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Prosecutor: Supremacist targeted by ally's graffiti after DNA test

November 20, 2013|By Matt Pearce

He came, he saw, he tried to conquer. Instead, he got arrested: Craig Cobb's attempts to turn Leith, N.D., into a white-supremacist enclave have hit a wall now that he's in a local jail, accused of terrorizing townsfolk.

But there's a new, ironic twist to his thwarted takeover attempt. You might even call it a case of reverse racism.

The Los Angeles Times has previously cataloged Cobb's plot and the repeated stumbles he's faced -- first running afoul of local health rules, then discovering on a nationally syndicated talk show that a DNA test showed he was actually 14% sub-Saharan African.

Then, over the weekend, Cobb, 62, was arrested after going on an ill-advised armed patrol of the town, population 16, with a fellow white supremacist, Kynan Dutton, 29.

Before their arrest, Cobb had texted the Bismarck Tribune about his motive: "Because of the many violences and harassments against we and the children, we have commenced armed patrols of Leith."

There's a little more to the story than that: Cobb, it seems, had felt the sting of his own brand of racial prejudice turned against him.

The local prosecutor says a fellow white supremacist had apparently targeted Cobb with racial graffiti after he'd found out that Cobb's DNA results said he was part black.

“The individual in question was interviewed, and when his interview answers weren’t matching up, he essentially admitted it," Grant County Assistant State's Atty. Todd Schwarz told the Los Angeles Times. "The one that tipped it off -- he painted on the house, 'BACK IN BLACK,' and he’s not an AC/DC fan."

Cobb and Dutton "had a falling out" with the other supremacist the day news of Cobb's DNA results broke, said Schwarz, who wouldn't identify the man but said he was "not real mentally stable" and left town the same day. Schwarz said the investigation into the graffiti incident is ongoing. 

Schwarz said he thought Cobb knew he'd been targeted by his own man, so when Cobb went on his armed patrol four days later, he did so with a "manufactured" excuse of harassment.

That, in addition to Cobb and Dutton's loose ties to the community -- ostensibly making them flight risks -- led Schwarz to ask the local judge to hold both men without bond, which the judge granted. They are charged with seven felony counts of "terrorizing" the town. Five of the counts are gun-related and carry a mandatory minimum of two years in prison, Schwarz said.

"I’ve got a small community that is absolutely justified in being in fear of this man and his escalation," Schwarz said. Of the graffiti incident, he added with a laugh, "'Back in black' -- there’s got to be some irony in it.”

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