Traditional White Supremacist Organizations Attempt to “Rebrand”
To appeal to new audiences susceptible to its radical messaging, the national white supremacist movement has tried to deemphasize hate symbols and attacks against non-white communities. These organizations have “rebranded” since at least last year, when they took a more high-profile role with conferences and rallies, official statements, and recruitment efforts.
- On November 4, 2016, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), the major white supremacist umbrella group, declared its intent to stop using the swastika. NSM stated it has “every intention to bring our Party . . . into the halls of Government here in the United States, and to do that we must reach more of the public. The masses believe exactly as we do, but have steered clear of us due to our use of the swastika. Your Party Platform remains the same, your Party remains unchanged, it is a cosmetic overhaul only.”
- To date, the website of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan denies it is a hate group and focuses messaging on the “love of the white race” and “restoring America to a White Christian nation.” The organization also claims it does not want to harm the “darker races” but “simply want[s] to live separate from them.”
New Generation of White Supremacists
While traditional white supremacist organizations have focused on “rebranding,” new white supremacist groups have emerged, promoting a purist European identity and recruiting younger, educated members. Many of these groups originated on social media platforms, such as 4chan, 8chan, Twitter, and Reddit, but they have expanded activities, to include distributing recruitment posters on campuses and inciting violence at protests and rallies across the United States.
- Vanguard America, formed in May 2016, focuses on white nationalism and “blood and soil”—a Nazi expression referring to the interplay between ethnicity and territory. The group’s website states, “Our religion, our traditions and our identity are dragged through the mud by the globalist establishment while millions of nonwhites flood our nation every year… It’s time to take a stand.” Vanguard America has distributed posters in New Jersey, including at Rutgers University New Brunswick campus (Middlesex County). The group also placed racist fliers on religious and cultural institutions in New Jersey to intimidate minority populations.
- Identity Evropa, founded in March 2016, is dedicated to educating the “public about the importance of a collective European identity,” and it promotes networking to ensure “[European] people will have a future.” The group has made a concerted effort to display posters at colleges and universities nationwide as part of #ProjectSeige, an outreach effort to connect with students. In April, Nathan Damigo—the founder of Identity Evropa—punched a woman at a protest in Berkeley, California.
White Supremacist Violence Remains Likely
NJOHSP assesses white supremacist extremists remain a moderate threat to New Jersey. Since January, white supremacist extremists conducted four attacks, one plot, and three stockpiling incidents across the United States.
- On May 26, Jeremy Christian of Portland, Oregon, yelled anti-Muslim insults at two girls, and slit the throats of three men who came to their defense, killing two. Christian espoused white nationalist views on social media and in April, attended a free speech march and shouted, “die Muslims” while giving a Nazi salute.
On May 20, Brandon Russell, a self-admitted neo-Nazi, was arrested on federal charges after bomb making materials were found in his garage in Tampa, Florida. Authorities discovered the materials after Russell’s roommate—Devon Arthurs—murdered two other roommates affiliated with the white supremacy movement. Arthurs told authorities Russell was active on white supremacist forums and threatened to “kill people and bomb infrastructure.”
On April 13, five members of the Aryan Strike Force were arrested, including Joshua Steever from Phillipsburg (Warren County), for allegedly conspiring to sell methamphetamine, firearms, and machinegun parts to fund the organization’s activities.
On March 21, James Harrison Jackson, a self-identified white supremacist, traveled from Baltimore to New York City to kill black men. He murdered an African-American man with a sword and told investigators the attack was a “test run for a larger killing spree.”