TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — A white supremacist group rewarded members with tattoo “patches” for committing acts of violence, including assaulting peaceful demonstrators at a racial justice protest last summer, according to a federal racketeering indictment of 16 members in Florida.
Members of the group, Unforgiven, also attempted to use corrupt law enforcement officers and state employees to gather information on members, learn about criminal investigations into the group and smuggle contraband to inmates, according to an indictment made public Thursday in federal court in Tampa.
Among the 12 charges facing the 16 alleged Unforgiven members were assault, kidnapping and conspiracy.
Members perceived “a constant and almost brutal victimization of whites” in Florida’s prison system, including at Columbia Correctional Institution in Lake City, Florida, the indictment said.
In order to join the group, members, who went by nicknames such as “Scumbag,” “Hammer,” and “Pretty Boy,” were required to study “Aryan Philosophy” and commit acts of violence, the indictment said.
Members were expected to be “battle-ready” and promote “a climate of fear” through threats of violence. Members also were required to take an oath to the group’s own constitution, and those who didn’t follow the rules outlined in the constitution were kidnapped and assaulted, according to the indictment.
Group meetings were referred to as attending “church,” and the group had secret hand signs and code words, the indictment said.
Two of the defendants appeared Thursday in court as they entered not guilty pleas and were appointed attorneys. A hearing for other defendants was scheduled for Friday afternoon.