Far-right tattoo artist surrenders in racist Lynnwood attack

Jason DeSimas, of Tacoma, turned himself in after being charged with hate crimes. He’s in federal custody.

Jason DeSimas (Federal Way Mirror)

Jason DeSimas (Federal Way Mirror)

LYNNWOOD — A fourth white supremacist indicted in a racist attack at a Lynnwood bar surrendered this week to federal authorities.

Jason “Gravy” DeSimas, 46, a Tacoma tattoo artist, must remain behind bars pending trial, U.S. District Court Judge Paula McCandlis ruled Monday.

Two people injured in the 2018 beating identified a man with a devil tattoo as one of the assailants who surrounded a Black DJ and beat him on a dance floor at the Rec Room Bar and Grill, 14920 Highway 99.

“Law enforcement reports and booking photos of DeSimas for prior offenses note that he has a tattoo of a devil’s face on the front of his neck,” wrote federal prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle.

Security footage showed DeSimas “actively assaulting the victims by striking downward with his arms, over and over” on Dec. 8, 2018, according to a motion to detain the defendant. The injured people reported a man with a devil tattoo used the N-word “before, during and after the assault.”

Last week, after two years in legal limbo, federal prosecutors announced a grand jury had indicted DeSimas and three other men from the Northwest: Daniel Dorson, 25, of Oregon; Randy Smith, 40, of Oregon; and Jason Stanley, 44, of Idaho.

All four were in custody this week.

According to investigators, they were passing through Lynnwood, as part of a larger group of extremists, because it was a kind of white supremacist holiday marking the death of Robert Jay Mathews, of the domestic terrorist group The Order. Mathews was killed Dec. 8, 1984, in a shootout with dozens of federal agents at a cabin on Whidbey Island.

The federal public defender for DeSimas submitted a 14-page motion Wednesday seeking to revoke the detention order, along with three letters from three supporters: his teenage child; a friend named “Tiffany” whose last name was redacted; and a man who identified himself only as “Mike” who had “worked with jason for 3 years now and gotten to know him on a personal level.” (The subject line read: “Jason desimess.”)

Tacoma activists have exposed DeSimas’ unabashed support for Hammerskin Nation, a far-right group labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as one of the country’s “oldest, most violent skinhead groups.”

A one-star Yelp review for DeSimas’ tattoo parlor, TacTown Tattoo, shows him standing in front of posters of the crossed hammers that make up a Hammerskin logo, while DeSimas and others wear shirts depicting the Wolfsangel, a runic symbol appropriated by the Nazi SS. The symbol has also been adopted by neo-Nazis of the 21st century.

Other images saved and reposted by activists showed DeSimas and two people identified as his coworkers wearing “Crew 38” shirts — a “support group” for the Hammerskins — with the number 88 in big block letters, a far-right code for the eighth letter of the alphabet twice: H.H., for “Heil Hitler,” according to the Anti-Defamation League.

His public defender, Sara Brin, argued in her motion that DeSimas has “strong ties to the community through the tattooing industry and his commitment to this type of work for 17 years here in Washington.”

Brin argued that DeSimas, who has lung damage and other health issues, could die if he contracts COVID-19 at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac, where dozens of inmates have tested positive this month.

His attorney also argued DeSimas had known about this investigation for two years but did not flee and stayed out of trouble with the law.

Over the preceding two decades, he was convicted of burglary, felony assault, heroin possession, identity theft, forgery and auto theft.

“Jason is not a bad man,” Tiffany wrote. “maybe made some bad mistakes in life but who hasnt?”

The defense motion hasn’t gone in front of a judge yet.

Six other people carrying white supremacist emblems were detained north of Lynnwood in 2018. No other hate crime charges had been filed as of this week.

All four indicted men are charged with three counts of hate crimes, as well as lying to the FBI.

DeSimas, for example, claimed nobody in his group used the N-word, according to federal prosecutors. Court papers say DeSimas did admit to being a member of Crew 38.

A U.S. District Court judge ordered Dorson to be transferred out of Oregon, where he was being held, for court hearings in Seattle.

Smith was also behind bars in Oregon this week.

Stanley remained at an Idaho state prison.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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