1. A "whites-only" policy and general racist intent
The July 11 Washington Times article reported that the Roundup was trying to "tone down" the "racist trappings" of the Roundup but that, even so, a "whites-only policy remains in effect." [ / The Washington Times repeated this allegation in subsequent Roundup stories. See Jerry Seper, 'Appalled' ATF chief orders probe of agents' role in racist 'Roundup,' The Washington Times, July 12, 1995, at A1; Jerry Seper, Armey up in arms over ATF 'racism;' GOP leader seeks a House inquiry, The Washington Times, July 13, 1995, at A1; Jerry Seper, ATF ignored tales of Roundup, The Washington Times, July 14, 1995, at A1; Paul Bedard and Jerry Seper, Clinton has harsh words for ATF agents' fete, The Washington Times, July 20, 1995, at A3. Copies of each of these articles are contained in the appendix to this report,
Section B, at 3 et seq. ] The article cited unnamed "law enforcement officers who attended this year's and other [Roundup] events" as the sources of this information.
On July 13, ATF Director John Magaw, appearing on "Good Morning America" to discuss the Roundup, declared that "[f]rom '80 to '85 there was none of this discrimination or anti-Semitism [at the Roundup], but from '85 up until now, it really had had discrimination almost every year. . . . From '85 on, it has become racist in nature. Racist in nature in terms of the things you're seeing and that the news media put forward -- on T-shirts, anti-black."
This theme was pursued in a follow-up article on July 14 in The Washington Times, which cited a January 24, 1995, deposition of Dondi Albritton, a black ATF agent. [/ This deposition was taken in conjunction with a lawsuit by a group of black ATF agents against ATF that was filed in November 1990 in the federal district court in Washington, D.C., alleging racial discrimination and seeking substantial monetary damages. At the time of this report the case is pending. ] The article quoted Albritton as testifying that "it was common knowledge within ATF that 'no blacks have ever been invited to attend' the [R]oundup." [ / See, Jerry Seper, ATF ignored tales of Roundup, The Washington Times, July 14, 1995, A1. A copy of this article is contained in the appendix to this report, Section B, at 7. In the deposition Albritton actually stated that "to my knowledge, no blacks have ever been invited to [the Roundup]." [Emphasis added.] ]
At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing held on July 21, 1995, several witnesses discussed the alleged discriminatory and racist nature of the Roundup. Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) reported his investigators' preliminary findings that although approximately fifteen African Americans had attended the Roundup as guests of other attendees, none had ever been sent a written invitation. And notwithstanding his statements on "Good Morning America" eight days earlier that the Roundup did not become racist until 1985, Director Magaw testified that "blacks would not have felt welcome at this event from the very inception" and that "it was just basically known that blacks were not invited." Larry Stewart, a black ATF agent, claimed at the hearing that while all of the white agents in his office had received invitations to the Roundup, he had not. He related his impression that no African American had ever been invited to attend or was present at a Roundup. Similarly, Curtis Cooper, a retired black ATF agent, testified that he did not receive an invitation to the Roundup so he "assumed that the invitation to attend was for white agents only." [ / Cooper was the Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge (ASAC) of the ATF's Nashville field office from April 1985 until 1989. During that time, Rightmyer reported to Cooper. ] He also expressed his belief that
Rightmyer, the organizer of the Roundup, was "known -- or he had been accused -- of having racist tendencies." [ / Rightmyer declined the Senate Judiciary Committee's invitation to testify at its July 21 hearing, claiming he would not receive a fair hearing under the circumstances. See Letter from W. Thomas Dillard to Senator Orrin Hatch, dated July 20, 1995. A copy of this letter is contained in the appendix to this report, Section C, at 53. In an interview with a newspaper reporter, Rightmyer denied that he or the Roundup sanctioned racist activity or excluded minorities and declared that the Roundup was just "a bunch of good old boys having a good time." See Michael Abramovitz, Ex-Agent Says Militia Distorts Racist Acts at "Roundups," The Washington Post, July 20, 1995, at A1. A copy of this article is contained in the appendix to this report, Section B, at 11. ]