Friday, May 4, 2007

Flagstaff: KKK supporter threatened assault on Cinco de Mayo celebration


Cinco de Mayo celebration to continue, man arrested after threatening attack

Web threat suspect jailed until after Cinco de Mayo

By LARRY HENDRICKS
Assistant City Editor
Arizona Daily Sun
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A Flagstaff man accused by federal authorities of threatening to disrupt the local Cinco de Mayo festivities will remain behind bars until at least the end of the festival.
James Wesley Cheek, 55, was arrested Friday by FBI agents after he was accused of a felony charge of making threats via e-mail by attempting a posting on the Arizona Daily Sun Web site.
The editor of the newspaper contacted the FBI after receiving a story comment to be posted below a story on the newspaper’s Web site April 18. The commenter, using a pseudonym, said he was “gearing up” for the Cinco de Mayo festivities, where “Virginia might pale in comparison ...” The message was never posted.
Agents tracked down the anonymous poster through the message’s Internet Protocol address. Even though the suspect is a Flagstaff resident, the message traveled across state lines to get to the newspaper’s server, making it a federal offense.
Cheek was in U.S. Magistrate Court in Flagstaff Monday to determine if he should be released from jail pending trial for the charge.
Cheek’s attorney, Mik Jordahl, found out through questioning Cheek’s spouse that he has never been violent. He has no criminal record except for a concealed weapon arrest that was dismissed. Cheek has injuries so severe that he is permanently on disability.
Cheek’s spouse also talked about how he tried to commit suicide twice and suffers from anxiety and depression — for which he takes medication — because he can no longer support his family like he wants to.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Camille Bibles, questioning the lead investigator in the case, revealed a person who has a strong dislike for Hispanics. Cheek has begun to flirt with becoming a member of the Ku Klux Klan, even distributing fliers promoting the group. And he owns about a half-dozen guns including a 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.
When confronted with the e-mail, Cheek readily admitted to sending the e-mail. The agent, in his testimony, was adamant about Cheek never intending violence. Cheek just wanted the celebrations to be canceled.
U.S. Magistrate Mark Aspey said he found himself in a “quandary” because he wanted more information about Cheek’s psychiatric status from medical records.
Jordahl suggested the hearing be postponed a week. That would give time for the judge to review the medical records, and it will see the Cinco de Mayo festivities come and go.
Conviction for the offense of making threats via e-mail carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.
Larry Hendricks can be reached at 556-2262 or lhendricks@azdailysun.com.

(KVOA.com) FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A Flagstaff man who allegedly e-mailed the local paper threatening a Virginia Tech-like incident during the city's Cinco de Mayo celebration was arrested by FBI agents Friday.
James Wesley Cheek made an initial appearance in federal court on a charge related to making threats via interstate communications, said Camille Bibles, assistant U.S. attorney in Flagstaff. Cheek, whose age was unavailable, is being held pending a detention hearing set for Monday. It wasn't known if he had a lawyer.
An editor at the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff received a comment to be posted below a story on the paper's Web site on April 18, considered it threatening and passed it on to Editor Randy Wilson, according to a complaint filed in federal court.
Wilson contacted the FBI and turned over the e-mail, along with several others sent by a person who signed their name "dr. richard cameron."
An FBI agent traced the Internet Protocol address of the person who posted the comment to Cheek, who was interviewed at his home, according to an FBI affidavit supporting the complaint.
"He admitted to having recently posted a message under the pseudonym 'dr. richard cameron' on the Arizona Daily Sun Web site because he has 'an aversion to Mexicans' and intended to disrupt Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Flagstaff, Arizona," the agent wrote. "... by posting a threat to commit violence on a greater scale than that which had occurred on the Virginia Tech campus a few days prior to the posting, he intended for the celebrations to be canceled."
A student at Virginia Tech went on a murderous rampage at the university on April 16, killing 32 people before taking his own life.
Postings to the Daily Sun's Web site can be made anonymously, but Wilson said those making threats of violence can expect police to be called.
"This comment, coming two days after the Virginia Tech shootings, raised a red flag that we felt should be handled by the police," Wilson said. "We are hosting a community conversation, not a bulletin board for threats of violence or other criminal acts."
The comment traveled across state lines to the paper's e-mail server and became a federal offense, according to the FBI affidavit. A conviction can bring a a penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.
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Information from: Arizona Daily Sun, http://www.azdailysun.com/

Invitation to event:
COME AND JOIN THE CINCO DE MAYO PARADE AND EVENTS TOMORROW, SATURDAY. PARADE BEGINS 9AM AT COCONINO HIGH SCHOOL AND WILL TRAVEL ALONG CEDAR TO FOURTH STREET WHERE FESTIVITIES WILL CONTINUE.
MANY ARE AWARE FROM THE NEWS, THAT THIS EVENT WAS THREATENED BY A PERSON WHO SAID HE "HATES IMMIGRANTS, AND HAS AN AVERSION TO THOSE FROM MEXICO." THIS MAN IS CURRENTLY IN CUSTODY. HE THREATENED VIOLENCE IN ATTEMPTS TO DISRUPT THE EVENT BY SAYING, "VIRGINIA [TECH] MIGHT PALE IN COMPARISON..."
JOIN IN SOLIDARITY TO SHOW THE COMMUNITY AT LARGE THAT THIS TYPE OF HATRED, INTOLERANCE AND THREAT OF VIOLENCE IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. THESE THREATS WON'T STRIP AWAY THE HEART, SOUL AND INTEGRITY OF OUR COMMUNITY.
READ THE E-MAIL BELOW, SENT OUT BY PROF. MIGUEL VASQUEZ, WHO ELOQUENTLY ADDRESSES THE ISSUES FURTHER.

Hola everybody,
There has been some concern expressed by NAU students, staff, and faculty in the last few days about recent racist threats to participants in the 5 de mayo parade made by an apparently sick individual here in Flagstaff. This man is allegedly affiliated with the KKK and says he hates immigrants and all Mexicans and made reference to the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I have spoken with authorities and been assured that the man is currently in custody at least until Monday after the parade and is being investigated by the FBI.It is my belief that once the threat has been neutralized as it has, rather than allowing ourselves to be coerced into submission, we should unite to show that we will never permit this kind of intimidation -- against anyone in our community. In these last few years, we have allowed our country to slip into a climate of fear, trepidation, and uncertainty. We are better than this. I would like to encourage and invite everyone this Saturday - to the 5 de mayo parade and festival - starting at 9am at Coconino HS and marching to Cedar and down 4th Street thru the East Side.We have a chance, all of us, to make a statement here and now regarding this climate of hate, disrespect, and fear. Please distribute this to anyone you know who would be interested.
Bienvenidos Todos, miguel.

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