"Hate has no place here": Neo-Nazi group leader gets 7 years in prison
Seattle, Washington - The purported leader of the violent neo-Nazi group the Atomwaffen Division was sentenced to seven years in federal prison on Tuesday for conspiring to threaten Jewish and Black people and journalists in Washington and two other states.
Kaleb Cole was convicted in September of five federal felonies, including conspiracy, three counts of mailing threatening communications, and one count of interfering with a federally protected activity.
The 25-year-old, who claimed to be a political prisoner and remained unapologetic for his actions, was described by Assistant US Attorney Thomas Woods as a man who had a talent to "instill terror" in others.
"That is who he is," Woods said.
Woods said Cole had "embraced and promoted" the idea of a "race war at home." His hatred and targeting of journalists, the prosecutor added, was an "assault on the fabric of our society."
US District Judge John Coughenour, who presided over Cole’s trial last September, said the seven-year sentence - just three months shy of the maximum recommended by sentencing guidelines - was justified because of Cole’s adherence to a philosophy of hate and white supremacy aimed at Jews and members of the media.
"I find Mr. Cole’s clear and unequivocal hate of members of the Jewish faith to be particularly odious," the judge said, stating that had the Nazis succeeded in their attempts to exterminate Jews the world would not have benefited from the talents of people such as physicist Albert Einstein, astronomer Carl Sagan, jurist Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and actor Paul Newman - "Yes, Paul Newman," he reiterated.
Cole’s attempt to intimidate members of the media was an attack on the "true heroes of our nation and the world," the judge said.
In January 2020, posters created by Cole containing swastikas, skulls, and threats, such as "We know where you live" and "Death to Pigs," were sent or glued to the homes of victims - primarily Jewish activists or journalists of color.
Cole has also been arrested for an unlawful weapons charge
Cole and three other purported members of Atomwaffen - German for "atomic weapon" - were charged by federal prosecutors last year for mounting a campaign of fear and intimidation against at least one Seattle television journalist and two local activists with the Anti-Defamation League, as well as activists and journalists in Florida and Arizona.
The other members of the conspiracy, Johnny Garza, Taylor Ashley Parker-Dipeppe, and Cameron Brandon Shea, all pleaded guilty and were apologetic about their actions. Cole, however, took his case to trial and remained defiant in his beliefs, Woods said.
Cole also faces an additional charge of unlawful possession of a firearm after he was arrested in February in Texas. At the time, he was a passenger in a car driven by an alleged fellow Atomwaffen member that had an AK-47-style rifle in the trunk, along with ammunition, prosecutors allege.
That incident occurred after Seattle police seized five assault-style rifles, a sawed-off shotgun, and three semi-automatic handguns from Cole’s home in 2019 as part of a "Red Flag" Extreme Risk Protection Order finding Cole posed an imminent risk to public safety.
After the hearing, US Attorney Nick Brown told reporters that "Kaleb Cole helped lead a violent, nationwide neo-Nazi group. He repeatedly promoted violence, stockpiled weapons, and organized 'hate camps.'"
"Today the community and those Mr. Cole and his co-conspirators targeted stand up to say hate has no place here," Brown said.
Cover photo: Collage: 123RF/mehaniq & IMAGO/IPON