Randal Krager is the founder and leader of the neo-Nazi skinhead group Volksfront and has a long history in the skinhead movement, beginning when he was 15 in Portland, Ore. He laid the groundwork for Volksfront while serving time in prison for putting a black man in a coma with a single punch, and assumed leadership when he was released in 1994.
At 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, with "FEAR" tattooed across the knuckles of his right hand and a large swastika stamped on his thick neck, Volksfront founder Randal Krager is an imposing figure whose heavy influence on skinheads in the Pacific Northwest has deep roots.
Krager has been involved in the skinhead subculture since at least 1989. That year, when he was 15, Krager was arrested along with several other skinheads and charged with racial intimidation for allegedly assaulting three teenagers near a park in Portland, Ore. During the attack, assailants pummeled a Hispanic girl in the face while shouting, "Why aren't you white?"
Krager was sent to a juvenile detention center.
The next year, he attended the civil trial of White Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger – who was being sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center for his role in encouraging the skinhead murder of a black man in Portland – and told a reporter that Metzger was a "cool guy ... one of the nicest guys you'd ever meet."
By the time Krager turned 18, police had encountered him 28 times.
That year, 1992, Krager was sentenced to 27 months in prison for putting an African-American man into a coma with a single punch. During sentencing proceedings, Krager reportedly shouted "Fucking Jew pig!" at court officials.
Krager's white supremacist beliefs were reinforced in prison. While inside, he networked with skinheads on the outside, laying the groundwork for the formation of his Volksfront neo-Nazi gang. Krager assumed leadership of Volksfront immediately upon his release in October 1994.
But Krager didn't stay out of prison for long. Weeks after his release, he called a local anti-racist skinhead and threatened to kill him. Krager was arrested and pleaded guilty to first-degree intimidation. He served 14 months and was released in early 1995.
Led by Krager, Volksfront maintained a highly visible presence in Portland until 1998, when the gang essentially went underground, citing "police and governmental pressure" to explain its disappearance.
Volksfront resurfaced in 2001 and, to the amazement of many who knew Krager, officially renounced violence. "[K]icking in someone's head will not make them our political allies. ... We know that violence created by stupidity or machismo will and can destroy organizations," read a notice on Volksfront's website.
In a blatant and brutal violation of this supposed policy – a policy that appears to have been a public relations gambit more than anything else – Volksfront's Washington state chapter leader, Kurtis William Monschke, joined three other racist skinheads in 2003 in beating to death a homeless man in Tacoma using baseball bats and rocks. But this mindless violence hardly destroyed Volksfront.
That January at Aryan Fest, a white power festival in Arizona hosted and policed by Volksfront, representatives of Krager claimed to have purchased five acres of land in Oregon as the beginnings of a white homeland. Although Krager officially stepped down from his leadership position later in 2004, today he continues to control the group from the shadows.
Krager moved his wife, Abbie Chelf (a Christian Identity devotee) and his son to Lakeland, Fla., after Portland anti-fascist activists “outed” the couple to their neighbors and Krager’s employer in the fall of 2008. This was the second time local anti-fascists targeted the Kragers; in 2007 they told neighbors about the couple’s racist beliefs after Krager helped to organize Hammerfest, a major skinhead concert, in the area. (The anti-fascists eventually stopped the event from taking place.)
Also in 2007, Krager orchestrated the purchase of property outside St. Louis, Mo., where the group’s official meeting place, dubbed the “Samuel Weaver Memorial Hall” (in honor of the son of white separatist Randy Weaver who died in a 1992 shootout with federal marshals in Ruby Ridge, Idaho), was eventually built. The construction of the building marked one of the few, perhaps only, times a racist skinhead organization was able to acquire sufficient funding to purchase such a place.
The Kragers stayed in Florida for about a year and had another son, but eventually moved to the midwest.
At the end of 2010, Krager, who is a heating, ventilation and air conditioning specialist, was reportedly hired as a civilian contractor to work in Afghanistan. He appointed several of his top lieutenants to run Volksfront’s day-to-day operations while he was out of the country. Krager also allowed the History Channel to interview him and several other Volksfront members for an episode of the series “Gangland,” which aired at the end of the year. Krager claimed he approved the interviews in order to attract news members and tell their side of the story – and the fact they were paid didn’t hurt.