April 26, 2011

Taco truck protester was set up, brother says

By The Spokesman-Review
 
Washington Department of Corrections photo

Jeremiah D. Hop, 29
(Full-size photo)

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The man who boasted online about taking part in racist protests of taco-trucks in Coeur d’Alene and now faces an illegal weapons charge was the victim of government entrapment, his brother says.

Jeremiah Daniel “J.D.” Hop, 29, was set up earlier this month by an FBI informant who suggested the two of them go shooting and even supplied the shotgun that federal authorities now accuse him of illegally possessing, said Michael Hop, the suspect’s younger brother. The elder sibling has a previous felony conviction, which prohibits him from possessing firearms.

“The FBI took him out shooting and then arrested him,” Michael Hop said. “If an informant hands you a gun and asks you to shoot it, that’s entrapment in my book.”

Frank Harrill, supervisory senior resident agent of the Spokane office of the FBI, declined to respond to Michael Hop’s claims.

J. D. Hop was in court Tuesday for a pre-trial hearing that was eventually postponed until later this week.

It’s unclear whether Hop’s involvement in the taco truck protests had any part in drawing FBI interest, but Michael Hop said his brother was participating in those demonstrations at the request of the community.

The taco truck protests started after girls who work at a nearby coffee stand claimed they were harassed by the Latino men operating the taco trucks, Michael Hop said. Hop’s older brother is not a member of the Aryan Nations or Ku Klux Klan but the brothers do know a man who is associated with the KKK.

“They were just protesting. They did what the community asked them to do. People started protesting them because they didn’t want illegal immigrants,” Michael Hop said of the taco trucks incidents. “We grew up in California. We know what it’s going to look like if they keep coming up here.”

Hop, who said he wanted to set the record straight about his brother’s views, said Native Americans and black people are allowed to have pride in their races, but he feels whites are not.

J.D. Hop “takes pride in his race,” Michael Hop said. “If there is something wrong in taking pride in who you are then we have issues.”

Hop said he didn’t know whether federal authorities focused on his brother because of the protests. But he claims that his brother met a FBI informant who invited him to go out shooting.

Federal agents arrested J.D. Hop on March 25 in possession of a Saiga semi-automatic 12 gauge shotgun. Hop previously was convicted of third-degree rape of a child in 2005.

Michael Hop, who himself was convicted last year of felony possession of marijuana and child endangerment, said his brother had sex with a girl who was 15 at the time. Hop said his brother helped the girl escape an abusive home.

“He’s a great dad and a great guy. He’s not like the news has portrayed him,” Michael Hop said. “He doesn’t just judge them by the color of their skin. As we all know, there is trash in any race.”

Michael Hop said he met the man _ whom Hop would not identify _ who was associated with the KKK when Hop drove by and saw flags flying in front of the other man’s home.

“I stopped because I share an interest in those flags,” Michael Hop said. “He was a family man and a good hard worker, just like myself. It’s not illegal to associate with people.”

He’s been over to the other man’s house “a couple of times” to let their children play, he said.

Michael Hop said he and his family moved to Pullman years ago when their mother came to Washington State University to study. J.D. Hop returned to California to finish high school but moved back to Pullman area to start a construction business.

In his last Stormfront post on April 13, WhitePhoenix said he was helping members of the racist group the Original Knights of America. He described himself as a general contractor involved in construction, maintenance and repair.

Michael Hop said he doesn’t feel safe allowing his children to enter stores in California and that the Coeur d’Alene protests were simply a way of “letting the public know what is going to happen in the future.”

“Most people who move up here are getting away from that,” said Michael Hop, referring to the multiculturalism in California. “Everybody just migrates somewhere else when they don’t like something.”


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