2008_Barack_Obama_assassination_scare_in_Tennessee by zzzmarcus

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2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Tennessee

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Tennessee
were taking the plot seriously, authorities said they have not yet determined how capable the duo were of carrying out the alleged plot. Both plotters are currently on trial for charges of threatening to kill a presidential candidate, among other related charges.

Investigation and arrests
Paul Schlesselman, 18, of West Helena, Arkansas, and Daniel Cowart, 20, of Bells, Tennessee, allegedly plotted to assassinate Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.[1] Both white power skinheads, Schlesselman and Cowart were introduced to each other via the Internet in September 2008 by a mutual friend who shared their white supremacist beliefs.[2] Within a month they began planning to kill Obama by driving their vehicle toward him as fast as they could and shooting at him from the windows. The murder was planned as the final act of violence of a killing spree in which the duo planned to kill 88 African Americans by gunfire, mostly children at an unidentified, predominantly black school.[3][4] They also planned to behead 14 of the 88 victims. The numbers were chosen for their special significance in the white power movement,[3] 88 means "Heil Hitler", since H is the eighth letter in the alphabet, and 14 represents the 14-word white supremacist mantra, "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."[5] Schlesselman and Cowart chatted on the Internet about how to carry out the spree. Schlesselman suggested using a sawed-off shotgun because it would be easy to maneuver; he also said he planned to steal a gun from his father.[2] Prior to their arrest, the men decorated their car with a Swastika and drew the numbers 88 and 14 on their hood using window chalk.[3] Authorities believe the duo may have planned to move from state to state to choose their victims. They also planned to wear white tuxedos and top hats during the assassination attempt.[1]

Barack Obama, President of the United States and feared target of an alleged assassination plot during his candidacy. The 2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Tennessee refers to an alleged plot by Paul Schlesselman and Daniel Cowart to assassinate Barack Obama, then 2008 Democratic Party presidential nominee. The two men, both of whom held strong white supremacist beliefs, spoke of killing Obama during a planned murder spree of 88 African Americans in Tennessee, many of whom were to be young students at an unidentified, predominantly black school. Schlesselman and Cowart were arrested October 22 and found to be in possession of several weapons. The men told authorities of their planned assassination and killing spree, and said they intended to rob a gun store for additional weapons and perform home robberies to help fund the murders. Although the United States Secret Service said they

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2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Tennessee
the murders and insisted they were willing to die.[1] Authorities said the pair planned to break into a gun shop to steal more weapons for their attack, and also bought nylon rope and ski masks at Wal-Mart to use in a robbery or home invasion to fund the spree.[1] The duo asked a friend to drive them to a house they planned to rob, but they cancelled the robbery after getting scared by a dog and two vehicles in the driveway.[2]

The alleged assassination plotters, Paul Schlesselman (left) and Daniel Cowart On October 22, Schlesselman and Cowart shot at a glass window on the front door of the Beech Grove Church of Christ in Brownsville, Tennessee, which has a congregation of about 60 African Americans. Nobody was present at the church when the shot was fired; the bullet and shattered glass were found when church members arrived for Bible study later in the evening. Church officials said it was the first such attack against the church in its 120-year history.[1] The two men bragged to a female friend about the shooting; the friend told her mother, who notified the Haywood County Sheriff’s Department. Investigators traced the shell casings to Schlesselman and Cowart, and notified the Crockett County Sheriff’s Department, who took the pair into custody after spotting the Swastikas, slurs and 88 and 14 numbers on their car.[2][3] Police seized a rifle, a sawed-off shotgun and three pistols from the men at the time of the arrest. They were detained in Bells for a few days before being moved to another facility.[1] During interrogation, the duo told authorities of their plan to kill Obama.[4] The United States Secret Service became involved in the investigation once the supposed assassination plot was discovered.[1] Both men were charged with illegal possession of a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a firearms dealer and making threats against a presidential candidate; additional charges were to be filed later pending an active investigation. Authorities have found no evidence that anyone besides the two men were involved in the plot, but authorities are still investigating the possibility.[4] Both Schlesselman and Cowart acknowledged that they would be killed as a result of

Assessment of threat
Secret Service and other authorities said they were treating the plot very seriously, but acknowledged it did not appear to have moved to an advanced stage.[4] Authorities said there did not appear to be any formal assassination plan and said they were unable to assess how capable the duo was of carrying out the attack.[1] Federal authorities told the Associated Press they did not believe Schlesselman and Cowart had the means to carry out their threat.[2] Barack Obama did not have any campaign appearances planned for Tennessee.[4] One federal law enforcement officials told the AP that plans did not include Obama’s schedule or a specific time and place for the assassination because, "I don’t think they had that level of detail."[2] Authorities said they made several mistakes during their planning, including drawing too much attention to themselves with their car markings. Authorities also felt the duo’s failure to carry out a home robbery together indicated they would be unable to assassinate Obama.[2] When asked whether the alleged threats were real, Daniel Cowart’s laywer, Joe H. Byrd, told reporters, "White top hats and tuxedos? You tell me."[6] "They sound crazy, like a really bad movie - Quentin Tarantino gone awry. You listen to that, and you say, ’In a hundred thousand years, they never would have reached Obama.’ But the reality is, they might have walked into a black high school and killed 20, 30, 40 people before anybody knew who they were." —Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center[7] Fred Fielder, police chief in Helena-West Helena, said the alleged plot in Tennessee particularly concerned him due to the fact that 66 percent of the city’s 12,200 population are African American; he said to

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reporters, "Predominantly black school, take your pick."[1] Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, described the plans and weapons arsenal as frightening, but said, "With the part about wearing top hats...it gets a bit hard to take them seriously."[2] Nevertheless, Potok said "the reality is, they might have walked into a black high school and killed 20, 30, 40 people before anybody knew who they were."[7] An editorial in The Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, said the plot emphasized a dark undercurrent of racism still alive in the United States, but said their chances of actually killing Obama were "almost nil. Their plot was so disorganized they appear to be candidates for ’dumb criminals,’ not calculating assassins."[8] Despite initial concerns about the plot, the Barack Obama campaign was not notified of the alleged plot; an Obama aide told ABC News, "They were given no heads up."[9] Concerns were already strong about possible plots against Obama due to his status as the first African American presidential nominee for a major political party. The senator had been receiving Secret Service protection since May 2007, which was the earliest for any candidate, and authorities had already foiled an alleged assassination plot at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.[4]

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Tennessee
suffer."[2] His sister Kayla, who is two years younger than Paul, often argued with him about his racial beliefs. A few days before his arrest, a neighbor said he heard semiautomatic gunfire coming from an open field behind Schlesselman’s house.[10] After his arrest, Schlesselman’s family expressed doubt that he seriously intended to carry out the plot; his father, Mike, said, "I think it’s just a lot of talk. He would never do something like this."[2] Kayla said she spoke with his brother after the charges were made public, and that Paul "said he’s sorry about everything he’s done."[2]

Daniel Cowart
Daniel Cowart is of English descent and was raised in Bells, Tennessee, where he was also often preoccupied with computers. He never had any problems with the law prior to his arrest with Schlesselman. Cowart attended Crockett County High School until 2006, but did not graduate. Cowart applied for Jackson State Community College to study computers but, although his family believed he was indeed attending the school, he never provided documentation or pursued other steps to enroll there. Cowart moved to Texas in the spring of 2007 to live with friends he met on the Internet, but he was unable to find work and returned to Bells after one month to live with his grandparents.[11] Before his move to Texas, Cowart worked at a Bells grocery store called the Bells Market Place for one year until May 2007 before moving to Texas for a brief time. Cowart worked and got along with several minority co-workers, who later expressed shock at his eventual arrest. Mitchell Twitty, a black former co-worker, said of Cowart, "He treated me like we were best friends. I never, ever heard him make a racist remark."[12] Twitty said Cowart tended to keep to himself and at times acted "maybe a little strange."[12] Other co-workers described him as hard-working and friendly, but said he did not have many friends. One family friend thought he was intelligent and full of potential: "I always saw him as a doctor or lawyer, or even a senator. He even had the potential to become what Obama is, running for president."[12] According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Cowart belonged to Supreme White Alliance, an organization which overtly describes itself as racist on its website; Cowart

Histories of alleged plotters
Paul Schlesselman
Paul Schlesselman is of German descent and was a high school dropout raised by a single father in Helena-West Helena, Arkansas. He hated his small Delta region hometown because of its predominantly black population. He had never had any problems with the law prior to the alleged Obama plot. Schlesselman was regularly unsuccessful at finding work, was often short of money, and spent most of his time using his computer. He also had a strong affinity for drinking and smoking.[10] Schlesselman publicly claimed white people were the master race and would often say "Sieg Heil" and "Heil Hitler."[2] He also spoke out against Barack Obama, saying things like, "Obama would make the world

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could be seen in a photo on the group’s website celebrating the birthday of Adolf Hitler with other white power skinheads.[2] On the group’s social networking site, Cowart described himself as "easygoing and easy to get along with, as long as you are white!"[10] Cowart was allegedly kicked out of the group sometime prior to his arrest. The club’s president, Steve Edwards of Central City, Kentucky, resigned due to the negative press following Cowart’s arrest. Although Edwards acknowledged Cowart’s membership, he said the group had no part in the plan, and claimed that the media exaggerated Cowart’s connection to the group.[2]

2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Tennessee
into federal custody without bail. The charges carry a maximum punishment of 50 years in prison and $540,000 in fines.[6] A trial is expected to take place in Jackson, Tennessee, the area where the alleged crimes occurred.[14] At the request of federal authorities, the duo were placed on lockdown in their Obion County, Tennessee jail cell for their own protection against the other inmates. The two men can leave their cell for only one hour to watch television or use the phone; authorities said they had caused no problems during their time in the jail.[15] Cowart argued in a November 13 petition that the grand jury was racially stacked against him because it included only two white members, while "21 were African-American or of another race or races."[14] Cowart argued his indictment should be dismissed because jury could not "under the most modest constitutional scrutiny...be considered fair, impartial and unprejudiced."[14] In February 2009, a federal judge granted Schlesselman and Cowart limited access to court records on the grand jury selection and gave them permission to question procedures for selecting jurors. However, the duo were not allowed to challenge the resulting racial makeup of the actual jury.[16] Also in February 2009, Schlesselman asked the court to dismiss statements he previously gave police and evidence that he contended was wrongfully seized during searches of his home and another residence.[17] A federal judge will determine that issue in April. Schlesselman also argued his assassination threat charges should be dropped because he said the alleged comments were made while in custody, so he could not have carried them out and they were not a "true threat." Judge J. Daniel Breen rejected that argument in March 2009.[18]

Trials

A court drawing of the first hearing and not guilty pleas of Paul Schlesselman (middle) and Daniel Cowart (right). A grand jury indicted Paul Schlesselman and Daniel Cowart on November 5 on federal charges of threatening to kill and inflict bodily harm upon a major presidential candidate, conspiracy, interstate unlawful transportation of an unregistered firearm, interstate transportation of a firearm with the intent to commit a felony, transporting a shortbarreled shotgun across state lines without a license and unlawful possession of a shortbarreled shotgun. Cowart was also charged with damaging religious property and use of a firearm during a crime of violence.[13] On November 6, Schlesselman and Cowart plead not guilty before a federal magistrate in Memphis, Tennessee. The two were placed

Notes and references

[1] ^ Jordan, Lara Jakes (2008-10-27), "Feds disrupt skinhead plot to assassinate Obama", Associated Press, http://ap.google.com/article/ ALeqM5jsCEnrVzDQoU5tg63njLNy0UTDNAD9435AK retrieved on 2008-10-28 [2] ^ Baird, Woody; DeMillo, Andrew (2008-10-30), "Authorities say skinhead plot wasn’t fully formed", Associated Press, http://ap.google.com/article/

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2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Tennessee

ALeqM5jsCEnrVzDQoU5tg63njLNy0UTDNAD943S3HO0, [11] Martin, Mariann (2008-10-29), "Image of retrieved on 2008-11-04 Daniel Cowart not familiar to those he [3] ^ Date, Jack (2008-10-27), "Feds thwart knew in Bells", The Jackson Sun, alleged Obama assassination plot.", ABC http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/ News, http://abcnews.go.com/TheLaw/ 20081029/NEWS01/ Vote2008/story?id=6122962&page=1, 810290326&referrer=FRONTPAGECAROUSEL, retrieved on 2008-10-28 retrieved on 2008-11-07 [4] ^ Lichtblau, Eric (2008-10-27), "Arrests [12] ^ Martin, Mariann (2008-10-30), in plan to kill Obama and black "Minority coworkers say Cowart was schoolchildren", The New York Times, always friendly, respectful.", The Jackson http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/28/us/ Sun, http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/ politics/ 20081030/NEWS01/810300306, 28plot.html?scp=1&sq=Daniel%20Cowart&st=cse, retrieved on 2008-11-07 retrieved on 2008-10-28 [13] Martin, Mariann (2008-11-21), "2 men [5] Haberman, Maggie (2008-10-27), "ATF charged in Obama plot face additional stops plot to kill Barack Obama", New counts", The Jackson Sun, York Post, http://www.nypost.com/seven/ http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/ 10272008/news/nationalnews/ 20081121/NEWS01/811210315, the_plot_to_kill_obama_135558.htm, retrieved on 2008-11-22 retrieved on 2009-03-08 [14] ^ Baird, Woody (2008-11-13), "Man [6] ^ Baird, Woody (2009-11-06), charged in Obama plot says grand jury "Skinheads plead not guilty in alleged skewed", Associated Press, Obama plot.", Associated Press’’, http://ap.google.com/article/ http://ap.google.com/article/ ALeqM5jsCEnrVzDQoU5tg63njLNy0UTDNAD94EBD ALeqM5jsCEnrVzDQoU5tg63njLNy0UTDNAD949NSQ00, on 2008-11-14 retrieved retrieved on 2008-11-07 [15] "2 accused of threatening Obama kept on [7] ^ Johnson, Carrie (2009-01-11), "Bad lockdown", Associated Press, Economy May Fuel Hate Groups, Experts 2008-11-09, http://ap.google.com/article/ Warn", The Washington Post, ALeqM5jsCEnrVzDQoU5tg63njLNy0UTDNAD94BP9T http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/ retrieved on 2008-11-10 content/article/2009/01/10/ [16] Chism, Michelle (2009-02-09), Arkansan AR2009011002039_2.html?hpid=moreheadlines,Charged In Skinhead Plot Granted retrieved on 2009-01-11 Access To Court Records, [8] "Editorial: Foiled plot revives pain of http://www.todaysthv.com/news/local/ racism." The Daily News Journal, story.aspx?storyid=79876&catid=2, October 30, 2008. Retrieved on retrieved on 2009-02-09 2008-11-07. [17] "Man accused in Obama plot wants [9] Stephanopoulos, George (2008-10-27), evidence tossed", Associated Press, "Obama not told about alleged 2009-02-14, http://www.waaytv.com/ assassination plot.", ABC News, Global/story.asp?S=9843627, retrieved http://blogs.abcnews.com/george/2008/ on 2009-02-14 10/obama-agents-no.html, retrieved on [18] Buser, Lawrence (2009-03-25). "Judge 2008-10-28 refuses to dismiss charge in Obama [10] ^ Krupa, John (2008-10-29), "Teen in threat". The Commercial Appeal plot lists drinking as his job.", Arkansas (Memphis, Tennessee). Democrat-Gazette, http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/ http://www.nwanews.com/adg/News/ 2009/mar/25/judge-refuses-dismiss241886/, retrieved on 2008-11-07 charge-obama-threat/. Retrieved on 2009-03-27. Retrieved from 2008_Barack_Obama_assassination_scare_in_Tennessee" "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/

Categories: Assassination attempts, Barack Obama, 2008 in the United States, Crime in Tennessee, White supremacy in the United States, Racially motivated violence against African Americans

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2008 Barack Obama assassination scare in Tennessee

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