WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.—Two men previously charged with conspiring to make and sell illegal firearms also discussed shooting protesters after scouting a Black Lives Matter rally and had participated in live-fire weapons training where participants displayed Nazi symbols, prosecutors said in court documents unsealed Nov. 20.
The U.S. Department of Justice said Paul James Kryscuk, 35, Liam Montgomery Collins, 21, Jordan Duncan, 26, and Justin Wade Hermanson, 21, were charged in a superseding indictment obtained in federal court in North Carolina. Mr. Hermanson is a current Marine while accused Collins and Duncan are former Marines previously assigned to Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, the department added in its news release.
While the firearms charges against suspects Duncan, Collins and Kryscuk were previously disclosed, the Nov. 20 press release represents the first time prosecutors referred to the group’s “ties to White supremacy.”
Attorneys who represented Duncan, Collins and Kryscuk during proceedings in the case in Idaho didn’t immediately respond to emails asking if they were still involved in the case or could comment on the latest developments.
Don Connelly, a spokesman for the Raleigh-based federal prosecutor’s office, said in an email that he didn’t have further information on attorneys representing the four men.
According to the indictment, Mr. Collins posted frequently on the online message board platform called Iron March, which prosecutors said was used by neo-Nazi and White supremacy extremist groups. Mr. Collins spoke of recruiting for a group he described as “a modern day SS” located in the Northeast, and in 2016, he posted that he was organizing a paramilitary force.
The indictment said accused Collins and Kryscuk would eventually discuss the three steps they felt were necessary to effect the change in the country they were seeking, including “knocking down The System, mounting it and smashing (its) face until it has been beaten past the point of death.”
“Second order of business … is the seizing of territory and the Balkanization of North America,” Mr. Kryscuk wrote in February 2017, according to authorities. “Buying property in remote areas that are already predominantly White and right leaning, networking with locals, training, farming, and stockpiling. Essentially we are laying the framework for a guerilla organization and a takeover of local government and industry.”
“As time goes on in this conflict, we will expand our territories and slowly take back the land that is rightfully ours. … As we build our forces and our numbers, we will move into the urban areas and clear them out. This will be a ground war very reminiscent of Iraq as we will essentially be facing an insurgent force made up of criminals and gang members,” Mr. Kryscuk wrote.
According to the news release, Iron March shut down in late 2017.
From May 2019 to now, the indictment said, Mr. Collins made multiple money transfers through his personal account to Mr. Kryscuk to buy firearms, including a 9mm pistol and suppressor and a short barrel rifle. Mr. Kryscuk then purchased items from vendors to make the firearms and suppressors.
Also, Mr. Kryscuk used an alias in mailing the manufactured weapons from Idaho to Jacksonville, North Carolina, the indictment said. Mr. Kryscuk also shipped the short barrel rifle, not registered as required by the federal government, to Mr. Collins. Mr. Duncan, a military contractor, and Mr. Hermanson, currently a U.S. Marine, knew of and were in on the conspiracy, prosecutors said.
Defendants Collins and Kryscuk recruited additional members, including Duncan and Hermanson, and conducted training, including a live-fire training in a desert area near Boise, Idaho, the news release said. It said that from video footage recorded by the members during the training, Kryscuk, Duncan, and others produced a montage video of their training which showed participants firing short barrel rifles and other assault-type rifles. The end of the video, according to court documents, shows the four participants outfitted in skull masks and giving the “Heil Hitler” sign, beneath the image of a black sun, a Nazi symbol. The last frame bears the phrase, “Come home White man.”
The indictment also described how Mr. Kryscuk was within sight of a Black Lives Matter rally on the campus of Boise State University on July 21, initially sitting in his vehicle before driving slowly around the rally for approximately 20 minutes. One month later, Black Lives Matter held another protest in downtown Boise and Mr. Kryscuk’s vehicle was in the vicinity for around six minutes, the indictment said.
Shortly afterward, Mr. Kryscuk and Mr. Duncan discussed their group shooting protesters in Boise, prosecutors wrote. (AP)
Student loan debt widens racial wealth gap
President-elect Joe Biden wants to immediately erase student loan debt, a move that could prove more meaningful for Black students who, on average, owe much more than anyone.
With the freeze placed on student loan repayments set to end December 31, Mr. Biden has gotten behind the Democrat-led House’s HEROES Act, which calls on the federal government to pay off up to $10,000 in private, non-federal student loans for economically distressed borrowers.
“People having to make choices between paying their student loan and paying the rent … debt relief should be done immediately,” Mr. Biden stated during a news conference Nov. 16.
NPR reported that Senate Democrats also are pushing for much more debt relief.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) co-authored a resolution in September with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) calling for the next president to cancel up to $50,000 of outstanding federal student loans per borrower.
According to data from the U.S. College Board, that would mean erasing all debt for more than three-quarters of borrowers.
Andrew Pentis, the student loan debt policy expert at Student Loan Hero, pointed to an analysis published by his company, which shows student loan portfolios now total $1.67 trillion.
Further, the data shows that debt distribution is more massive among borrowers of color, particularly Black students.
Nearly 9 in 10 Black students take out federal student loans to pay for college, compared with 7 in 10 White students.
Black students are far more likely to have large student debt than their White, Hispanic or Asian classmates, with 59.5 percent of Black students borrowing more than $29,500.
Mr. Pentis noted that the Black borrowers are more than twice as likely as White borrowers to default on their student loans, which he said is a byproduct of a U.S. median household income that’s about $25,000 less for Black families than Whites.
The end of the federal loan moratorium would disproportionately impact Black and brown borrowers, Mr. Pentis warned.
“Student loans have long been seen as a tool to make the wealth gap in this country better,” Mr. Pentis said.
“We are seeing that those loans are actually making the racial wealth gap worse because the loans become a burden on families that are already disadvantaged in terms of having a lower household income, having a lower net worth, and student loans can be a hindrance for families trying to achieve financial goals like buying a house instead of helping those families sort of climb the social ladder and increase their financial wherewithal.”
Student Loan Hero’s student loan debt analysis also revealed that large amounts of debt could act as a roadblock to completing college on time.
Data showed that while 42.6 percent of students in the Class of 2017 graduated in four years or less.
However, that number drops to 28.8 percent among Black students and 29.7 percent among Hispanic students.
For White and Asian students, Student Loan Hero said the rates were higher than average at 46.7 percent and 48.5 percent, respectively. Conversely, more Black students—40.7 percent—took over six years to graduate college, compared with 35.2 percent for Hispanic students, 25.3 percent for White students, and 19.7 percent for Asian students.
“It’s proven that earning degrees allows students to earn more income,” Mr. Pentis remarked.
“So, if you have students not able to graduate, they’re carrying debt into careers that may not be able to pay for it. Black students are borrowing at higher amounts because of the racial wealth gap in this country.
“Typically, White and Hispanic students might borrow at relatively high rates, but they’re not borrowing as much.”