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Sikh temple shooter's ex arrested. What role do women play in racist groups?

The Sikh temple gunman's former girlfriend was arrested on gun charges, but the FBI said she wasn't involved in the attack. Experts say women are increasingly involved in white hate groups.  

By Staff writer / August 8, 2012

This 2005 photo shows Brenda Cook, now known as Misty Cook. Cook, the former girlfriend of Sikh temple shooter Wade Michael Page. She was arrested on a weapons violation but authorities said the arrest was not connected to the shootings.

Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office/AP

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CHICAGO

The estranged girlfriend of Wade Michael Page, who gunned down six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin Sunday, was arrested on firearms charges, the FBI said Wednesday, and hate crime watchdogs said she had been tracked for years for involvement in white supremacist groups.

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The FBI said Misty Cook had no involvement in the Sunday massacre at the Milwaukee area temple. Experts, however, say photographs on social media showing Ms. Cook posing alongside male members of various white power groups reveal the growing role that women play in these organizations.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) says it has monitored Cook’s movements for years.

Women are becoming more valuable in the organizations because they are perceived as offering traits that their male counterparts do not, experts say. Women are less prone to violence and petty crimes, which attract the growing attention of federal authorities, and they are better at recruiting new members because they are perceived as more trustworthy and sincere, the experts say.

Many white supremacists also value white women for bearing children – white children, in particular – which is crucial to hate groups’ distaste for what they see as the threat of multiculturalism.

“Women are bringing new blood in, and that is the future of white supremacy,” says Kathleen Blee, a sociology professor at the University of Pittsburgh and author of “Inside Organized Racism: Women in the Hate Movement.”

Cook, who worked at a restaurant one block from the Sikh temple, has shown remorse for the attack by Mr. Page, her former boyfriend, who the FBI said Wednesday killed himself with the same weapon he used to kill five men and one woman in Oak Creek, a southern Milwaukee suburb. Police said earlier he had been killed by gunfire from officers responding to the 911 calls at the temple.

“If I could say something to ease the pain of the victims and their families I would gladly do so,” she wrote in a message published Tuesday in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “Unfortunately, words do not begin to heal the pain they are going through.”

It was unclear when she had sent the message.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, says Page was a member of the regional affiliate of Hammerskin Nation, a white supremacist organization.

Cook and Page lived together in an apartment in South Milwaukee. According to the FBI, they broke up in June and he moved to nearby Cudahy. Police raided her apartment on Tuesday, finding a gun that she had been barred from owning following a 2005 conviction of eluding police, according to the Journal-Sentinel. She served more than three months in prison.

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