Arrested Aryan Nations leader well known to local ADL

The Reno man arrested after allegedly e-mailing violent threats to San Francisco politicians, Jewish organizations and newspaper employees was no stranger to the local ADL, which has been collecting his writings for more than a year.

Steven Holten, 40, was described by Jonathan Bernstein, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, as the “self-proclaimed leader” of Nevada’s branch of Aryan Nations.

He was arrested on Sept. 22 after the FBI accused him of e-mailing a three-page message to various employees of the San Francisco Chronicle and Reno Gazette, several Bay Area and Reno Jewish organizations, and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and Supervisor Matt Gonzalez. Holten was charged with making violent threats, and could face as many as five years in prison if convicted. He is being held without bail.

Among the many threats in the signed letter, addressed, in part, to the Jewish, Latino and “Nigger” communities, and “All Mud Races” in Reno and San Francisco:

n He accused employees of both newspapers of supporting “the Jew agenda,” and threatened to take “violent action … We ask that you surrender to our neo-nazi beliefs before it is too late.”

n He wrote: “Aryan Nations have targeted specific individuals in Reno and San Francisco in the next 14 days … for violence. Our violent terrorist actions will be a shock to the citizens of Reno and San Francisco. It will be gruesome, and something that has never been seen in Reno and San Francisco.”

n He wrote: “We have a right to kill any enemy that is a threat to Aryan Nations. And we will do so. The holocaust for our enemies we have planned for Reno, Nevada and San Francisco, California will occur.”

The letter was also received by officials in Sacramento and Martinez.

The language is not surprising to Bernstein; he provided several samples of Holten’s Web postings praising Hitler and lamenting “all of the N——-s” in Baltimore.

Yet, in threatening the newspapers’ door-to-door subscription solicitors — whom the letter describes as constituting a threat to the safety of Aryan Nations members — Bernstein believes Holten has crossed a line.

“Up to now, he’s been saying some nasty, hateful things, but not things you could really prosecute him on successfully,” said Bernstein.

This letter, however, constitutes “a very clear, direct threat. What you really need is to show he means to carry out a violent attack against someone and is intending to do it.”

Bernstein speculated that Holten possibly coupled his hometown and San Francisco because of objections to the gay marriage issue.

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi is the managing editor at Mission Local. He is a former editor-at-large at San Francisco magazine, former columnist at SF Weekly and a former J. staff writer.