Osceola County Jail via Reuters
Patricia and Marcus Faella, reputed leaders of the white supremacist group American Front, deny they were planning for a violent race war.
The reputed leaders of a central Florida white supremacist group accused of planning for a “race war” say they are proud Americans who are being persecuted for their beliefs.
Marcus Faella, 39, and his wife, Patricia Faella, 36, told News 13 they had no intentions of being violent toward anyone.
Interviewed at their compound in St. Cloud in rural Osceola County, Fla., the Faellas acknowledged their ideas are different than others, the TV station reported Thursday.
"At this point, it looks like we are being persecuted for our politics," Patricia Faella told News 13. "I am really -- we are out here because something does make us uncomfortable, but we are not trying to bother anyone else. We are just trying to be left alone."
Marcus Faella said he and his wife are proud Americans, according to News 13.
The Faellas are among at least 11 people connected to the Florida branch of a skinhead group called the American Front arrested in the past week. They are accused of felony conspiracy and hate crimes, including taking part in paramilitary training on the Faellas’ compound in preparation for what Marcus Faella believed was “an inevitable race war,” according to court documents.
A government informant infiltrated the group during the two-year investigation and said members trained with AK-47s, shotguns and explosives at the Faellas' fortified barbed-wire compound. According to a court affidavit, American Front members discussed acts of violence that included causing "a disturbance” at City Hall in Orlando and attacking a rival skinhead group during a May Day rally.
Patricia Faella denied the group was planning a race war. "Some symbols mean something from one person to the next," she told News 13. "All we are asking you is to reserve judgment."
The Faellas were arrested Friday and released from the Osceola County Jail after posting $500,000 bond each.
The father of another defendant, Richard Stockdale, 23, of St. Cloud, said the charges against his son are “fabricated and trumped-up.”
“I know my son is a good kid, and his friends are nothing but prideful Americans,” Richard Stockdale Sr. told The Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday. “I can’t wait to hear what (authorities) have. It’s all been blown way out of proportion. It’s amazing that when you say hooray for the white man, you go to jail.”
Patty Kenny, the mother of defendant Christopher Brooks, 27, of St. Cloud, told FloridaToday.com her son was "a very good kid, respectable."
"I knew about the tattoos, I knew about him, but I didn’t know about the command post and the guns and the stuff they’re saying is happening," she said.
"As far as I knew these were just friends that he hung around with,” Kenny told FloridayToday.com. “I feel like if I was on the side of the road in the middle of the night I could call the friends up and they would come and help me out."
"They’re more survivalists than terrorists,” Brooks' father, Thomas Kenny, told FloridaToday.com. “They want to be able to live off the land. I don’t see them wanting to terrorize people or starting wars."
Meanwhile, some American Front backers are trying to muster support online for those arrested.
A petition called “Free Richard 'Adam' Stockdale and the AF 11” was started by a person using the name Jbug Garrean. “The media is spinning this story to make it appear as if these people were plotting 'Terroristic Attacks,' when in all reality all these people are guilty of is being white,” the petition states.
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