Justin Burger (Douglasville, Georgia), Ian Booton (Gibson, GA) and University of Central Florida Student Simon Michael Dickerman in Far-Right Flash Protest at Burnette Chapel
On Sunday, October 29, white nationalists held a five-person flash protest outside the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee (about twenty minutes from Nashville.) A month earlier, gunman Emanuel Kidega Samson targeted Burnette Chapel, killing one congregation member and wounding seven more. A note left in the shooter’s car allegedly mentioned Dylann Roof, the white supremacist responsible for 2015 massacre at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina. White nationalists have now seized on the Burnette Chapel shooting for propaganda purposes, for a couple of reasons. First, the mention of Dylann Roof in the note left in Samson’s vehicle could be used to build a “revenge” narrative around the Antioch shooting — a narrative which is helpful to white nationalists. Second, Emanuel Samson was born in Sudan but spent most of his life in the United States. Far-Right commentators such as Alabama-based League of the South publicist/“Alt-South” blogger Bradley Dean Griffin have seized upon the Antioch shooting to increase racist and anti-immigrant sentiment. The shooting is also useful to white nationalists because it can be used to draw false equivalencies and to deflect attention from their own movement’s role in radicalizing Charleston murderer Dylann Roof.
Throughout the weekend of the “White Lives Matter” rally, rumors swirled that Nationalist Front members would show up in Antioch and hold a protest outside Burnette Chapel. However, no such protest occurred on Friday. On Saturday in Shelbyville, racist organizers announced an evening presence at the Antioch church, but this event was eventually cancelled just as the Murfreesboro demonstration had been earlier. However, the next morning, a handful of militant racists showed up outside Burnette Chapel with a banner, until the arrival of police shooed them away. The flash protest was documented by Newsweek correspondent Michael Hayden. By showing up at a church that had already experienced trauma and violence, the white nationalists made it even plainer that their movement does not care about the Burnette Chapel congregation. The racist movement just hoped to exploit a tragedy for its own agenda.
On Tuesday, April 18, white nationalist leader Richard Spencer (of the National Policy Institute and Altright) gave a speech at Auburn University in Alabama, which is less than two hours away from Atlanta. Anti-racists mobilized against this event and, shortly after the end of Richard Spencer’s talk, students angrily escorted Spencer’s white power followers off campus and chased some of them through the streets of Auburn.
In the run-up to the Tuesday event, Spencer’s forces blatantly organized for violence on campus, using scarcely veiled language of assembling “safety” squads, and urging racists and far-Right anti-communists to travel from far and wide to invade the campus. On the actual day, the far-Right ended up having a hard time, with their attempts at aggression met with compelling responses from students and other anti-racists. While white nationalists predictably declared a victory, this verdict was informed by delusional claims about the day. For example, racist claimed that their members were not really chased off campus so much as followed, and that their forces “drastically outnumbered” anti-racists. Such messaging from white nationalists, combined their focus on waging war on anti-fascists in the aftermath of Tuesday, suggests that they are in fact unhappy about how the day went.
Spencer’s Visit Approaches
Richard Spencer used a Youtube video to announce that he would be speaking at Auburn just under a week before he was scheduled to appear on campus. Before Spencer’s announcement, an Alt-Right “White Student Union” for Auburn had launched a website and begun circulating antisemitic flyers on campus, attempting to cultivate a climate of intimidation on campus. Anti-racists including our organization began circulating news of Spencer’s visit to Auburn soon following his announcement – since events at Auburn were part of regional coordination by Alt-Right white nationalists, we believed that anti-racists should likewise treat this event as a regional concern since a victory at Auburn would affect all of us as people living in the South. While the state-friendly anti-extremists of the Southern Poverty Law Center urged students to avoid and not confront the racist mobilization, several Auburn students shared our view that fascist organizing prospers when left unopposed. A Twitter account was established by Auburn students opposed to racist organizing, and a call for loud, vocal opposition to Spencer’s visit was released. Atlanta Antifascists solicited endorsements from other anti-racist and leftist organizations for the call to action. At this point, the situation began shifting rapidly.
The first change came on Friday when Auburn University canceled Spencer’s booking, citing concerns over student safety. While we were happy that white power organizing had hit a roadblock, it was also clear that actions of the sort taken by the University, could just as easily be used against leftists and anti-racists in the future. For this reason, appeals to cops, courts, or other authorities have never been at the center of our work as anti-racists.
Richard Spencer issued a furious response to the University, claiming that Auburn would “rue the day” they made this decision, and stating that he would fly in key white nationalists for the Auburn event as well as organize squads equipped with “safety gear.” (Shortly before Spencer announced his Auburn visit, he had discussed the formation of a “white bloc” to take on anti-racist opponents.)
The other major escalation took place on the other side of the country, where on Saturday the 15th far-Right forces (including open white supremacists) clashed with anti-fascist protesters in Berkeley, California. This event, portrayed by the far-Right as a victory, emboldened more far-Right and white nationalist forces (including some of the groups listed earlier) to pledge to be at Auburn with the hope of routing their enemies in a brawl. Just as in Berkeley where organized far-Right forces used “free speech” as a pretext to organize violence and attempt to control territory, in the days as Spencer’s Auburn visit drew near, his coalition was increasingly brazen about wanting to control the turf with violence.
While Spencer’s forces organized for a physical fight, Richard Spencer also pushed through legal channels for his event to go ahead. On Tuesday afternoon, mere hours before the event began, Spencer announced that he had obtained a court order compelling Auburn University to allow his speaking event to proceed as initially scheduled. Spencer’s case had been argued by Atlanta white nationalist attorney Sam Dickson – a fixture on the racist scene nationally — on behalf of Cameron Padgett, a student who had made the booking for Spencer’s visit using a Georgia State University (Atlanta) email address.
Tuesday Afternoon and Evening
The court order changed the scene. Had Spencer held an outdoor rally in defiance of his cancelled booking, our expectation was that this mobilization would be combined with bands of white power/“Alt-Right” militants ready to street fight and to target those they saw as enemies (for example, people of color, Jewish students, or leftists.) Alabama “Alt-South” organizer Brad Griffin later wrote that Spencer’s court victory was in some sense also disappointing for him, because with the changed situation “I wouldn’t get a chance to fight and win a bit of glory for myself […] in […] an epic throw down.” Griffin’s claim clarifies what the far-Right forces mobilizing for Spencer had in mind shortly before the court made its ruling. With the court ruling, however, they’d have to queue to go inside a room, being scanned with a metal-detecting wand beforehand.
Students came out in large numbers in response to Spencer’s speaking event, with some protesting outside, some attending Spencer’s talk to press him, some by contrast taking a “no platform” approach, and others merely checking out the scene. Into this situation, leftists and anti-racists from several parts of the South also arrived. The fascists who from mid-afternoon onward were spotted in bands around campus, took position at the venue for Spencer’s speech, separated from protesters by police and barriers.
It was a solid week of organizing by anti-racists — students of various political persuasions as well as “outsiders” to Auburn like our organization — which enabled a powerful response to Spencer’s assembled forces. From our perspective, some things went far better than others. At Auburn, the black bloc – a tactic originating from radical Left and anarchist movements in Europe during the second half of the 20th Century – was generally a shit-show, although the fact that networks activated and anti-fascists traveled to attend was itself a positive. Auburn Police were extremely aggressive in targeting anti-racists who were wearing masks or bandanas (to guard against later harassment by the far-Right.) By contrast, white supremacists obscuring their faces were occasionally told to remove masks but overall, were not aggressively targeted. It is to be expected that the police, whose unions overwhelmingly endorsed Donald Trump’s right-wing populist presidential campaign and who generally protect a racist status quo, will typically side with organized racists over anti-racists.
Anti-racists — from Auburn and from elsewhere — maintained a lively presence outside Foy Hall during the time people entered for Spencer’s speech, as well as during the event itself. This anti-racist presence played some role in stopping people from drifting away before Spencer’s speech was over and racists filed out. Chants of “Fuck Richard Spencer!” were popular. However, there was also friction between some anti-racists who had travelled to Auburn, and other parts of the student body. For example, some “outsiders” were at first annoyed by Auburn pride chants, since they seemed to be an attempt to replace more pointed chants against the white supremacists gathering on campus. In retrospect, the situation was complicated than we initially understood; the Auburn spirit chants may have also communicated collective confidence in the face of adversary: “We’re proud to be Auburn, we’re going to stick together and see each other through this situation.”
The only arrests of the day occurred while Spencer’s speech was happening. Ryan Matthew King — who has subsequently been identified as a Montgomery, Alabama tattoo artist and “compatriot” of the racist/secessionist League of the South — was stationed outside and tried to attack an anti-racist in the crowd. King’s assault did not go as planned, with King promptly landing on the ground after misdelivering a blow, and receiving a stern physical rebuke from the crowd. King and two anti-racists were arrested as the police rushed in.
Tension grew in the crowd as it got later and darker outside, with the tide of opinion moving even further against Richard Spencer after he made the mistake of attacking college football and Black athletes. As white nationalists filed out, they received an angry escort from campus by the assembled crowd. Matthew Heimbach’s troopers of the Traditionalist Worker Party and other white supremacists attempted a poorly-conceived charge on students and other protesters, but soon realized their mistake. Some of the departing white nationalists were chased by students and protesters. A few racists ended up worse for wear.
Ultimately, Spencer’s event at Auburn showed that wherever ideological racists try to organize on campus, they should expect determined opposition, even at campuses such as Auburn with a reputation as conservative. The events at Auburn demonstrate how closely Far-Right organizing for violence accompanies the “free speech” activity of white power leaders like Spencer. On the 18th, white power activists were restrained in their violence compared to what they had threatened in days beforehand. Combined students and Southern anti-racists gave every racist-instigated act of violence an unmistakable response. Further, despite some concerns from Auburn students about militant anti-racists arriving on campus from elsewhere, Auburn students themselves chased and confronted “Alt-Right” racists at the end of the evening.
Since white nationalists can be slow learners, we expect that the “White Student Union” at Auburn may drag on for some time. For information on opposition to this White Student Union and other racist activity in and around Auburn, check out twitter.com/no_nazi_auburn
Photo galleries of Alt-Right, racist and far-Right activists at Auburn University on April 18 are available here, here, and here.
On January 28, 2017, just under fifty white nationalists met for the “Atlanta Forum,” a gathering billed as “a Southern nationalist conference of the Alt-Right.” Atlanta Antifascists organized to confront this gathering; however, on the day the racists got lucky, and we did not verify the meeting-place until the evening.
Earlier in the day, assembled anti-racists held a spirited march through an Atlanta neighborhood which has been repeatedly hit by racist propaganda. (A report from some participants — published before the discovery of the Atlanta Forum venue — may be found here.) Unfortunately, by the time the Atlanta Forum venue was discovered, anti-racist forces were dispersed. Available anti-racists focused on documentation as well as notifying the venue, where Atlanta Forum attendees were still socializing and networking.
Atlanta Forum participants in Lobby of Marietta Hilton, night of January 28th
The Atlanta Forum was held at the Hilton Atlanta / Marietta Hotel & Conference Center in Cobb County, booked under the name “Michael Cushman Discussion Group.” Hotel management later claimed that white power Atlanta Forum attendees had left the premises by the time anti-racists notified the Hotel. This claim is contradicted by eyewitnesses, as well as by brief footage taken in the Hilton’s lobby after the space had been contacted.
Planning for the Atlanta Forum was secretive. As discussed on an episode of “The Daily Shoah” podcast after the event, white nationalists knew that there are “active and organized” antifascists in Atlanta. For this reason, they took countermeasures. Before the event, Atlanta Forum planners released a promotional image providing an early morning “meet up” point at Stone Mountain Park (in DeKalb County, some distance from Marietta). This “meet up” location turned out to be misinformation, a possibility we had noted in our earlier writing. Atlanta Forum organizer “Musonius Rufus” admitted that his event would have been larger, except for its “OpSec” (operations security) needs against antifascists, which made it harder for newcomers to the white power scene to attend.
As expected, Atlanta white nationalist Sam Dickson, as well as regional racist figures such as Michael Cushman and “Musonius Rufus,” all talked at the Atlanta Forum. Other presenters included RG Miller of the Arkansas League of the South, and Alabama resident Bradley Griffin (AKA Hunter Wallace) of the Occidental Dissent website. Matthew Heimbach, Indiana-based leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, also participated in a panel discussion. Demonstrating their commitment to white nationalist networking, Atlanta Forum participants had a brief exchange of greetings by conference call with the New York Forum, another “Alt-Right”/far-Right event held on the same day.
In related developments, the Atlanta Forum organizers moved their “Rebel Yell” podcast away from TheRightStuff website after the Enoch/Peinovich controversy broke. They rebranded as “Identity Dixie,” launching their new site a week before the Atlanta Forum. As evidenced by “Musonius Rufus” later appearing on Peinovich’s “Daily Shoah” to discuss the Atlanta Forum, ties to TheRightStuff remain.
The Atlanta Forum highlights the presence of an “Alt-South” network which joins racist neo-Confederacy with the “Alt-Right.” Michael Cushman, Brad Griffin, and the hosts of the “Rebel Yell” podcast appear to be key players in this incipient alliance. Locally, Sam Dickson represents the white nationalist old guard, but a network of college-aged Alt-Right racists also exists in and around Atlanta — some of whom attended the Atlanta Forum.
Fortunately, grassroots anti-racist/anti-fascist forces are growing in the South as well. We would have preferred to have found the Atlanta Forum early, but even without this our efforts cut into event attendance. Our organizing against the Atlanta Forum increased our skills and capacity. Atlanta Forum planners are already discussing about how next time, hosting their gathering on state property rather than a private venue may be a safer bet. We’ll see how that goes.
For months, white nationalists have been organizing the “Atlanta Forum,” a gathering scheduled for Saturday, January 28 which has been advertised as “a Southern nationalist conference of the Alt-Right.” Atlanta Antifascists are still searching for the Atlanta Forum venue, but since our initial post on this event additional information has come to light.
On January 11th, just two days after our initial alert, a flyer for The Atlanta Forum was posted to the Facebook page for The Rebel Yell — a white power podcast on The Right Stuff website, whose hosts are involved in the Atlanta Forum’s organizing and promotion. The flyer provides the names of four speakers (discussed below), an updated time for the event (8AM-4PM instead of 9AM-4PM as previously announced), and finally a “meet up” point in Stone Mountain Park for those wishing to attend.
Atlanta Forum flyer posted to The Rebel Yell page on Jan. 11
Stone Mountain has a long history of white supremacy, and last year Stone Mountain Park saw confrontation between anti-racists and an explicitly “white power” rally that was issued a permit there. While it is possible that the event “meet up” point on the flyer is correct, we are currently evaluating this information. Atlanta Forum organization has generally been kept under wraps — misdirection attempts against potential protesters are possible.
In another development, the “TRS Confederates”/“Rebel Yell” website was revamped on January 15, and the Atlanta Forum “Conference” page mentioned in our initial article disappeared. We do not think that people should leap to any conclusions from this website change, however.
Atlanta Antifascists request that anti-racists in our region keep their schedules open on January 28th — from early morning onward – and be ready to oppose white supremacist organizing that day. To receive the latest updates on our efforts against the Atlanta Forum, either join the event “Stop the Atlanta Forum,” linked from our Facebook page, or check our Twitter regularly. We urge venues and event spaces to remain on the lookout for suspicious bookings for the 28th.
While we are still verifying some of the information on the Atlanta Forum event flyer, we are confident that the list of conference speakers is accurate. Below is information on these individuals.
Speakers Listed on the “Atlanta Forum” Flyer:
Michael Cushman is a Southern nationalist based in South Carolina. He is a former member of the National Alliance — at one time the largest neo-Nazi organization in the US — as well as of the secessionist/white nationalist League of the South, which he left in 2015. Cushman currently operates the “Southern Future” website and prior to this ran the “Southern Nationalist Network” site. He also designed the Southern nationalist “Cushman flag” which is incorporated in the initial logo for the Atlanta Forum (as is the Confederate battle flag and the “Black Sun” far-Right symbol.) Cushman is the author of Our Southern Nation, which has been well-received within the neo-fascist and white power blogosphere.
Sam Dickson at National Policy Institute gathering November 2016. (Image from Idavox.)
Mike Peinovich, who goes by the name “Mike Enoch” online, runs The Right Stuff website which began in December 2012 and is one of largest online promoters of the white nationalist “Alt-Right.” The Right Stuff circulates far-Right podcasts such as the recently-ended “Fash the Nation” as well as Enoch/Peinovich’s “The Daily Shoah” (the podcast’s name references the Holocaust.) The Right Stuff forums have been an online organizing hub for white nationalists, while The Right Stuff has also encouraged offline activity such as “pool party” racist meetups and poster campaigns.
Since the Atlanta Forum flyer was released before Peinovich’s identity was revealed, it is now uncertain whether Peinovich will attend. Whatever the case, the recent disclosures regarding Peinovich and The Right Stuff are sure to cast a shadow over any event linked to that website, such as the Atlanta Forum.
“Musonius Rufus” is the alias for a host of “The Rebel Yell,” a podcast by “TRS Confederates” circulated on The Right Stuff. “Musonius” gives his location as Tennessee. He appears — like many of The Right Stuff participants — to have a history on the libertarian Right prior to going full-on “fashy” and white nationalist.
“The Rebel Yell” broadcast which “Rufus” is involved with has its origin in pro-Confederate flag organizing by The Right Stuff soon after the 2015 Charleston massacre — “The Rebel Yell” Facebook page was initially a page for “Battle Flag the 4th” organizing, with the “Rebel Yell” podcast being launched later. “The Atlanta Forum” builds upon a central theme of “The Rebel Yell” podcast: that is, the racism of the “Alt-Right” combined with neo-Confederacy and Southern nationalism.
Update 9/13/2016: According to the NSM, Matthew Heimbach has cancelled his appearance at the Aryan Nationalist Alliance event “due to a conflict on time.”
The Aryan Nationalist Alliance (ANA) – the pact of white supremacist groups established just before the National Socialist Movement (NSM) / Loyal White Knights of the KKK rally in Rome GA on April 23 – has now announced a gathering at the Georgia Peach Oyster Bar in Draketown (near Temple) GA on September 17th.
Aryan Nationalist Alliance event announced on front page of National Socialist Movement website
The September 17 Aryan Nationalist Alliance event is announced on the front page of the National Socialist Movement’s website. The gathering was initially planned as a regional meeting for the National Socialist Movement, but was subsequently broadened to be an Aryan Nationalist Alliance event involving several organizations. Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Worker Party – also scheduled to appear at Hammerfest on Oct 1st – will speak, as will the head of the NSM, Jeff Schoep. The announcement promises a “Swastika & Cross Lighting” for the evening.
Regionally, the NSM has used its April 23rd events in Georgia plus its central role within the Aryan Nationalist Alliance to draw white power activists into its ranks. Shaun Winkler of Mississippi (previously involved with the Aryan Nations and the International Keystone Knights of the KKK) as well as Rebecca Barnette of Tennessee (one of the main organizers of White Lives Matter) are two Southern white supremacist leaders who have joined with the NSM in recent months.
As always, if you have information on white power organizing in Georgia and especially near Atlanta, please get in contact.
The daytime white power events in Georgia are still separate, although the Rome GA rally by the NSM, Loyal White Knights of the KKK, plus allies will begin marching slightly later to facilitate participation by white supremacists making the two-hour drive from the “Rock Stone Mountain” event which is scheduled to begin at 11AM. (The NSM rally in Rome is still billed to start at 3PM, although organizers now say that marching may begin anywhere from 3:30 to 4PM to facilitate arrivals from the Stone Mountain event.) After the NSM rally in Rome, the combined racist forces then plan to drive 45 minutes south to the Georgia Peach Oyster Bar in Draketown (near Temple) GA for an evening event of racist music plus a cross- and swastika-lighting.
The merger of the of the two evening events took place following negotiations between NSM and Rock Stone Mountain organizers. The result is that some musical acts planned for the Rock Stone Mountain evening event will now be performing at the Georgia Peach in Draketown/Temple GA, which the NSM had initially booked for their post-Rome after-party. (The NSM provides a location of “Temple, Georgia” for their National Meeting on Friday, April 22nd, suggesting that they will be using the Georgia Peach then as well.)
The combined evening events indicate that “Rock Stone Mountain” is no longer making even slight efforts to disguise its white supremacist agenda or its connections to neo-Nazism. Despite “Rock Stone Mountain” having referenced the white supremacist terror group The Order in earlier outreach materials, rally organizers had also asked that “participants not bring flags or banners representing any foreign nation or power, historical or current, to the rally.” In other words, while they encouraged Confederate flags they didn’t want Nazi Germany ones. It now seems that “Rock Stone Mountain” organizers have lost their last few scruples about how they are perceived, since they are openly cooperating with one of the nation’s largest neo-Nazi groups.
When Rock Stone Mountain activist John Michael Estes appeared on a recent NSM-hosted internet radio show to discuss the merged evening events, he revealed details about Rock Stone Mountain internal organizing, the band line-up for evening of the 23rd, and his own political background. The NSM broadcast began by celebrating the emerging white power coalition for the 23rd, with organizers boasting that they had “unite[d] many, many […] organizations.”
John Estes discussed support for the Rock Stone Mountain racist rally, claiming that: “We’ve even gotten support from the Sons of Confederate Veterans, which would have been unheard of just a few years ago.” An NSM show host claimed that leaders from the racist/secessionist League of the South were also expected at the Rock Stone Mountain rally.
Not all of Rock Stone Mountain’s efforts appear to have gone smoothly, however. John Michael Estes announced:
Estes downplays Roper’s significant involvement in early Rock Stone Mountain planning. Whatever conflict may have occurred between Roper and other organizers, Rock Stone Mountain is still promoted on the website for Divine Truth Ministries, the white supremacist “Christian Identity” outfit which Roper co-founded towards the end of last year.
During his interview, Estes also discussed the current band line-up for the evening of the 23rd:
“One of these bands is ‘Southern Secession.’ They’re playing under that name for this event, but they are basically going to be a Johnny Rebel tribute band […] Also Tracy Cantley will be coming to play his outlaw country. There’s another band that is supposed to be coming, but we’re having some guitarist problems right now, trying to get those sorted out.”
Rock Stone Mountain primary organizer John Michael Estes
Estes’ interview on the NSM broadcast also disclosed his own background and worldview. Estes talked about his radicalization as a white supremacist, stating that he ordered books from the Aryan Nations while he was in prison. Since that time, Estes claims:
“I’ve been involved with National Socialism, I’ve been involved with Odinism, I went through the Christian Identity phase at one time. I’m about my race–race first and the 14 Words.”
Christian Identity is a racist religion which claims that whites are God’s true chosen people, that Jews are imposters of Satanic descent, and that people of color are less than fully human. The website of Covenant People’s Ministry–a Christian Identity operation in Brooks, GA—states that it “began […] 1996 and was founded by two Christian identity believers — John Michael Estes and Jeromy John Visser.”
The “14 Words” referenced by Estes is a white power slogan authored by David Lane, a now-deceased member of The Order/Brüder Schweigen terror group. (The 14-word slogan is: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”) The Order raised funds for the white power movement via counterfeiting and a series of armed robberies; it bombed an adult theatre and a synagogue; and the group murdered Jewish talk-show host Alan Berg. David Lane was convicted for violating Berg’s civil rights for his participation in the assassination.
“Rock Stone Mountain” promotional image featuring Robert Jay Matthews (pointing finger)
As revealed in the NSM internet radio interview, John Michael Estes showed his devotion to The Order’s legacy earlier this year, when Estes made a “pilgrimage” (his own words) to Whidbey Island in Washington State. Whidbey Island was where Order leader Robert Jay Mathews died in a firefight with federal authorities in December 1984.
Estes doubtless sees himself as leading his forces into battle on April 23rd for the same white power cause as Matthews believed in.
It is time to confront the white power alliance Estes and other white supremacists have pulled together, before this alliance grows any further. For information on anti-racist opposition at Stone Mountain on April 23rd, visit All Out ATL.