The official Web site of a white supremacist group linked to the suspect in the weekend Illinois and Indiana shootings has closed, but an associated computer site declares the attacks were not hate crimes.
The World Church of the Creator's Web site was accessible Sunday night after Benjamin Nathaniel Smith committed suicide as police tried to arrest him in Salem, Ill. The site included a message board discussion of the drive-by shootings, which left two people dead and at least eight wounded.
Attempts to access the group's web site Monday were met with a note that simply said, "Forbidden. You don't have permission to access on this server.'' Calls to Matt Hale, the organization's leader, at his East Peoria, Ill., home were not returned.
But an affiliated Web site that itself hosts Internet links to Church of the Creator sites from around the world has a message dated Sunday that sought to defend "White Racialism'' "in light of what is going on in the news.''
"Regarding the accusal of a member of the World Church of the Creator in a string of illegal activities, (the site) and anything hosted within wish to make it clear that while we do not know whether the accused is guilty or not, that is for the injustice system to decide, we do not believe that these crimes are what is commonly being deemed, 'Hate Crimes,''' the site said.
"We believe crimes should be punished under the normal means that they are, because a crime is a crime, so let justice do it's normal thing, not try to lock someone up further for what another BELIEVES to be the case.''
The site, WCOTC.com, claims to support the Church of the Creator and Hale but says it does not speak directly for him.
It disparages Martin Luther King Jr. and Kosher food, and offers links that, for example, help children "of the White Race understand our fight,'' but says it does not support violence or illegal activity.
Copyright 1999 The Associated Press.
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