New Publication The Informant Focuses Hate Groups, Extremism In America

Published: Thursday, January 16, 2020 - 1:12pm
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Victor G. Jeffreys II
Nick Martin

Over the course of the three years of the Trump administration, there’s been consistent concern about whether so-called hate groups have felt encouraged — or, at least, not publicly denounced strongly enough — by the president.

People of color, Jewish people and members of the LGBTQ community have felt threatened more intensely of late. And groups that espouse negative feelings or actions toward minorities have been more vocal in the public square.

Former Arizona journalist Nick Martin has observed this closely, and it’s what inspired him to start a new publication called the Informant, which focuses on hate-related organizations and incidents.

Interview Highlights

Do you believe these groups have felt more comfortable being public with their views over the past three years or so? 

I think that's absolutely right. You know, I think that we have groups that feel emboldened right now. One of the ways that I think about it is that what the Trump administration has has brought on is kind of the end of shame in America. It's no longer necessarily seen as bad or socially unacceptable for people to voice some of these toxic views. And, I feel, especially emboldened online. You know, I think online culture leads to leads to a lot of that. 

This sort of reporting takes a lot of guts because there's a lot of fear, a lot of people who are not happy you'd be reporting on this sort of thing. Is there something deeper that made you want to make sure people knew about this? 

You know, I started out my career working at the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Arizona. And I was also at the same time attending college. I was I was attending Mesa Community College. At that time. There was a man who was the president of the Young Republicans Club at Mesa Community College. His name was J.T. Ready. I met him for the first time when he was protesting a 2004 event by President George W. Bush. And I thought to myself at the time — and I asked him this when I when I ran into him — "Why is the president of the Young Republicans Club protesting a Republican president?" And his response to me was essentially that he was, that he believed that George W. Bush was soft on immigration and that he, J.T. Ready, was was mad as hell about it. I don't know at the time whether J.T. Ready was a neo-Nazi, whether he had joined any kind of group or organization. But over the years, it became clear that he was a neo-Nazi. He marched with a group called the National Socialist Movement, which at the time was the largest neo-Nazi organization in America. We're talking about marches where guys are wearing swastika bandanas and some are waving swastika flags. And J.T. Ready was a significant part of that. In 2012, I was working in New York City for a website called Talking Points Memo when word came out of Gilbert, Arizona, that J.T. Ready had walked into a house, had murdered his girlfriend and three other people, including a toddler, and then killed himself. Those murders to this day still haunt me. And I've talked to a number of other people in Arizona that those murders still haunt as well — people in law enforcement, people in journalism. Because a lot of people knew who J.T. Ready was and knew he was dangerous. And nobody was able to do anything to stop what happened. That interaction with with J.T. Ready, going back to Mesa Community College and the George W. Bush event, and seeing his transformation over time is really a personal motivator to continue exposing these things and to do whatever I can — whatever tools I have in front of me — to try to make sure that kind of thing doesn't happen. It will happen again. It has happened again since that time. But I want to do whatever I can to stop it. 

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