Car Crash Reveals Racist Church
Mon August 4, 2003 11:00 AM ET
NEW ORLEANS, La. (Reuters) - A car crash in a town near New Orleans revealed that a building thought to be a home improvement business was actually a white supremacist church, police said on Friday.
The vehicle smashed into the brick storefront in Chalmette, Louisiana, after colliding with two other cars and came to rest amid stacks of racist books and pamphlets, including Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf," they said.
A sign proclaimed the building the "Southern Home Improvement Center," said Lt. Mike Sanders of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Department, but investigators found out it was the New Christian Crusade Church and headquarters of the Christian Defense League.
Both organizations were the projects of building owner James Warner, a founder of the American Nazi Party and associate of former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard and Republican gubernatorial candidate David Duke, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate groups.
"Duke recruited him into the Klan back in 1975, but before that Warner had been with the American Nazi party in the 1960s," said Cathy Glaser, the league's regional director in New Orleans.
A New Christian Crusade Church spokeswoman confirmed by telephone that Warner was the church pastor, but told Reuters he was not available for comment.
Duke, a one-time state representative who narrowly lost a 1991 race for Louisiana governor and also ran for U.S. Senate, all as a Republican, went to federal prison in Texas in April to serve a 15-month sentence for bilking his supporters of hundreds of thousands of dollars that he used to gamble.
No criminal charges have been filed in the church case, but Sanders said it had been turned over to federal authorities.
"We have made contact with the FBI and it is theirs from here on out," he said.