White separatist group defends Dylann Roof's 'legitimate grievances,' as Ted Cruz returns donation

Dylann Roof.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The leader of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a Missouri-based organization that was cited by Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof in his alleged manifesto, has donated $65,000 to Republican campaigns in recent years.

Earl Holt, 62, has given to the presidential campaigns of Ted Cruz ($8,500 since 2012), Rand Paul ($1,750), and Rick Santorum ($1,500). On Sunday, Cruz's campaign told the The Guardian he would be returning the money received from Holt, who has had several incendiary remarks posted online under his name, including that black people are "the laziest, stupidest, and most criminally-inclined race in the history of the world."

In the manifesto that was posted to a website registered in Roof's name, the writer said he had learned about "brutal black on white murders" from the Council of Conservative Citizens website, and "at this moment I realized that something was very wrong." In a statement, the group said "our society's silence about [such] crimes — despite enormous amounts of attention to 'racially tinged' acts by whites — only increase the anger of people like Dylann Roof.... In his manifesto, Roof outlines other grievances felt by many whites. Again, we utterly condemn Roof's despicable killings, but they do not detract in the slightest from the legitimacy of some of the positions he has expressed."

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Holt released his own statement as well, saying, "The CofCC is hardly responsible for the actions of this deranged individual merely because he gleaned accurate information from our website." Mother Jones reports that the Council of Conservative Citizens was founded by "members of Citizens' Councils of American, also known as White Citizens Councils, a confederation of segregationist groups active until the 1970s." In recent years, it was discovered that former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott had given speeches to the organization, and it is active in keeping the Confederate battle flag flying over South Carolina's state capitol.

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