The Creativity Movement

Emma Best filed this request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States of America.

It is a clone of this request.

Tracking # 1363684-000, DOJ-AP-2017-001934
Due Feb. 8, 2017
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

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Communications

From: Michael Best

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

Records relating to or mentioning the Creativity Movement. The Creativity Movement is the latest of several incarnations of the racist group (and religion) originally known as Church of the Creator. The movement promotes what it sees as the inherent superiority and “creativity” of the white race.

Founded in 1973 by Ben Klassen, a one-time Florida state legislator and the inventor of the electric can opener, the movement promotes what it sees as the inherent superiority and “creativity” of the white race — about the only tenets there are (aside from an obsession with healthy foods) to its supposed “theology.”

The Creativity Movement rose from the ashes of the World Church of the Creator (WCOTC), a post-Klassen version of Church of the Creator, after WCOTC’s leader was sent to prison to serve a 40-year sentence in 2003. The logo of the group, which is concentrated in Montana, is the letter “W,” standing for the white race, topped by a crown and a halo. The crown symbolizes the claim that so-called Creators are the elite, and the halo is meant to signify that adherents “believe that our white genes are our greatest treasure and [that] we should safeguard our gene pool zealously.”

The Creativity Movement is the latest incarnation of the Church of the Creator, which was established by Ben Klassen in 1973. Its adherents believe that race, not religion, is the embodiment of absolute truth and that the white race is the highest expression of culture and civilization. Jews and non-whites — “mud races” — are believed to be intent on subjugating whites. By the late 1980s, increasing numbers of white supremacists were drawn to Klassen’s Nazi-like belief system, which he spelled out in a series of books, most importantly The White Man’s Bible.

Over the years, some so-called Creators have acted on their group’s calls for RaHoWa — “racial holy war” — and been arrested and imprisoned for violent, race-based crimes. In 1992, for example, George Loeb, a Church of the Creator “reverend,” was convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying a year earlier of Harold Mansfield, Jr., an African-American Gulf War veteran, in a parking lot in Neptune Beach, Fla. Loeb was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

After Klassen committed suicide in 1993, the Church of the Creator teetered on the brink of extinction. But in 1995, Matt Hale of East Peoria, Ill., resurrected the group, changing its name to World Church of the Creator (WCOTC) in the process and giving himself the title of Pontifex Maximus, meaning “high priest.” Composed largely of racist skinheads, the Hale-led group grew from 14 chapters in 1996 to 88 by 2002, making it the neo-Nazi group with the largest number of chapters in America at that time. In 1999, the group came into the national spotlight after a key member, Benjamin Smith, went on a three-day rampage, apparently enraged that Hale had been denied his law license on moral grounds despite passing the bar exam. Smith killed an African American and a Korean American and wounded nine others. Hale initially denied knowing Smith, but he was lying. As it turned out, Hale had just months earlier named Smith the “Creator of the Year,” the group’s top honor, and, moreover, had spent many hours on the phone with him immediately before the rampage. Although Hale was never charged in connection with Smith’s murder spree (Smith killed himself as police closed in), many officials felt that he had been involved but evaded responsibility.

But Hale did finally get in serious trouble, being arrested in January 2003 during a federal court battle over the name of his group. A non-racist church in the Pacific Northwest had sued WCOTC, saying it had trademarked the name and demanding that the neo-Nazi group stop using it. Eventually, the judge hearing the copyright case ruled in the non-racist church’s behalf, which apparently infuriated Hale enough to suggest to the group’s security chief (who turned out to be a federal informant) that he murder the judge. The following year, Hale was convicted of one count of solicitation of murder and three counts of obstruction of justice and received a 40-year federal prison sentence. Once again, the church almost collapsed. What loyalists remained became the Creativity Movement (this name change was forced, of course, by the outcome of the federal trademark trial).

After Hale went to prison, the Creativity Movement was plagued by schisms and a lack of centralized leadership. A Florida leader, Adam Jacobs, appeared to take the reins as acting national boss in 2004. But the following year, Jacobs was charged with viciously beating a fellow Creator over a period of 11 hours because he suspected the other man was a snitch. One more time, the Creativity Movement nearly disappeared.

Despite this rocky start, the Creativity Movement eventually saw modest but surprising growth. The Montana Creativity Movement began doing literature drops around Montana and staged rallies in Kalispell and Bozeman in the fall of 2009. This helped the organization to reach 14 chapters in 2009, an increase of three from 2008. Eight of those chapters were in Montana, but as of 2010, the group was led by James Logsdon of Zion, Ill.

The Creativity Movement generated news in 2009 and 2010 when a Billings member, Allen Michael Goff, was charged with felony assault with a weapon and a misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon after he allegedly shot a Hispanic teen in the leg after a party. Although Goff was 17 at the time, he was charged as an adult by prosecutors who said the shooting was racially motivated. They tried to introduce at trial evidence of Goff’s affiliation with the Creativity Movement, but the judge denied their request, saying the evidence didn’t show that the shooting was racially motivated.

Goff — who was named “Creator of the Year” in a Creativity Movement Internet forum in 2009 — pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charge, and a jury acquitted him of the felony charge in May 2010. The following month, Goff was sentenced to six months of probation and fined $150. Two days later, he confronted Travis McAdam, executive director of the Montana Human Rights Network, who was presiding over an exhibit featuring the literature and beliefs of the Creativity Movement. Goff accused McAdam of ruining his life. “We’ve always felt he was one of the ringleaders,” McAdam told the Southern Poverty Law Center. “I think what that encounter showed everyone is that he’s going to feel more emboldened now.”

In January 2007, a spin-off calling itself the Creativity Alliance was formed. It’s composed of individuals from Klassen and Hale’s former groups as well as new members, but has no affiliation with the Creativity Movement. Like the Creativity Movement, the Creativity Alliance views Klassen as its founder. In many other ways, however, it differs from the Creativity Movement. It has a more informal organizational structure than the older organization, with individual members expected to find at least one receptive white person to join them in the formation of a local chapter.

The Creativity Alliance claims to eschew a future racial holy war and it has a policy of “non-participation in the ‘White Power’ social scene.” It is hardly a benign organization, however. One of the articles featured on its website is a screed from 2008 by “Brother A.V.W.” In it, the author repeatedly makes slurs against “niggers” and “the hideous Jews.” He ends the piece, “White man fight! White man fight! White man fight!”

In 1992, anticipating a civil lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in connection with the Mansfield murder, Klassen sold most of his Otto, N.C., compound at a fire-sale price to William Pierce, founder and leader of the neo-Nazi National Alliance. After searching for a successor to head his group, Klassen, a former Florida state legislator and inventor of one version of the electric can opener, then committed suicide in 1993 by swallowing four bottles of sleeping pills. After his death, his successor, Richard "Rick" McClarty, failed to defend COTC in the 1994 lawsuit SPLC did bring on behalf of Mansfield's family. As a result, Mansfield's family was awarded a $1 million default judgment. (Later, the SPLC also sued Pierce, who had immediately resold the Otto land at an $85,000 profit, for engaging in a scheme to defraud Mansfield's estate. Pierce was forced to give up the profit he had made on the resale of Klassen's land.)

In 1995, the organization came back to life under the leadership of Matt Hale. An avowed racist from an early age, Hale discovered the COTC in the early 1990s while going to school at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill, near his home. Joining the group in 1995, he seized control in 1996, changing its name to World Church of the Creator (WCTOC) and adopting for himself the title Pontifex Maximus ("highest priest"). Unusually well educated for a neo-Nazi (he ultimately earned a law degree in the late 1990s), Hale managed to revitalize an organization that had virtually collapsed after Klassen's death. From 14 chapters in 1996, WCOTC grew to 88 chapters by 2002, making it the neo-Nazi group with the largest number of chapters in America. Hale also built up the group's Web presence in the late 1990s, and proved adept at winning national publicity on a number of occasions.

Please conduct a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links as well as a cross-reference with the Southern Poverty Law Center to include any information provided by the SPLC. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, and 214 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities for AND Magazine, MuckRock and Glomar Disclosure and have an open arrangement with each. My articles have been widely read, with some reaching over 100,000 readers. As such, as I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. In addition, I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through the non-profit Internet Archive, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance. Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross-section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media. Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As such, my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available and I therefore request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Michael Best

From: FOIPARequest

Good morning,

The FBI has received your Freedom of Information Act/Privacy (FOIPA) request and it will be forwarded to Initial Processing for review. Your request will be processed under the provisions of FOIPA and a response will be mailed to you at a later date.

Requests for fee waivers and expedited processing will be addressed once your request has been assigned an FOIPA request number. You will receive written notification of the FBI’s decision.

Information regarding the Freedom of Information Act/Privacy is available at http://www.fbi.gov/ or http://www.fbi.gov/foia/. If you require additional assistance please contact the Public Information Officer.

Thank you,

Holly Early
Government Information Specialist
Record/Information Dissemination Section (RIDS)
FBI-Records Management Division
170 Marcel Drive, Winchester, VA 22602-4843
PIO: (540) 868-4593
Direct: (540) 868-4854
Fax: (540) 868-4391/4997
E-mail: foiparequest@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foiparequest@ic.fbi.gov>
Questions E-mail: foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov<mailto:foipaquestions@ic.fbi.gov>

Do you have further questions about the FOI/PA process? Visit us at http://www.fbi.gov/foia

Please check the status of your request online at https://vault.fbi.gov/fdps-1/@@search-fdps. Status updates are performed on a weekly basis.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

An acknowledgement letter, stating the request is being processed.

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A copy of documents responsive to the request.

From: Michael Best

I am appealing the integrity of the search, as the parameters I specified were not met, including but not limited to a failure to search all the field offices I requested and a failure to search for the name I actually specified. Nor was an attempt made to locate correspondence with the SPCL. I specifically requested "a search of the Central Records System, including but not limited to the Electronic Surveillance (ELSUR) Indices, the Microphone Surveillance (MISUR) Indices, the Physical Surveillance (FISUR) Indices, and the Technical Surveillance (TESUR) Indices, for both main-file records and cross-reference records of both HQ and all field offices for all relevant names, agencies, organizations, companies and events including but not limited to those cited in the previous paragraphs and/or links as well as a cross-reference with the Southern Poverty Law Center to include any information provided by the SPLC. My request includes but is not limited to 137, 157, 176, 177, 183, 184, 188, 214 and 266 files. If previously released records are available, then I request a rolling release consisting of those records while additional records are located and processed for release."

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

01/27/2017 05:10 PM FOIA Request: DOJ-AP-2017-001934

From: OIP-NoReply@usdoj.gov

DOJ-AP-2017-001934 has been processed with the following final disposition: Completely reversed/remanded.

  • Best, Michael, AP-2017-001934, FBI - Remand for further search

From: Federal Bureau of Investigation

A letter stating the requester must agree to or prepay assessed or estimated fees in order for the agency to continue processing the request.

From: Michael Best

I agree to pay all duplication fees associated with this request. Please process it ASAP. Thanks!

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