Profiles of 20 Nativist Leaders
Los Angeles, Calif.
When Joe Turner, founder of the anti-immigrant hate group Save Our State (SOS), accepted a job as a paid field organizer for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) in the spring of 2007, he passed the SOS leadership torch to Chelene Nightingale, an actress and film production worker based in Los Angeles.
Although Nightingale has since declared that Turner remains the true head of SOS, she's been the one speaking to the media and coordinating protests since Turner went on the FAIR payroll.
In her first year at the helm, Nightingale led SOS members in a belligerent march through a Mexican-American neighborhood, organized a boisterous campaign demanding the arrest of an immigrant mother facing deportation who sought refuge in a church, and put her nonprofit group's 501(c)3 tax status in jeopardy by openly campaigning for Turner when he ran for city clerk in San Bernardino, Calif.
Her first order of business, however, was to tamp down the online bickering among SOS members and to censor all posts by the racist skinheads and other neo-Nazis who'd been heavily participating in the SOS forums since at least mid-2005.
By comparison, Turner had taken a lackadaisical attitude toward skinheads posting to SOS forums and frequently showing up to participate in Save Our State's militant protests. "There seems to be very little we can do to keep them from piggybacking off our activism," he told the Intelligence Report in 2005. Nightingale, though, has gone to greater lengths to make skinheads feel unwelcome. Last September, when nine "dressed out" members of the Golden State Skins tried to join an SOS protest in Simi Valley, Calif., SOS leaders acting at Nightingale's behest ordered them to leave. Police forced the racist skins to conduct their own separate protest across the street. Nightingale told the Intelligence Report last December that SOS enforcer Don Silva later personally called the Golden State Skins to inform their members they were banned from all future SOS events.
It's unclear whether Nightingale is weeding out the skinheads because she sees that they damage Save Our State's image or because she's truly anti-racist. Either way, it's obvious that SOS otherwise remains as militant as ever. Members shoved and pepper-sprayed an immigrant advocate last September and virtually laid siege to the United Church of Christ in Simi Valley for three days after the church began harboring a Mexican woman slated for deportation so that she would not be separated from her infant son. Nightingale even told the media that SOS members were there to conduct a citizen's arrest of the woman. When police refused them entry to the church, Nightingale's SOS followers yelled slurs at the church's two deacons, calling them "dyke spike," "clergy dyke" and "dykie-do."