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Public Officials, Threats, and Prison Gangs

The Days in Discussion:

Today, just as this blog entry was being written, a West Virginia magistrate and sheriff, Walter E. Crum, was shot and killed while eating lunch in his sheriff’s vehicle. The suspect, who walked up to the officer’s SUV in a Williamson, W.Va. parking lot and shot at him point plank, is now in police custody and hospitalized. When asked whether there was any connection between this shooting and the recent killings of a Colorado prison official or the slayings of two Texas prosecutors, local officials said, “I hope not”, but declined to elaborate further.

Is there a prerequisite high price to pay in exchange for being a public official? What are the risks and what causes them? Tonight on Studio 12, Tamara Banks talks with attorneys, parole officials, and experts in prison gangs about the ultimate sacrifice of public servants.

Yesterday, a federal prosecutor working on a key case against the Aryan Brotherhood stepped down from the case. While the attorney has not disclosed his reasons for doing so, the Houston Chronicle speculates the timing is no coincidence.

Last weekend, prompting this national discussion were the deaths of Kaufman County, Texas District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife. The couple was shot to death at their home in the Dallas area. The white supremacist group Aryan Brotherhood is suspected in the murders. Just two months ago, Mark Hasse, an assistant district attorney for the same county as McLelland was also fatally shot near his courthouse office. Hasse was killed on the same day as the first guilty pleas were entered in the indictment against the Brotherhood.

Just two weeks ago, Colorado’s Department of Corrections Chief Tom Clements was gunned down as he answered the door to his home. The murder was carried out on the eve of Colorado’s landmark new gun violence law, one of the strictest in the country, being signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper. The suspect in the shooting, Evan Ebel, believed to be part of a white supremacist network he joined while in prison. He was killed in a shootout with police officers while fleeing to, you guessed it, Texas.

The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas has been operating as a white supremacist gang in the state’s prisons since the 1980s. It is estimated the group has more than 4,000 members both within and outside of the prison system. While Ebel belonged do a different white supremacist gang, the “211s”, the question remains: what is causing these supremacist groups to strike our officials now?

This entry was posted in CPT12 Blog, Studio 12 Blog and tagged , by Tamara Banks. Bookmark the permalink.

About Tamara Banks

Emmy Award-winning journalist Tamara Banks has covered stories about genocide, social injustice and crimes against humanity from all over the world. Her reporting has taken her to Sudan, Iraq, Haiti and now Rwanda. Tamara is also the producer and co-host of STUDIO 12, Colorado Public Television’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program.

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