Issue of the Week LXIV: North Dakota Town Passes City Laws to Deter Aryan Enclave

October 28, 2013
Written by Blake Nicholson in
National Collegiate Dialogue
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Craig Cobb has bought a home and 12 other lots in Leith, North Dakota and is encouraging others with white power views to move there and help him take control of the community that had 23 residents before he arrived.
Craig Cobb has bought a home and 12 other lots in Leith, North Dakota and is encouraging others with white power views to move there and help him take control of the community that had 23 residents before he arrived. Photo Credit:

A white supremacist who is trying to take over the tiny southwestern North Dakota town of Leith said Monday he is being targeted by city officials who've proposed new ordinances aimed at stifling his effort.

The updated city laws that city officials hope to have in place by early next month would force Craig Cobb - who has neo-Nazi views and is wanted in Canada for an alleged hate crime - to make major upgrades to his home, and will prevent him from allowing others who come to join him to put up temporary housing on vacant lots he owns.

"He brought in a camper the other day; he's dropping stuff down wherever he wants to," Mayor Ryan Schock said Monday. "He's planning on bringing in 10, 15, 20 people, and we've got to figure out where they can go and where they can build. He's living here thinking that he doesn't have to follow any rules."

Cobb has bought a home and 12 other lots in Leith and is encouraging others with white power views to move there and help him take control of the community that had 23 residents before he arrived. He is living with three other male white supremacists and two children in a house with no water or sewer service and only space heaters for heat. He says the city's plans unfairly target him and his aspirations.

"It speaks to their rampant manipulation under color of law of my civil rights," he said Monday.

City officials on Sunday night put a building moratorium in place while they work on an ordinance that will require Cobb to install water and sewer service. Another ordinance would prevent tents and campers from being set up on a city lot for more than 10 consecutive days.

Cobb, who has encouraged others to move tents and trailers onto his vacant lots, said the city proposals amount to harassment. He said he will bring his house up to code, but he also plans to take the city to court in the hopes of having town leaders ordered to "cool their heels in a federal prison for a year."

"Nothing is going to dissuade me from this, or change my attitude," he said. "This is America."

Many area residents want Cobb gone. Schock and City Attorney Tom Kelsch said the update to city ordinances that date back a century is aimed more at keeping order in the town than at forcing out Cobb, though they could not immediately name other residents who might be affected by the updates.

Craig Cobb shown in a television article about his intentions -- the caption reads "White supremacists try to take over North Dakota Town, Buying up property to create 'white power' community"

"Requiring people to have a good water source and to treat their sewage in an appropriate manner is nothing out of the ordinary," Kelsch said. "Those are just basic standards."

Schock said the ordinances could go into effect as early as next week. At that point, property owners not in compliance would be given 30 days to comply or face possible fines or even condemnation.

If Cobb straightens up his property, it will be to the benefit of himself and the town, Kelsch said. "If Mr. Cobb chooses not to go along with it, he's free to leave," he said.

Kelsch said he is confident the city is on solid legal ground, but Cobb said he thinks the town's leaders are illegally conspiring against him.

"I'm not nearly as successful a hater as they are, and they fancy themselves morally superior," he said.

Schock, a farmer, said he is tiring of the battle and that "there are days I just want to walk away from it and don't look back."

"But I think we're gaining some ground here and getting close to getting something accomplished," he said.

What do you think?

Follow Blake Nicholson on Twitter.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

National Collegiate Dialogue


The Law as a Force of Good

Submitted by STBONF2013-02 on

The Mayor of Leith is by no means "illegally conspiring against" Craig Cobb. The city is merely using its power to do whatever it cn to control a potentially dangerous situation. The fact that Criag Cobb is wanted in Canada for a hate crime indicates that he is a person who is capable of doing harm, or at least disturbing the peace of Leith. Therefore, I believe that the town's efforts to halt Cobb's plans is a good use of power.

Besides the irony of a guy

Submitted by STBONF2013-09 on

Besides the irony of a guy who believes in the superiority of one race over the other complaining about unfair treatment, I think that the city has a complete right to take issue with Cobb and his situation. All of his personal views aside, everyone has to follow rules and laws that seek the safety of others, and what he was doing doesn't sound safe for himself, not to mention those who live around him. His intentions are sick, but if he is able to (legally) encourage and support those with hateful views to move with him and live together in a miserable neo-Nazi convent I suppose he has the right to do so. At the moment however, he is not in accordance with the law.

People should have the right

Submitted by STBONF2013-10 on

People should have the right to live wherever they desire. They should be able to live with their friends and people that they get along with. I do understand that having this group move into North Dakota will cause a lot of tension for the people who were previously residing in the community, but the government should not have the power to shut down the living arrangements of people. If people allow the government to dictate the living arrangements of people once, who is to say they will not continue to do so afterwards. People should not be required to apply to the government when they desire to move into a home, but should be able to make a decision between them and the previous owner of either the land or the estate. The problem should be taken care of inside the neighborhood itself. Although they may not be able to be stopped by the community, people have the opportunity to move our and into someplace better suited for their needs. The government should not have the ability to force anyone into or out of their home just because of the association of their group.

Updated City Laws are Constitutional

Submitted by STBONF2013-26 on

There is nothing unconstitutional or unfair about the updated city laws instituted by the city officials. Craig Cobb's right to free speech and right to assemble is not impaired since he is able to express his beliefs openly with other people. The city officials are merely doing their job of passing laws to maintain order and ensure the safety of their townspeople. Since the people of the town are unhappy with Cobb's plans, the town's officials have done their best to meet their needs without infringing upon any individual's rights.

Unwanted Situations

Submitted by STBONF2013-20 on

there is always two sides to a story and for this one Craig Cobb is apart of the less influential one. Bein a white supremacist is in every way Craig's choice at the end of the daqy if thats how he feels then no one can change his mind and no one should. However to incorperate the lives and surroundings of other people into his own beliefs is unfair and wrong. The fact that he is trying to take over an entire city with people like him is out of order and I think that the city is doing the right thing by trying to shut this down as soon as possible because it can also lead to more trouble and dangerous actions occuring as stated above he is allegedally wanted for a hate crime.

I agree

Submitted by STBONF2013-22 on

I completely agree with your statement. Craig Cobb's permanent record in Canada proves that he can be a possible danger in that particular neighborhood. I believe that the city is using all its power in a legal way in order to prevent further problems with Cobb.

Government Is Legal

Submitted by STBONF2013-16 on

I think the mayor and the government of this small town is completely within its rights to force this man to comply with standard building codes in order to be safe and in order to be sanitary. That is just basic law to have plumbing and what not in a building. I also believe that the government is not targeting him persay, he just has the audacity to buy up land and then invite people with his own views to come down and basically squat. If I remember correctly, squatting is illegal. This isn't a case of racism (well on the man's part it is) but a matter of legal issues that the government has with this man.