Nick R. Martin

Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him at nick@talkingpointsmemo.com

Articles by Nick

More than two years before white supremacist border vigilante JT Ready was involved in a deadly rampage in Arizona, the FBI was reportedly told he planned to lead deadly raids on Latino households in Phoenix.

According to the Phoenix New Times, a fellow border activist named David Heppler came forward in late 2009 when he became concerned about Ready's increasingly erratic behavior. He said the well known white supremacist planned to dress up like an agent from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and lead attacks on Latino house parties with the intent to kill those in attendance.

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Florida prosecutors are expected today to hand over evidence in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin to the defense team of the man charged in the death.

Orlando television station WKMG reported the evidence would normally be released to the public at the same time under Florida law. However, lawyers for defendant George Zimmerman said they may ask the judge to delay the public release.

Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder in the case that has drawn international attention.

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Joe Arpaio has been here before. At another time, during another Democratic administration, the tough talking Arizona sheriff was hit with a federal civil rights lawsuit designed to end the abusive practices of his agency.

It was 1997 when the sheriff, then 65, took to a press conference in Phoenix to react to news that the U.S. Justice Department was suing him for what it alleged was a longstanding mistreatment of inmates in his jails.

According to news reports from the time, he promised he would not back down. Everything was going to stay the same. "Nothing changes," he said.

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At a big news conference in downtown Phoenix on Thursday, the Justice Department's top civil rights lawyer described Sheriff Joe Arpaio's office as an agency out of control.

"At its core, this is an abuse of power case," assistant attorney general Thomas Perez said while announcing a massive civil rights lawsuit against the Arizona lawman.

But despite the tough talk, the reality is that little in the sheriff's office is likely to change anytime soon because, as Perez acknowledged, the lawsuit could take years to resolve.

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In light of the federal government's lawsuit against Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio on Thursday, civil rights groups in Arizona called on President Obama to continue evolving on immigrant issues the way he did on gay marriage the day before.

Pablo Alvardo, the executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, released the following statement:

We all owe a great deal of gratitude to the civil rights workers of Arizona who have raised their crisis to the fore. Sheriff Arpaio is the best argument against the immigration status quo. His continued stay in office is warning to all of us facing the Arizonification of our towns and an urgent call for federal action. The President's legacy on immigration thus far has been defined by DHS's criminalizing immigrants instead of legalizing them. We hope his stance evolves.

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The race war, he believed, was coming. So Florida white supremacist leader Marcus Faella instructed his followers over the past two years to prepare for it.

The preparations, according to law enforcement documents made public this week, included stockpiling weapons, experimenting with the creation of ricin and plotting some sort of "disturbance" on Orlando City Hall.

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George Zimmerman pleaded not guilty, again, on Tuesday in the killing of unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.

According to ABC News, Zimmerman's attorney appeared in court on his client's behalf and entered a plea of not guilty during a formal arraignment on a second-degree murder charge in the Feb. 26 killing.

The attorney, Mark O'Mara, already filed paperwork last month indicating Zimmerman's not guilty plea, but it had not been entered in person.

The television network said Zimmerman, who has been in hiding since his release from jail on bond last month, was not at the hearing.

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Arizona white supremacist JT Ready was many things before his death, but he was apparently not the one of the people who opened fire on a group of immigrants, killing two of them, last month in the desert north of Tucson.

Some in Arizona had speculated that Ready was involved in the killings ever since news surfaced that shooters wearing camouflage had ambushed a group of 20 to 30 immigrants the night of April 8 in a part of the desert the border vigilante was known to visit on armed patrols, looking for what he described as "narco terrorists."

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Neo-Nazi and border vigilante JT Ready, who authorities said carried out a mass murder-suicide near Phoenix this week, was the target of a federal domestic terrorism investigation at the time of the incident, the head of the FBI's Phoenix office revealed late Friday.

James Turgal, the special agent in charge of the FBI in Phoenix, told an Arizona television station the probe had been active less than five years and that investigators were looking into whether Ready was involved in a series of shootings of immigrants in the desert there.

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A full three months before what police said was his fatal rampage this week, Arizona white supremacist JT Ready spilled his guts to TPM.

Ready was angry and wanted to be understood. He was running as a long shot candidate for sheriff of Pinal County, Ariz., but he was tired of being seen as a caricature.

On Jan. 23, following an interview by phone about his candidacy, the border vigilante and longtime neo-Nazi sent an email to TPM that totaled more than 4,800 words. It was obviously written in advance, but it revealed bits of his life story and told how he became arguably the loudest racist in the state.

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