Henry Pierson Curtis, Orlando Sentinel, Feb. 15, 2007
A paid FBI informant was the man behind a neo-Nazi march through the streets of Parramore that stirred up anxiety in Orlando’s black community and fears of racial unrest that triggered a major police mobilization.
That revelation came Wednesday in an unrelated federal court hearing and has prompted outrage from black leaders, some of whom demanded an investigation into whether the February 2006 march was, itself, an event staged by law-enforcement agencies.
The FBI would not comment on what it knew about the involvement of its informant, 39-year-old David Gletty of Orlando, in the neo-Nazi event. In court Wednesday, an FBI agent said the bureau has paid its informant at least $20,000 during the past two years.
Orlando City Councilwoman Daisy Lynum, whose district includes the march route west of Interstate 4, said she wants to know who was behind the march, the neo-Nazis or the FBI and other law-enforcement agencies.
“If it was staged, I would feel very uncomfortable and would ask for a full-scale investigation,” Lynum said. “To come into a predominantly black community which could have resulted in great harm to the black community? I would hate to be part of a game. It’s a mockery to the community for someone else to be playing a game with the community.”
Others applauded the FBI’s infiltration of the neo-Nazis.
“It’s one of the largest extremist groups in the country, and Gletty was one of the most visible individuals in the National Socialist Movement,” said Andy Rosenkranz, state regional director for the Anti-Defamation League. “Generally, the FBI and the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) in Florida does an excellent job.”
Rally puts city in spotlight
Orlando drew national attention when the city granted a permit to Gletty so a minimum of 100 white supremacists and National Socialist Movement members could march Feb. 25 through the historically black Parramore neighborhood.
Wearing swastikas and holding signs declaring “White Pride,” the 22 neo-Nazis who turned out were protected from 500 counterprotesters by about 300 police officers.
Last Thursday, the FBI arrested Tom Martin, 23, and John Rock, 35, after Gletty wore a wire to a meeting and agreed to help them rob a drug dealer in Casselberry, according to testimony.
Rock told Gletty in a tape-recorded conversation that he and Martin had robbed seven drug dealers by posing as law-enforcement officers, according to testimony. Martin and Rock remain held without bail in the Seminole County Jail.
Slip-up lets name out of bag
Throughout most of the hearing, Gletty was referred to as “Mr. X” or “CW” (cooperating witness). His identity was revealed when Assistant Federal Public Defender Peter W. Kenny repeatedly slipped up and mentioned Gletty’s full name.
Questioned about Gletty’s role in the march, Farrington testified that “he participated in it. He did not organize it. . .. [That’s] pretty good firsthand information, sir.”
The city parade permit, however, lists Gletty as the “on scene event manager.”
And pictures of Gletty addressing marchers sporting swastika armbands for the Orlando rally appear on a neo-Nazi Web site. Captions from other photos on the site mock the counterdemonstrators and the police presence.
No word from FBI
FBI officials did not return calls asking for specifics about the agency’s relationship with Gletty. A tree-trimmer in Orlando, he withdrew from the National Socialist Movement last fall to pursue other projects, Farrington testified.
A neo-Nazi offers his take
“If he was being sponsored by the FBI, then American National Socialism has a lot to thank the FBI for,” White said in an e-mail.