Meet Casey Jordan Cooper: “Alt-Right” White Power Organizer and Atlanta Law Student

Summary

Casey Jordan Cooper, a student at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, is the white power organizer behind the “Alt-Right” Twitter account @BigButternutJoe. Over the last year, Cooper participated in white nationalist events in the metro Atlanta area and posted racist propaganda on local campuses.  Until recently, Casey Cooper’s Twitter account issued a stream of racist and homophobic slurs, some of them about his fellow students at John Marshall. He was recorded as part of a white nationalist group jeering a Stone Mountain Park visitor with sexist and antisemitic remarks. Cooper is responsible for a death threat against a prominent Black activist in Atlanta.

The Death Threat

In July 2016, a series of large protests raged in Atlanta after police shot and killed Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota. While protests disrupted business-as-usual in response to these high-profile police killings of Black men, Georgia white supremacists tried to counter-mobilize.

The Atlanta-area Twitter user @BigButternutJoe wrote on July 12 that “Whites […] are arming ourselves to the teeth” and that the Black Lives Matter movement will lead to a “massive wave of anti-black action in it’s [sic] wake.” This Twitter user earlier sent a private message to a local Black activist, which simply contained a picture of a noose. (The activist was also tagged in the “arming […] to the teeth” post by BigButternutJoe.)

death threat
Death threat from BigButternutJoe account (at the time this account used the name “Phoenix on the Right” and had a profile picture of Sam Hyde)

When this Black activist publicly drew attention to the Twitter death threat, BigButternutJoe retweeted the post speaking out about the threat. BigButternutJoe followed with another statement, suggesting that the activist was exaggerating the death threat problem to “rent seek” (i.e. profit).  BigButternutJoe clarified: “This is why you hang.”

repeats death threat
BigButternutJoe repeats death threat

The person responsible for this online death threat has had a busy year, participating in Atlanta-area Alt-Right organizing, placing white power propaganda, and harassing enemies. For much of the same time, “BigButternutJoe” AKA Atlanta resident Casey Jordan Cooper has also been working towards a law degree at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, where he began as a 1L in August 2016. Atlanta’s John Marshall, a private law school in midtown Atlanta, states that almost 70% of its student body are of a “minority” population; more women than men also attend. Unsurprisingly, Cooper/”BigButternutJoe” doesn’t have pleasant things to say about fellow AJMLS students.

cooper ajmls
Casey Jordan Cooper at Atlanta’s John Marshall new student orientation, August 2016

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The Problem that Didn’t Go Away: White Nationalist Activity on Georgia State University Campus, November 2015 to December 2016

Introduction

On Sunday, February 19th of this year, anti-racists removed nine white power stickers which had recently been placed around Georgia State University (GSU) campus in Atlanta. With one exception — propaganda for the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party being spotted for the first time — it was a typical evening, since removing racist propaganda from GSU as well as Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University campuses had become almost routine by this stage. Indeed, anti-racists had become so efficient at removing white supremacist materials that many GSU students only noticed anti-racist messages around campus, without realizing that some of these had been placed in direct response to far-Right and racist “white pride” materials.

feb 19 2017
White power sticker removed from GSU campus, February 19, 2017

This article provides context about recent organized bigotry on GSU campus, by discussing its precursors: white nationalist efforts at Georgia State University from late 2015 until the end of last year. Our focus is racist agitation by Patrick Nelson Sharp, who made headlines when he tried to form a White Student Union at GSU when he began there in 2013. Sharp graduated GSU with a bachelor’s degree at the end of 2016. White nationalist activism at GSU during this time was not limited to Patrick Sharp’s efforts, but Sharp was at the center of plenty of it, enough that by telling his individual story we can also tell the larger story of racist campus activism.

sharp I
Patrick Nelson Sharp

We believe it is important to write about Sharp’s activities, even months after Sharp has left Georgia State campus. Although Sharp himself has left, his playbook is in use by racist organizers still a part of the student body. Just as Patrick Sharp’s 2013 White Student Union at GSU (later the “Atlanta Area White Student Union”) first tried to mimic Matthew Heimbach’s White Student Union at Towson University in Maryland, current far-Right racist organizers at Georgia State University may be improvising around themes played earlier by Sharp.

We are skipping Sharp’s 2013 “White Student Union” effort, since this was covered extensively by media outlets and bloggers. We take up the story a couple of years later, when many assumed that Sharp had settled into typical student life, or gone quiet. Continue reading

Racist, Far-Right Propaganda and Threats Against Leftists at Georgia State University: What Does It Mean, Who Is Responsible?

This September and October a large number of far-Right propaganda stickers were plastered around the Georgia State University (GSU) campus in downtown Atlanta in order to claim political territory (see seventy-six photos here). This propaganda spree was meant not only to encourage racist students and those with far-Right sympathies, but also to intimidate students of color–who make up the majority of the student body–as well as leftists. The purpose of this article is to provide context about some of the far-Right propaganda littered throughout campus, and also to discuss who is responsible for the white nationalist campaign at GSU. The final section provides evidence that GSU economics major Patrick Sharp is responsible for the racist campaign.

The Stickers: How to Interpret Common Images and Slogans of the Extreme, Racist Right

  • White Lives Matter

whitelivesmatter-sticker“White Lives Matter” is not only a response to the Black Lives Matter movement. The slogan also reflects white nationalist belief that white people are under threat and fast becoming victims in an increasingly diverse society. This zero-sum worldview–in which any advance made by people of color is considered as a loss to the white population–has led to many ideological racists now claiming that a process of “white genocide” is underway.

“White Lives Matter” pages on Facebook mostly propagate crude anti-Black racism.

  • Celtic Cross

CELTIC-CROSS-stickerWhile more ornate versions of the Celtic Cross may be displayed by non-racists, the stylized version above has been adopted as a symbol by fascists and white nationalists. The first fascist use of this symbol was in France during the mid-Twentieth Century. Today the Celtic Cross is incorporated into the masthead for Stormfront.org, the web’s first major white racist website.

Stormfront masthead
Stormfront masthead
  • Good Night Left Side

good night left sideAnti-leftism and anti-socialism are long-running themes on the far-Right. This image portrays and celebrates an assault on a leftist (who is designated by a star). The “Good Night Left Side” image is implicitly a threat against leftists and others who stand up to the far-Right. This implicit threat is further amplified when the stickers are directly placed over flyers from college groups such as the GSU Progressive Student Alliance (see here.)

(The college branch of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement also had posters targeted, but in this case a “White Lives Matter” and a Celtic Cross sticker were used, see here.)

  • Against the Modern World

against the modern world stickerThis sticker joins the slogan “Against the Modern World” with an Algiz rune (or “life rune.”) The Algiz rune is sometimes displayed by non-racist pagans, but this symbol has also been appropriated by the extreme-Right. To give one example of the racist use of this rune: it features in the logo of the National Alliance, which was at one point the leading neo-Nazi organization in the US (although it is currently in shambles.)

National Alliance logo incorporating Algiz rune, an example of its use in far-Right contexts
National Alliance logo incorporating Algiz rune, an example of its use in far-Right contexts

The slogan “Against the Modern World” is a reference to Julius Evola’s book Revolt Against the Modern World. Evola (1898 – 1974) was an esoteric “traditionalist” writer who Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke described as “an inspiration, mentor and guru figure” for the neo-fascist bombers who participated in terrorism in Italy during the 1970s and early ‘80s [1]. Decades earlier, Evola had spent the 1930s attempting to influence the Italian Fascist Party and then the Nazi SS towards his aristocratic esoteric worldview [2].

“Against the Modern World” is also a reference to the UK ‘neofolk’ musical act Sol Invictus, who have their own links to fascism although the musical project now portrays itself as non-political.

Finally, in recent times the white nationalist Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN) has used the “Against the Modern World” design in at least one of their protests. (TYN did not create the design, which seems to originate from a Belarusian right-wing clothing company.) Below is an image of a 2013 TYN protest in which the “Against the Modern World” design is featured on placards.

tradyouth against the modern world_sm

  • Stickers from the Vlaamse Jongeren Mechelen (VJM)

VJM-closeup-A VJM-closeup-BThe Vlaamse Jongeren Mechelen (VJM) was a Flemish ultra-nationalist group which organized with neo-Nazis. It was founded in the mid-1990s and disbanded a decade later.

Further Details about the Stickers Appearing around GSU

The first three sticker designs discussed above–“White Lives Matter,” the Celtic Cross, and “Good Night Left Side”–are all sold by Tightrope, an online retailer of neo-Nazi and Klan paraphernalia whose logo is a white fist clutching a noose.

An early-September post on the racist Stormfront website made it clear that the “White Lives Matters” stickers are currently only sold by Tightrope. Approximately one week after this post was made on Stormfront, the first of the “White Lives Matter” stickers surfaced around GSU.

wlm stickers annoucement stormfront Sept 15Unlike the other far-Right stickers that have surfaced on campus recently, the “Against the Modern World” ones are not professionally-produced, looking instead as if they were created on a photocopier or laser printer. However, it is likely that the same person who posted the stickers available from Tightrope around campus has also been placing the “Against the Modern World” ones. The “Against the Modern World” stickers have appeared alongside the Tightrope designs (see here, here and here.) Both “Against the Modern World” and Tightrope designs have been placed over “Hip Hop Lives Here” stickers on campus promoting the A3C hip-hop festival (see images here and here).This again suggests that the same person is putting up the different far-Right designs, specifically targeting hip-hop culture.

Only two stickers from the Vlaamse Jongeren Mechelen have appeared on campus. They appeared on the same campus map, posted on the same day. An “Against the Modern World” sticker appeared alongside one of the VJM designs. This indicates that the same person who posted the “Against the Modern World” designs also likely posted the VJM stickers. As indicated earlier, it seems that the person who posted the “Against the Modern World” stickers is the same person who circulated the Tightrope stickers.

The VJM stickers also suggest that someone who is highly immersed in the white power and far-Right scenes is responsible for the GSU campaign. Simply put: someone who merely dabbled in far-Right involvement would be highly unlikely to receive stickers from an obscure European organization that ended a decade ago. Materials such as the VJM stickers are far more likely to be owned by somebody who is an active networker in the white power world.

So… Who Spread the Far-Right Stickers?

There is very strong reason to believe that Patrick Sharp, who attempted to form a White Students Union at GSU two years ago, is responsible for this year’s far-Right sticker campaign on campus.

  • On October 1st as well as on October 8th, Patrick Sharp was observed less than a block away from where fresh stickers had appeared, just minutes before or after the new stickers went up.
  • The “White Lives Matters” stickers were advertised as available only through Tightrope (see advertising post on Stormfront above.) In a photo published below dating from 2014, Patrick Sharp is shown as wearing a black tanktop with a “black sun”/Schwarze Sonne design. This esoteric design is favored by many fascist and far-Right activists (the symbol was incorporated into a floor mosaic at the Nazi SS Generals’ Hall in Wewelsburg castle). Black sun merchandise such as the tanktop is available from a variety of online retailers, but Tightrope is the cheapest and most prominent source for such an item in the US. It is likely that Sharp has a purchasing history with Tightrope, which is also the source for the stickers.
Patrick Sharp
Patrick Sharp
Black sun tanktop sold on Tightrope website
Black sun tanktop sold on Tightrope website
  • Patrick Sharp also flaunts his racist and far-Right views on campus. Below are images of Sharp on campus November 5th which further confirm that Sharp’s public messaging is an excellent match for the stickers posted around GSU.psharp nov 5 2015 aprox 3-50pm psharp nov 5 2015 buttons aprox 3-50pmThe buttons displayed by Sharp on his backpack show his involvement in the far-Right subculture. As well as the confederate flag and the “black sun” design (discussed earlier) the crossed out “equals” sign signifies a refusal of egalitarianism. Rock Against Communism is a music scene which was born in the English far-Right of the 1970s and ‘80s but has now gone international. The musicians in the “RAC” scene do not simply oppose communism but typically endorse extreme racism and fascist politics. The message of Sharp’s RAC pin also complements that of the “Good Night Left Side” stickers around campus. Finally, the Death’s Head/totenkopf was a symbol worn by the Nazi SS and clearly designates extreme-Right politics.
    The five buttons discussed here are also sold by Tightrope. (Some but not all of them are also currently sold by Micetrap, another white supremacist music and paraphernalia retailer.)
  • The politics represented in the stickers around GSU campus match Sharp’s racism and hatred of leftism as expressed online.
    The basic contours of Sharp’s politics have been public knowledge for a couple of years, ever since Sharp tried to start the White Student Union and his online history was unearthed. The key articles on this topic published in 2013 are Atlanta blogger biscuette’s exposé of Sharp’s ideological racism, plus The Lamp’s discussion of Sharp’s Stormfront posting history–in which Sharp denounced his own father as a “race traitor.” Despite Sharp’s claims to the contrary, his politics appear to have changed little since he made these posts.
    The 2013 exposés of Sharp focused on Sharp’s racism, but Sharp’s apocalyptic brand of anti-leftism went mostly undiscussed. Consider this gem by Sharp (under his “frozenpie77” moniker) on the racist “red pill” website Heartiste, in which Sharp praised the neo-fascist Golden Dawn in Greece:
    frozenpie77 heartisteThe above comment would be laughable except that Sharp takes it seriously–he fantasizes about violence against leftists.
    Sharp’s former affiliation with the Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN)–revealed in 2013–is also important to bear in mind in the current context of the stickers on campus, since one of the designs littered around campus was also popular with the TYN. While Sharp formally cut ties between the GSU White Student Union and the TYN in 2013, this does not mean that Sharp actually moved far away from TYN politics. Below is a group photograph from the 2015 American Renaissance conference–which Sharp has attended for the past three years–showing Patrick Sharp on the left and TYN’s Tony Hovater on the far right. It is clear that Sharp continues to move in at least broadly the same racist circles.

Patrick_Sharp_American Renaissance 2015

  • Finally, the timing of when stickers appear on campus should be considered. Not only have most stickers appeared on campus at times Sharp is known to be around (and has been spotted) such as Thursday afternoons, but the stickering campaign tapered off as Sharp was getting ready to travel to Washington DC for the white nationalist National Policy Institute conference at the end of October.
sharp at NPI smaller
Patrick Sharp at the National Policy Institute conference October 31, 2015. Sharp is in the blue shirt, between the person taking a photo and NPI president Richard Spencer, who is gesturing.

To summarize: twice Sharp has been seen in the immediate vicinity of where stickers appeared, just before or after these fresh stickers were sighted. Some of the stickers posted around GSU campus were sold by Tightrope, which also sells a clothing item worn by Sharp. Sharp displays buttons on his backpack that point to the same far-Right politics as promoted by the sticker campaign. (The buttons are also sold by Tightrope.) Sharp’s online history again shows the same white nationalist and violently anti-leftist political agenda. Finally, the sticker campaign at GSU died down as Sharp was getting ready to travel to Washington DC for a major white nationalist event. As an increasingly well-connected white nationalist, Sharp has the means and the motivation to put up the stickers. He is deeply enough immersed in the white power scene to receive materials such as the VJM stickers. Sharp has been spotted when stickers go up. Sharp now has some explaining to do–but don’t expect the truth. This is the person who wears Nazi insignia around campus yet claimed “My most important goal with the [white student union] is to guard it from […]  neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and anyone with nefarious intent.” Integrity, it seems, is not a white power strongpoint.

NOTES

[1] Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas. Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. (New York/London: New York University Press, 2002). 52.

[2] Sedgwick, Mark. Against the Modern World : Traditionalism and the Secret Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2004). 107.