'Blood and Honour Council' Defies Hammerskins
A landmark neo-Nazi Skinhead summit attended by the leaders of more than a dozen Skinhead gangs from at least eight different states took place Oct. 22 in Ohio. Dubbed "The Blood and Honour Council," the summit represented the first unified attempt to challenge the authority of the Hammerskins (HS), a nationwide Skinhead syndicate that has asserted dominion over U.S. skins since 1988.
The council was organized and hosted by former Hammerskin Brien James, founder of the Vinlander Social Club, a regional Skinhead group, and by Ohio State Skinheads leaders Eric Fairburn and Kevin Kislingbury. It was held on Kislingbury's property in Logan, Ohio, according to law enforcement sources.
By calling the council without prior Hammerskin approval and then publicly inviting HS leaders to attend and guaranteeing their safety, the Blood and Honour organizers broadcast the message that Hammerskins are no longer the unchallenged bosses of the Skinhead scene. Not surprisingly, its leaders boycotted the event. Leaders of the Portland, Ore.-based Skinhead gang Volksfront, which is closely aligned with the Hammerskins, also refused to attend.
Besides Skinhead gang leaders, the Blood and Honour Council consisted of representatives from several hate rock music companies as well as the neo-Nazi National Alliance and the Imperial Klans of America. According to minutes distributed online, the Skinhead leaders forged a precedent-setting bond with the National Alliance. "The participants in the regional skinhead groups intend to work through the National Alliance in their regions as a political outlet," the minutes stated. It was not clear why the Skinheads voted to join forces with the National Alliance but not the IKA, especially considering that Alliance leaders viciously mocked Skinheads during the Alliance's heyday just a few years back.
According to the minutes, the members further decided they would meet once a year in the future, and that any group "meeting the council criteria" would send two representatives. "According to the customs of our Nordic, Celtic and Saxon forefathers, no weapons will be brought into the meeting area," the minutes stated.
The council also established a "uniform code of appearance and conduct" for "large scale public actions," consisting of "dark polo or dress shirts and nice pants, either black or tan. ... [O]utdated racial symbols such as the swastika, SS bolts, Confederate battle flag, etc., should be avoided."
On the topic of hate rock, the council decided that, "It is the majority opinion of the participants that it is in our best interest to venture into more 'mainstream' lyrics as well as racial ones, and possibly even explore the option of holding events for the general public for profit."
The list did not name the Hammerskins. But even so, the proceedings of the Blood and Honour Council verged on a declaration of war. The meeting followed numerous incidents of Hammerskins ganging up on other Skinheads at concerts, and the Hammerskins' adopting a hard-line "with us or against us" attitude during a 2003 feud with the Hoosier State Skinheads that erupted after a stabbing over a girlfriend. Many Skinheads resented being forced to choose sides.
A 2003 post to a Skinhead Web site by "a former Hammerskin probate" [a probationary member of the group] summed up the significance of the conflict this way: "Rest assured the days of crews submitting to Hammerskin policing of the skinhead sub-culture are over." Resistance to old-guard Skinhead leaders is probably overstated. But the Blood and Honour Council does reflect a new era.