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Fire Destroys Supremacists' Meeting Spot

June 22, 2004|From Associated Press

HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. — A furniture store where a group of white supremacists often met was destroyed by fire early Monday, authorities said.

The group, organized by a Christian Identity leader, James P. Wickstrom, met at the Marquiss Quality Furniture store for about three years.

Wickstrom moved to Tennessee in June 2003 but returned to Michigan a few months ago.

No one was in the building at the time and no injuries were reported in the fire near Bay City, about 100 miles northwest of Detroit.

The building was gutted.

Store owners Mary and LeRoy Marquiss said they had been threatened since Wickstrom's meetings were publicized in June 2003, and they thought the building was set on fire by someone who opposed the meetings.

A meeting was held at the store as recently as Memorial Day.

"They think they won," Mary Marquiss said, adding: "The only way they'll stop that is to kill us."

The Christian Identity movement espouses a doctrine that whites are God's chosen people, teaching racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic beliefs. Wickstrom has openly called for violence against Jews.

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