In August of this year, the Southern Law Poverty Center's Hatewatch blog obtained tax records detailing Paul Craig Cobb's purchase of dozens of abandoned properties in the tiny hamlet of Leith, ND (population: 16, as of the 2010 census). Cobb, who is active in a number of neo-Nazi groups, has been selling these properties cheaply to his fellow white supremacists with the intention of building an all-white community. This, he believes, will allow him and other neo-Nazis to take over the county government. He announced his plans on an online forum to rename Leith as "Cobbsville" if and when their takeover is complete. The symposium will explore the origins of American Nazi groups in the Midwest and then focus on Cobb and his supporters in particular. It will also consider the historical, sociological and cultural significance of the attempted takeover and examine the possible legal mechanisms available to stop it.
CHRGS Director Gregory Gordon, a UND School of Law faculty member, feels strongly that this symposium is both timely and necessary.
"The situation in Leith, North Dakota has alarming implications and we need to explore them from a multi-disciplinary perspective," Gordon said. "This symposium allows the state's flagship educational and research institution to draw on its depth of talent from across campus and in the community and confront these important issues in an academic setting."
The schedule of the event is as follows:
2:15-2:45 p.m. "The Road to Cobbsville – 'American Nazis in the Midwest,'" by Steve Hunegs, Jewish Community Relations Council executive director
2:45-3:15 p.m. "The Faces of Hatred - Craig Cobb and his Supporters," by Gregory Gordon, UND School of Law professor and director of CHRGS
3:15-4:15 p.m. "Civil Rights, Social Justice and the Town of Leith," a panel discussion with Eric Burin, UND professor of history and author of Slavery and the Peculiar Solution: A History of the American Colonization Society; Justin Berg, UND professor of sociology; and Tammy Pettinato, assistant professor of law at the UND School of Law.
4:15-5:15 p.m. Roundtable with all symposium participants – "Placing 'Cobbsville' in a Multi-Disciplinary Perspective: How Did We Get Here and Where Do We Go?"
Guests without University parking permits for this or any other on-campus event may use the "pay-as-you-go" option in the Parking Ramp (corner of Second Avenue North and Columbia Road), the UND Visitor pay Lot (off Centennial Drive) or a Parking Meter. There are also several 30-minute free parking spots on the north side of the Memorial Union. Parking in any other parking lot on-campus requires a parking pass, which can be purchased directly through UND Parking Services, Twamley Hall, Room 204 (Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm).
About the Center For Human Rights and Genocide Studies:
The mission of the CHRGS is to increase understanding of the history and issues relating to genocide and other violations of human rights with the intent of preventing such atrocities in the future and advancing human rights on all levels.