According to comments received from Colucci, the Black people, and an unbiased source, the incident started outside a hotel in Chandler, Arizona, after Colucci threw garbage on the vehicle of the African Americans and used racist slurs against them. The only person named in the police report that was made public was Colucci.
According to the police report, Colucci said he had simply placed his semi-automatic weapon in “low ready” mode, but the Black individuals claimed he had pointed it at them and threatened to kill them, and the witness claimed she saw Colucci aiming the gun at the victims. According to the paper, neither of the parties knew each other.
According to court documents, a Maricopa County supreme court judge set Colucci’s bail at $7,500 on Tuesday and allowed him to fly to his home state of Florida, but he must return to Maricopa County by April 25 for his next hearing. Colucci faces at least three years in jail if sentenced.
Two days before his arrest, Colucci led about 15 members of his group, the National Socialist Movement Corporation, in a rally at a park with ties to the African American civil rights movement in Phoenix. Clad in black uniforms and swastika arm-bands, the group shouted racial epithets at Black bystanders and challenged them to fight.Burt Colucci of the white nationalist group National Socialist Movement destroys a flag of the anti-facist movement during a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, US (photo credit: JIM URQUHART/REUTERS).
In an interview the day before the protest, Colucci told Reuters that his organisation has about 100 dues-paying members, but that he does not maintain electronic membership records to prevent naming members of the group who wish to remain anonymous.
Colucci also told Reuters that he needed white people to “stand up for themselves” by feeling free to kill Black people in public spaces who made them feel insecure.
Members of the National Socialist Movement took part in the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which turned fatal after a vehicle driven into a crowd killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The organisation is a claimant in a civil lawsuit filed by Virginia locals against the rally’s organisers.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Socialist Movement’s influence and prestige in the wider white supremacist movement has “dwindled exponentially” since that demonstration, but it can still “provoke feelings ranging from unease to fear” in neighbourhoods where it is present.