ADL: Denver Gunman Suspected to Have Had Links to White Supremacist Prison Gang

  • March 22, 2013

The suspected gunman in the shooting death of the executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections reportedly had ties to a violent racist prison gang whose activities have been monitored by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for many years.

Authorities identified the suspected gunman as Evan Spencer Ebel, 28, a parolee who has reportedly held membership in the 211 Crew, a Colorado-based racist prison gang with a history of violence.  Authorities have identified Ebel as the lead suspect in the shooting deaths of Colorado Department of Corrections Director Tom Clements and Nathan Leon, a pizza delivery man.  Ebel was killed after a high-speed chase and shootout with police yesterday in Decatur, Texas.     “Like many racist prison gangs, members of the 211 crew not only identify with the white supremacist ideology, but are prone to violence,” said Scott Levin, ADL Mountain States Regional Director.  “This is not the first time an encounter between law enforcement and an alleged member of the 211 crew has ended in lethal violence.  So this latest attack is very disturbing.”

In a report first issued in 1998, ADL raised concerns about the proliferation of racist prison gangs and how they were contributing to increased racial tensions and violence in the American penitentiary system.  In “Bigotry Behind Bars: Racist Groups in U.S. Prisons,” the League said that members of racist prison gangs were undermining prisons security and their extremist rhetoric and animosity toward other races often stayed with gang members long after their release.

Authorities say Ebel, a parolee from the Colorado Department of Corrections, had a criminal history dating back to 2003 and 2004 when he was convicted on burglary, robbery, trespass and assault charges.  He was also convicted of assaulting a prison guard in 2008.

The 211 Crew is a racist prison gang which, as of 2005, had a membership of more than 300 members, according to ADL.  Those numbers have most likely substantially increased since then.  The gang is based primarily on Colorado prison systems, and most of their activities involve organized crime.  However, the group also has white supremacist motives, including violence and trying to further the cause of a white supremacist ideology.

Most 211 Crew members have had indictments and convictions on multiple charges including murder assault, racketeering, witness intimidation and the manufacturing and distribution of illegal narcotics.  The group has a long history of race-based criminal activity, including violent encounters with law enforcement officials, on which ADL has extensively reported.  The 211 Crew has also been known as the Aryan Alliance. The “211” moniker refers to the California penal code for robbery.

“We have long known that racist prison gangs not only jeopardize the stability of our nation’s penitentiaries, but when members of these gangs are released, they continue to express violent racist rhetoric and a deep hatred of other races,” said Mr. Levin.  “While it is unclear what may have motivated Ebel in these killings, his membership in a racist prison gang is in itself deeply disturbing.”

Ebel is the second 211 Crew member killed by police in just over a year.  In February 2012, Jeremiah Barnum of Englewood, Colorado was shot and killed by police after he allegedly ignored an officer’s orders to stop, and instead reached for a gun in his waistband.