort of thing.
By the way, if you want to see a jaw-droppingly spectacular shot of my old town, go here:
Somewhere in that panorama, you’ll see the spot where the first Zodiac murder took place. Also lots of reputedly haunted houses and graveyards and other spooky stuff. It’s a great place for Halloween.
Thanks for stopping by, Joseph. You’ve been writing some powerful pieces yourself for the past couple of weeks. It’s so nice to have you back again and producing such interesting work.
What bb said. I can’t seem to post on your site because every time I’ve registered–and I’ve registered several times now–it only seems to last for one or two posts.
So, from here: keep up the excellent work. You’re doing a great job.
Post as anonymous. You can sign it the same way you’d sign a snail mail letter. (Remember those?)
And thanks for the kind words. I’ve been our of sorts today — nobody seems to care about the recent stuff, but there have been LOTS of hits for the April 1, 2006 post. What is it with people? They genuinely seem to prefer bullplop.
As long as you’re writing, I’ll be reading.