The Black Hammer Party, an anti-capitalist and anti-colonial political group, is currently being investigated for several criminal offenses, including kidnapping and human trafficking, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Tuesday.
Black Hammer leader Augustus Claudius Romain Jr. and a top lieutenant, Xavier “Keno” Rushin, were arrested for alleged participation in a kidnapping and sexual assault case that occurred in July. The crime took place in a home which the group had rented in Fayetteville, Georgia.
Federal and local authorities are also investigating the group for additional drug and weapon offenses. Fayetteville Police Street Gang Investigator Diana Snider testified that she began investigating the Black Hammer Party when she discovered that the group had relocated its headquarters to her town.
Snider was called to testify regarding a kidnapping case in which Romain, 36, and Rushin, 21, were allegedly involved. The victim was a homeless man who claimed that on July 19, the suspects kidnapped him, locked him in a garage, and held him at gunpoint.
Both members have been charged with kidnapping, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, conspiracy to commit a felony, and participation in street gang activity. The defense attorneys for the two group members argued that a political party could not be labeled a street gang.
Snider stated that Romain also forced other members to engage in sexual acts with him to advance their positions within the group. For that accusation, Romain received an additional forcible sodomy charge.
When police arrived at the group's home in July to make the arrest, Romain went live on social media and stated, "This is just going to build me up at the end of the day," reported WSB-TV.
One of the group members, Amonte “AP” Adams, 18, who had been accused of pointing a gun at the alleged kidnapping victim, was found dead inside the Fayetteville home when police went to investigate. Police stated that he appeared to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. However, the Black Hammer Party accused police of shooting Adams.
During her testimony, Snider reported that the FBI had noticed Black Hammer Party members attempting to recruit and arm homeless men in downtown Atlanta. She also noted that federal investigators reported that the group aggressively requested donations from college students in the area. At this point, no charges have been brought against the group regarding those allegations.
In Tampa, Florida, the Black Hammer Party was accused of being involved with a Russian citizen with Kremlin connections. The group was allegedly receiving payments to organize political protests and encourage conflict. The Black Hammer Party was one of several groups named in the indictment.
Snider testified that authorities are investigating additional kidnapping cases that allegedly occurred at the group’s residence.
The Atlantic Journal-Constitution reported that the FBI’s Atlanta office declined to comment on the matter since the investigation is ongoing.