National Vanguard's Strom Seeks More Power
On a hot Saturday in the middle of June, a crowd of white supremacists gathered in a town near Tampa to celebrate the arrival of a new summer and the emergence of a would-be leader in their movement — Kevin Alfred Strom.
With his thick black glasses and disheveled, graying hair, Strom resembled a middle-aged Harry Potter as his distinctive, nasal voice blared through a cheap PA system. He lectured those who'd come on the "real" reason the United States fought in both world wars — to facilitate the building of a Zionist state at the expense of foolish "American cattle" who didn't understand that their government was selling them out to Jewish interests.
The event, the Summer Solstice Festival, marked a special moment in Strom's long and dreary career as a professional racist and anti-Semite. He was finally coming out of the shadows after decades of thankless labor in the musty back offices of the neo-Nazi movement.
Strom had long played a key but subservient role to William Pierce, founder of the National Alliance — until recently the most important neo-Nazi group in the country — and then to Erich Gliebe, who was anointed over Strom as Pierce's successor, even though it was Strom, not Gliebe, who had created the Alliance's well-known weekly radio show; Strom who convinced Pierce to venture into the white power music business; and Strom who edited the Alliance's flagship publication in his role as the group's in-house "intellectual."
Now, at long last, it was Strom's turn to shine, to be shown respect, to be treated like a leader.
Last spring, Strom and other disgruntled Alliance principals were summarily expelled from the Alliance after they tried but failed to overthrow or curtail the power of the Alliance's current leaders. Soon after he was ejected, Strom formed his own group, National Vanguard, lifting the name from the Alliance magazine he had edited for years. When Strom left the Alliance, hundreds of other members left with him, most of them at least temporarily joining National Vanguard (NV). The Alliance's old Tampa unit, now an NV chapter loyal to Strom, organized the Summer Solstice Festival.
At this early stage, things seem to be going Strom's way, although Strom did not respond to requests from the Intelligence Report for comment. In its first three months, NV set up 15 chapters, even as the Alliance's membership rolls continued to decline. Strom has received clear support from other movement leaders, including neo-Nazi David Duke and Don Black, operator of the infamous Stormfront hate site. NV units from Boston to Denver have rented billboards and bombarded Internet message boards with propaganda, winning both attention and publicity. Disillusioned and angry over Gliebe's perceived failures as a chairman, several Alliance unit coordinators have defected to NV with their entire chapters. High-profile former Alliance member April Gaede, whose young twin daughters are the fastest rising act in white power music, has also signed on with Strom. Performing white supremacist folk songs under the name Prussian Blue, Lynx and Lamb shared a stage with Strom at the Tampa gathering.
Considering the NV's rapid growth spurt, Strom's powerful alliances with leaders like the charismatic Duke, and his long-standing reputation within the movement as a thinking man's neo-Nazi, it seems possible, even likely, that Strom may soon pick up where his one-time mentor Pierce left off as one of the most influential leaders of the racist radical right.
High School Fascist
Born in 1956, Strom grew up near Washington, D.C. His childhood and adolescence were set against the historical backdrops of the civil rights movement and the Cold War. Strom was raised a devout Lutheran, according to his ex-wife, Kristen Kaiser. His nickname was "St. Kevin the Good."
Strom decided when he was a teenager that communism was evil and that anyone who hated communism was good. One of Strom's high school teachers, who happened to be an extreme right-winger, discovered Strom's political leanings and recruited him into the John Birch Society, Kaiser said. It was in that far-right organization that Strom reportedly was first introduced to the National Alliance by Birchers who also belonged to the Alliance.
Strom began attending the Alliance's weekly Sunday night meetings in Arlington, Va., soon after William Pierce began holding them in 1975. Pierce had a Ph.D. and burned with hatred for communists and also for Jews and blacks. Strom admired him and was quickly indoctrinated with conspiracy theories about evil agents of the Zionist Occupation Government slowly destroying America.
After graduating from high school, Strom paid the bills by working as a broadcasting engineer while he continued to labor for Pierce. When Pierce acquired and moved onto some rural property in West Virginia in 1985, Strom used his technological prowess to help set up the compound's telephone and alarm system.
Strom ascended to the role of right-hand man. According to Kaiser, his favored status within the Alliance was a source of great pride to Strom, who clearly looked up to the Alliance founder. Kaiser said that Strom was never close to his own father, a verbally abusive alcoholic who hanged himself when Strom was in his 20s. "I think Dr. Pierce became his father figure," Kaiser told the Intelligence Report.
Kaiser first met Strom in 1987. Pierce played matchmaker, introducing her to Strom even though she was married at the time to a man named Joseph McLaughlin. By 1988, her marriage to McLaughlin had disintegrated, and Strom helped her move out. Kaiser and Strom were married in 1990. Pierce conducted the ceremony.
That same year, when Nelson Mandela came to Washington in a highly publicized visit, Strom was arrested outside the South African Embassy for assaulting a police officer during a pro-apartheid rally. The officers who searched Strom found detailed sketches of Techworld, a downtown office building that happened to be adjacent to the Washington Convention Center, where Mandela was scheduled to speak.
Nothing ever came of the sketches. Pierce hired a lawyer for Strom and the assault charge was dropped.
In 1991, Strom and his wife moved into a home near the National Alliance compound in West Virginia and took their places in Pierce's court.