The international director of the group that allegedly inspired Charleston shooter Dylann Roof to kill black people is a Canadian named Paul Fromm. The controversial social activist, who has ties to Ku Klux Klan members and was fired from a teaching job in Ontario because of his white supremacist views, has been described by the extremist watchdog group as a “neo-Nazi” who has founded an array of racist and anti-immigrant organizations over the years.
Fromm was appointed to a leadership role in the Council of Conservative Citizens -- the group Roof praised in his online manifesto for “enlightening” him to what he said were injustices white Americans endured because of African Americans -- sometime around 2005, according to the National Post. The council was formed in 1985 and is descended from the White Citizens' Councils, a group which vehemently opposed school desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama, the watchdog group that ascribed the neo-Nazi label to Fromm.
Fromm was born in Bogota, Colombia, to a Catholic family and was raised in Ontario. His views were highly influenced by the writings of the late former Sen. Barry Goldwater, an American politician from Arizona and author who strongly opposed the New Deal and reignited the conservative movement in the U.S. in the 1960s.
In 2007, Fromm was forced to surrender his teaching license after the Ontario College of Teachers learned of his association with several white supremacist groups. “The member spoke against multiculturalism and nonwhite immigration, used racist language in relation to Jews, Asians and aboriginal people while participating in public events involving individuals and organizations with racist views,” the college said, according to the National Post.
Fromm has made several inflammatory claims over the years about immigration, gay people and black-on-white crime. Among his most egregious statements was that people should “hunt” illegal immigrants. “Find them, and throw their sorry asses out of the country,” Fromm said during a Council of Conservative Citizens conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 2013. “[We] don’t need another chop suey joint. We’re getting rejects, a collection of sleazos.”
He has also accused gay men of being pedophiles. “In gay bath houses, you need a crowbar to separate the men from the boys,” he said in 2007.
Roof, 21, wrote that the teachings of the Council of Conservative Citizens motivated him to take up arms against African-Americans. “There were pages upon pages of these brutal black-on-White murders,” Roof wrote in his manifesto about the things he read on the council’s website. “I was in disbelief. At this moment, I realized that something was very wrong.”
Last week, Roof shot and killed nine black people at a historically African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina.