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Press Release

Member Of White Supremacist Group Convicted Of Defacing Michigan Synagogue With Neo-Nazi Symbols

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          MARQUETTE, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten today announced that a federal jury convicted Nathan Weeden, 23, of Houghton, Michigan for conspiring with others and defacing Temple Jacob – a Jewish synagogue in Hancock, Michigan – with swastikas and symbols associated with The Base, a multi-state, white supremacist group.

          “Today’s swift conviction sends a strong message that hate will not be tolerated in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten, who was in Marquette for the trial. “No one should be the target of hate because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or any other status. When hateful words become hateful acts, my office will use every tool we have to protect the public and secure justice.”

          “This defendant shamelessly desecrated Temple Jacob when he emblazoned swastikas — a symbol of extermination — on their Temple walls,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Such conduct is unacceptable and criminal under any circumstances but doing so in furtherance of a self-described ‘Operation Kristallnacht’ conspiracy is beyond disgraceful. Antisemitism has no place in our society, and the Justice Department will aggressively prosecute white supremacists who seek to threaten and intimidate others from exercising their federally and constitutionally protected rights.” 

          In September 2019, Nathan Weeden, Richard Tobin, and Yousef Barasneh – all members of The Base, a multi-state, white supremacist organization – used an encrypted messaging platform to discuss vandalizing property associated with African Americans and Jewish Americans. Weeden and his co-conspirators dubbed their plan, “Operation Kristallnacht,” which in German means “Night of Broken Glass.” This term referenced events that took place on November 9-10, 1938, in which Nazis murdered Jews and burned and destroyed their homes, synagogues, schools, and places of business. Weeden carried out this plan on September 21, 2019, when he spray-painted swastikas and symbols associated with The Base on the outside walls of Temple Jacob.

          The jury convicted Weeden of two counts. The first count is Conspiracy Against Rights under 18 U.S.C. § 241, a civil rights statute that makes it a crime to conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in the exercise of their rights.  The second count is for Damage to Religious Property under 18 U.S.C. § 247, also a civil rights statute that makes it a crime to intentionally deface, damage, or destroy religious property because of the race or ethnic characteristics of individuals associated with that religious property. Co-conspirators Richard Tobin (see here and here) and Yousef Barasneh (see here and here) were previously convicted of federal crimes in this matter.

          "People of all faiths deserve to feel safe in their communities," said Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. "The FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to hold those accountable whose hate-filled aggression violates the civil rights of others. For law enforcement to safeguard against hate and violence, we request the public's assistance in reporting suspicious or threatening behavior by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324) or submitting a tip online at"

          “Hate and intimidation have no place in Michigan or our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge James Deir of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Detroit Field Office. “The behavior in this conviction is most certainly disturbing, ignorant and intolerable. ATF is laser-focused on ensuring public safety by holding people accountable for their hate-inspired deplorable actions. Houses of worship need to remain safe places where people can go for spiritual redemption and growth. Any attack on a house of worship or a group of people is an attack on our very way of life in this great state.”

          The grand jury issued its two-count indictment against Nathan Weeden on June 27, 2023. The indictment was unsealed on June 29, 2023, after the defendant was arrested by the FBI.

          This case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler and Trial Attorney Eric Peffley of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section. The FBI investigated the case with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Hancock Police Department.


Updated March 5, 2024

Civil Rights
Hate Crimes