White Power “Atlanta Forum” Held in Marietta, January 28 2017

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.  

“Mike Enoch” of TheRightStuff website did not make it to the Atlanta Forum as was earlier announced, his cancellation owing to troubles from the “out-ing” of his real-world identity as tech worker Mike Peinovich. (Peinovich’s wife being revealed as Jewish was especially scandalous within the white supremacist scene.) In the end, Peinovich attended the New York Forum instead of traveling to Georgia. 

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. 

Aryan Nationalist Alliance Gathering at Georgia Peach Oyster Bar in Draketown, Sept. 17 2016

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 National Alliance Sept 17 2016 GA Peach EDITEDAryan 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.

Neo-Nazi “Hammerfest” Gathering Planned for Georgia, October 1st

The Hammerskin Nation, a long-running white supremacist organization, has announced that their major “Hammerfest” national gathering will be held in Georgia this October 1st. Hammerskin organizers plan to bring several bonehead (racist “skinhead”) musical acts into Georgia, including one band travelling from Finland to play the event. White supremacist speakers are also scheduled — one of these speakers being a prominent up-and-coming leader in the white power movement. The early October event will draw Hammerskin Nation members and supporters from across the country, as well as militants from other parts of the white power movement.

The October 1st event is being promoted not only on the closed “Crew 38” site for Hammerskin Nation supporters, but also on a number of other white power forums such as the notorious Stormfront.org. This is the second time in two years that “Hammerfest” will take place in Georgia – the 2014 Hammerskin national gathering was in Georgia as well. This year’s gathering features bigger names than the 2014 event in Georgia, and will likely attract larger numbers. Expect several dozen to upward of a hundred white supremacists gathering, networking with each other, and making plans.

The Hammerskins — who are hosting the October event in Georgia — were founded in the late 1980s in Dallas, Texas. They operate as a street-level bonehead (racist “skinhead”) crew, generally organizing through the white power music scene as well as maintaining links with sectors of the broader racist movement. The first Hammerskin chapter was known as the “Confederate Hammerskins,” but as the Hammerskins grew, new regional groups such as the Northern Hammerskins were also established. These regional groups are banded together within the “Hammerskin Nation” franchise. The Hammerskin Nation website currently lists chapters not only in the US, but also in Canada, several European countries, New Zealand and Australia. Throughout their history the Hammerskins have earned a reputation using extreme violence on behalf of their cause – the best-known example would be Hammerskin member Wade Michael Page’s murder of six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012 before he killed himself.

In Georgia, there has been a presence of Confederate Hammerskins — the Hammerskin division for the Southern US — in our state for approximately a quarter century, although membership numbers have fluctuated. For long stretches, the Hammerskin presence in Georgia has been maintained by small numbers. Georgia Hammerskins are able to host national gatherings in our state in part because they can utilize resources from other parts of white power movement in our region, and also because they have the support of the Hammerskin Nation as a whole when hosting the crew’s annual national gathering.

The October 1st Event in Georgia: Musical Acts

A flyer currently being circulated online for the October 1st event features the names of four racist rock acts: Definite Hate, Beer Hall Putsch, Ironwill, and Hate Your Neighbors. Posting this flyer online, Georgia Hammerskin prospect Jason Reeves (writing as “Jason POTN” – “POTN” standing for “Prospect of the [Hammerskin] Nation”) added the following: “Top band from Finland will be headlining. To prevent them from being denied entry the band name is being withheld for now.”

hammerfest 2016 flyer EDITEDFlyer for Hammerfest 2016, headlining act not mentioned.

While Reeves did not disclose the name of the “top band from Finland” slated to play the event, National Socialist Movement member Butch Urban has been more explicit when posting on Stormfront about the gathering. In a post promoting Hammerfest that otherwise matches the details supplied by Hammerskin members, Urban (as “Butch-88”) wrote: “Headlining band is Mistreat from Finland.” In a different thread on Stormfront about this event, the user “BloodandHonourGeorgia” (another online handle used by Jason Reeves) contributed to discussion by linking to Mistreat’s song “We’re Ready” on Youtube. It therefore seems likely that Mistreat are the “top band from Finland” on the bill.

Mistreat are one the better-known white power musical acts from Finland, with a history in the racist “Rock Against Communism” scene that goes back to 1988. (“Rock Against Communism” has been a racist and far-Right musical scene from the beginning — the “RAC” label was first used by the National Front in England to promote white power acts.) Mistreat have historic links to the Hammerskin Nation, having recorded a split album with the St. Paul, Minnesota act Bound for Glory, whose main member Ed Wolbank was also a leader of the Northern Hammerskins. In 2005, Mistreat included a song titled “We Salute You, American Hammerskins” in their “Never Forgive… Never Forget” CD. The Finnish act’s appearance in Georgia would be a major draw for boneheaded aficionados of European “RAC” music.

mistreatMistreat

The other major white power act scheduled to appear on October 1st is the North Carolina-based group Definite Hate. This blog has already written about Definite Hate at length, because at one stage Definite Hate was scheduled to play the evening after-party for the “Rock Stone Mountain” white power rally on April 23rd of this year. While Definite Hate eventually vanished from that event’s advertised lineup, Definite Hate is now seemingly functioning once again and determined to play Georgia. Definite Hate is a longtime Hammerskin band. The band’s old guitarist, Wade Michael Page, has been mentioned above, as the person responsible for the August 2012 mass murder at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Neither the rest of the band nor the Hammerskin Nation as a whole has ever disavowed Page’s murders. Instead, following the massacre, the Hammerskin-affiliated record label Antipathy Records held a special sale with the promotional code “WADEPAGE”.

Another band scheduled to play on October 1st is Beer Hall Putsch, an Idaho-based racist rock group. (The group name references Hitler’s coup attempt in 1923 – Hitler composed Mein Kampf while imprisoned for his role in this Putsch.) As noted in this article by antifascists in the Northwest, Beer Hall Putsch includes one of the leaders of the Northwest Hammerskins (see link.) The frontman for Beer Hall Putsch is Christopher Vertrice Lord, who was imprisoned in the mid-1990s for shooting at a synagogue in Eugene, Oregon.

The final two musical acts on the Hammerfest 2016 bill are Ironwill and Hate Your Neighbors. Ironwill has its roots in the Southern California racist rock scene, but in recent years has been based in Washington State. Ironwill was originally affiliated with the American Front, another neo-Nazi organization, but now regularly features at Hammerskin gatherings.

Hate Your Neighbors is based in Huntington Beach, California and performs songs with titles such as “Hate Crime.” Their Facebook shows the group playing in front of large Hammerskin banner.

The October 1st Event in Georgia: Speakers

The Hammerfest announcement on Stormfront has also named of two guest speakers: “Chester Doles also Matthew Heimbach from Traditionalist Workers Party.”

Of these two names, Heimbach may be the more familiar. Heimbach, currently based in Indiana, is a leader of the Traditionalist Youth Network as well as its party, the Traditionalist Worker Party. Heimbach is a white nationalist who seeks to garner support from those who feel abandoned by traditional conservatism — for Heimbach, the racially-charged populism of the Trump campaign has been a gift and an opportunity.

Matthew Heimbach is frequently cited as one of the most dynamic young leaders of the white nationalist movement in the US, often being compared to David Duke in his earlier years. The White Student Union which Heimbach tried to build while studying at Towson University in Maryland provided a template for occasional other efforts on US campuses, including Patrick Sharp’s 2013 attempt at Georgia State University. Despite his youth — Heimbach was born in 1991 — at this stage Heimbach has a lengthy resume on the white supremacist scene. On one hand, Heimbach is media savvy and attempts to rebrand white nationalist politics as something other than hateful (Heimbach would challenge our use of the term “supremacist”); on the other hand, Heimbach networks and attends events together with members of the Aryan Terror Brigade and the National Socialist Movement.

Heimbach__5071460158091Matthew Heimbach (in red cap, facing camera and leaning forward) at March 1st Trump rally

Heimbach has been busy this year. On March 1st, Heimbach was recorded at a Trump rally in Louisville, KY, yelling at and repeatedly shoving Black protester Shiya Nwanguma. In June, the Traditionalist Worker Party attempted to rally outside the state capitol in Sacramento, CA with support from the Golden State Skinheads (a California white power group) and other white supremacists. While the white supremacists were driven back by protesters, a number of anti-racists were stabbed during the confrontation. (Funds are still needed for medical and legal support for these antifascists, give here.) Heimbach, who was not present at the Sacramento confrontation itself, nonetheless featured prominently in subsequent media coverage, as the go-to person for the Traditionalist Worker Party/“pro-white” view of the events.

chester dolesChester J. Doles of Dahlonega, GA

The second guest speaker is Chester Doles. Doles is a former Klansman who went on to lead the Georgia unit of the National Alliance, an organization that at one point was the most important neo-Nazi group in the US. (The National Alliance is nowadays in shambles.) In 2003, Doles was arrested for being a felon in possession of firearms — Doles had previously served prison time for assaulting a Black man. Many on the far-Right saw the prosecution of Doles as politically-motivated; Doles eventually pled guilty. He was released in 2008, eventually returning to white power activism. A February 2016 post on the website of the “National Alliance Reform and Restoration Group” — who are trying to pry the remainder of the National Alliance’s assets from its current chairman Will Williams — states: “We understand that [Chester] Doles had briefly joined the Williams Alliance last year but quickly dropped out and is now working with another ‘movement’ group in Georgia.” One recent comment published online under Doles’ name reads: “838… Chester J. Doles.” “838” is alphanumeric code for “H.C.H.” or “Hail Crossed Hammers,” a reference to the insignia of the Hammerskin Nation. This suggests that Doles’ involvement with the Hammerskins in Georgia may go beyond a single speaking appearance.

As well as these speakers, the event is to feature vendors from the National Socialist Movement and Antipathy Records, a music label affiliated with the Hammerskin Nation. A third vendor mentioned by Jason Reeves while promoting the event is American Defense Records. Now based in Lexington, KY, American Defense previously operated from Georgia (Athens and Savannah.) In its earlier releases of approximately a decade ago, American Defense Records portrayed itself as an anti-liberal, patriotic skinhead music label but avoided the most unambiguous signs of white supremacy. In recent years, the label has dropped any pretenses about such matters, reissuing Hammerskin-affiliated projects such as Blood in the Face plus Red White And Black on vinyl. Besides releasing records, label boss Travis David Condor is probably best known for his role in a group baseball bat/pipe assault on homeless man in 2010.

Past Hammerskin Events in Georgia and Venue

Traditionally, when it’s turn of the Georgia Hammerskins to host Hammerfest, the boneheads can be found at the Georgia Peach Oyster Bar in Draketown (near Temple) GA, approximately one hour west of Atlanta. The Georgia Peach is mentioned by name as the Hammerfest venue in an article about gathering in 2005, when the Hammerskins in Georgia hosted. According to the article, there were “approximately 100” attendees at the event that time around. (Definite Hate were mentioned as one of the major draws.)

More recently, Georgia Hammerskins organized the national gathering in 2014. Hungarian “Rock Against Communism”/Hammerskin band Vérszerződés was the main attraction that time around. While event flyers listed “Central Georgia” as the Hammerfest location, the Georgia Peach was explicitly thanked immediately after the gathering.

2014 Hammerfest antipathy records

The Georgia Peach is not only a venue for Hammerskin events, but also for many other white supremacist events regionally. On April 23, the venue was used for an evening after-event for two white power rallies that took place earlier in the day: the National Socialist Movement rally in Rome, GA as well as a second white power event at Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta which met determined anti-racist resistance. (At the Georgia Peach the evening before, the ragtag “Aryan Nationalist Alliance” was formally established.) The Georgia Peach, which openly advertises itself as a Klan space, has also hosted many other Klan, neo-Nazi and Aryan Nations events over the years.

The Hammerskins have not publicly announced the Georgia Peach as the venue for Hammerfest this year, but it seems likely that the space will play some role in this year’s events.

Conclusion

A close look at the groups and figures involved with Hammerfest 2016 reveals more than just a white power underground using music to recruit and mobilize. It also highlights the long and violent history of those involved. The white supremacists meeting and coordinating on October 1st should be prevented from furthering expanding their power and capacity for violence. Especially in the context of a newly-energized white power movement, the Hammerskins and similar groups ought to be practically opposed wherever they operate. While their numbers are small, those gathering in Georgia are some of the hardcore “true believers” of the white power movement; they should not be written off as harmless and irrelevant.

We believe that the weekend of October 1-2 is an ideal opportunity for action against white supremacist groups such as the Hammerskins or Traditionalist Worker Party nationally. If you live in a city where such a group exists, consider organizing during this time to expose their efforts. Commit to building anti-racist/anti-fascist infrastructure for the struggles ahead. Also, please circulate this story to those who may be affected by the upcoming white power gathering.

As Hammerfest approaches, Atlanta Antifascist Notes will be one source for updates and reporting. For briefer time-sensitive updates, keep your eyes on twitter.com/afainatl