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Oklahoma official facing recall over white nationalist ties defends marching in Charlottesville

Judd Blevins, who is fighting to keep his seat on the Enid, Oklahoma, City Council,  said he was motivated by “the same issues that got Donald Trump elected."
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Judd Blevins at a City Council meeting at City Hall in Enid, Okla., on March 5.Michael Noble Jr for NBC News

A City Council member in Enid, Oklahoma, defended marching alongside white nationalists in Virginia in 2017 at a public forum Tuesday night where he was questioned about his connections to racist groups. 

Judd Blevins, who faces a recall election next week, declined to provide details of his prior white nationalist activism. Asked about the groups he was affiliated with, including Identity Evropa, once one of the largest U.S. white nationalist organizations, Blevins said those groups no longer exist. He also defended his actions. 

“If speaking out against what was being done to this country, what is continuing to be done to this country, is a crime, then I would gladly plead guilty to that,” he said. 

Answering a follow-up question, Blevins, a former Marine, said the purpose of his prior activism was “the same issues that got Donald Trump elected in 2016: securing America’s borders, reforming our legal immigration system and frankly, pushing back on this anti-white hatred that is so common in media and entertainment.”

He said he has never identified as a white nationalist or a white supremacist.

Blevins won his seat representing Ward 1 on Enid’s six-member City Council last year. His ties to white nationalist organizations — including his participation in the Charlottesville Unite the Right rally in Virginia — had been publicly reported but became widely known in Enid only after his election, spurring a campaign to unseat him. 

Blevins’ challenger, Cheryl Patterson, directly addressed his white nationalist ties for the first time at Tuesday’s forum. 

“It’s time to restore our reputation,” said Patterson, a grandmother, former teacher and longtime Republican. 

Patterson outlined the threat she believes Blevins poses to the city’s military base and future growth. 

“I fear that his recent past puts our Air Force base at risk and jeopardizes our ability to recruit businesses to Enid,” she said. “There is no place for hate in Enid.” 

Cheryl Patterson and Judd Blevins in Enid, O.K.
Cheryl Patterson and Judd Blevins answer questions during the livestreamed public forum Tuesday.City of Enid

While Blevins admitted to marching at Charlottesville — where he held a tiki torch alongside men who shouted “Jews will not replace us!” — he said his purpose was limited to preserving statues of American soldiers. “It’s our history,” he said. “It’s our heritage. It’s who we are.”

Pressed about whether he regretted marching in a rally where counterprotesters were beaten and a woman was killed, Blevins said, “One day in Virginia five years ago, or seven, is not really relevant to the next three years in Enid.”

Blevins responded to several questions about his white nationalist ties by saying he was “opposed to all forms of racial hate and racial discrimination.” 

But asked whether he would “condemn white nationalism, white supremacy, neo-Nazi beliefs and behaviors and alt-right activities and groups,” Blevins dug in, saying those issues weren’t a modern concern. 

“I’m not going to play this game where I take things that the media says are problems from America’s past that are no longer problems today and pretend like they’re serious issues,” he said. “I don’t care what the FBI says. I don’t care what the White House says. These are not issues to Enid residents. They’re not issues to American citizens.” 

He also for the first time publicly denied that he had posted on white nationalist forums under a pseudonym. 

NBC News reported this month that Blevins posted on those forums under the moniker Conway. Photos, biographical details and Conway’s disclosure that he would be marching in Charlottesville with Oklahoma’s original flag — as Blevins was photographed doing — verified the match. As Conway, he posted about flyering major cities and universities with white nationalist propaganda, organizing activities and recruiting new members.

Enid’s mayor, David Mason, and the city attorney have told NBC News that Blevins took responsibility for the posts at a closed-door meeting in November. 

From 2017 to 2019, Blevins led an Oklahoma chapter of the white nationalist organization Identity Evropa. The group dissolved in 2019 and rebranded as the American Identity Movement, which disbanded in 2020. Its leaders have splintered to other white nationalist groups.

Blevins’ past organizing had been reported, first by progressive media outlets and then by the local paper, the Enid News & Eagle, which published a front-page exposé in January 2023, five weeks before the election. Blevins didn’t deny the allegations at the time, but he derided the source of the research as “George-Soros-funded” leftists. 

Blevins’ election galvanized a progressive coalition, who formed a group called the Enid Social Justice Committee. Its members protested Blevins’ swearing-in ceremony and attended biweekly City Council meetings where they took over the public comment periods, reading racist and antisemitic posts Blevins had written on a private forum under a pseudonym and holding up photos of him with a tiki torch at the Charlottesville rally. The group attempted to reach an agreement whereby Blevins would apologize and denounce white nationalist groups, but he declined. 

The recall election has captured the attention of national white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups, who have urged their members and followers to weigh in on social media and write to the mayor and other city officials to voice their support for Blevins. 

At Tuesday’s forum, Blevins also faced questions about his current affiliations, including questions regarding out-of-state donors with potential ties to people in white nationalist groups.

“It’s not a crime to have a friend who has money,” Blevins said of the Texas donor who gave $1,944 to his campaign. “What he does to earn a living is entirely up to him.”

After the forum, James Neal, a member of the Enid Social Justice Committee, confronted Blevins about those donations and asked repeatedly whether he was still associated with white nationalist groups.

“I’m not answering any questions,” Blevins said before he walked out the door. 

In Enid, as in most municipal elections, voter turnout is low. Blevins won last year by 36 votes in an election in which 808 people, less than 15% of registered voters, came out to vote. In its announcement of Tuesday’s forum, the News & Eagle said the goal was to inform people in Enid and to encourage turnout. 

The election will take place next Tuesday.