White supremacist vows to fight N.J. county’s demands

Monday, May 22, 2000

(Editor’s note: On June 1, U.S. District Judge John Bissell granted Richard Barrett’s petition to remove Morris County’s lawsuit against the Nationalist Movement to federal court. A hearing is set for June 14.)

A meager staff and limited resources won’t stop a white-supremacist group from fighting a county’s demand for liability insurance and other fees for a planned march, the organization’s leader has vowed.

“If they (county leaders) thought they were going to wear us down, they were mistaken,” said Richard Barrett, first officer of the Nationalist Movement.

Officials in Morris County, N.J., are asking a state judge to decide whether they can legally require the Mississippi-based Nationalist Movement to obtain $8 million in liability insurance for a July 4 rally.

But Barrett has filed a petition to remove the case to federal court.

Last March, the Nationalist Movement requested the use of the Morris County Courthouse and grounds in Morristown for an “Independence from Affirmative Action Day” march. A month later County Administrator James Rosenberg wrote Barrett outlining the requirements for using county facilities. These requirements included obtaining $5 million in property-damage insurance and $3 million in bodily injury insurance and paying for additional police, fire and public works support.

Barrett responded in a May 4 letter, saying the group refused to pay the fees because they violated the First Amendment. He also threatened to sue the county and individual officials if they did not drop their demands.

County officials, however, beat Barrett to the punch. They filed a lawsuit in New Jersey Superior Court on May 10, asking the court to determine if their requirements violated the Nationalist Movement’s First Amendment rights.

Barrett says he is shocked by the county’s refusal to modify its demands and its determination to settle the issue in court.

“I’m appalled at the gall and the ignorance of the county officials in this case,” Barrett said. “It’s a forgone conclusion at the end of this who is going to be standing for truth, justice and the American way; it’s going to be the Nationalists.”

Barrett says the case should be heard in federal court because it involves a constitutional issue. Last week he petitioned the U.S. District Court in Newark to take jurisdiction of the case.

“The federal courts are there to protect the rights of everyone,” Barrett told The Daily Record of Parsippany for a May 11 article. “They are not tied in with the local government, the sheriff or anyone.”

County Counsel Robert Kevitz said last week that he could not comment on Barrett’s request to transfer the case because he had not seen the petition.

Superior Court Judge Kenneth MacKenzie has set a June 14 hearing date for the county’s lawsuit. Barrett says he will request a temporary restraining order to keep the county from enforcing its demands.

But Barrett said he would still like to settle this case out of court. He plans to attend the next meeting of the county’s governing board on May 24 to formally request that officials drop their demands.

He also said the group might move its rally from the county courthouse to the Morristown Town Hall because town officials have been more cooperative than county leaders. This move, however, would not stop the group from pursuing the lawsuit with the county, Barrett said.

The Nationalist Movement planned the rally to protest affirmative action and the state’s firing of former State Police Superintendent Carl A. Williams over racial remarks he made. Barrett said he chose Morristown for the rally because of the town’s history of hosting George Washington and the Continental Army for two winters during the Revolutionary War.