White Power out WestLeith, ND (WDAY TV) - On a normal summer day in Leith, North Dakota, you're lucky to see a couple of trucks, and maybe the mail car snake quietly through the Grant County town.
By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY
Leith, ND (WDAY TV) - On a normal summer day in Leith, North Dakota, you're lucky to see a couple of trucks, and maybe the mail car snake quietly through the Grant County town.
But for the past week, one man has changed everything.
Well-known white supremacist Craig Cobb says he plans to stay,
Even after starting a firestorm of words and worry, he wants to turn Leith into a "White Nationalist Community."
It is one of those off-the-beaten-path towns: Sleepy, somewhat abandoned. Leith, North Dakota, once a thriving pioneer railroad town where the West begins: Now home to just a handful of people, around a dozen, who are surrounded by their town's rusty and worn-out yesterday.
Craig Cobb- White Supremacist: "It is the goals of the Jews to stop the freedom of The First Amendment."
Until he moved here.
Cobb: “People would drive here from all over to see it and say, ‘My gosh, look at this little colony.’”
Craig Cobb can talk circles around you: Intelligent, well-read and… Racist.
Cobb: "The term “hate crime” is a Jewish term for Affirmative Action for White Men."
An active and popular member of white supremacist and white power groups around the world.
Cobb: “Christianity is leftist. It is anti-reality and fantasy and not based in fact.”
Cobb has quietly been buying up property here in Leith; a dozen lots he owns.
Some already given away to some of the world's top White Supremacist leaders.
Cobb wants to turn Leith into an enclave of White Power.
Cobb: “People's comfort level is best when they are amongst their own.”
Cobb has deep respect for Adolf Hitler.
Cobb: “I do. Yes, I do.”
But for the people of tiny Leith, North Dakota, there are few options to get rid of Cobb. He bought the lots legally, is living here peacefully, but it is what he says online and says publicly that upsets so many.
Cobb: “All of the people in Leith who are against me: Are they going to blame me if they bring three-dozen Somali families? Are you going to blame me? That is irrational.”
Mayor Ryan Schock has been on the council since he was 16. A rancher and school bus driver, he has been fielding calls from the NY Times and CNN.
Ryan Schock- Leith Mayor: "Whirlwind tornado."
Leith has become famous for the wrong reasons. He and others in town want Cobb out.
Schock: “The concerns are if this does happen, him living here is not a major concern, but we don't want him taking over city government.”
The irony of the story: Bobby Harper and his wife Sherrill live directly behind Cobb. They serve on the city council. Grant County is one of the whitest counties in America. Now a white supremacist and the Harpers are next-door neighbors.
Sherrill Harper- Leigh Resident: “Especially in a little town like this, come and bring good ideas and help, so we are working together. Don't bring hatred and harmful ideas.”
Bobby Harper- Leith Resident: “We could be doing other things because this guy has ideas about hatred and he is trying to get others to follow him.”
Cobb: "He is the only Negro in the county, which is wonderful."
On White Power websites, the couple has been attacked.
Sherrill Harper: “On a message, I guess I am a race-mixer, pea-brained, filthy white woman.”
Those German settlers who called Leith “home” a century ago could not have predicted this. Their small town snuggled among the buttes, the talk of blogs and internet postings worldwide; the town's pastor wants it to end.
Paul Ferrie- Leith Pastor: “This is disturbing. We would hate to see the wonderful way of life changed in any way, so we hope this doesn't happen.”
Cobb has been peaceful and law-abiding, although he is ready to defend himself.
Cobb: “I am prepared for anything, yes.”
As the sun sets on western North Dakota, one town hopes it can return to its sleepy self when the out-of-towners leave them all alone and the dozen people here get their small town back.
Deputies with Grant County patrol Leith day and night. Cobb is wanted on a warrant from Canada on hate crime charges. For more on Cobb's blog and his supporters, plus, opponents like the Civil Rights group Southern Poverty Law Center, go to wday.com and click on the easy link tab.