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Racist Skinhead

Racist Skinheads form a particularly violent element of the white supremacist movement, and have often been referred to as the "shock troops" of the hoped-for revolution. The classic Skinhead look is a shaved head, black Doc Martens boots, jeans with suspenders and an array of typically racist tattoos.

Top Takeaways

The next generation is not stepping forward within the racist skinhead scene. Ever since 2012, when the skinhead count reached its highest ever mark of 138 groups, this subculture continues to die out. Most existing groups were formed prior to 2012 or have ties to older groups. Even so, the groups that are still active carry a serious threat of violence. In 2018, violent racist skinheads were suspected to be associated with two separate attacks on African-American men in bars.

Key Moments

In California, the Hammerskin Nation and Crew 38 held two hate music shows, one in April and another, Hammerfest, in October. On July 7, in Pennsylvania, two members of the Keystone United racist skinhead crew allegedly assaulted an African-American man in an Avalon bar. In the early hours of Dec. 8, eight people of various racist skinhead crew affiliations were arrested after police said they attacked a DJ, who is black, and harassed him with racial slurs in an Oregon bar. The New Jersey-based Aryan Strikeforce has been crippled this year by federal drug charges against six of their members, with four members taking plea deals in 2018.

What’s Ahead

Racist skinheads lack relevancy compared to the racist “alt-right” and new, younger neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups who are organizing themselves across diffuse social networking sites and platforms. But the racist skinhead movement is rooted in violence, and that violence will remain dangerous to the public and its perceived enemies. Even more frequently, skinheads will likely turn that violence inward on the movement’s own participants.


At first, the skinheads seemed like just another rebellious youth subculture. But since the 1980s, each decade has brought eruptions of racist skinhead violence splashed across the evening news. Criminal attacks by shaved-head, boot-wearing white youths ranging from vandalism to murder have served to remind minority populations that maybe we haven't made that much progress in social relations. The skinhead "fad" shows no sign of fading. In November 1988, three skinheads in Portland, Ore., beat an Ethiopian student named Mulugeta Seraw to death with baseball bats. In April 1999, a Mexican immigrant named Irineo Soto Aguilar was murdered in Lakeside, Calif., by three skinheads who crushed his skull with chunks of concrete. In October 2007, a skinhead strangled a 62-year-old gay man in Oklahoma City as a rite of passage in his gang.

These stories are now such a consistent part of the American criminal landscape that most large police departments have bias-crime detectives, and many focus on skinheads as part of their gang enforcement strategies. Racist skinheads have also become a regular element in prisons and juvenile corrections facilities. The threat of a skinhead rally can lead whole communities to mobilize in opposition. The U.S. military has had to contend with racist skinheads in its ranks. Hate rock from racist skinhead bands has bled into the flow of rebellious teen music. And skinheads have taken their "boot parties" from the street to the Internet, targeting young people for recruitment into their supposed movement.

2018 racist skinhead hate groups

View all groups by state and by ideology.
*Asterisk denotes headquarters​

AC Skins (Atlantic City, New Jersey)
AC/OC (Statewide, California)
AC/OC (Statewide, Nebraska)
American Front (Statewide, Oregon)
American Front (Statewide, Washington)
American Patriot Brigade (Statewide, Oregon)
American Patriot Brigade (Statewide, Washington)
American Vikings Clothing (Danville, Illinois)
Aryan Skins Kindred (Statewide, Washington)
Be Active Front USA (Chicago, Illinois)
Be Active Front USA (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Be Active Front USA (Statewide, Maryland)
Blood and Honour America Division (Statewide, California)
Blood and Honour Social Club (Statewide, Georgia)
Blood and Honour Social Club (Statewide, Indiana)
Blood and Honour Social Club (Statewide, New York)
Blood and Honour Social Club (Statewide, North Carolina)
Blood and Honour Social Club (Statewide, Ohio)
Blood and Honour Social Club (Statewide, Pennsylvania)
Blood and Honour Social Club (Statewide, Virginia)
Blood and Honour USA (Statewide, North Carolina)
Blood and Honour USA (Statewide, Virginia)
California Skinheads (Statewide, California)
Confederate Hammerskins (Statewide, Florida)
Confederate Hammerskins (Statewide, Georgia)
Confederate Hammerskins (Statewide, North Carolina)
Confederate Hammerskins (Statewide, Tennessee)
Confederate Hammerskins (Statewide, Virginia)
Crew 38 (Statewide, California)
Crew 38 (Statewide, Florida)
Crew 38 (Statewide, Georgia)
Crew 38 (Statewide, Idaho)
Crew 38 (Statewide, New Hampshire)
Crew 38 (Statewide, North Carolina)
Crew 38 (Statewide, Oregon)
Crew 38 (Statewide, Washington)
Eastern Hammerskins (Statewide, New Hampshire)
Firm 22 (Statewide, Florida)
Firm 22 (Statewide, Indiana)
Firm 22 (Statewide, Missouri)
Firm 22 (Statewide, New Hampshire)
Firm 22 (Statewide, New Jersey)
Firm 22 (Statewide, New York)
Firm 22 (Statewide, Ohio)
Firm 22 (Statewide, Washington)
Golden State Skinheads (Northern, California)
Golden State Skinheads (Southern, California)
Keystone State Skinheads (Statewide, Pennsylvania)
Midland Hammerskins (Statewide, Kansas)
Midland Hammerskins (Statewide, Texas)
Northern Hammerskins (Detroit, Michigan)
Northwest Hammerskins (Statewide, Idaho)
Northwest Hammerskins (Statewide, Oregon)
Northwest Hammerskins (Statewide, Washington)
Sacto Skins (Sacramento, California)
United Southern Skins (Statewide, Florida)
Vinlanders Social Club (Statewide, Florida)
Vinlanders Social Club (Statewide, Indiana)
Vinlanders Social Club (Statewide, Minnesota)
Vinlanders Social Club (Statewide, Texas)
Vinlanders Social Club (Statewide, Washington)
Warrior's Pride Clothing (Bakersfield, California)
Western Hammerskins (Statewide, California)

Racist Skinhead Terms

14/88: Common white supremacist code. 14 stands for the "14 words" slogan coined by David Lane, who died in prison while serving a 190-year sentence for his part in the assassination of a Jewish talk show host: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children." 88 means "Heil Hitler," as H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

28: Shorthand for Blood and Honour, a skinhead group

38: Confederate Hammerskins, the southern faction of Hammerskin Nation

Boot Party: Beating a victim to the ground then stomping and kicking him or her with steel-toed boots.

Braces: suspenders

Crew: Skinhead gang or faction

Colors: Marks identifying affiliation; can be tattoos, patches, etc. 

Curbing or curb job: Breaking a victim's jaw or neck by forcing his or her face against a street curb and kicking the back of the victim's head; popularized by the 1998 movie "American History X"

Dr. Martens (aka Doc Martens): Brand of durable boots popular with skinheads. Racist skinheads often lace the boots differently and wear either white or red laces to distinguish themselves from other wearers of the popular footwear.

Homey Sock: Pool ball in a sock wrapped in tape so it doesn't split open when used as a weapon.

Featherwood: Female skinhead

Five words: "I have nothing to say." Skinheads are exhorted to give this standard response to law enforcement and media inquiries. 

Fred Perry: Brand of sport shirts often favored by skinheads. The brand's logo features laurels.

Fresh cut: A newly indoctrinated skinhead whose head has recently been shaved for the first time.

Hammerskins: A nationwide skinhead syndicate, also known as Hammerskin Nation, with regional factions and chapters that once dominated the racist skinhead movement in the United States.

HSN: Hammerskin Nation

HFFH: Hammerskin Forever, Forever Hammerskin

Hang-around: A young person who associates with a skinhead group, but is not yet a probate.

Probate: A "member in waiting" who is on probation with a group before he or she can become a full-fledged member.

RAHOWA: Short for "racial holy war," a slogan that originated with the neo-Nazi Church of the Creator; also the name of a defunct racist band.

Red laces: Bootlace color indicated the wearer has shed blood for the racist skinhead movement. Racist skinheads will often randomly attack non-whites to "earn" their red laces.

Spider web tattoo: Racist skinhead "badge of honor," often worn on the elbow, indicating wearer has committed murder for the skinhead movement.

SHARP: Short for Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, commonly known as SHARP skins, who often battle racist skins.

Skinbyrd: Female skinhead.

Straight-laced: A complex boot-lacing system favored by racist skins who lace their boots in horizontal, straight lines rather than X or cross patterns.

White laces: Bootlace color identifying a skinhead as being "white power," as opposed to non-racist ("traditional") or anti-racist skin.

ZOG: Shorthand for Zionist Occupation (or Occupied) Government," reflecting the neo-Nazi conspiracy theory that the American government is secretly controlled by a powerful Jewish cabal.