Recently, we placed posters around The Tabernacle, a venue in downtown Atlanta. Our posters criticize that venue’s decision to host Jordan Peterson on Tuesday, June 12. Peterson is an academic turned self-help author and internet pundit. Peterson popularizes far-Right theories, cashing in on opposition to so-called “social justice warrior” culture. You can read and download our poster below.
With this poster, we have mostly had our say about Peterson and his followers, except for one issue.
Anti-racists have discovered that Donovan Stai – currently a senior at Whitewater High School in Fayetteville, Georgia – worked throughout 2017 as state leader for Vanguard America, a self-proclaimed “fascist” organization whose website rants about “bloodthirsty negroes” and “Jewish puppet masters.” As a state leader for Vanguard America, Stai propagandized via the “Vanguard Georgia” Twitter account, he assisted with the group’s internal organization, and he participated in campaigns of coordinated harassment. Stai has signaled support for violence and even murder on behalf of his neo-Nazi cause. Given the number of murders committed by neo-Nazis and white supremacists over the last year, we believe that Stai’s embrace of racist violence should concern the community.
Although both Stai’s personal @hldisL twitter as well the Vanguard Georgia account were removed by Twitter in December 2017, there is no sign that Stai has distanced himself from Vanguard America or the white power movement since that time. We now examine some of Donovan Stai’s activity more closely.
While the arson proposal and the Dylann Roof insignia comment from Stai may not have been meant literally, they nevertheless communicated a clear message to his peers: attacks on synagogues and the murder of Black churchgoers are all funny, and these acts may be something to emulate. When diehard racists rile each other up with these sorts of comments, the result is that further acts of violence become more likely.
Due to his neo-Nazi ideology, his comments glorifying intimidation and even murder, and his history of harassment, we believe that community members should be warned about Donovan Stai. After graduation, Donovan Stai hopes to become an emergency medical technician or a firefighter. We believe that Stai should not be allowed to infiltrate these professions. People of Color or Jewish people should not be forced to trust their lives to a member of a neo-Nazi group.
Was Donovan Stai Influenced by White Power Teacher at Whitewater High School?
Since Joshua Hitson’s time as a white nationalist teacher at Whitewater High School overlaps with Donovan Stai’s time there as a student, this suggests several interesting questions. Did Joshua David Hitson play a role in Donovan Stai’s radicalization, or politically mentor Stai in any way? Did Joshua Hitson and Donovan Stai organize together on white nationalist projects?
At present, we do not have enough information to draw definite conclusions. We do know that Joshua Hitson’s “Contrarian Gent” Twitter was one of the first accounts followed by Stai’s “Vanguard Georgia”. Donovan Stai also used his personal Twitter accounts (@hldisL and @JosephRedRay) to retweet “Contrarian Gent” / Hitson. These close online associations suggest that Hitson and Stai may have coordinated politically offline also. If you have more information about Donovan Stai’s racist organizing, including any further links to Joshua David Hitson, we would like to hear from you.
In the end, the November 4 call to action captured the imagination of the far-Right just as much — if not more — than it did working class people fed up with Trump’s rule (or even other Leftist organizers.) On widely-circulated social media posts, YouTube videos and stories on Right-wing websites, the November 4th protests were portrayed as an “antifa” plot to usher in civil war, with likely mass violence that day. As nonsensical as November 4 conspiracy theories were, many on the far-Right paid attention and believed them. Just as the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory led to a true believer firing shots in a restaurant, some observers began to worry that “antifa” “civil war” hype could lead to real violence from people determined to play hero against an imaginary threat.
While “Refuse Fascism” and “antifascists” include variants on the same term, “antifa” groups such as our organization were generally not involved in November 4 planning or promotion — a point that seems to have been missed by portions of media, even though a quick glance at our social media could have cleared up any confusion.
In Atlanta on the evening of the 4th, Refuse Fascism rallied in Little Five Points, attracting several dozen to their protest. Large amounts of police staged nearby. A group of counter-protesters waved an American flag catty-corner from the Refuse Fascism event. Other Right-wing individuals moved within in or infiltrated the Refuse Fascism crowd. Heavy rains brought the entire spectacle to an early end. There were no clashes.
The remainder of this article sets out which far-Right forces did and did not show up for the anticlimactic “civil war” in Atlanta.
Since the early 2000s, Atlanta white nationalist attorney Sam Dickson has been accumulating property in Atlanta, making a profit from gentrification and rising property values in our city. Dickson has built a “multi-million dollar business” from purchasing unpaid tax debts, then using them as leverage to obtain properties at bargain prices. Dickson has focused on property in South Atlanta, often in neighborhoods that are historically Black and working class. Dickson has been accused of “bullying” tactics to gain title.
Georgia attorney Samuel Glasgow Dickson has been a major figure on the racist far-Right since the 1970s. In 1978, Dickson campaigned for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia on a segregationist platform, receiving 11% of the vote. A lawyer since 1972, Dickson was known for representing Klansmen. Dickson participated in organizations such as the World Anti-Communist League (which included war criminals and far-Right terrorists) as well as the Council of Conservative Citizens (which traces back to the segregationist White Citizens’ Councils.) Dickson was active in Holocaust-denial circles – he published “Revisionist” materials and hosted events in Atlanta. Holocaust-denier David Irving spent time at Dickson’s property in Key West, Florida while facing criminal charges in Europe.
In 1994, Dickson gave a talk at the first American Renaissance conference, a suit-and-tie-style white nationalist gathering. Dickson has presented at every American Renaissance conference since then. He is also a regular speaker at the “Alt-Right” gatherings of the National Policy Institute. Predictably, Dickson was a speaker at the “Atlanta Forum” gathering in Marietta, Georgia this January, which brought together racist Southern nationalists and “Alt-Right” white nationalists. When Auburn University in Alabama tried to cancel an appearance by white power leader Richard Spencer of the National Policy Institute, Dickson filed a lawsuit so the event could go ahead. Dickson gave a talk when white nationalists assembled in mass in Charlottesville, Virginia on May 13, 2017 – the white nationalists’ evening event was reminiscent of Klan ceremonies. Sam Dickson was again in Charlottesville for the bloody “Unite the Right” far-Right rally on August 12, 2017, where white supremacist James Alex Fields Jr. murdered anti-racist Heather Heyer and wounded over a dozen more in a car attack.
While staying active on the white power scene, Dickson has spent over a decade and a half buying up land around Atlanta, frequently using tax liens he has purchased to encourage property owners to sell low. When areas are redeveloped, Dickson stands to profit. Predictably, other white nationalists and far-Right figures now have their names on Fulton County property records, operating at various degrees of proximity or separation from Dickson himself. Continue reading →