Matthew F. Hale

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Matthew F. Hale
Born (1971-07-27) July 27, 1971 (age 48)
EducationBradley University (B.A.); Southern Illinois University Carbondale (J.D.)[1]
Years active1983–2005
Known forWhite supremacy, federal soliciting to murder conviction
Home townEast Peoria, Illinois, United States
Parent(s)Russell Hale, Jr.,[1] and Evelyn Hutcheson[citation needed]
Criminal statusIncarcerated at ADX Florence[2] prisoner number 15177-424
Conviction(s)Soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill Judge Joan Lefkow
Criminal penalty40-year prison term
TitlePontifex Maximus
Born (1971-07-27) July 27, 1971 (age 48)
Senior posting
Period in office1996–2005
SuccessorJames Logsdon[3][4]

Matthew F. "Matt" Hale (born July 27, 1971[5]) is an American white supremacist, neo-Nazi leader and convicted felon.[6] Hale was the founder of the East Peoria, Illinois-based white separatist group then known as the World Church of the Creator (now called The Creativity Movement), and he declared himself its Pontifex Maximus (Latin for "highest priest") in continuation of the Church of the Creator organization founded by Ben Klassen in 1973.[7]

In 1998, Hale was barred from practicing law in Illinois by the state panel that evaluates the character and fitness of prospective lawyers. The panel stated that Hale's incitement of racial hatred, for the ultimate purpose of depriving selected groups of their legal rights, was blatantly immoral and rendered him unfit to be a lawyer.[8][9]

In 2005, Hale was sentenced to a 40-year federal prison term for encouraging an undercover FBI informant to kill federal judge Joan Lefkow.[7] He is currently serving his sentence at ADX Florence with a projected release date of December 6, 2037.[10]

Early life[edit]

Hale was born in 1971 and raised in East Peoria, Illinois, a city on the Illinois River. After his parents divorced when he was nine years old, Hale was raised solely by his father, a police officer. By the age of 12, Matt Hale was reading books about National Socialism, such as Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, and had formed a Nazi-themed group at his school.[1]

In August 1989, [11] Hale entered Bradley University, studying political science.[12] After failing to form a "White Student Union" at Bradley, Hale attempted to lead a series of political organizations in a short period: He founded the American White Supremacist Party, but it failed to attract many members;[1] he then dissolved the AWSP in 1990[13] and attempted to form a chapter of the David Duke incarnation of the National Association for the Advancement of White People, but the chapter was not recognized by the national organization. In 1992 he declared himself the National Leader of the National Socialist White Americans' Party, without having any local members;[13] he also disbanded that organization in 1995.[1]

Around 1990, Hale burned an Israeli flag at a demonstration[citation needed], leading to a fine from East Peoria for open burning. The next year, he passed out racist pamphlets to patrons at a shopping mall[citation needed] and was fined for littering. In May[citation needed] 1991, Hale and his brother allegedly threatened three African-Americans with a gun. Hale was arrested for mob action,[citation needed] and because he refused to tell police where his brother was, he was also charged with felony[citation needed] obstruction of justice. Hale was convicted of obstruction, but won a reversal on appeal. In 1992, Hale attacked a security guard at a mall and was charged with criminal trespass, resisting arrest, aggravated battery and carrying a concealed weapon. For this attack, Hale was sentenced to six months of house arrest and 30 months of probation.[13]

In 1990, Hale was expelled from Bradley University, where he was studying political science[5][conflicted source][circular reporting?] for failing to obtain permission to post flyers for a white supremicist meeting.[citation needed]  The KKK protested around the campus.[citation needed] In 1992 Hale was readmitted to Bradley University, when he wrote a public letter of apology.[citation needed]

Meanwhile, by 1992, Hale had become involved with an organization called the Church of the Creator.[1] The church believed, and its successors believe, that a "racial holy war" is necessary to attain a "white world" without Jews and non-whites. To this end, it encourages its members to "populate the lands of this earth with white people exclusively."[14] The COTC's founder, Ben Klassen, committed suicide on August 7, 1993,[14] leaving the organization listless[13] and owing a default judgment of $1 million to the family of a murder victim.[14] Though this was the first such organization Hale had been involved in without appointing himself as leader, he soon achieved the same effect:[13] Switching his leadership identity from a political party to religious, Hale dissolved his NSWAP and formed a "New" Church of the Creator in 1995 and told followers of Klassen's organization that Hale was the type of leader Klassen had wished for;[14] and in Montana on July 27, 1996, the COTC's Guardians of the Faith Committee renamed the organization to the "World Church of the Creator" and anointed Hale as "Pontifex Maximus".[1]

Controversy over law license[edit]

Hale began at the Southern Illinois University School of Law in 1995,[14] graduating in May 1998 and passing the Illinois state bar examination in July of the same year.[8][conflicted source?]

On December 16, 1998, the Illinois Bar Committee on Character and Fitness rejected Hale's application for a license to practice law. Hale appealed, and a hearing was held on April 10, 1999. On June 30, 1999, a Hearing Panel of the Committee refused to certify that Hale had the requisite moral character and fitness to practice law in Illinois.[15] Attorney Glenn Greenwald represented Hale in a failed federal lawsuit to overturn the licensing decision.[8] The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois concluded it did not have jurisdiction to review an earlier decision of the Illinois Supreme Court upholding the license denial.[16] The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that decision in an opinion filed on July 14, 2003.[16]

Two days after Hale was denied a license to practice law, a World Church of the Creator member and college student, Benjamin Smith, went on a three-day shooting spree in which he randomly targeted members of racial and ethnic minority groups in Illinois and Indiana. Beginning on July 2, 1999, Smith shot nine Orthodox Jews while they were walking to and from their synagogues in Chicago's West Rogers Park neighborhood. He also killed two people, including former Northwestern University basketball coach Ricky Byrdsong, in Evanston, Illinois, and a 26-year-old Korean graduate student, Won-Joon Yoon, who was on his way to church in Bloomington, Indiana. Smith wounded nine others before committing suicide on July 4. Mark Potok, director of intelligence for the Southern Poverty Law Center, believes that Smith may have acted in retaliation after Hale's application to practice law was rejected.[17]

During a television interview in the summer of 1999,[full citation needed] Hale stated that his "church does not condone violent or illegal activities".[18]

Federal convictions[edit]

In 2000, a religious group in Oregon called the Church of the Creator sued Hale's organization, the World Church of the Creator, for trademark infringement.[13]

Hale filed a lawsuit against Judge Joan Lefkow, the United States district court judge presiding over the trademark infringement case who, after an appeal, had ruled against Hale's organization. Hale stated that the WCOTC was in a "state of war" with Lefkow, and denounced Lefkow in a news conference, claiming that she was biased against him because she was married to a Jewish man and had biracial grandchildren.[13]

On January 8, 2003, Hale was arrested, charged with soliciting an undercover FBI informant to kill Lefkow.[19]

On February 28, 2005, Lefkow's mother and husband were murdered at her home on Chicago's North Side. Chicago police revealed on March 10 that Bart Ross, a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case that Lefkow had dismissed, admitted to the murders in a suicide note written before shooting himself during a routine traffic stop in Wisconsin the previous evening. The murders and suicide were unrelated to Hale or Creativity.[20]

On April 6, 2005, Hale was sentenced to a 40-year prison term for attempting to solicit Lefkow's murder. During the trial, jurors heard more than a dozen tapes of Hale using racial slurs (considered a virtue in Creativity), including one in which he joked about Benjamin Smith's murderous shooting spree.[21]

In June 2016, Hale was transferred out of ADX Florence to medium-security federal prison FCI Terre Haute, Indiana,[22] but by late 2017 was back at Florence.[2]

Hale's projected release date is December 30, 2037.[10] If he is released at that time, he will be 66 years old.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Matt Hale". Extremism in America. New York City: Anti-Defamation League. 2005-04-06. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2010-02-23.
  2. ^ a b "Nick in the AM: East Peoria white supremacist Matt Hale back in the news". (online correction ed.). Peoria Journal Star. November 29, 2017. Retrieved 2019-01-30.
  3. ^ "The Creativity Movement contacts". Archived from the original on 2012-07-16. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  4. ^ Keller, Larry (Winter 2010). "Neo-Nazi Creativity Movement Is Back". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  5. ^ a b "Matt Hale – The Creativity Movement". Archived from the original on 10 January 2017. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  6. ^ "Matt Hale's mother laments his racist rants". Peoria Journal-Star. 2014-01-14. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  7. ^ a b Wilgoren, Jodi (2003-01-09). "White Supremacist Is Held in Ordering Judge's Death". New York Times. Retrieved September 17, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c "Complaint of Matthew F. Hale, Plaintiff, v. Committee on Character and Fitness for the State of Illinois". Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism. California State University, San Bernardino. Archived from the original on 9 April 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  9. ^ Pam Belluck (1999-02-10). "Racist Barred From Practicing Law; Free Speech Issues Raised". New York Times. Retrieved September 18, 2015.
  10. ^ a b BOP register number 15177-424 at "Find an inmate". Federal Bureau of Prisons. Retrieved September 3, 2016.
  11. ^ {{cite news| url =
  12. ^ {{cite news| url =
  13. ^ a b c d e f g "Matt Hale". Southern Poverty Law Center. 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2015-09-17.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Church of the Creator Timeline". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. September 15, 1999. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  15. ^ "Committee Files With Illinois Supreme Court Objection to Matthew F. Hale's Application for Law License" (Press release). Illinois Supreme Court. 1999-10-29. Retrieved 2010-09-08.
  16. ^ a b Matthew F. Hale v. Committee on Character and Fitness for the State of Illinois, 353 F.3d 678 (Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit 2003).
  17. ^ Wilgoren, Jodi (March 2, 2005). Haunted by Threats, U.S. Judge Finds New Horror. The New York Times.
  18. ^ "Hale guilty: Profile: Supremacist offered mixed message through his group". Chicago Tribune (online ed.). April 27, 2004. Retrieved September 4, 2016.
  19. ^ "Race extremist jailed in plot to kill judge". CNN. January 9, 2003. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  20. ^ (March 10, 2005) Police: Wisconsin death has Lefkow tie Chicago Tribune
  21. ^ "Matthew Hale gets maximum 40-year sentence". Southern Poverty Law Center. April 7, 2005. Archived from the original on February 14, 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-17.
  22. ^ Kravetz, Andy (14 June 2016). "Matt Hale moved out of supermax prison in Colorado and into Indiana federal prison". Retrieved 14 June 2016.

Further reading[edit]

  • Swain, Carol M.; Russ Nieli (2003-03-24). Contemporary Voices of White Nationalism in America. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-81673-4.

External links[edit]