The dark days of racial killings in the United States are, thankfully, over. But every once in awhile a case surfaces that serves as a throwback to those terrible times.
Such is the story of Paul Schlesselman, who has pleaded guilty to conspiracy, threatening to kill a presidential candidate and possessing a firearm to commit a crime of violence.
Schlesselman of West Helena, Arkansas, admitted to conspiring to murder dozens of African Americans. He had planned to end his killing spree by assassinating then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
"Despite great civil rights progress, hate-fueled violence remains all too common in our country, as illustrated by this unthinkable conspiracy," said Thomas E. Perez, assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Tragedy was averted thanks to the capable work of the Crockett County Sheriff’s Department and their willingness to work with the ATF, the Secret Service and the FBI."
Schlesselman, who will be sentenced in April, admitted that he conspired in the fall of 2008 to transport firearms and ammunition in interstate commerce, steal firearms from a licensed firearms dealer and transport in interstate commerce a short-barreled shotgun, all for the purpose of committing murders, robberies and burglaries.
He also admitted that he transported an unregistered short barreled shotgun and a .357 magnum caliber handgun across state lines for the purpose of carrying out his plan. It was during that period that he threatened to kill Obama.