Motley Crews: With Decline of Hammerskins, Independent Skinhead Groups Grow
On Memorial Day weekend 2000, less than a year after the Outlaw Hammerskins formed, three vanloads of Outlaw Hammerskin hooligans showed up at the Imperial Klans of America compound, looking to start trouble at Nordic Fest, which at that time was heavily attended by Hammerskin Nation skinheads. The Outlaw Hammerskins skins were heavily armed, and when IKA security refused to allow them into the festival, they fired a volley of shots into the air, putting Hammerskin Nation on notice.
The following year, Outlaw Hammerskins showed up in force at Nordic Fest, making it clear the event was no longer Hammerskin Nation's exclusive skinhead stomping ground. In part because of this loss of face, Hammerskin Nation membership numbers began to wither. Today, Hammerskin Nation is more like Hammerskin Hamlet. It's down to about 150 members. "Hammers have been dropping their patches all over the place," says Detective Browning. The decline of the Hammerskin Nation has been fueled by the insurrection of the Outlaw Hammerskins, lawsuits filed by hate crime victims, and widespread discontent with Hammerskin Nation's elitism among working-class, anti-authoritarian racist youths.
Still another big factor was the collapse of Panzerfaust Records, a hate rock music company that distributed popular Hammerskin Nation-affiliated bands like Max Resist, Bound for Glory, and the Mid-Town Boot Boys. Panzerfaust's owner, Anthony Pierpont, poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into Hammerskin Nation festivals and legal battles after he founded the label in 1998, but had to scuttle the company last year after the Intelligence Report revealed he's of Mexican descent. (Despite being a "mud person," Pierpont is still active in the business side of organized hate. His most recent venture is manufacturing T-shirts for National Socialist Movement commander Jeff Schoep and National Alliance chairman Erich Gliebe; see Nazis Falling).
Rise of the Regional Crews
Infighting caused the Outlaw Hammerskins to implode in 2002, but by then they'd made an indelible mark on skinhead culture. Instead of leading to a return to power for Hammerskin Nation, the demise of the Outlaw Hammerskins sparked the still-ongoing surge of independent, regional crews that have continued the Outlaw Hammerskin tradition of openly challenging and disrespecting Hammerskin Nation and its only ally, the Portland, Ore.-based regional crew Volksfront.
Two of these new, unruly crews, the Hoosier State Skinheads and the Ohio State Skinheads, rose directly from the ashes of the Outlaw Hammerskins. The Hoosier State Skinheads were co-founded by former Outlaw Hammerskins Brien James and Eric Fairburn. James and Fairburn also attended the first meeting in Central Ohio in 2003 of the Ohio State Skinheads, whose founders include other former Outlaw Hammerskins. (Ohio State Skinheads now has three local chapters in Ohio).
The largest statewide crew now active is the Keystone State Skinheads, which formed in September 2001 in Harrisburg, Pa. (One of its five founders, Steven Smith, is a former Aryan Nations member who was recruited into the neo-Nazi movement while an Army soldier stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C.) The Keystone State Skinheads now has nine chapters across Pennsylvania and sponsors regular concerts and "white power picnics." Its logo is a pit bull or bulldog in a circle made of chain against a red, black, and white background (see logos chart).
The Ohio State Skinheads, Hoosier State Skinheads, and Keystone State Skinheads are all also part of the Vinlander Social Club, a.k.a. the Vinlanders, a skinhead "warrior clan" devoted to drinking, fighting, and a racist variant of Odinism, a form of ancient paganism once practiced by Vikings. Fairburn, James, and other Hoosier State and Ohio State Skinheads founded the Vinlanders in 2004; today, that group has about 200 full members. Unlike Hammerskin Nation, which requires even probationary members to renounce their allegiance to any other skinhead crew, the Vinlanders allow and even encourage dual membership. A Vinlander can be an Ohio State or Hoosier State Skinhead, and vice-versa.
"Everyone [in Arizona] wants to be Vinlander now," says Detective Browning. "The Vinlanders have very quickly gone from a little skinhead group in the Midwest to a national force with a great web presence. The bigger they become, the more power they have, and they're getting bigger."
On Oct. 22, 2005, on the Logan, Ohio, property of Ohio State Skinheads member Kevin Kislingbury, the Vinlander Social Club hosted the first official Blood and Honour council, a unity meeting of regional skinhead crews also known as the Council of 28. The meeting was attended by at least 60 representatives of more than a dozen skinhead crews, including Hoosier and Ohio State Skinheads, Keystone State Skinheads, the New Jersey Skins, the Canyon State Skins (Arizona), and the Maryland Skins (one of the fastest growing state crews), as well as the Imperial Klans of America and the National Alliance.
Conspicuously absent at the Blood and Honour council was anyone representing Hammerskin Nation or Volksfront.