Craig Cobb, 61, has purchased mostly vacant lots at low prices from absentee owners in Leith, North Dakota, in an attempt to own enough property to control the local government. The town is located 51 miles southwest of Bismarck.
Cobb, a self-proclaimed white supremacist, is “wanted in Canada for hate crimes” for posting hate material online, according to federal charges filed in 2010.
County records show that Cobb has purchased 13 lots, The Bismarck Tribune reported. He transferred two of those lots to other parties: one to Tom Metzger, formerly the grand dragon of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in California – which birthed the White Aryan Resistance – and the other to Alex Linder, who started the white supremacist website Vanguard News Network, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
In addition, a Michigan man who is a leader of the National Socialist Movement has rented space in the town hall for a meeting this weekend, The Tribune reported.
Cobb originally announced his plan last year on Vanguard News Network, urging like-minded people “to move now and quietly get going here without letting the cat out of the bag.”
He said he chose the town based on its proximity to decent jobs and for its cheap utilities. He reportedly told workers at the Grant County Courthouse that he has plans to change the name of the town to “Cobbsville.”
A Leith town council member said the council has not received support from county or state officials to block Cobb’s takeover attempts. He added that the local government is considering dissolving the town, effectively giving control of the area back to the county.
UnityND, a group which confronts hate and racism in North Dakota, created a website in response to Cobb’s attempts and will hold a Sunday rally to encourage the town to block the 61-year-old’s efforts.
“We cannot accept this racist hatred they are bringing here. Leith is in a crisis and is crying out for help,” said organizer Jeremy Kelly. “We need to show the Nazis that they are absolutely not wanted there.”