A small town in North Dakota with a population of just 24 people is bracing itself this weekend when it expects to be overrun by busloads white supremacists who want to take it over.
The town of Leith sits three miles from the nearest paved road, NPR reported. One of the national’s largest neo-Nazi organizations, The National Socialist Movement (NSM), is traveling from Detroit to hold a town-hall meeting and press conference there Sunday, according to The Guardian. The NSM website said the nature of the meeting is to “plant the seeds of National Socialism in North Dakota.”
Leith already has one white supremacist resident by the name of Paul Craig Cobb. Cobb, 61, invited the NSM to Leith and even gifted land to supremacist leaders.
Leith also has one black resident, Bobby Harper, who lives just across an alleyway from Cobb.
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"He knows that those people that he's inviting to this town are full of hate," Harper told NPR. "He's bringing his people in that doesn't like me just because of my race, and that's not the way it should be."
When Cobb moved to Leith, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center hate watch blog, Cobb started buying up deserted land. He now owns more than a dozen lots, which he bought for a few hundred dollars each.
According to Harper, Cobb has given away most of the land he owns to people who are notorious in white supremacy circles, including one former KKK leader and the leader of NSM, Jeff Shoep.
In 2012, Cobb told the Vanguard News Network that he intends to build an all-white society of racists in North Dakota “post haste.” He plans to rename Leith, Cobbsville.
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"It would be extraordinarily beautiful when people enter the town, particularly at night," Cobb said. "We will probably have the National Socialist hunting flag with stag horns and a very small swastika in the center — very discreet."
Cobb wants Leith to be just the beginning of the separatist society. He plans to take over adjacent towns.
According to Gregory Gordon, a law professor at the University of North Dakota, laws like the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 will probably spell the end for Cobb’s dream. These laws prohibit discrimination in housing opportunity.
"I don't think we should take him lightly, because he is very much into glorifying and promoting violence against racial minorities," Gordon cautioned.
Last month the SPLC revealed that Cobb is wanted in Canada for promoting hatred in a blog.
The people of Leith fear the only way to stop white supremacists from taking over is to legislate their town out of existence. They’ve already had the county health department condemn several structures to keep Cobb’s hands off of them. They’re considering dissolving the town council and give control of the town to the county.
"It's sad seeing a town die off, but what's heartbreaking is to see a town struggling with the decision of dissolving its government because an extreme hate group is wanting to take over," Leith resident Bethany Haberstroh told NPR.