J.T. Ready, the avowed White supremacist and militant critic ofillegal immigration who authorities believe was the gunman inWednesday's multiple murder-suicide in Gilbert, cut a swath throughArizona politics before -- and after -- it became apparent herepresented the far-right fringe of the political spectrum. Along the way the barrel-chested former Marine became entwined fora time with one of the state's most powerful political leaders andappeared on the radar of at least two national groups that trackpotentially violent extremist movements for his views and armedpatrols of the Mexico border. Photos |
White supremacist Ready left tracks in politics
Profile: J.T. Ready
Russell Pearce's statement
Members of extended family targeted Authorities believe Ready, 39, shot and killed four people in aGilbert home before turning a gun on himself.
Ready was allied briefly with former state Senate President RussellPearce, and the two posed together for photographers during ananti-illegal-immigration rally at the state Capitol in June 2007.By the next year, as Ready's ties to neo-Nazi and White supremacistgroups became more apparent, Pearce disavowed him. Pearce, who was defeated last November in a recall election, is nowfirst vice chairman of the Arizona Republican Party and is runningagain for the Senate, this time from the new District 26 in Mesa. Party spokesman Shane Wikfors said Pearce would not comment onReady's death. "He's not going to want to have anything to do withhim," Wikfors said.
"We categorically, absolutely had nothing to dowith him." Marc Pitcavage, national director of investigative research for theAnti-Defamation League, said the group has long been aware ofReady's activities. The group's website describes Ready as a "neo-Nazi andanti-immigrant extremist," tracing his activities in Arizona from2004 onward. "We have monitored J.T. Ready for many years now," Pitcavage said.It began with Ready's early activities as a border vigilante butsoon led to the realization that Ready was "a full-fledged Whitesupremacist." For a time, Pitcavage said, Ready was a "mover and shaker" for theNational Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group with about 330members nationwide. Ready was one of the group's two principalleaders in the Phoenix area, Pitcavage said.
An online biography of Ready includes several quotes in which headvocated restoring the country as a "White, European homeland,"called for militant action against Jews and advocated using"lawful, deadly force" when appropriate to protect the Mexicanborder. Pitcavage said it would be premature to link Ready's extremepolitical views to the explosion of violence that ended five liveson Wednesday. "When the shooting spree is directed toward familymembers, or what were essentially the closest thing he had tofamily members, those are usually personal rather than ideologicalmotives," Pitcavage said. Ready also had been tracked by the Southern Poverty Law Center, anAlabama-based civil-rights organization that monitors hate andextremist groups. Like the ADL, the center carries a biography ofReady on its website.
The site identified Ready as a member of the Arizona MinutemanCivil Defense Corps, a border-vigilante group. It notes that Ready apparently got his start in politics aspresident of the Mesa Community College Republican Club and becameincreasingly involved in local issues in the early 2000s. According to the SPLC biography, Ready received a bad-conductdischarge from the Marines in 1996, after being court-martialedtwice -- once for larceny and going AWOL, and once for conspiracyand assault. The site also lists a 1992 criminal conviction for property damageand assault after he and a friend destroyed a car mirror with abaseball bat.
Ready ran for political office at least twice in Mesa and once as awrite-in candidate for U.S. Senate. In 2004 he ran in theRepublican primary for a House seat from District 18, which Pearcealready represented. In 2006 he ran for Mesa City Council from aheavily Hispanic district and finished second among fourcandidates. During that council campaign, The Arizona Republic uncovered inconsistencies in the biography he had provided thenewspaper and found that he had been convicted of assault inFlorida when he was 18 years old.
That campaign also featured a bizarre incident in which Ready, whoearlier had solicited votes from the Hells Angels, traded shotswith an illegal immigrant whom Ready believed was involved incriminal activity. Nobody was hurt. A year later Ready caused a commotion at a Mesa City Councilmeeting when the mayor denied him permission to speak in oppositionto a Mesa police detective who was campaigning against hate crimes. Ready's ties to Pearce became an issue during Pearce's 2008re-election campaign when a group called Mesa Deserves Better senta mailer depicting Pearce as a friend of neo-Nazis.
Amid that campaign, three Arizona Republican congressmen sent aletter to the chairman of the Maricopa County Republican Partydemanding Ready's removal as a precinct committeeman in District 18because of his neo-Nazi ties. By that time, Ready had been in that post for two years and was notseeking re-election. "You can't grow a party when you're rallyingwith J.T. Ready," U.S. Rep.
Jeff Flake said at the time. But Ready apparently was trying to re-enter politics this year andhad formed a committee to seek the Democratic nomination forsheriff in Pinal County. Shortly after Ready's death became known Wednesday afternoon,someone posted this message on his Facebook page: "Reports areunconfirmed that a cartel assassination squad murdered J.T. Readyand several of his friends and family this afternoon in Gilbert,Arizona." Harry Hughes, who briefly headed Ready's campaign committee forsheriff until he was promoted in the National Socialist Movement,said, "I got an e-mail from him the other day and everything seemedfine." "And I've always said, he was generous, caring, respectful most ofthe time as far as with friends and acquaintances, maybe not somuch people on the other side," Hughes said. Republic reporter Lindsey Collom contributed to this article.
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