Garrett Kelsey’s release from Manhattan Federal Court last week is deeply disturbing.
The 31-year-old Iowa man posted a $50,000 bond and is currently free to return to his home state as he awaits adjudication of charges that, back in May, he threatened a New York-based Jewish organization, the World Jewish Congress.
Kelsey was arrested and arraigned last month in Cedar Rapids on one count of interstate transmission of threats to injure a person. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman asserted that Kelsey, who admitted to the actions for which he was charged, had repeatedly threatened the Jewish group. FBI Assistant Director William F. Sweeney, Jr. added that the accused continued his threatening behavior even after being warned that his threats were not protected free speech.
Mr. Kelsey presents a vivid, foul portrait of a dangerous and deranged white supremacist.
On a social media account under the name Garrett Odinschild — a reference to Odin, the “god of war” in Nordic avodah zarah —authorities found white supremacist propaganda and an image of Jews being lined up by Nazis.
In phone calls and e-mails to the Jewish group, Kelsey assailed and threatened Jews, at one point allegedly telling a WJC employee: “My people have… slaughtered your… people before and we will do it again… And right now, you are giving us incentive to do that … Filthy… Jews.”
What motivated the Iowan to give vent to the unbridled hatred he apparently has been harboring was a video posted by the Jewish group exposing a group known as the Nordic Resistance Movement (NRM), which has engaged in acts of domestic terrorism, including bombings, in Sweden.
The group is openly anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant, and its stated goal is to create an ethnically pure pan-Nordic nation, deport most ethnic Northern European residents and dismantle the “global Zionist elite.”
The group has its core membership in Sweden, but has established chapters in Finland and Norway as well.
The WJC video focuses on seven instances of the NRM’s neo-Nazi behavior, and asks that people petition the Swedish government to ban the group.
“Everywhere Jews go in the world they cause trouble,” Kelsey wrote the WJC. “You have 3 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.”
“Asatru” is a pagan faith with a following among white supremacists.
The accused also allegedly wrote additional violent threats on an Iowa social media page and made references to a longtime trope among neo-Nazis.
On the same page, Kelsey announced: “We will kill Antifa for fun! Antifa are just a bunch of degenerates!”
On another social media platform, he encouraged people to join Nazi communities, and attacked immigrants, Jews, and Muslims.
Coincidentally, last week saw the release of a new ADL report that notes that white supremacists have committed at least 73 murders since the far-right rally two summers ago in Charlottesville, Virginia. More than a dozen attendees of that “Unite the Right” gathering have been convicted and sentenced for violent crimes at the event, including the death of a woman and injuring of dozens by a man who aimed his car into a crowd of counter-demonstrators.
“The violence on the streets of Charlottesville has kindled two major tracks of white supremacist activity,” the ADL reported. “The first is the rampant dissemination of propaganda designed to promote their views and attract attention. The other, more troubling track is a broader series of violent attacks in the two years since Unite the Right.”
Kelsey faces home detention, GPS monitoring, drug tests and a mental health evaluation. Authorities in Iowa will also monitor his computer use, as per a judge’s order.
But it is unsettling all the same that he is not being held behind bars. Violence fueled by irrational and unrestrained hatred can be unleashed all too quickly.
Troubling enough is the fact that, even if sentenced to the maximum penalty, Kelsey will be entirely free in five years or less after his sentencing. In the interim, though, he belongs, like any menace to citizens, confined and beyond reach of potential victims.