Update, afternoon of 8/6/2018: Well that was quick… Costner and James have been fired.
Howard Reece Costner, currently employed as a Deputy Sheriff/detention officer in Spalding County, Georgia, is a participant in the Alt-Right who believes that racism is “normal” and who labels non-racist points of view as “delusional.”
Costner claims that he “respect[s]” the founder of the American Nazi Party and “agree[s] with a lot of his [George Lincoln Rockwell’s] points.” Deputy Costner also is open about his friendships with current-day neo-Nazis. Posting to a group on Facebook, Costner even shared a picture of a Nazi flag hanging in his living space. A glance at Costner’s social media accounts shows Costner’s support for fascist, antisemitic, and white nationalist political projects.
Another Spalding County Sheriff’s Office employee/detention officer, Jesse A. Jones, proclaims on his online gaming profile that “Hitler did nothing wrong.” Jones is a friend of Costner’s. Both joined the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office in late 2017.
We are not surprised at the presence of a hardened ideological racist in Georgia law enforcement, or about another Deputy proclaiming that “Hitler did nothing wrong.” There are likely others with the same commitments as Costner and Jones, although some may be better at covering their tracks. With our release of this documentation on Deputies Costner and Jones, the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office must decide if it will continue to employ open ideological racists.
(1) Howard Costner
Howard Costner Prior to the Sheriff’s Department
Prior to joining the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office – in September of last year, according to Costner’s Facebook — Costner was briefly in the US military. Costner enlisted with the US Army Reserves in early 2016. However, Costner soon received a medical discharge during Basic Training for exercise-induced asthma. It appears that Costner still wishes to rejoin the military, posting online in late 2017 about trying to join the National Guard, and in early 2018 posting about wishing to enter the Air Force Reserve. In the meantime, Costner decided on work with Spalding County Sheriff’s Office.
In his leisure time, Costner is a devoted online gamer — this is one of the hobbies covered on Costner’s YouTube channel. In one World War Two multiplayer online game, Costner is part of a German Waffen-SS division. In a US Civil War online game, Costner is part of a Confederate company. Costner’s choices of fantasy roles in these games reflect his actual political outlook, which is racist and sympathetic toward Nazism.
Racism, the Alt-Right, and Neo-Nazi Associates
Costner operates several online accounts, for example on Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, Facebook and Steam (a platform used by gamers.) These accounts are interconnected. The “Howie3601” Steam account links to Costner’s YouTube channel and displays a photo of Costner’s gaming setup that was also shared to Facebook. Reddit user “Howie3601” describes himself as “Deputy Costner […] a Detention Officer/Deputy for my county” and shares videos from the “Howie3601” YouTube channel. Instagram account “Howie3601” has a profile picture of Costner and is consistent with Costner’s Facebook. (Costner’s Facebook, Instagram, and Steam accounts are all connected to those of Jesse Jones as well.)
In his online comments, Costner is clear about racism: he describes racism as “normal” and “not a problem.” Costner also argues against anti-racism. Costner’s response to a YouTube commenter who criticized pseudo-scientific beliefs about race and intelligence was simply: “You’re delusional.”
Also on YouTube, Costner stated that “I have a lot of friends that are National Socialist [i.e. Nazi/neo-Nazi] that are in the Alt Right.” Costner later added that he considers most of these “Nazis” to be “normal everyday people” and that “They’re not Anti Semitic at all […] Some of them deny the holocaust [sic] and most of them think it was exaggerated.” Costner writes that the founder of the American Nazi Party, George Lincoln Rockwell, is someone who he “respect[s]”. The only criticism Howard Costner makes of present-day neo-Nazis is that they are “nothing like they used to be” – in other words, that these modern neo-Nazis are not enough like the Nazis of Hitler’s regime, or at least not like the white supremacists of the American Nazi Party during the 1960s.
Last year, Costner shared a photo of a Nazi flag hanging in his living space to a group on Facebook. While this original post with the swastika flag has been deleted from the Facebook group, Costner later shared an image featuring responses to his original post. The initial Nazi flag image is visible in the background to Costner’s follow-up post.
Howard Costner’s profile picture as “Howie3601” on Steam includes far-Right iconography. The profile picture for this account includes the Schwarze Sonne/Black Sun design that has been adopted by neo-Nazis and the far-Right. In Costner’s profile image, this design has been altered to include a star at its center and stripes in the background, colored in a red, white and blue scheme to recall a US flag. This image featured prominently in the bloody “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last August, where a white supremacist displayed it on a flag as he taunted and attacked anti-racists.
Costner’s far-Right, racist and antisemitic associations do not end there. On Steam, Howard Costner/“Howie3601” is part of the group “Fashy Dreams: The New Reich”. “Fashy” is short for fascist; the group’s ID “fashydreams1488” further includes white supremacist code – 14 stands for the “Fourteen Words,” a white power motto, while 88 is alphanumeric code for H.H. or “Heil Hitler.” Among Costner’s “friends” on Steam is a profile promoting the Nordic Resistance Movement, a neo-Nazi formation which is active in several Nordic countries. (Costner’s Steam account is also “friends” with the account for Deputy Jesse Jones.)
Among the pages Costner “likes” on Facebook are the American National Workers Party, a white supremacist page inspired by George Lincoln Rockwell’s American Nazi Party; the white nationalist/Alt-Right media channel Red Ice TV; the antisemitic and Alt-Right podcast Fash the Nation; and OmniphiMedia, which creates white power and neo-Nazi propaganda videos. Costner also likes several pages relating to the Wehrmacht, the armed forces of Nazi Germany.
Many of Costner’s associates on Facebook are clear far-Right racists. When Costner posted a historical German military flag to his profile, one of his friends complained that it was “not the NSDAP flag” (the flag of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei i.e. the Nazi Party). Another of Costner’s friends described the Nazi swastika flag as “ye olde windmill o’ friendship”, a comment which then Costner “liked.”
Costner follows far-Right accounts on Instagram such as “The Neighborhood Nationalist” (which has just one post, but whose corresponding Facebook page spreads racist and antisemitic propaganda) as well as an account for bad Identitarian art in the “Outrun” retro-futuristic style. (Identitarianism is a far-Right and white nationalist movement.)
On YouTube, Costner commented sympathetically on a video made by Swedish white nationalist Marcus Follin AKA “The Golden One,” as well as on a tirade about “Jewmerica” by antisemitic propagandist “Brother Nathanael.”
(2) Jesse A. Jones
According to Facebook, Jesse Andrew Jones joined the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office in October 2017, just one month after Howard Costner. The two appear to have known each other for some time, and even had similar experiences in the military: like Costner, Jones joined the Army in 2016 but was discharged due to a medical issue.
On Facebook, Jesse Jones keeps a lower profile than Howard Costner. There, Jones “likes” the Right-wing populist/xenophobic Breitbart website, pages relating to 4chan (whose political board is a breeding ground for the far-Right), as well as pages mocking “social justice warriors.” However, unlike Costner, Jones does not use Facebook to follow explicitly fascist, white nationalist, or neo-Nazi projects. The only Nazi-related page “liked” by Jesse Jones on Facebook is “Unseen Photos of World War 2”, a self-described “non-political” page that posts almost entirely Nazi and Axis images, supplied with little context and no criticism.
Things are different on Jesse Jones’ Steam profile under the name “SlimJerky.” There, Jones’ profile slogan proclaims that “Hitler did nothing wrong.” On another part of Steam, “SlimJerky” asks about progress on about a game modification for Hearts of Iron IV which changes “fascist America into National Socialist [i.e. Nazi] America.” While Jones’ question about the modification could simply be about a gaming fantasy world, other matters cannot be explained so easily.
Jones/“SlimJerky” is not only friends with Costner’s account – featuring far-Right iconography as its profile picture – but is also friends with an account named “Sp00kyRavioli”. The profile picture for “Sp00kyRavioli” features white supremacist mass murderer Dylann Roof, combined with a Black Sun and the slogan “Reject the Modern World.” Given Jesse Jones’ own declaration about Hitler, it is unlikely that Jones did not understand the signals being sent by his associates.
· Not only are “Howie3601” and “SlimJerky” connected on Steam, but both are members of the group “/r/ProtectAndServe”. This group is the Steam accompaniment for the r/ProtectAndServe forum on Reddit, where Reddit users “Howie3601” and “SlimJerky” both also posted. The post history for user “SlimJerky” on Reddit matches details of Jesse Jones’ life. For example, “SlimJerky” wrote on Reddit late September 2017 “im [sic] finally pissing in a cup then getting my conditional offer as a detention deputy!” The next month, Jesse Jones stated on Facebook that he had begun work at the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office. Reddit user “SlimJerky” also wrote of being discharged from the Army in August 2016. Jones returned from the Army that month.
· In another clear case of Jesse Jones using the name “SlimJerky,” in May of this year an account by that name on The Outdoors Trader listed a Glock handgun featuring a distinctive grip plug with an engraved Bible passage. On Facebook, Jesse Jones had posted a picture of a similar-looking handgun with the same grip plug approximately one week earlier.
· The same “Thin blue line” American flag image which “SlimJerky” uses as his profile picture on Steam, was also used as a cover photo by Jesse Jones on his Facebook account.
· Finally, one of Jesse Jones’ “likes” on Facebook is for the “Undisputed Gaming Army” – an obscure Facebook page followed by just over fifty people. One post for the Facebook page of this gaming clan states that “SlimJerky” is the leader of their “steam pc branch.”
We have set out evidence of two current employees of the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office – Howard Costner and Jesse Jones – expressing sympathy with Hitler’s genocidal regime. Both Costner and Jones were hired last year and work as detention officers. It is unsurprising that ideological racists are drawn to institutions such as the military, police, and prisons. Such positions allow them to get their hands dirty while maintaining the racist status quo, to turn departments into far-Right recruiting grounds, and potentially to do favors for their fascist associates.
It’s worth remembering that the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office was one of the agencies which assisted the massive state deployment in Newnan, Georgia (nearby Coweta County) on April 21 this year. There, militarized police brutalized and arrested protesters against the National Socialist Movement’s white power rally. The Spalding Sheriff’s Office posted social media pictures of its militarized SWAT team on the streets of Newnan that day, while it announced that “There is no place for bigotry and racism in 2018.” Our evidence suggests otherwise.
As always, please get in contact if you have information about white supremacist or fascist organizing in our state.