On Wednesday, a judge did not impose prison time on a transgender ex-neo-Nazi who was a former member of a neo-Nazi group that has gone after journalists, citing the person’s difficult past.
The Associated Press reported that Taylor Parker-Dipeppe, who goes by Tyler, was charged early last year alongside three other people who were members of the Atomwaffen Division, a white supremacist group. In September, Parker-Dipeppe pleaded guilty “to conspiracy to mail threatening communications and to commit cyberstalking,” according to AP.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Woods reportedly acknowledged Parker-Dipeppe’s difficult past but went for a prison term that would last 16 months. He wrote in a sentencing memo that Parker-Dipeppe “instilled terror in his victims and contributed to the wide sense of fear and unease that many groups in this country understandably feel.”
According to Tampa Bay Times reporting from February 2020, federal agents were watching Parker-Dipeppe before they proceeded with a multi-person arrest. The outlet reported that a criminal complaint filed against Parker-Dipeppe and others stated that Parker-Dipeppe picked up another man and “went to a home in Tampa they believed was the residence of a news reporter who was born and raised in Puerto Rico, according to the complaint. But the reporter did not live at the home. They had the wrong address. The reporter is not identified in the court document.”
The reporting continued:
The pair walked up to the home and affixed a poster to the front of it directly below a bedroom window. In bold text interspersed with swastikas, it read: WE ARE WATCHING WE ARE NOONE [sic] WE ARE EVERYONE WE KNOW WHERE YOU LIVE DO NOT F— WITH US.
The bottom featured a hazard symbol often included on Atomwaffen materials, and the words YOU HAVE BEEN VISITED BY YOUR LOCAL NAZIS.
A woman who lived at the home with her father and child saw the poster, the complaint states.
According to the local outlet, the rest of the members of the group faced accusations of taking similar actions around the country. “Other targets included the editor of a Jewish publication and two people associated with the Anti-Defamation League,” Tampa Bay Times reported. AP reported, “Investigators said [members of the group] left or attempted to leave Swastika-laden posters with messages like ‘You have been visited by your local Nazis’ at the homes of journalists in Florida, Arizona and Washington state.”
A virtual court hearing was held on Wednesday and Parker-Dipeppe’s attorney, Peter Mazzone, made the case that his defendant had a difficult childhood.
Fox 10 Phoenix reported:
Parker-Dipeppe’s attorney, Peter Mazzone, said prison would be devastating for his client, who suffered abuse from a father who would not accept him as a boy, from an alcoholic stepfather who brutalized him, and from school bullies who tormented him.
“This led him to just seek acceptance, and unfortunately he found it from these knuckleheads,” Mazzone said, referring to the group of about 10 boys, mostly 15 and 16 years old, who made up the Florida Atomwaffen cell.
Parker-Dipeppe confessed his involvement in Atomwaffen to his mother soon after delivering the poster, afraid that the group would learn that he was transgender. She persuaded him to tell [one of the members] the truth. He did, was immediately kicked out of Atomwaffen, and still fears retaliation, his attorney said.
While out, he has made great progress in therapy, obtained a job, and married a supportive woman, Mazzone said.
When the defendant was a young teen, Parker-Dipeppe’s high school reportedly eventually paid $50,000 to settle a lawsuit brought after it did not protect Parker-Dipeppe from relentless bullying, according to AP reporting.
At a virtual court hearing on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour sentenced Parker-Dipeppe to time served, setting the defendant free after Parker-Dipeppe reportedly tearfully apologized.
AP reported, “[Judge] Coughenour said he struggled with his decision because he was mindful of the fear and suffering such harassment can instill. But he added: ‘None of us have suffered the difficult situation this defendant has endured as a result of his gender identity confusion. … Enough’s enough.’”
The Anti-Defamation League describes the Atomwaffen Division as “a small neo-Nazi group whose members are preparing for a race war to combat what they consider the cultural and racial displacement of the white race.” The group “is made up of online groups and small, localized cells, spreads their hateful propaganda via the internet and by distributing provocative fliers, posters, and stickers.” The members “meet and organize online” but also “participate in ‘hate camps,’ organized hiking excursions and military-style training exercises across the country.” The members and associates of the group “have been linked to violent crimes including murder and alleged plots to attack civilians, nuclear facilities and synagogues.”
Over a dozen people connected to Atomwaffen or an offshoot called Feuerkrieg Division have been charged with crimes in federal court since the group was formed in 2016, according to AP. Atomwaffen has also been connected with multiple killings, “including the May 2017 shooting deaths of two men at an apartment in Tampa, Florida, and the January 2018 killing of a University of Pennsylvania student in California,” per the outlet.
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