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Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/american/adl/skinhead-international/skins-united-states


Newsgroups: alt.skinheads,alt.politics.white-power,alt.politics.nationalism.white,soc.culture.usa
Subject: ADL: Skinhead International; The United States
Summary: The ADL's "Skinhead International: A Worldwide Survey
         of Neo-Nazi Skinheads"
Followup-To: alt.skinheads

Archive/File: pub/orgs/american/adl/skinhead-international/skins-united-states
Last-Modified: 1995/08/09

                         United States

Neo-Nazi Skinheads first appeared on America's streets in the
mid-eighties and have since shown substantial growth. From a
membership of 1,000 to 1,500 in 12 states in early 1988, their ranks
swelled to between 3,300 and 3,500 in 40 states by 1993. These
numbers have held essentially steady since then.[1]

The growth in membership has been paralleled by an extraordinary
record of violence. American Skins have graduated from the use of
boots, bats and knives to using firearms. Indeed, the relative
availability of guns in the United States has made American Skins
among the most dangerous and violent in the world. Only the German
Skinheads have consistently matched their American counterparts in
the frequency and ferocity of their attacks.

This propensity for extreme acts of violence is reflected in the
dramatic rise in the number of murders committed by Skinheads in the
United States. From December 1987 to June 1990, there were a total
of six such killings; in the three years that followed, no fewer
than 22 more took place; since June 1993, an additional nine
homocides have occurred for an overall total of at least 37.

Most of the Skinheads' murder victims have been members of minority
groups: Hispanics, blacks, Asians, homosexuals and homeless persons.
Some deaths have resulted from in-group violence, with Skinheads
killing fellow gang members over, for instance, a pair of boots, a
jacket, or some money. American Skinheads have also committed
thousands of lesser crims: beatings, stabbings, shootings, thefts,
synagogue desecrations and other forms of mayhem and intimidation.

There is no single national Skinhead organization in the United
States. Instead, loosely linked networks of Skinhead gangs operate
in scattered communities. The gangs frequently change names and
network affiliations. Individual members are often highly mobile,
with little to tie them to a particular location. It is not uncommon
for a group to leave a city and resume activity in another locale
after feeling pressure from law enforcement and the community.

                         Broken Homes

Contrary to their claim to represent working-class youth, American
Skinheads come from widely varying economic backgrounds. Their roots
often lie not in economic decay but in domestic instability; a high
proportion of American Skinheads come from broken homes or
single-parent families. Their gangs - like other American youth
gangs - often serve as surrogate families for their members. They
frequently live in communal homes and apartments. Those who live
with their families often do so under tense conditions; parents
rarely approve of the Skinhead children's views or way of life.

This kind of domestic discord was tragically illustrated in February
of this year when two Skinhead brothers were accused of bludgeoning
and stabbing to death their mother, father and younger brother in
their home near Allentown, Pennsylvania. Following the murders, the
two fled to Micdhigan to meet up with other Skins whom they had met
at a Skinhead music concert. They have since been brought back to
Pennsylvania, where they await trial. The teenage brothers, both
over six feet tall and weighing more than 200 pounds, were immersed
in neo-Nazi Skinhead culture and had Nazi symbols and slogans
tattooed on their bodies and foreheads. The boys' Nazi views were
evidently at the center of an ongoing conflict with their parents, a
religious couple who had struggled to turn the sons away from their
hateful way of life, right up until the time of the murders.

                        Pack Mentality

The Skinhead Nazi ideology offers alienated youth self-esteem
through the degradation of others. Their glorification of violence
provides a sense of power; the pack mentality provides a sense of
security.

American Skinheads pattern their dress on the original British
model; combat boots or Doc Martins, thin suspenders and bomber
jackets. Many are heavily tattooed with emblems of white supremacy
and Nazism. While most still wear their hair closely cropped, some
have taken to letting it grow in order to make themselves less
conspicuous to law enforcement and the civilized public.

Some American Skinheads are known to use drugs (their anit-drug
posturing notwithstanding), but virtually all are heavy beer
drinkers. Typically, drinking binges precede hunts for purported
"enemies."

Soon after their initial appearance in America, the Skinheads began
to hook up with more organized racists and anti-Semites. In 1985, a
small group of Skins from Chicago, dressed in full regalia, appeared
at a gathering of hate group activists at the farm of a former
Michigan Ku Klux Klan leader. Back in Chicago, under the name
"Romantic Violence," they peddled tapes of the British Skinhead band
Skrewdriver.

                    Marching with the Klan

Skinheads were soon marching in Klan demonstrations. At a January
1993 march in Pulaski, Tennessee (the birthplace of the KKK), about
100 Skinheads marched with Ku Kluxers, shouting anti_Jewish and
white supremacist slogans. 

As they outgrow the youthful Skinhead demeanor, some Skins actually
join the KKK. Foremost among ex-Skinheads now in the Klan ranks is
Shawn Slater. During the eighties, Slater was a well-known leader of
the Denver Skins. In 1990, he began forging an alliance with the
Klan. By 1992, Slater was leading a Klan rally in Denver. He and his
followers subsequently switched affiliation from the Knights of the
KKK to a more radical Klan faction.

The Skinheads have also linked up with such other old-line hate
groups as the Aryan Nations, the Church of the Creator, and Tom
Metzger's White Aryan Resistance (WAR). These older groups refer to
the Skins as their "front-line warriors."

WAR has provided ideological and tactical direction to large numbers
of Skinheads who have heeded Metzger's call for violence against
minorities. This alliance reached its low when, on November 12,
1988, Mulugeta Seraw, a 27-year-old Ethiopian immigrant, was beaten
to death by three members of the Skinhead gang East Side White Pride
in Portland, Oregon. Investigation into the murder revealed links
between the gang and WAR. The Skinheads were convicted of the
killing and are currently serving long sentences. In a subsequent
civil lawsuit brought by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern
Poverty Law Center on behalf of Seraw's family, a jury determined
that the Skinheads were incited to commit the crime by Metzger and
his son, John. A $12.5 million judgement for Seraw's family was
awarded on October 22, 1990.

Despite his legal setback, Metzger continues to influence Skinheads
both at home and abroad from his base in southern California.
Swedish and Australian Skinhead gangs have adopted the WAR name or
acronym. Domestically, Metzger continues to proffer guidance and
inspiration through his publication and telephone hotline, and he
targets Skinhead buyers with his mail-order sales of racist "oi"
music and videotapes of Skin music festivals.

Like Metzger's WAR, the Church of the Creator (COTC), a militant
white supremacist and anti-Jewish group, has courted Skinheads since
the 1980's. Skinhead members of the COTC have been responsible for
serious episodes of violence in Wisconsin, California, and
Washington. More recently the "church" has splintered and become
inactive in the U.S.

The Aryan Nations has for years hosted youth gatherings at its rural
Idaho compound. These events, usually held in April to coincide with
Hitler's birthday, have attracted numerous Skinheads. The April 1995
weekend featured performances by Skin bands Bound for Glory,
Christian Identity Skins, and Odin's Law, a Canadian group.

Gary Lauck, of Lincoln, Nebraska, has made a 20-year career of
furnishing Nazi propaganda to the world's extremists, Skinheads mong
them. For the last several years, Skinheads throughout Europe
(especially Germany), Latin America and the United States have been
a target audience for Lauck's materials, which he produces in 12
languages. Lauck attempts to enlist Skinheads in his Nazi cause,
asserting that they are "members of the great world-historical Aryan
racial movement." One issue of _The New Order_, the organ of Lauck's
NSDAP-AO (National Socialist German Workers Party - Overseas
Organization), outlined his Action Program for Aryan Skinheads:

   Skinheads are realizing that they must primarily use their brains
   and apply their intelligence to outthink, outsmart, outplan, and
   outdo the racial enemy Jew System in the Race War.

Lauck was arrested in Denmark on March 20, 1995, pursuant to an
international warrant issued by German authorities. If he is
extradited to Germany, he faces charges of distributing illegal
propaganda and Nazi symbols, incitement, encouraging racial hatred
and belonging to a criminal group.

                      "God Forgive Me..."

American Skinheads have repeatedly acted out their racial warrior
fantasies in acts of exceptional violence. In August 1990, in
Houston, Texas, two 18-year-old Skinheads stomped a 15-year-old
Vietnnamese boy to death. One of the killers testified at his trial
that the victim's last words were: "God forgive me for coming to
this country. I'm so sorry." In a June 1991 drive-by shotgun slaying
in Arlington, Texas, three 16-year-old members of the Confederate
Hammerskins killed a black man while he sat on the back of a truck
with two white friends.

Skinheads belonging to the Aryan National Front (ANF) were
responsible for two separate killings of homeless black men in
Birmingham, Alabama. One was beaten to death under a downtown
viaduct before dawn on Christmas Eve 1991. He had been clubbed with
a baseball bat and kicked repeatedly with heavy boots. One of the
Skinhead perpetrators was convicted by a jury; another pled guilty
to the murder. The second Birmingham killing occurred on April 18,
1992, the night after about 75 Skinheads attended a rally in nearby
Shelby County. Four ANF Skinheads were ultimately convicted of the
fatal stabbing and were handed heavy sentences, in one case, life in
prison.

Since 1989, when the United States Department of Justice (DOJ)
established a Skinhead task force within its Civil Rights Division,
DOJ has been effective in prosecuting the young hatemongers and in
bringing national attention to the problem.[2] Perhaps the most
prominent such case took place in California in July 1993, when
eight people were arrested by Federal authorities and charged with a
variety of conspiracy offenses in connection with a plan to incite a
race war by, among other things, bombing an African-American church,
sending a letter-bomb to a rabbi, and assassinating several
well-known African-American figures.

                        Race Warriors

Among those involved in the plan were members of the Fourth Reich
Skinheads gang. Two Fourth Reich Skins, Christopher David Fisher,
20, the Skinhead gang's leader, and Carl Daniel Boese, 17, pleaded
guilty and received prison terms of eight years and 57 months,
respectively. Several other racists pleaded guilty to various
weapons and conspiracy charges connected to the plot. Among these
were a Skinhead, Geremy Rineman, and his girlfriend, Jill
Scarborough, a Skinhead supporter. The couple had earlier been
united in an Aryan "wedding" at an Oklahoma "Aryan Fest" in 1990.

During that same summer of 1993, Skinheads in Washington State had
aspirations similar to those of their California counterparts. Three
Skinheads pleased guilty to Federal charges in connection with two
bombings that were part of a plot to ignite a race war in
Washington. One of the men threw a bomb into the Tacoma office of
the NAACP, causing damage, but no injuries. The other Skins bombed a
gay bar in Seattle. Federal investigators discovered that these acts
were merely the prelude to a larger plan to bomb synagogues and
civil rights organizations and to attack African-American rap
artists. The Skins all had ties to the aforementioned neo-Nazi
group, Church of the Creator.

More recently, in July 1994, four members of the Massachusetts-based
New Dawn Hammerskins were indicted on Federal charges in connection
with a conspiracy to intimidate and interfere with the rights of
black and Jewish citizens. The leader of the Skinhead group, the
only adult among the defendants, pled guilty and received 46 months
imprisonment. Investigation into the case revealed that a longtime
member of the Ku Klux Klan had attempted to dispose of evidence
relevant to the prosecution. The Klansman, Roy Frankhauser of
Reading, Pennsylvania, was convicted and sentenced to 25 months in
prison.

American Skinheads do not confine themselves to ethnic hatred. They
have been held responsible for several murders - and countless
assaults - based on their hatred of homosexuals. Fatal Skinhead
attacks on gays have occurred in New York City; San Diego; St.
Louis; Salem, Oregon; and Reno, Nevada. Most recently, William
Douglas Metz, 36, died after he suffered more than 20 stab wounds in
a July 1994 attack in Reno. An informant told police that the attack
was a "fag-bashing" by a Skinhead gang. A 21-year-old racist
Skinhead pleaded guilty, adding that he had also wanted to carve a
swastika on the victim's body but did not have enough time. He
received two life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Neo-Nazi Skinheads have killed their non-racist counterparts in gang
brawls as well as in unprovoked attacks. In August 1990, a fight
between racist and non-racist Skinhead factions in the parking lot
of a Sacramento club resulted in the stabbing death of a SHARP
(Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice) Skin by a racist member of the
Sacramento Skins. In August 1992, two neo-Nazi Skinheads stabbed and
bludgeoned to death a 17-year-old non-racist Skinhead of mixed Asian
and white background, in Olympia, Washington.

When they cannot find living human beings to assault - or when their
courage cannot rise to that level - American Skins have attacked the
graves of the departed. A Skinhead and two accomplices were charged
with the April 21, 1993, desecration of a Jewish cemetary in
Everett, Massachusetts. In addition to overturning 100 tombstones
and spray-painting swastikas, the vandals scrawled a birthday salute
to Adolf Hitler on a nearby wall. The three were ultimately
sentenced to two years imprisonment.

Other Jewish institutions have also been attacked. On March 20,
1994, two Skinheads shot several rounds from a high-powered
semi-automatic rifle into the stained glass windows of a Eugene,
Oregon, synagogue. The shooters were sentenced to terms of 54 and
57 months imprisonment.

                        The Berserker

American Skinheads have produced over the years a number of
publications; some ran for only a few issues, others continue to
circulate. Zines that have been published in the last few years
include: _Blood and Honor_, out of Long Beach, California, an
American spin-off of the British publication of the same name;
_National Socialist Skinhead_, published in St. Paul, Minnesota;
_Iron Will_ and _Skinhead Power_, both from North Carolina; and _The
Berserker_ of Levitown, New York, more a newsletter than a
full-fledged zine.

The zines focus on Skinhead music, but racist commentary is injected
throughout each issue in editorials and interviews. Typical of the
views espoused in these interviews are those of members of the band
Das Reich: "We must expose the Zionist-controlled media and
institutions to the rest of the White 'sheeple' in America... we
would like to salute all the White Stormtroopers that are fighting
daily for our struggle." Another interview in _Blood and Honor_
contained a call for readers to lend support to "P.O.W.s." Among
these so-called prisoners-of-war were David Lane and Gary Yarbrough,
both currently serving long sentences for their role in the neo-Nazi
terrorist group, The Order; and Matthew Hayhow, a Skinhead serving
25 years for armed robbery.

Resistance Records, a major producer of Skinhead music in Detroit,
puts out a magazine that focuses on Skinhead music in the United
States and Canada. It claims a circulation of "12,000 an growing."
The magazine's publisher, George Burdi (a.k.a. George Eric
Hawthorne), a Canadian, was convicted of aggravated assault for his
part in a 1993 brawl in Ottawa with anti-racist demonstrators.
[Transcription note: The charge was "assault causing bodily harm,"
not aggravated assault. knm] Burdi publishes out of Detroit to avoid
Canada's laws against racist material. Typical of the magazine's
level of rhetoric is its critique of the film _Schindler's List_:

   Just what we needed in these hard times, yet another
   movied about the Holy-Hoax.... Steven Spielberg directs
   this so-called "spell-binding drama" about you-know-what
   that has been hailed by critics as a "remarkable
   accomplishment." The only thing "remarkable" about it
   is that after all these years, Hollywood is still
   churning out this garbage. This shit doesn't even belong
   in our toilets.

Some zines such as _Aryan Revolutionary Front_, published in Castro
Valley, California, and _White Order_, out of Aurora, Colorado, are
aimed at a more general neo-Nazi readership, but nonetheless promote
Skinhead bands and events.

                          Hate Fests

Bands that play hard-driving oi music and spout manifestors of hate
and violence are a prominent part of the American Skinhead scene.
Skinhead music festivals have been held in California, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, Alabama, Michigan and Wisconsin. As elsewhere across
the globe, these festivals are hate-fests that often result in
violence against the community and among the Skinheads themselves.

Resistance Records hosted one such festival on September 30, 1994,
in Racine, Wisconsin. It was billed as a concert honoring the late
Ian Stuart, lead vocalist of the British band Skrewdriver, who died
in a car accident in 1993. The concert featured seven bands - Das
Reich (from Wisconsin), Aggravated Assault (New Jersey), Berserkr
[sic] (Oklahoma), Centurion (Wisconsin), Rahowa (Toronto), Bound for
Glory (Minnesota) and the English band No Remorse - and attracted an
audience of over 300. After the concert, Joe Rowan, lead singer of
the Delaware Skinhead band Nordic Thunder, was killed in a skirmish
with black youths in a Racine convenience store. Rowan was eulogized
on the cover of _Resistance_ magazine with lyrics from one of his
own songs:

   I know the truth and I know what is right,
   To destroy the zionist way and keep my land White ...
   I've sworn to protect my people,
   For that I'm crucified,
   I live for my Race and for my Race I will die ...

Bound for Glory is perhaps the most influential American Skinhead
band. Led by Ed Wolbank, director of the neo-Nazi Northern Hammer
Skins in St. Paul, Minnesota, the band has recorded for Resistance
Records and the German Rock-O-Rama label, and has toured in Europe
with Skrewdriver. A member of the band summarized the underlying
message behind their music: "All of our music has a racial theme and
that is 100% White."

Detroit Skinheads boast an active music scene. Two local bands - Max
Resist and the Hooligans, and Rival - performed frequently at the
West Side Clubhouse in Detroit, which served as the hangout for the
Detroit Skinhead gang, the West Side Boot Boys. Out-of-state bands
also frequently played at the Clubhouse. Among those advertised to
appear in a tribute concert to the slain Joe Rowan were Bound for
Glory, Centurion, The Voice, Aggravated Assault and Shamrock. A
recent flyer, however, announced the closing of the West Side
Clubhouse, allegedly for reasons of "security"; it claimed that
alternative venues would be found for future concerts "in the
Detroit area and elsewhere."

In sum, the United States faces a Skinhead problem that is no less
serious that that of many other nations - and much more lethal than
most. (Anti-Defamation League, 77-84)

                           Footnotes

1. In addition to the full-blown Skinheads there are at least an
equal number of so-called "wanna-be's," youngsters who aspire to the
status of regular Skinheads. The wanna-be's mimic the dress and
style of Skinheads, listen to their "oi" music, and share many of
their prejudices. They are usually young people living in areas
where there are no organized Skinhead gangs; alternatively, they
remain outside the ranks of actual Skins because they are fearful of
the consequences of "coming out."

2. Federal law enforcement recently received a powerful weapon for
ther arsenal: penalty enhancement for hate crimes. The 1994 crime
law calls for increased penalties for federal crimes where the
victim was selected "because of the actual or perceived race, color,
religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual
orientation of any person." The Federal Government thus joins the 34
states (plus the District of Columbia) that have passed laws, many
based on an ADL model, that provide for stepped-up penalties for
bias-motivated crimes. Since Skinheads most frequently choose their
victims based on a credo of hatred for certain groups, penalty
enhancement laws should result in longer sentences for these thugs
and help to reduce Skinhead terror in the community.

                          Work Cited

Anti-Defamation League. The Skinhead International: A Worldwide
Survey of Neo-Nazi Skinheads. New York: Anti-Defamation League,
1995. Anti-Defamation League, 823 United Nations Plaza, New York, NY
10017.

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