Profiles of 10 Racist Skinheads
Racist skinhead culture has long brimmed with violence and venom.
On Oct. 9, 1990, as 17-year-old Jimmy "Soda Pop" Miller awaited trial as an adult in Phoenix, Ariz., on six counts of arson, robbery, and assault, a state-appointed psychologist petitioned the court on Miller's behalf.
"He did not impress me as a rabidly delinquent or antisocial individual," Kevin Buckley argued after meeting with Miller. "He certainly does not have the character of a leader."
That remarkable assessment might have amused Miller's minions in the Arizona Hammerskins, and no doubt would have surprised the targets of his violence. Superior Court Judge Gregory H. Martin didn't buy it, and when Miller was convicted, Judge Martin sentenced him to five years in prison. Thus ended the explosive first phase of Miller's career as a skinhead gang leader.
Jimmy Miller's association with the Arizona Hammerskins had begun in the fall of 1989, around the time he dropped out of Scottsdale Alternative School. Within a year, he was second-in-command in the organization — the right-hand man of the skinhead leader and Tom Metzger protégé, Case Colcord.
Miller and Colcord reveled in organizing high-profile media stunts that doubled as recruiting tools. Together, they led demonstrations in which they displayed Nazi banners and chanted racist and anti-Semitic slurs. On Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, the two marched down Central Avenue in Phoenix, chanting, "Nigger, nigger, nigger! Out, out, out!" On Adolf Hitler's birthday, they marched in front of a local synagogue brandishing Nazi insignia.
A month after the Martin Luther King march, Miller began the rampage that finally landed him in prison.
In February of 1990, Miller attempted to firebomb the home of Jason "Fishbone" Mosely, a teenage member of a rival, anti-racist skinhead group known as the SHARPs, for Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice. But Miller had the wrong condominium. Fortunately for the elderly couple inside, Miller's homemade bomb bounced off the window screen. Prior to the bombing, Miller had called Mosley's mother late at night and threatened to kill her and her "mongrel" son (Mosley was of mixed race).
Soon after that attack, Miller and a small group of Hammerskins visited Sean "Warbaby" Cooper at his grandparents' home. As punishment for leaving the Hammerskins -- and out of fear that he would start another group and challenge Hammerskin primacy -- they beat Cooper and sliced away his crossed-hammer tattoo with an X-Acto knife. Six days after this brutal assault, Miller led a boot party against Kaipo Stant, another SHARP skin, and stole Stant's Doc Martens boots.
In May, Miller attempted a second firebombing at the home of anti-racist skinheads. This explosive successfully cleared the window of the Phoenix apartment, but the two targets escaped to safety.
Miller was arrested that September. During his trial he claimed to be reformed and said he was eager to have his tattoos surgically removed. (A SHARP skin who testified at his trial tauntingly suggested that Miller was afraid he'd become somebody's prison "cupcake.") Despite these promises and the appeals of psychologists like Kevin Buckley, Miller was tried as an adult and convicted.
After serving two years of his sentence, Miller was released on parole in April of 1993.
Against the rules of his parole, and despite the fact that he was living with his grandmother, the young ex-con soon resumed leadership of the Arizona Hammerskins. During the mid-1990s, he expanded his role to become a leader of the Hammerskin Nation, his group's national organization. He also distributed a skinhead newsletter to juvenile detention facilities throughout the country.
By the turn of the millennium, Miller seemed to have faded from the skinhead scene. A 2004 posting on the message board at Skinheadz.com referred to Miller as "one time leader of the Arizona Hammerskins," and grouped the once fearsome Miller with "other old time skins."