Queer Twist in Neo-Nazi Trial
Columbus, Ohio -- As prosecutors and defense attorneys prepared and presented final arguments after four weeks of testimony in the federal bank robbery trial of alleged Aryan Republican Army co- leader Peter Langan, all the real drama was happening off-stage.In Philadelphia, a federal grand jury handed up a new federal racketeering indictment against Langan, Christian Identity minister Mark Thomas, and three others who had already been tied to the Aryan Republican Army. But the new three count indictment was not what had the courtroom abuzz.The most startling revelation was made by Langan's lover, Cherie Roberts, who told reporters during an off-the-cuff discussion in the courtroom that both she and Langan are transsexuals."She is my soul mate and we are lovers," said Roberts, referring to Langan. At one point when asked by a U.S. Marshal not to communicate with Langan, Roberts broke into tears and said, "I can't talk to my wife." According to the account Roberts gave to reporters, she and Langan decided to become life partners in October 1995. Roberts, who prefers to be known by her male name, Mishka Alexander Jackson, showed off a silver band on her ring finger. Fingering another ring with a large stone that hung around her neck to symbolize their union, she said, "I hope someday to be able to put this on her finger." Although Roberts' statements were not part of Langan's case and the jury never heard her voluntary account, one defense witness lent credence to Roberts' story in sketchy testimony about Langan's appearance in June 1994. Kimberly Dorman testified that Langan's hair was long enough to touch his shoulders just days after a Cincinnati area bank was robbed by a male whom witnesses describe as having much shorter hair.Outside the courtroom, Dorman said that he knew Langan as Donna McClure, who dressed as a woman and attended two social gatherings of the Kansas City chapter of Crossdressers & Friends in May and June 1994. During this period, testimony shows, Langan rented a safehouse in nearby Pittsburg, Kansas under the name Don McClure.Dorman, who has legally changed his name to Kimberly, said he assumed "Donna McClure" was a preoperative transsexual like himself. Although he says he is a former president of Kansas City Crossdressers & Friends, and by his own account the most famously "out" transsexual in that city, Dorman said he didn't know Roberts/Jackson.Although it has not been introduced in this trial, the medical record of an exam at the time of Langan's arrest shows that his pubic hair had been shaved and his toenails were painted pink.Even when he dons a dark blue suit and tie for trial, Langan's appearance is unusual. The red dye on his nearly waist-length brown ponytail is fading now after a year in jail, but he still maintains long, polished fingernails. Langan and Roberts exchanged glances, blew kisses to each other, and mouthed "I love you" during the three days she was in the courtroom.Roberts was reluctant to talk much about the relationship with Langan, saying only, "She's a sweetie. There is no way she could have done what they say she's done." Roberts was optimistic, saying she thought there was a possibility Langan would be freed if he is found not guilty in this trial. That rosy scenario is highly unlikely. Even if Langan was acquitted on the five counts of bank robbery and explosives possession he is facing here, the U.S. Attorney still has 7 counts of explosives possession and assault on federal agents, charges resulting from a shoot-out with the FBI during his arrest, as well as the possibility of trials on 20 other robberies the government claims he committed. This tally doesn't include the new charges filed last week. Langan and previously identified co-conspirators Scott Stedeford and Richard Guthrie were indicted along with Mark Thomas and Michael Brescia. Brescia is best known as the person militia and conspiracists claim was John Doe #2 in the Oklahoma City bombing.Thomas, the Pennsylvania leader of Aryan Nations, has been holding "Hilter-fests" and other skinhead music events politics at his compound for the last several years to bring in new recruits to Christian Identity. In his internet magazine "The Watchman" Thomas has expressed admiration for The Order, another neo-nazi bank robbery gang that killed Denver talk show host Alan Berg in 1984, and for pseudo-populist bank robber Pretty Boy Floyd. The government's latest charges center on seven of the 22 banks they claim the Aryan Republican Army robbed over two years in seven states. Another co-conspirator, Kevin McCarthy, who has pled guilty to three bank robbery and related counts, testified last week that the group's goal was "the violent overthrow of the United States government."At press time on February 6, the jury in the Columbus trial had just begun deliberations. Cherie Roberts/Mishka Jackson waited to hear the fate of Peter Langan/Donna McClure, certain of one thing: "I know she's innocent."For immediate update on the verdict, call the reporters: (614) 268-4894. (Email: email@example.com) [SIDEBAR] OFF-STAGE PLAYERS If Cherie Roberts' story about their life together is true it may give pause to some of Peter Langan's supporters, but he would hardly be the first fascist to bend what that movement officially views as unbreakable gender roles. It is likely that neither Roberts nor Langan consider themselves "gay." Yet Langan's secret life seems so much at odds with his expressed hatred of homosexuals that it inevitably evokes comparisons to the story of Hitler's stormtroopers, the violent "brownshirts" of the SA. After tolerating the presence of homosexuals and other "deviants" in this section of the Nazi party until he came to power, Hitler on June 30, 1934 ordered a bloody purge, which he called "The Night of the Long Knives," to rid the party of hundreds of these and other "Unwanted Persons." Some writers, especially followers of Wilhelm Reich, have argued that fascism is a movement built on the containment and violent suppression of sexual desire.Anti-fascist activists caution, however, that sympathy for oppressed gender outlaws has its limits. As Jim MacNamara of the Anti-Racist Action network commented on hearing of Langan's latest secret, "If you were a secretary feeling the floor fall away from under her feet, or a mother who had her child in that daycare center [in Oklahoma City], you wouldn't care that the monster who planted that bomb was sexually repressed."While no direct link has been established between the Aryan Republican Army and the Oklahoma City bombing, members of the cell on trial here share a common strategic vision with Timothy McVeigh. To accomplish their goal of armed overthrow of the U.S. Government, they believe, requires a "leaderless resistance" capable of mobilizing widespread action while protecting against prosecution for criminal conspiracy. One of the most active proponents of this strategy in recent years has been Mark Thomas. His upcoming trial, expected to start about a year from now, will test the theory that "leaderless resistance" is just a constitutionally-protected idea, rather than a blueprint for race war.