Howard Costner and Jesse Jones, two Spalding County jailers in Georgia were fired Monday after activists publicized their online comments expressing sympathy for Hitler and American neo-Nazi ideology.
Activists with Atlanta Antifascists, a leftist group that works to expose far-right activists, published comments allegedly made by detention officers Howard Costner and Jesse Jones on YouTube, Facebook and other online forums, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Comments included claiming that racism is “not a bad thing” and that Hitler did “nothing wrong.”
Here’s what you need to know about Costner and Jones:
1. Costner, An Avid Gamer, Allegedly Showed Sympathy Toward Nazism & Claims Racism Is “Normal”
Costner allegedly described “racism as normal” and “not a bad thing” and expressed his admiration for George Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I’ll say this I am extremely right winged and I view racism as normal,” he said, according to comments posted last year to one of his YouTube videos. “Just read the definition of racism and it’s not a bad thing. That’s my own belief though. I went from being a libertarian Conservative to more Authoritarian.”
The Atlanta Antifascists report that, on YouTube, Costner stated “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].”
According to his Facebook, prior to joining the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office last year, he was briefly enlisted in the U.S. Army. According to the Atlanta Antifascists, Costner enlisted with the U.S. Army Reserves in early 2016, but received a medical discharge during Basic Training for exercise-induced asthma. He has also posted on Facebook his desire to rejoin the military, indicating that he wished to join either the National Guard or the Air Force.
Costner is also an avid gamer, and posts several gaming videos on his Facebook profile. He tagged Jones in a post with the official trailer to Red Dead Redemption 2, to which Jones responded “I’M SO READY.”
2. Costner is Pro-Gun & Posted Several Pictures of Weapons on His Facebook Profile
Costner’s Facebook profile has several public pictures of the Georgia native sporting handguns and rifles and videos of people shooting automatic weapons. In once video, Costner posted an “Auto Range Shoot compilation/demonstration” video of people shooting automatic firearms, with a caption asking people to only “love” the video.
In October, 2017, Costner also wrote “don’t touch our bump fire stocks,” referring to the weapon mod that uses a recoil of a semi-automatic firearm to fire shots in rapid succession, simulating the rate of fire of a fully automatic firearm.
He also posted two pictures of a dresser covered in gaming memorabilia from Halo and Fallout, with an AR-style rifle and a handgun easily visible in the background.
In the comments he responded to a user who wanted “the hall stuff,” by saying “doesn’t notice ar leaning on the dresser.”
3. Jesse Jones Allegedly Thinks That “Hitler Did Nothing Wrong,” Although Jones Claims The Accusations Against Him Are Not True
Jones’ online profile on the gaming platform Steam allegedly included the slogan: “Hitler did nothing wrong.” Jones is also accused of connecting on Steam with far-right profiles including one featuring a profile picture of Dylann Roof, the convicted mass murderer accused of the 2015 racially motivated slaying of black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., with a similar black sun design superimposed over it, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Jones’ profile has a large, close-up picture of a handgun as his Facebook cover photo. In the comments of the picture, friends and family ask Jones if he is okay, to which he replies numerous times that he is not okay, because what is being said about him isn’t true.
“I’m not okay its all a lie. God will work it out in the end,” he replies to somebody who claims to be praying for him to be okay.
The handgun has a bible verse on the bottom that reads: “Blessed be the Lord, my rock who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle.” Pslam 144:1
His Facebook profile states that he is waiting to re-enlist in the United States Armed Forces, and that he graduated from Spalding High School in 2015. He is married with a child and is from Stockbridge, Georgia, according to his profile.
His profile is mostly filled with pictures of his family, army-related war posts, and Batman and Trailer Park Boys memes.
4. Both Costner & Jones Were Fired From Spalding County Sheriff’s Office After the Atlanta Antifascists Published Their Comments
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, both young men were fired from the Sheriff’s Office after the news spread of their alleged racist views and sympathies.
“Both of these gentlemen are no longer employed by the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office based on some information that came to light today,” Sheriff Darrell Dix said. “It doesn’t fit what we want to represent to the community and what we want to represent as an agency.”
Both Costner and Jones had been with the sheriff’s office for less than a year. Dix said Costner had some minor disciplinary problems, but “neither man did anything to reveal extremist tendencies.”
“No use of force, nothing where there were claims of him violating people’s civil rights or mistreating (people),” he said.
5. The Atlanta Antifascists Were Responsible For Publishing Jones and Costner’s Alleged Racial Views
The Atlanta Antifascists posted an article detailing all of the alleged incriminating information against Jones and Costner. On top of all of the above mentioned, the article highlights comments both men made on their Steam, YouTube and Instagram accounts involving racist views, a picture Costner posted of a Nazi flag hung on his wall, and various “likes” the two have on Facebook involving other alt-right, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi propaganda pages.
In the about section of their webpage, they write: “Atlanta Antifascists oppose white supremacist and fascist organizing in our region through education, confrontation, and building a grassroots culture of resistance. We oppose sexism, homophobia, anti-trans bigotry, and all other forms of oppression. We want a classless, free society.”