By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
One shot hit Amy Mecum, a member of the Confederate Hammerskins, in the head, though she was not seriously hurt. Three of her comrades were arrested and charged with assault, though they were later released.
"After that, we vowed justice," Mouse says. "Of course, it was a lot of big talk, because, as far as I know, no one really did anything."
The Confederates soon had other things to worry about that made vengeance a trifle. In the fall of 1988, police clamped down on the skins, ultimately arresting almost every member of the Confederate Hammerskins.
Beginning in late 1987, hate crimes rapidly increased around Dallas. During the Thanksgiving holiday in 1987, two men burst into Temple Shalom in North Dallas and briefly disrupted prayer services; shortly after that, an Israeli flag was burned on the grounds of the Jewish Community Center on Northhaven Road; then, a Jewish-owned business in Richardson was covered in anti-Semitic graffiti.
In July 1988, Confederate Hammerskins stepped up their terrorizing of blacks and gays in Lee Park. Though they claimed they were there only to "patrol" the park and put up fliers after the NAACP moved to get the Park's name changed, several members of the group testified in 1990 that they threatened and ran off "undesirables." One African-American man testified he was attacked by the skinheads.
Mouse was among the Confederate Hammerskins who patrolled the park. In a 1990 trial, during which five of his running buddies were convicted of federal civil-rights violations, a photo was entered into evidence that showed Mouse and 20 of the Confederate Hammerskins standing around the statue of Robert E. Lee. As part his deal with the Feds, Mouse confirmed that he was part of the Lee Park incidents.
Then, in September and October 1988, several area houses of worship--including Temple Shalom, the Jewish Community Center, and a Richardson mosque owned and operated by the Islamic Association of North Texas--were vandalized by members of the group. Each building was spray-painted with swastikas and slogans: "Christian Whites Will Conquer." "Hitler Was Right." "Gas The Jews." At Temple Shalom, some windows were shot out.
On October 19, 1988, police arrested Daniel Alvis Wood, who said he was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and not the Confederate Hammerskins, in connection with the desecrations. (When he was convicted and sentenced two years later, Wood stood up in the courtroom and gave the Nazi Sieg heil.) A week later, on October 25, 1988, Dallas police arrested 20 Confederate Hammerskins in Deep Ellum on various charges ranging from possession of fireworks to possession of a concealed weapon. The authorities had decided to crush skinhead violence, one way or another.
A handful of the skins would try to repeat their actions on November 9, 1988--the 50th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night Germans looted and destroyed Jewish businesses, signalling the beginning of the Holocaust--but were stopped by police who had the skins' Garland headquarters under surveillance.
In the end, many of the skinheads, including Mouse, pled guilty to lesser federal misdemeanor civil-rights violations in conjunction with the Lee Park incidents. In exchange for more lenient sentences--many of the skins were 17 years old and punished as minors, though they were eligible to be tried as adults--about a dozen of the Confederate Hammerskins took the stand against five comrades who stood trial on federal conspiracy charges.
But not Mouse, though he was expected to.
As part of his plea bargain with Department of Justice prosecutors, he pled guilty to a lesser charge of "aiding and abetting to intimidate and interfere by force or threat of force a person because of his race or color." According to federal court documents, Mouse signed a confession that stated he and "numerous other Confederate Hammerskins went to Robert E. Lee Park during the summer months of 1988...with the intent of intimidating black persons who might be in the park."
Mouse, according to his plea bargain, agreed to "cooperate fully in the investigation of violence and vandalism against minorities in the Dallas area during 1988 by members of the Confederate Hammerskins by providing complete, truthful, and accurate information." The conditions of his probation were that he would be prohibited from carrying a firearm, he would have to participate in an alcohol-treatment program, and he would have to stay in a community treatment center in Hutchins, Texas, for 120 days.
According to court documents, Mouse did tesfity before the federal grand jury in July 1988. But exactly what he said is unknown because grand-jury testimony is secret under the law.
But when the Hammerskins' trial began in February 1990, Mouse was never called to the witness stand. According to a source close to the trial, the prosecution didn't call Mouse simply because he wasn't as good a witness as the other men and women who testified during the trial--former Confederate Hammerskins who had denounced their pasts, who had turned against their brothers in exchange for good plea deals. In the end, the source says, Mouse's testimony simply wasn't necessary to get the convictions.
On May 2, 1990, Sean Tarrant, Christopher Greer, Jon Jordan, Michael Lawrence, and Daniel Wood--whose ages ranged between 19 and 25--were convicted on conspiracy charges, and, in April 1990, they were each sentenced to federal-prison terms of at least four years. Greer, released last summer, is the only one out of prison so far.