Posted at Roanoake.com By Dan Casey:
One of the best shows in town these days is the federal criminal trial of a racist crank who is charged with threatening various people all over the North American continent.
The defendant is one of Roanoke’s low-rent landlords, William A. White. He’s also the narcissistic costume-Nazi “commander” of the American National Socialist Workers Party.
White’s trial started last week, and I dropped in there for a spell Friday to hear the testimony of Leonard Pitts, the Pulitzer Prize-winning nationally syndicated columnist who is one of White’s alleged victims.
His column runs in this newspaper, and I am a big fan. And I wanted to get his personal take on the charges against the biggest jerk in town.
Plus, it’s always kind of fun to watch thuggish buffoons like Bill White on the hot seat, you know?
But the entertainment value diminished quickly after Pitts, who is black, began testifying.
Over the course of about two hours, he described to the all-white jury his reactions to a phone call his wife took from White one night in June 2007.
It was followed the next morning by two e-mails White sent Pitts. One had the subject line “N—-r Pitts,” and a link to an Internet post in which White revealed Pitts’ unlisted phone number and home address to the world.
In the other, White quoted lyrics from a racist song prophesying the day when the white race would destroy and enslave all blacks.
“I was essentially chilled by the dehumanizing language,” Pitts told the court. “What really sealed the deal and what really made my blood run cold was the reference to my home address and the reference to my wife.”
White was saying, ” ‘I have all this information about you and the name of your wife and I can get to you,’ ” Pitts told the jury.
That was only the beginning. There are a lot of racist freaks like White out there, after all.
Dozens of nasty phone calls and hundreds of hateful e-mails followed — not from White but from others. Pitts felt compelled to warn administrators at his children’s schools, the police in his hometown of Bowie, Md., and the FBI.
“My information was disseminated to people who were hateful and violent because of the color of my skin,” Pitts testified. “It was terrifying.”
White’s defense is that his actions are constitutionally protected by the First Amendment, and that though he may have veered close to the line of unprotected criminal threats, he never crossed it.