Hearing postponed for blogger accused of threats
NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — A power failure has postponed a bail hearing for a New Jersey blogger charged with threatening three federal judges in Chicago.
Harold "Hal" Turner was to have appeared in federal court Tuesday. But that was canceled after a blown transformer cut power to parts of downtown Newark.
A new date has not been set.
The northern New Jersey resident was denied bail last week after he was arrested and charged with threatening to assault or murder the judges because they refused to overturn handgun bans.
Prosecutors say Turner wrote that the judges "deserve to be killed" and provided a map showing the Chicago courthouse where they work.
In a separate case, Turner has been charged with encouraging violence against two Connecticut lawmakers over controversial legislation.
Tracing Xenophobic Internet Chatter to Its Roots in New Jersey Town
Jessica Hill/Associated Press
TO ORIGINAL SOURCE
LinkedinDiggFacebookMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalinkBy KAREEM FAHIM and NATE SCHWEBER
Published: June 30, 2009
The words of Hal Turner, incendiary and provincial as they might seem, have echoed far beyond the small Internet radio studio in his home in North Bergen, N.J., where, until his arrest last week, a neighbor knew him to be cordial if frequently confrontational.
Once an aspiring politician, Mr. Turner has become a controversial blogger and Internet radio host who has attracted attention from civil rights monitoring groups for his anti-immigrant and anti-Semitic pronouncements, and from authorities in Connecticut, where he was charged earlier this month with inciting violence against state lawmakers.
In April, Mr. Turner was suspected of playing a role in briefly driving down bank stocks after he claimed to have been leaked the results of bank stress tests conducted by the Treasury Department.
Last week, Mr. Turner achieved a new level of notoriety after federal authorities charged him with threatening in blog posts to assault and murder three federal appeals court judges.
“These judges deserve to be killed,” Mr. Turner wrote on his Web site, turnerradionetwork.com, which has since been taken down. “Their blood will replenish the tree of liberty.” He also posted the names, photos, phone numbers and work addresses of the three judges.
Mr. Turner’s words, which will test the boundaries of free speech, have emerged from an unlikely place: a three-story brick building across from a car wash in North Bergen, where many of his neighbors are Hispanic. Federal agents arrested him there last week, finding three semiautomatic handguns and a shotgun, along with 350 rounds of ammunition.
At a hearing on Thursday, prosecutors said they would consent to letting Mr. Turner remain under house arrest after posting bail if he surrendered all his broadcasting equipment and Internet access. The police planned to monitor his home computers to ensure that he stayed off the Web. He would also have to submit to a mental health evaluation and not travel outside New Jersey and northern Illinois, where he is charged.
The judge, Michael A. Shipp, said: “Quite frankly, after reading all the information I’m concerned about the defendant’s threat to the community.”
John Turner, 44, Mr. Turner’s brother, said after the hearing that his brother’s arrest constituted an “abuse of power.” Another bail hearing is set for Tuesday afternoon.
On Monday, a note from Mr. Turner, apparently written in jail, was posted on his Web site. In it, he asked his supporters for money to pay a lawyer and to post bond.
“I’ve been jailed in protective custody on account of the U.S. marshals because I’m the only non-Hispanic white guy in the prison,” the note said. Visitors to his Web site are now directed to a blog run by his mother.
Mr. Turner has been broadcasting from his home since 2001. In an interview he gave to The Record of Hackensack in 2003, Mr. Turner, a former Marine, said that his turn from budding politician to firebrand Internet activist came a few years earlier after a decision by the Republican leadership in Hudson County to endorse a Hispanic woman over him to challenge Senator Robert Menendez, who was then in the House of Representatives.
“I had never judged people on their race, not prior to that point,” he said.
Frank Askin, a professor of constitutional law at Rutgers University, said statements as “obnoxious and offensive” as those attributed to Mr. Turner are still protected. “In order to convict him, the U.S. Supreme Court is going to have to overrule earlier doctrine,” he said. “I don’t think he can be convicted of incitement. People who listen to him have time to think.”
In the 2003 interview with The Record, Mr. Turner spoke well of the people of North Bergen, a town where Hispanics make up more than 60 percent of the population. “They fit in just fine,” he said. “They are decent people.” (In the same article, Mr. Turner referred to some residents of Los Angeles as “brown-skinned savages.”)
One of his neighbors recalled several run-ins with Mr. Turner. Roldan Flores, 44, a truck driver, said that while many of his exchanges with Mr. Turner were polite, the two had an argument more than a year ago. Mr. Flores said he had music blaring from his car stereo and Mr. Turner came outside and exchanged words with him. Later that evening, as Mr. Flores left his apartment, Mr. Turner emerged from his apartment across the hall at the same time with a pistol prominently displayed, stuffed down the front of his shorts with the handle protruding.
“Never did I know he had a gun until that altercation with him,” Mr. Flores said last week.
Mr. Flores said around the same time Mr. Turner hung a sign on a telephone pole near the front of the building which read, “No infestation, no immigration.” Mr. Flores said he tore the sign down with a tire iron and threw it in the trash.