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.)
Denied a room on campus, Spencer stated that he would hold a rally of some sort anyway, the constant subtext of his statements being that organizing far-Right forces to go after enemies on campus would be a fine alternative to a speaking engagement. Amongst those Spencer flew in for his event was Mike Peinovich AKA “Mike Enoch,” operator of TheRightStuff website as well as “The Daily Shoah” podcast. In the days to come, other far-Right formations mobilized to descend on Auburn: Identity Evropa, Brad Griffin’s “Alt-South” network, Anti-Communist Action, the Traditionalist Worker Party, and the League of the South (who took on a security role.)
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.
(A war of posters and counter-flyers also broke out on campus, with anti-racist flyers against Spencer’s visit being countered with fake “Antifa” flyers as well as White Student Union materials portraying militant anti-racists as troublemakers willing to attack random bystanders.)
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
Atlanta Forum participants in Lobby of Marietta Hilton, night of January 28th
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
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
Sam Dickson at National Policy Institute gathering November 2016. (Image from Idavox.)
Georgia attorney Sam Dickson has been a major figure in the white nationalist movement for decades. Dickson has for example talked at every conference for the suit-and-tie racists of American Renaissance, and is also a regular speaker at National Policy Institute gatherings. In the past, Dickson has worked for Klansmen as a lawyer, but he really made his money on the Atlanta property market, where he purchased unpaid tax debts and used these as leverage to obtain properties in areas that are gentrifying at bargain prices. (For more on Dickson and the Atlanta property market, see this 2016 article. Dickson also owns property in Key West, Florida.)
- Mike Peinovich/“Mike Enoch”
Mike Peinovich AKA “Mike Enoch”
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.
On January 13, “Mike Enoch” had his identity as Manhattan-based tech worker Peinovich leaked online. While some white supremacists have blamed this “doxing” on antifascists, it appears that this information was initially released by white supremacists as part of a feud about individuals on the Alt-Right who are accused of being soft on Jews. As part of this “doxing,” it was revealed that Peinovich’s wife was Jewish (and had appeared on “The Daily Shoah” show). This has led to scandal and infighting within the Alt-Right. At the time of writing, The Right Stuff forums are down but Peinovich apparently has separated from his wife and intends to continue with his racist, anti-Semitic organizing.
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”
“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.
The ANA meeting will take place exactly two weeks before Hammerfest, which is the national gathering for another white supremacist organization, the Hammerskin Nation. Hammerfest is also expected to take place at the Georgia Peach Oyster Bar. (The Georgia Peach is less than an hour’s drive west of Atlanta; since publishing our initial story on Hammerfest, we have received further corroboration that Patrick Lanzo’s Georgia Peach will be the venue on Oct. 1st.)
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.
The National Socialist Movement in Georgia has been formally reorganized over recent months with new leadership. The NSM head organizer in GA is now Floyd Eric Meadows, who has a past with the League of the South and the Southern Cross Militant Knights of the KKK. Prior to his new role as state leader for the NSM, Meadows had been listed as an NSM member in 2011.
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.
White Supremacist Gatherings on April 23rd Combine Evening Events
Two white supremacist gatherings scheduled for April 23 in Georgia–the “Rock Stone Mountain” event at Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta, plus the National Socialist Movement-hosted rally in Rome, Georgia–have now combined their evening events. This new arrangement has been confirmed by National Socialist Movement (NSM) statements to the press and also by Rock Stone Mountain main organizer John Michael Estes when he appeared on an NSM internet radio broadcast.
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.
Revised flyer for April 23 evening event
Earlier on the 23rd, the white supremacists of “Rock Stone Mountain” still plan to march to the top of Stone Mountain outside of Atlanta, although they will be confronted with a large showing of anti-racists determined to shut them down. Initially, Rock Stone Mountain had planned a separate evening event, but the Rock Stone Mountain organizers lost their first evening venue in early March.
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:
“[Long-time white supremacist leader] Billy Roper will not be a part of Rock Stone Mountain. He dropped out months ago and he’s not one of the planners. He’s not contributing anymore.”
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.”
In the current interview, Estes does not mention the notorious racist rock group Definite Hate, who had earlier been advertised as participating in Rock Stone Mountain.
John Michael Estes: Background and Worldview
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 Mathews (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.