TWH – On July 23, 2019, a self-proclaimed follower of Asatru, Garrett Kelsey, 31, was charged in the federal Southern District of New York court for sending threats to a Manhattan-based Jewish organization back in May of this year. The charge carries a prison sentence of up to five years.
He was arrested and arraigned in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on charges of one count of interstate transmission of threats to injure a person. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said, “As alleged, Garrett Kelsey repeatedly conveyed obscenity-laden and hate-filled threats to a Jewish organization by phone and e-mail. The alleged conduct is not protected speech. As charged, the conduct – making interstate threats – is a federal crime punishable by years in prison.”
FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney, Jr. stated: “The FBI will always follow threats that cross the line of free speech and threaten the safety of individuals and groups, especially when those threats are based on a religion or race. The fact that Mr. Kelsey allegedly continued his threatening behavior even after being informed that his previous actions were not protected speech makes his actions more abhorrent.”
Kelsey voluntarily participated in an interview with law enforcement where he admitted he wrote and sent the threatening email and left the voicemail with the Jewish organization.
He also used similar neo-Nazi language to threaten Iowa Antifa which is an anti-fascist organization. He publicly posted on Iowa Antifa’s Facebook page: “I think you better second guess opening your little queer club here in Iowa. If I ever see any of you cock sucking commie fascist snowflakes, I’m gonna bash your skulls in without warning! White is might!! 1488!!”
1488 is a popular neo-Nazi/white supremacist’s shorthand slogan for “14 words” which are “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The numbers 88 stand for the eighth letter of the alphabet which would be HH or Hail Hitler. The numbers 1488 is a popular neo-Nazi tattoo.
In his threats, Kelsey emailed the Jewish organization with “You have three days to remove this video and offer an apology to the Asatru community, or we will be taking action against your organization full of degenerates.” The request was to remove a negative video on Nordic Neo-Nazis. He also left a voicemail with the Jewish organization where he described that his “people” have slaughtered Jewish people in the past and will do so again.
The video Kelsey was referring to was posted by the World Jewish Congress who posted a video on YouTube on May 3rd.
The video specifically calls out the group known as the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM) who has performed terroristic acts, such as bombings, and other forms of threats and violence in Sweden. The video calls out seven instances of the NRM’s neo-Nazi behavior such as a member getting arrested for bombing a cafe, members throwing firebombs at refugees, and other such acts of domestic terrorism. Though the video, the World Jewish Congress is requesting people reach out to the Swedish government to ban the NRM.
On what was believed to be one of Garrett Kelsey’s Facebook pages where he went by the name “Garrett Odinschild,” the same name he used in his threats, he publicly displayed a number of alt-right or racist links and images, such as a number of Jewish residents lined up against a wall in ghetto in Warsaw, Poland for an uprising during World War II. Also, a variation on the icon of “Pepe the Frog” that has become a symbol of white supremacists. This Facebook profile [pictured above] was entered as evidence as part of the FBI complaint.
He followed a number of Asatru groups on Facebook as well as a number of anti-Islamic groups and had also posted a number of anti-Islamic conspiracy videos on the “Kelsey Odinschild” page.
The profile and cover photo were changed, though the pictures still appeared in the recently posted pictures of the page while the page was still up. The page also contained posts advocating far-right and white supremacy ideology. Sometime in the last week, the page was taken down. A page under his legal name, Garrett Kelsey, listing Cedar Rapids, Iowa has both location and hometown has no visible references to any type of Heathenry. Under the “likes” of that page, a variety of metal bands, and also for a number of Satanist and Luciferian pages, but nothing overtly racist.
The Troth, an inclusive heathen organization had this to say:
The Troth is an international organization that supports and furthers the revival of Germanic pagan traditions, including Asatru. Unfortunately, there is a long history of individuals and groups using our gods and holy signs for the promotion of racist and white supremacist doctrines, a problem that continues to this day. However, in the historical sources for the religion of the Viking-era Norse, Anglo-Saxons, and other related peoples, there is simply nothing that even hints at a pagan religious mandate for hatred towards Jews or any other racial or ethnic group. Nor do we condone racist actions or racial hatred among our members today. We condemn the threats allegedly made by the accused as unworthy deeds, for which there is no justification in our religion. We wil also continue our work promoting inclusive Heathenry with our many programs including Heathens Against Hate and InReach Services.
The Troth stands against all racist misuses of our religious tradition and stands willing to cooperate with all persons of good will, whatever their faith, in opposing it.
No other information concerning Kelsey has been released as the investigation continues. TWH will continue to follow this story and report on any new developments.