Aryan Nations Members Meet for 25th Congress
Sieg Heiling 101
During the congress, staccato blasts of whites-fighting-for-whites oratory were interspersed with that staple of all conventions, milling around vendors' tables. Big sellers included "The Apple Story" booklet, which claims Jews are descendants of Lucifer; and CDs, such as the Definite Hate rock band's "Welcome to the South" album, whose cover features an empty noose dangling from a leafless tree.
Many parents brought their children to play amid the swirling white, red, green and black Klan robes, and swastika-emblazoned banners. During a break, two moms, one holding a babe, the other corralling a toddler in camouflage jammies, could be overheard chatting about things that worry all mothers. "At that age," said one, "you've always got to keep an eye on them."
But normalcy ended there. One of the moms, in a turquoise blouse, is married to a Georgia Klansman and had a large KKK cross-and-drop-of-blood medallion around her neck. The other woman, wearing tight jeans and heavy blood-red lipstick, sported a T-shirt emblazoned with "88" -- code for "Heil Hitler."
A dozen or so groups -- ranging from the venerable Klan's multitude of splinters, to upstart outfits such as Arkansas-based White Revolution, to Nazis of various stripes -- sent delegates to what Aryan Nations leaders described as a "unity conference" of white supremacy.
There was even a German Nazi in attendance, Peter Josef Boche, who runs a racist church in Berlin. At one point, Boche was surrounded by a group of women and girls. The stubble-faced German, accompanied by his properly blonde daughter, was leading a practice session in how to rakishly throw up the right arm in a stiff-armed "Heil Hitler!" salute.
'Blood in the Streets'
Josh Fowler, nattily robed in green, swaggered onto the Echo's stage flanked by two bodyguards, one bearing a round shield adorned with the Klan cross. The youthful grand dragon of one of South Carolina's Klan outfits brought the audience to its feet in cheers by announcing that what he "really hates is white women with little mongrel babies."
Fowler was followed to the podium by Virgil Griffin, a legendary Carolina Klan relic who participated in a 1979 Greensboro, N.C., confrontation that ended with the slaying of five left-wing union organizers. No one was ever convicted for the crime, yet an Aryan Nations officer named Ryan Brennan told the assemblage that Griffin "is my hero. Five commies went to hell that day."
With fists slugging the air, Griffin urged the crowd to "get every weapon you can get. We're gonna hit back." His most vitriolic comments were reserved for Hispanics. "They breed like rats, worse than niggers, and send their money back to Mexico," Griffin roared. "Only thing I got for them is a bullet right between the eyes. Ship their dead butts back to Mexico."
Rick Spring is the dapper Aryan, one of the few remaining confidants of the late Aryan Nations founder, Richard Butler. Clad in black jacket and pants, the only signal of what Spring is about is his elegantly embroidered red, gold and powder-blue Aryan Nations armband.
He has a knack for explaining things. For example, about those swastikas on fluttering flags and tattooed on his colleagues' arms and heads, Spring opined, "They're just good luck signs. Some people say they're Nazi symbols, but that's not what I see."
And on violence? "Aryan Nations is the whipping boy," he said. "The only time we're violent is when violence is brought to us."
The scariest of the Aryan Nations speakers was Ryan Brennan, who lives in South Carolina. He capped his speech with a dance across the stage, a la Mick Jagger, and a bellowed challenge: "You want to see blood in the streets? I DO!"
John F. Sugg is the group senior editor of Creative Loafing Newspapers.