(Editor's note: This article has been updated to include additional comment from Alsbrook.)
The former Colbert, Oklahoma, police chief, who at one point was a leader within a neo-Nazi hate group, says he turned away from that life nearly 15 years ago. Bart Alsbrook, who was recently named as the police chief for Colbert, acknowledged his past in a brief text message interview Thursday evening.
During the interview, Alsbrook confirmed initial reports that he planned to resign from the police department. He said he turned in his resignation Tuesday following reports by KXII that connected him to a hate group in Denison.
“Left all that racist stuff behind me 15 years ago,” Albrook said via text message. “Been helping people ever since. I have a clean record so I volunteered to be an unpaid police office a few years back.”
A city official confirmed Thursday that Alsbrook, who was the third man to hold the police chief position within the past year, had resigned in a phone call with the Herald Democrat. The official, who did not give her name, hung up before any additional questions could be asked.
Last weekend, Alsbrook reportedly told the Tulsa World he planned to resign from the Colbert Police Department following a report by KXII that connected him with two websites that distribute neo-Nazi music and memorabilia. Despite comments indicating he intended to resign, city officials initially told KXII the city council admired Alsbrook and wished to keep him on board.
“They don't want him to leave because he hasn't done anything they warrant would be grounds for his dismissal,” city spokesperson Jerry Harrel said to the station Monday.
Alsbrook said there wasn't a specific event that caused him to have a change of heart. Instead, he said the changes were due to time.
“I think a person should question their views every day,” he said.
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The controversy surrounding the police chief started in August when the Southern Poverty Law Center updated its Hate Map, a listing of known hate groups complete with the locations where these groups are active, following white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, that gained national attention. In the update, SPLC added a listing for ISD Records, located in Denison.
KXII reported last week that public records for ISD Records and NS88 Video, another website that sells racist memorabilia, show the websites are registered to Alsbrook at a Denison address. Following questions by KXII, both websites were taken down and have remained offline since.
Alsbrook denied owning the websites to KXII and claimed a group of skinheads stole his wallet in the 1990s at a heavy metal concert and have been using his name for neo-Nazi and other related websites since.
When asked why he didn’t mention his change of ideology during interviews with KXII, Alsbrook said, "My talk with them was about being appointed interim chief, not my past. So when they ambushed me with questions about racism, I was unprepared and saw my life turn from hero to villain in an instant."
Two documentaries about the neo-Nazi and skinhead movements appear to show Alsbrook discussing his beliefs surfaced earlier this week and were first reported by the Herald Democrat. The two films, titled “Skinhead Attitude” and “White Terror” were filmed and released by documentarian Daniel Schweizer in 2003 and 2005, respectively.
“The reason I became a skinhead was I had originally been a member of the Republican Party and always had what would be considered a right wing point of view on politics and the social environment,” Alsbrook says, in “Skinhead Attitude.”
Both documentaries include footage taken in Denison, including shots in the city's downtown.
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The SPLC connected ISD Records with Blood & Honour, a neo-Nazi movement connected with hate music and record promotion. The movement was founded by Ian Stuart Donaldson, frontman for the band Skrewdriver, who is also the namesake for ISD Records. A related group, Combat 88, is often seen as a more militant wing of Blood & Honour, Alsbrook says in the documentaries.
“The C, of course, stands for combat,” Alsbrook says, describing the arm of the movement. “The number 18 is the first letter of the alphabet — one being A and the eighth letter being H. AH, which stands for Adolf Hitler. So when you draw it out it is Combat Adolf Hitler — which represents a fighting force — combat in the name of national socialism and Adolf Hitler.”
On Thursday, the city called for a special council meeting to discuss accepting Alsbrook's resignation and to appoint a new interim police chief. A second note that was posted outside the town hall reminded city employees to respect the confidentiality of town business and that all news releases to the press would be given by designated personnel only.
The meeting is scheduled to take place at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Colbert City Hall, located at 705 Moore Avenue.