AZ Atomwaffen member arrested for threatening Jewish and black journalists

By: - February 26, 2020 3:50 pm
atomwaffen poster

An example of the poster that was glued to the window of an Arizona Jewish journalist’s home. Image from court records.

An Arizona man was among four members of the Neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen arrested Feb. 24 by the FBI for allegedly gluing a threatening poster to a Jewish journalist’s window earlier this year. 

Johnny Roman Garza of Queen Creek is facing charges that he conspired to send threatening posters to members of the media and activists. The posters contained messages such as “we know where you live” and “you have been visited by your local Nazis.” 

All four are members of Atomwaffen, a violent paramilitary Neo-Nazi group that is preparing for a race war. The group has been connected to violence and murders.  

Garza and his co-conspirators were attempting to conduct an operation across three states that would be a “show of force” to intimidate critics of the group. 

He is facing charges of conspiracy to mail threatening communications and cyberstalking.

Arizona has seen an increase in activity by extremist groups and their members.

The FBI obtained chats between Garza and his co-conspirators in which Garza said the plan was to “have them all wake up one morning and find themselves terrorized by targeted propaganda.” 

The majority of the evidence presented in the court document comes from communications between Garza and the other co-conspirators via an encrypted messaging app called Wire. 

It is not clear how the FBI was able to see or read the messages. 

In November, Washington based Atomwaffen member Cameron Brandon Shea enlisted Garza and others into the plan to begin targeting journalists with the hateful messages. 

“We will be postering journalists (sic) houses and media buildings to send a clear message that we too have leverage over them,” Shea said. “The goal, of course, is to erode the media/states air of legitimacy by showing people that they have names and addresses, and hopefully embolden others to act as well.” 

It was Garza’s idea to use a Society of Professional Journalists link to “pick targets” where he found the “leader of an association of black journalists” that he was aiming to target. 

Garza also suggested that they use disguises such as posing as a “mail deliverer” or dressing up as a construction worker to investigate their targets. 

The group created three posters, each with a blank space at the bottom where they would write the name and address of the person they were targeting. 

One poster featured four swastikas, a man with a press credential and Atomwaffen members holding guns behind him with the words “Death to Pigs” as well as “Two can play at that game, these people have names and addresses.” 

Another poster showed an Atomwaffen member holding a molotov cocktail with the words “Your actions have consequences, our patience has limits.” 

The third poster contained three swastikas and said “We are watching, we are noone (sic), we are everyone, we know where you live, do not fuck with us.” 

Each poster also declared, “You have been visited by your local Nazis” at the bottom of the poster. 

“I believe if we smash this, we can reap the reward of a nationwide scare,” Garza said in the group messages obtained by the FBI. 

The FBI was able to notify some of the victims in advance, according to the court document. 

On Jan. 25, law enforcement followed Garza as he was picked up in Queen Creek and dropped off at an apartment complex in Phoenix where a member of the Arizona Association of Black Journalists lived. 

Then they drove to the house of “the editor of a local Jewish publication.” The editor later found the “Your actions have consequences” poster with his name and address glued to one of his windows. 

In a statement, the Arizona Association of Black Journalists said it was aware of the allegations.

“The Arizona Association of Black Journalists is aware that one of our members was targeted by a suspected white supremacist who was arrested by federal authorities today. While we do not immediately know which member was targeted, we are working with our membership to provide support and ensure the safety of black journalists in Arizona,” said Jamar Younger, the chapter president.

“Today’s announcement serves as a warning to anyone who intends to use violence as intimidation or coercion to further their ideology that the FBI remains steadfast in our commitment to protect Americans from domestic terrorism,” Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Jill Sanborn said in a press statement on the arrests. 

“These nationwide arrests are the result of the robust partnerships among the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Tampa, Seattle, Houston, and Phoenix and we appreciate their collective efforts,” she added.

An initial appearance date hasn’t been set yet for Garza. 

***UPDATED: This story has been updated to include a comment from the Arizona Association of Black Journalists.

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Jerod MacDonald-Evoy
Jerod MacDonald-Evoy

Reporter Jerod MacDonald-Evoy joined the Arizona Mirror from the Arizona Republic, where he spent 4 years covering everything from dark money in politics to Catholic priest sexual abuse scandals. He brings strong watchdog sensibilities and creative storytelling skills to the Arizona Mirror.