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The Aryan Circle was founded by Mark "Cowboy" Gaspard in 1985 in the Texas Department of Corrections as a splinter group of the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT). During the 1980s the ABT had shifted focus away from overt crime towards religion. The Aryan Circle split from the Aryan Brotherhood to maintain criminal gang status and white supremacist beliefs, and to oppose black and Hispanic prison gangs.
The gang began growing during the 1990s, becoming the second largest prison gang in Texas by 2008, with 730 confirmed members in state prisons. The gang also had operational presence in neighboring states and isolated members throughout the country. The Anti-Defamation League estimated their 2009 nationwide membership to be approximately 1,400, including 150 confirmed members in federal prisons.
Membership and identifiers
Membership into the group usually requires an assault on an enemy of the organization. The Aryan Circle touts four tenets: brotherhood, solidarity, loyalty, and dedication; these beliefs are represented on each side of a diamond patch.
Aryan Circle members sport common white supremacist/separatist tattoos such as swastikas, SS lightning bolts, and Celtic or Germanic symbols. The main patch of the Aryan Circle is a diamond with wood ingrade under the heart with a swastika and the letters "AC" in the center of a circle. However, due to the group being classified as a Security Threat Group, many of its members no longer have the patch tattooed. Older members will have a small circle just below their left pectoral. They also acknowledge each other with patch numbers.
On August 10, 2007 Aryan Circle member Dennis Leighton Clem killed two police officers at a Budget Inn Motel in Bastrop, Louisiana in a shootout, in which he was also killed. Clem and his girlfriend were on the run after Clem shot at an SUV with black teenagers who had opened fire on an acquaintance, wounding him seriously, in front of his house in Houston on July 14. Two of the assaulting teenagers were killed, one was wounded.
Although the Aryan Circle was created by white supremacists, it was caught up in a bloody war with another white supremacist prison gang called the White Knights in the mid-1990s that cost the life of one White Knights member.
- Mock, Brentin (1 December 2007). "Aryan Circle Blamed for Two Cop Killings". Intelligence Report. Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- "The Aryan Circle: Crime in the Name of Hate" (PDF). Anti-Defamation League. December 2009. pp. 9–10. Retrieved 1 April 2018.
- Bob Campbell (23 January 2007). "Aryan Circle defendants win appeals". Midland Reporter-Telegram. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- John Reynolds (25 March 2004). "Feds bust up Aryan Circle meth ring". Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved 20 March 2013.
- Sentencing in Louisiana Police Shooting[dead link]
- Leahy, Jennifer (13 August 2007). "Louisiana slaying suspect caught in Harris County". Houston Chronicle.
- Rivalry with the White Knights published by caselaw.findlaw.com