Internet Radio Host Hal Turner Faces Connecticut Charges

In this Monday, June 22, 2009 file photo, Harold " Hal" Turner, of North Bergen, N.J., leaves Hartford Superior Court in Hartford, Conn., after he was arraigned on a charge of inciting violence against state lawmakers. (Jessica Hill /AP)

Internet radio host Hal Turner — accused of inciting Catholics to "take up arms" and singling out two Connecticut lawmakers and a state ethics official on a website — was taken into custody in New Jersey late Wednesday after state Capitol police in Connecticut obtained a warrant for his arrest.

Turner, who has been identified as a white supremacist and anti-Semite by several anti-racism groups, hosts an Internet radio program with an associated blog. On Tuesday, the blog included a post that promised to release the home addresses of state Rep. Michael Lawlor, state Sen. Andrew McDonald and Thomas Jones of the State Ethics Office.

"Mr. Turner's comments are above and beyond the threshold of free speech," Capitol Police Chief Michael J. Fallon said in an e-mail announcing the warrant. "He is inciting others through his website to commit acts of violence and has created fear and alarm. He should be held accountable for his conduct."

The remarks on the blog were a reaction to the recent controversy over a bill that would have changed the way the Roman Catholic Church is governed, taking power away from church officials and turning it over to lay members. It was pulled in mid-March following an outcry from Catholics across the state and questions about its constitutionality.

Last week, the controversy flared again when the Diocese of Bridgeport filed a federal lawsuit against state ethics officials, who are investigating whether church officials violated lobbying laws by organizing a rally at the state Capitol to protest the measure earlier this spring and not registering as lobbyists.

The blog of the "Turner Radio Network" recounted the matter, then included the following remarks in a section labeled "commentary:"

"It is our intent to foment direct action against these individuals personally. These beastly government officials should be made an example of as a warning to others in government: Obey the Constitution or die."

And, the post continued, "If any state attorney, police department or court thinks they're going to get uppity with us about this, I suspect we have enough bullets to put them down, too."

Turner has been branded a racist by the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. Elsewhere on the blog, the recent fatal shooting of a Kansas abortion provider is called "a righteous act."

The blog said the "Hal Turner Show" would publicize the home addresses of the Connecticut officials Wednesday night, but Turner, 47, of North Bergen, N.J., was taken into custody before that could happen.

Turner was charged in the warrant with inciting injury to persons or property and will be presented in a New Jersey courthouse today for extradition to Connecticut. It is unclear when that would happen.

Bishop William E. Lori of the Bridgeport diocese issued a statement on his blog Wednesday that thanked parishioners for supporting the lawsuit and denounced violence.

"We deplore and condemn hateful language and advocacy of violence of any kind," Lori wrote. "Such speech is contrary to the civil and respectful discourse that reflects the Christian values we hold so dear."

McDonald and Lawlor declined to comment on the matter, though Lawlor praised the work of Capitol police.

Both lawmakers were the target of an earlier threat: A New Britain teacher was ordered to avoid contact with the two men and undergo a mental health evaluation after he was charged with sending them a threatening e-mail.