Craig Cobb, a white supremacist activist, has purchased more than a dozen lots in the North Dakota town of Leith, raising concern among area residents.
An avowed white supremacist has quietly been buying plots of land in a tiny North Dakota ghost town, raising concerns among locals that he wants to turn the area into a haven for racists.
Craig Cobb, 61, who once avowed that "racism is my religion," lives in a ramshackle two-story house in Leith, N.D., and has purchased at least 12 other lots since moving there early last year, according to The Bismark Tribune.
Leith was founded in 1910 as a railroad town and is now mostly abandoned. According to Mayor Ryan Schock, it has only 24 residents, including children.
Schock told MSN News on Friday he's received more than 100 calls from concerned area residents and reporters since the Tribune published a story about Cobb on Wednesday night. "Where we live at. That's a lot," he said.
Schock described Cobb as "just a very quiet man, keeps to himself, doesn't really seem to bother anybody that I know of."
A home telephone listing for Cobb couldn't be found. The Tribune said Cobb didn't return calls and texts to his cellphone and no one answered a knock on his door.
"Cobb is the most hardcore white supremacist anti-Semite you can have," Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, told MSN News. "What he's doing up there is extremely serious in the world of white supremacists because he's making happen what a lot of these guys only dream about. He's buying property and giving it to other white supremacists and he's gotten some very prominent white supremacists to buy land up there."
PLANS FOR A 'WHITE NATIONALIST' COMMUNITY
Cobb, who founded Podblanc, a video-sharing service that has been described as a white supremacist alternative to YouTube, wrote on the white supremacist online forum Vanguard News Network last year that he wanted to build a "white nationalist" community "post haste" in North Dakota.
He urged people moving there to "always (24 hrs a day) fly at least one racialist banner."
The Southern Poverty Law Center's Hatewatch blog, citing county tax and property records, said that last year Cobb resold one lot each in Leith to two other well-known neo-Nazi leaders: Tom Metzger, of Warsaw, Ind., who leads the White Aryan Resistance, and Alex Linder, who operates the Vanguard News Network.
"He's worried people over here. In a community like Leith, you get someone strange in and they're always kind of worrying," Grant County Sheriff Steve Bay told Hatewatch. "What better place to pick up some land if you want to get something established?"
A post Thursday on the white nationalist Internet forum Stormfront indicated April Gaede, a noted white nationalist who lives in Montana, also owns property in Leith with her husband, Mark Harrington.
Schock said Cobb had a job in road construction and never mentioned his plans for the parcels that he bought.
"As of now we're just kind of waiting. The guy has done nothing wrong. There's not a lot that we can do except wait and see if he's going to pursue this," the mayor said.
"Obviously, we don't want him or anybody to take over the city, take over the local government."
Cobb is wanted by police in Canada, where he was charged in 2010 with "willful promotion of hatred." Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Cobb operated the Podblanc video-sharing website from various locations around Vancouver, "promoting hatred of people based on ethnicity and religion," according to Canadian media reports.
Cobb left Canada before being charged, and since there is no comparable charge in the U.S. for inciting hatred, the RCMP said he can't be extradited, The Toronto Star reported.
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