Daniel Dorson, reported by Snohomish Washington County police to be a resident of Corvallis, was arrested with seven other white supremacists from throughout the country in the early morning of December 8 in Lynnwood, Washington for committing a hate crime. The group jumped an African American DJ at the Rec Room Bar and Grill, screaming racial slurs as they beat him. “We will find you and we will kill you,” a witness reported one of them saying.
Upon arrest, members of the group reportedly self-identified as members of the Aryan Brotherhood, a prison gang and crime syndicate.
The group was in possession of several articles of paraphernalia suggesting that they were representing the fascist gang Crew 38, and auxiliary group of a neo-Nazi skinhead gang called the Hammerskins. A member of the Hammerskins murdered six people at a Michigan Sikh temple in 2012.
One member of the group, Travis Condor, runs a hate music label called American Defense Records out of his Pittsburgh, PA apartment. Condor’s punk band, Birthrite, has an album featuring a cover picture of notorious white supremacist Robert Jay Mathews, the man that the group was gathered in Washington to celebrate. Mathews was the leader of a terrorist white power group called The Order who murdered Jewish talk show host, Alan Burg. Mathews himself was killed on Whidbey Island in 1984 during a shootout with the FBI.
Mathew’s story has recently been becoming more popular within white supremacist circles. Dr. Randy Blazak, a criminologist and a leading authority on hate groups and hate crimes, studies the online and real life activities of these groups closely, and is also researching and writing a book about white supremacist prison gangs. He says that references to Mathews have spiked since the 2016 election in fascist online spaces like Stormfront. White nationalists revere and idolize him as someone who was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their cause, marking the anniversary of his death on December 8, 1984 as Martyr’s Day.
Violent Racism: How It’s Made
Through some research, including prison records provided to The Advocate by the Oregon Department of Corrections, we’ve been granted insight into how Daniel Dorson might have become a racist right wing extremist.
In 2013, Dorson, a homeless youth, violently assaulted a 70-year-old man, landing him in jail for second degree assault. Portland Outdoor Store owner Larry Allen had asked a group of homeless teenagers, including Dorson, to move so he could hose off the sidewalk in front of his business. After a verbal altercation, Dorson struck Allen in the head with a skateboard; Allen required 15 stitches and suffered from debilitating health after the attack. Dorson was apprehended some months later in Humboldt, CA, and was extradited back to Oregon to face the court. During the proceedings, Dorson refused to apologize to his victim, and told the court that he was “defending his own.” During his trial, his public defender for the case revealed some details on Dorson’s troubled childhood.
Dorson entered his first foster home as an infant, as his mother was a drug addict, and was then claimed by his grandmother at three years old. About four years later, a male addict moved into the home and began to physically abuse Dorson, beating him with hangars and brooms, and was eventually abandoned back into foster care at the age of 11. At 14, he ran from foster care and joined with a group of homeless youth. According to his lawyer, he “finally, he had found people who accepted him for who he was.” By the time he was 18, he was using methamphetamine and hallucinogens regularly, claiming to have not slept for some days before attacking the store owner.
Dorson was sentenced to five years in prison, to be partially served at Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario, OR, the birthplace of a notorious Oregon prison gang.
While the Aryan Brotherhood is the largest white power prison gang in the country, the major racist white prison gang in Oregon is called European Kindred, or EK. Documents provided to The Advocate by the Oregon Department of Corrections indicate that Dorson had become affiliated with EK during his sentence.
New inmates are often targeted for violence when first entering prison. Dr. Blazak explained that this threat of violence is often used as a recruiting tool for prison gangs like EK, who exchange protection to vulnerable inmates for greater power by bolstering their numbers. Inmates become indebted to the gang, and are sometimes expected to commit acts of violence either in prison or after release, to compensate the gang for the provided protection.
“Nothing in prison is free,” said Dr. Blazak, “It’s all on the credit system.”
There are examples of EK members killing minorities once released, including an ongoing case in Gresham, OR. In 2016, a young black man named Larnell Bruce was ran over with a Jeep and killed. Bruce’s murderer, Russell Courtier, is a longtime member of EK.
Inmates primarily join these gangs for protection on the inside, and some members embrace the gangs’ white power identity more than others. Dorson’s post-prison affiliation with racist skinhead Crew 38 and celebration of Martyr’s Day suggests that he has fully embraced EK’s racist ideology. Dorson has also self-identified as a follower of the Asatru religion, a spinoff of Odinism that has become popular with racist prison gangs. Norse mythology has been becoming increasingly favored religiously by white supremacists.
Dorson’s prison record also shows that he had committed violence while imprisoned, and was found to be in possession of of weapons, as well.
In Dorson’s release plan, he did not provide an address of residence. While he was originally slated for 36 months of post-prison supervision, Oregon DOC told the Advocate that a court judgment rescinded his parole. His connection to Corvallis might be his brother, who lives in the Linn-Benton area. Dorson was released from prison on March 8, 2018, exactly nine months prior to his arrest this month.
A Sign of the Times
An examination of Daniel Dorson’s life provides a disturbing look at the creation of a violent white supremacist, and how racial violence existing in our prison system sometimes spills onto the streets. For this young man, a troubled childhood, drugs, and the prison system became a toxic combination that led to the birth of a violent neo-Nazi who exists at a point in American history ripe for violent acts of racism.
To Dr. Blazak, the increase in violent racist rhetoric and actions coinciding with the 2016 election is no coincidence. “They see [President Trump] as advancing the white nationalist cause further than David Duke or any of those guys could ever do,” he explained. “They feel like this will be their moment.”
The Advocate has requested additional records pertaining to Dorson’s arrest and history, and may update this story as important information becomes available.
By Jay Sharpe