by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
Skinheads. Neo-Nazis. Terror group. Nobody wants these people in their city or neighborhood. But if reports of a planned white power concert in the Seattle's Ballard neighborhood and a march through Capitol Hill are true, then Seattle residents could be dealing with more than 300 skinheads from the white power group Northwest Hammerskins on Sunday, Dec. 6.
According to the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, Hammerskins has declared an escalation of activities in the Puget Sound region.
'The events are scheduled to celebrate what white nationalists have dubbed 'Martyr's Day' - when they mark the death of Robert Mathews, the leader of the neo-Nazi terror group, The Order,' IREHR officials report on the organization's official website www.irehr.org alerting the public of the event. 'The group had previously commemorated the event on land near the site of Mathew's death on Whidbey Island.'
Thirty-one years ago, Robert J. Mathews, who founded a band of white supremacist terrorists' intent on starting a race war called The Order had fled to Whidbey Island after a gun battle days earlier with FBI agents at a motel in Portland, Oregon. At a cabin, Mathews refused to surrender to the FBI, which later fired flares into the building to force him out. Matthews refused to leave, and died in an inferno when the cabin caught fire.
Because of Mathews' unwillingness to surrender, he is widely regarded now as a martyr for white nationalists and racists, who annually visit Whidbey Island as part of a pilgrimage of sorts.
Details about the 2015 Martyr's Day event are sketchy at best. However, information posted to the white nationalist website Stormfront says, 'Just got word from those putting on the Martyr's Day 2015 event and it is something you will NOT [sic] want to miss! Join us Sunday, Dec. 6th in Ballard, WA. We will be meeting up at an undisclosed location in Ballard (actual address will be given the day of).'
According to Stormfront the event will 'present five white power bands including Ironwill and Beer Hall Putsch and a couple others making their NW debuts. Comrades and crews from across the country will be in attendance and about 300 people are to be expected for a day of camaraderie, music, hailing our heroes and good ol' goosestepping. Food and drinks will also be provided.'
'After the bands and a traditional cross burning we will be marching through Capitol Hill in Seattle to show these liberals, anarchists antifa and fags that we are here and here to stay,' Stormfront reports. 'This will be the biggest event in NW history as of yet so let's put the beautiful Pacific Northwest back on the map and make Robert Mathews proud.'
The Northwestern Hammerskin Chapter represents the Northwestern United States of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota.
A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reports Hammerskin Nation as the most violent and best-organized neo-Nazi skinhead group in the United States.
'A number of its members have been convicted of harassing, beating or murdering minorities,' say officials. 'Many popular racist rock bands are affiliated with the Hammerskin Nation, and the group regularly sponsors concerts. Though internal dissension and a civil lawsuit currently threaten its continued strength, the Hammerskin Nation remains active and dangerous.'
The first Hammerskin group, the Confederate Hammerskins, formed in Dallas, Texas, in the late 1980s. Since then, dozens of local and regional Hammerskin groups have appeared, including the Eastern Hammerskins, the Northern Hammerskins and the Arizona Hammerskins. These groups have been united under the umbrella of the Hammerskin Nation for more than a decade.
Anti-Defamation League reports the Hammerskin Nation Web site lists 19 chapters across America. However, they do point out that Hammerskin has not subsequently updated this information since 2001. In addition, the site lists ten chapters outside of the United States: one each in Canada, England, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand as well as two in Germany; given the multinational nature of the skinhead movement, such widespread foreign participation is not surprising.
According to imprisoned Hammerskin Jimmy Matchette, international unity is an important Hammerskin goal. 'Our mission has drawn all of us from the four corners of the earth,' he said. 'The winds of destiny have drawn us and have carried us across geographical boundaries and from various ethnic branches of the White Aryan race to graft us into one Nation.'
RECRUITING THROUGH MUSIC
Hate music and The Hammerskin Nation go hand in hand. In fact, ADL officials say that one of the major elements binding skinheads from different cultures or geographical areas together is white power music.
'In four domestic locations, Hammerskin Nation contact points are maintained by hate rock bands: The Brawlers in Wichita, Kansas; Max Resist in Rochester, Michigan; Intimidation One in Clackamas, Oregon; and Dying Breed (now known as H8Machine) in Harrison, New Jersey,' reports the ADL.
One popular hate rock band, Bound for Glory, is led by Ed Wolbank, past director of the Northern Hammerskins in St. Paul, Minnesota. According to Wolbank, 'Music is number 1. It's the best way to reach people. Through music people can start getting into the scene, then you can start educating them. Politics through music.'
How dangerous can white power music be? In June, Dylann Roof, 21, walked into a Charleston church and joined a Bible study group. Then, during the study session, Roof began to shoot attendees, killing nine people before going on the run. After his arrest, Roof confessed to the murders and told investigators he was inspired by the white nationalist movement; fueled by white power music.
Scott Roof, Dylann Roof's cousin, told media that 'Dylann was normal until he started listening to that white power music stuff.'
According to the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights, white power music has provided the ideological ammunition for numerous acts of racist terror.
In 2012, Wade Michael Page, a white power musician walked into another place of worship, a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, pulled out a nine-millimeter pistol and fatally shot six people and wounded four others before shooting himself.
'For decades now, white power music has become both a leading recruiting tool and a significant revenue stream for white nationalists,' say IREHR officials. 'Today white power music comes in a multitude of genres, from National Socialist Black Metal to Ku Klux Klan Country ballads. It may be packaged differently, but the message is the same: hatred of people of color, Jews, Muslims, immigrants, and the LGBT community; exhortations to violence and even glorification of genocide.'
Violence is a fundamental part of the skinhead subculture. Racist skinheads have committed an enormous number of violent hate crimes across the United States during the past two decades, ranging from brutal beatings to outright murder.
'As one of the most prominent white power skinhead groups in the country, the Hammerskins have frequently shocked the communities in which they are active with the violence of some of their activities,' say Anti-Defamation League officials.
For a quarter century Hammerskins have been terrorizing minorities across America.
In the summer of 1988, Sean Tarrant, Jon Jordan, Michael Lawrence, Christopher Greer and Daniel Wood chased and beat blacks and Hispanics in an effort to keep them out of Robert E. Lee Park in Dallas. During that summer and into the fall, the Hammerskins vandalized a synagogue and a Jewish community center by shooting out windows, smashing doors and spray painting anti-Semitic slogans and swastikas. Michael Lawrence also committed violent crimes with skinheads Christopher Jones, Daniel Roush and Forrest Hyde in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the following year. The Tulsa group firebombed a minority-owned nightclub and assaulted its nonwhite patrons.
In June 1991, Arlington, Texas, three 16-year-old members of the Confederate Hammerskins murdered an African American, Donald Thomas, while he sat on the back of a truck with two white friends. Also in 1991, Jimmy 'Soda Pop' Miller, an Arizona Hammerskin, firebombed a residence he mistakenly thought was occupied by rival skinheads. Miller also defaced a synagogue. That same year, in Birmingham, Alabama, Hammerskin Louis Oddo and his colleague Adam Galleon murdered a 50-year-old black homeless man on Christmas Eve.
In the summer and fall of 1993, members of the New Dawn Hammerskins defaced two synagogues, harassed black patrons of a local bookstore and assaulted two black girls in Brockton and Randolph, Massachusetts.
In July 1994, these Hammerskins were charged with conspiring to intimidate and interfere with the rights of black and Jewish citizens.
On March 17, 1999, in an open field near Temecula, California. Six Western Hammerskins (Travis Miskam, Daniel Butler, Alan Yantis, Gregory McDaniel, Jesse Douglas and Jason McCully) allegedly attacked a 23-year-old African American, Randy Bowen. They apparently chose to attack him simply because he was black, approaching him without provocation at an unplanned youth gathering. Miskam reportedly hit Bowen over the head with a beer bottle. They cut and stabbed Bowen on his head and back before he escaped to a stranger's home. Witnesses indicated that after attacking Bowen, the Hammerskins started goose-stepping, giving Nazi salutes and singing German songs. On August 16, 1999, a grand jury indicted the four adult Hammerskins involved in the attack (Miskam, Butler, Yantis and McDaniel) on charges of attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder with enhancements for gang affiliation and commission of a hate crime.
Over the last decade and a half the Hammerkins have been investigated for domestic terrorism on more than one occasion. One of those investigations, in May 2012, led a joint terrorism task force in Florida to arrest more than a dozen members of another racist skinhead organization called American Front. The group was led by former Hammerskins member Marcus Faella. Investigators said American Front was experimenting with the creation of the toxin ricin, plotting attacks on rival groups and wanted to cause some sort of 'disturbance' at Orlando City Hall.
A LEADERLESS GROUP
One of the things that makes the Hammerskins so dangerous is that nobody - not even leaders within the white power community - can get the angry young men to stop committing crimes.
Hammerskins officials post on the group's website www.hammerskins.net, 'The Hammerskin Nation is a leaderless group of men and women who have adopted the White Power Skinhead lifestyle. We are blue-collar workers, white-collar professionals, college students, entrepreneurs, fathers and mothers. The Hammerskin brotherhood is a way of achieving goals which we have all set for ourselves. These goals are many but can be summed up with one phrase consisting of 14 words: We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children.'
Michael Reynolds compiled an intelligence report for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in which he states, 'The hard-nosed, beer-swilling Skinheads weren't much interested in rallying around a platform full of elder 'Aryans' droning on about a white revolution somewhere in the vague future. They needed action. Immediately.'
'For them, it was far more satisfying to discharge violence helter-skelter - not only on minorities, Gays and anti-racists, but on each other as well,' said Reynolds.
According to SPLC, Aryan Nations' Richard Butler, The Church of the Creator's Ben Klassen, and White Aryan Resistance's Dennis Mahon all tried to reign in the Skinheads. All of them failed.
'Mahon learned the hard way when a handful of Skins stabbed him and beat him senseless at a Georgia get-together,' reports Reynolds.
At first the Skinheads were an easy target for police. But over the last two and a half decades the Hammerskins have adapted, reporting, 'Camouflaged in society and rooted deep into the system, we're no longer an easy target, but a revolutionary force.'
NO KNOWN THREAT FOR SEATTLE
Aside from the obvious underlying menace that looms whenever Neo-Nazis are near, there is no known threat to Seattle residents in regards to the Hammerskin concert and march on Sunday.
Seattle Police Department officials told Seattle Gay News they don't have any additional information aside from what is already known about the proposed concert in Ballard and march on Capitol Hill - which is very little at this point.
It is important to note however, that that does not mean that the Hammerskin event won't happen. It could mean that Hammerskin officials are just being tight-lipped about their plans in an effort to head off any opposition they might encounter.
Rose City Antifa and allies are calling for antifascists in the Pacific Northwest to turn out December 6 to Cal Anderson Park 'to show the Northwestern Hammerskins that we stand united against fascism and racism.'
In a December 2 blog post on www.itsgoingdown.org, Rose City Antifa said, 'This year the NWHS have boasted a larger planned attendance and have announced a more public appearance, which represents a dangerous escalation of tactics. We must not allow them to be further emboldened. Particularly in light of the recent upswell of fascist violence regionally and across the nation, we must vigorously oppose any effort by fascists to claim space and spread fear.'
Rose City Antifa says they will gather at the north end of Cal Anderson Park a 5 p.m. on Sunday, December 6.
'Please bring flags and banners so that it is clear that we are antifascists opposing the neo-Nazis,' said officials.
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