Profiles of 10 Racist Skinheads
Racist skinhead culture has long brimmed with violence and venom.
Joshua David Fiedler, 26
SS GUARDIANS/UNIT 88
Now serving a 21-year prison sentence for pulling a home invasion robbery, 28-year-old Josh Fiedler recently posted an online advertisement for prison pen pals. In it, Fiedler professes his love of comic books, animals, and poetry. He makes no mention of his blood-spattered past.
From 2001 until his most recent incarceration in 2005, Fiedler was the leader of a Phoenix skinhead crew, alternately called SS Guardians and Unit 88, whose members were involved in at least two murders, numerous brutal assaults, and other acts of violence and racial intimidation that brought skinhead criminal activity in Phoenix to a level the city had not witnessed since Jimmy Miller's crew goose-stepped down Central Avenue in 1990.
Fiedler shamelessly courted the media, holding a press conference in March 2003 at a park located in a predominantly minority neighborhood where he instructed the skinheads under his command to pick up trash for the cameras and told television reporters, "We're here for the community."
The skinhead park clean-up was an attempt by Fiedler to counter the negative publicity generated by the murder of a young white man with a pacemaker who was kicked and stomped to death outside a pool hall by several of Fiedler's followers in late 2002. "My son was so disfigured the bouncer [who found him] couldn't tell what race he was. We couldn't have an open casket," said Cole Bailey Sr., the victim's father. "They kicked through bone and into temporal lobe."
Appearing at the press conference alongside Fiedler was his second-in-command, Sean Gaines, the gang's chief enforcer, who has a well-earned reputation for extreme violence. Gaines' rap sheet includes arrests for beating a Latino man over the head with a two-foot long tree branch, car theft, and beating a Jewish boy into unconsciousness. Gaines is currently awaiting trial for capital murder after allegedly acting as the ringleader in the February 2002 mutilation and murder of a drug addict suspected of stealing money from Fiedler's girlfriend. Another of Fiedler's lieutenants, Jason Shakofsky, is now awaiting trial for attempted murder for allegedly stabbing and slitting the throat of his crewmate and ex-girlfriend.
Fiedler's own criminal record stretches back to 1997, when he was arrested for possession of LSD and received probation. A short time later, he and a fellow skinhead fired more than 40 rounds from assault rifles into a fleeing car; Fiedler was convicted of felony endangerment and aggravated assault and served three years in prison. About six months after he was paroled in early 2001, Fiedler attended a bonfire where skinheads torched a Jewish star. He was arrested at the scene for violating the conditions of his release when police officers found him in possession of two handguns and a 14-inch Bowie knife.
"Mr. Fiedler is a clear, viable threat to the community," his probation officer wrote in a pre-sentencing report. "He was given counseling while in prison and also received his GED, yet he continues to violate the law."
Fiedler was released from prison once again in January 2003. Around the time of the park clean-up media stunt, he described prison as a near perfect, racially segregated environment. "Blacks with blacks, whites with whites, Hispanics with Hispanics," he told a reporter. "It's an ideal society."
Luckily for Fiedler -- not to mention the rest of the world -- he'll be enjoying that ideal society until at least 2022.