About Matthew Heimbach
Following his graduation in the spring of 2013, Towson University’s White Student Union was folded into the Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN), a white nationalist organization that cloaked itself in “traditionalism” that was founded by Heimbach and his father-in-law, Matthew Parrott. TYN later evolved into the Traditionalist Worker Party, where Heimbach began to explicitly embrace more fascistic and national socialist imagery. Heimbach had always been a gadfly within the white power movement. But between 2015 and 2018, he networked across a broader white power movement with a regularity beyond any of the movement’s other recognized leaders. Then, in early 2020, he claimed to have left the white power movement.
In His Own Words:
“The famous Sines v. Kessler lawsuit [has] ground all political organizing .. into the dirt. I guess I was never deposed officially, so I’m still the leader of the Traditionalist Worker Party, I guess!”
– On the “One Struggle Podcast,” months after Heimbach claimed to have left the white nationalist movement, on Sept. 5, 2020
“The Jewish community is working to enslave and displace all of our peoples. This system wants to create a world where they dominate us economically, socially, and demographically.”
– Interview with YNetNews, Nov. 1, 2018
“Exterminationism (sic) toward the Jews is the only way to do it. ‘Cause they will plant a seed anywhere, like in Antarctica if they have to. If we don’t get them all they will come back. Like they have to fucking go, every God damn one of them. The international Jew is the local Jew, I don’t care if he runs a fucking bagel shop, he’s got to go.”
– On “Vandal Void Radio,” a show with Sacco Vandal, Oct. 23, 2017
“Iron March was a big net positive for me, drove me to read [national socialist] books, Siege, and evolve ideologically.”
– On Discord, April 4, 2017
“The political establishment has made an entire generation of young white men and women into fascists, and that’s a beautiful thing!”
– Interview with The New York Times, Dec. 10, 2016
“This is our home and our kith and kin. Borders matter, identity matters, blood matters, libertarians and their capitalism can move to Somalia if they want to live without rules, in the West we must have standards and enforce them. The ‘freedom’ for other races to move freely into white nations is nonexistent. Stay in your own nations, we don’t want you here.”
– “I Hate Freedom,” Traditionalist Youth Network, July 7, 2013
“No longer will the homosexual, Muslim, and black supremacist groups be allowed to hijack our campus. … Youth for Western Civilization is preparing to take our campus back, all we need is the help of people like you to make it happen.”
– Youth for Western Civilization blog, January 2012
Heimbach’s career as a racist organizer began in college. He attended Towson University in Maryland, where he graduated with a degree in history in 2013. As a student, he founded and served as president of a chapter of the white nationalist Youth for Western Civilization (YWC) and, later, the White Student Union (WSU). After his graduation, he became increasingly outspoken about his white nationalist beliefs. He maintained connections to several national organizations espousing similar ideologies – most notably the Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC), the League of the South (LOS), the Sons of Confederate Veterans, and the American Freedom Party (AFP).
In a fundraising letter in fall 2011, Heimbach wrote that the YWC stood for “stopping rampant multiculturalism” and “against illegal immigration.” In early 2012, he issued a report on behalf of his YWC chapter that referred to the end of apartheid in South Africa as “orchestrat[ing] the systematic slaughter of the white community.” Continuing, he wrote, “The worst fears of the so called ‘radicals’ of the white minority that were discounted in the early 1990s now have come true.”
Heimbach planned and executed a series of inflammatory events at Towson while president of the YWC chapter. Foremost among these was the group’s chalking campaign, which included writing messages such as “white pride” and “white guilt is over” on sidewalks around campus in March 2012.
Like others within YWC, including its founder, Kevin DeAnna, Heimbach engaged with the Leadership Institute programs. Founded in 1979, the institute has trained a number of prominent right-wing politicians, including several sitting senators and representatives. As Heimbach told Huffington Post’s Highline in 2016, “They trained the entire next generation of white nationalists.”
After his chapter of the YWC was disbanded in the spring of 2012, Heimbach formed the so-called White Student Union (WSU).
On Oct. 2, 2012, Heimbach invited white nationalist Jared Taylor to speak to the WSU. Taylor is the founder of the white nationalist New Century Foundation and editor of American Renaissance, a prominent white nationalist publication.
In spring 2013, during his last semester at Towson, Heimbach organized a student night patrol to combat what he called a “black crime wave.” Along with three other students, he patrolled the campus with police flashlights and pepper spray. As Heimbach, the “commander” of the WSU, wrote on the group’s blog, “Every single day black predators prey upon the majority white Towson University student body.” Heimbach later told The Baltimore Sun in an interview that “every time the offender is a black male, usually between 18 and 25.”
In the documentary segment produced by VICE News that focused on the WSU’s campus patrols, Heimbach endorsed the creation of a white ethnostate: “We deserve the right to exist, deserve the right to defend our culture, and deserve the right to have a future for our culture.” Heimbach’s statement was a clear nod to the “14 words,” a white nationalist motto coined by the late David Lane, a convicted terrorist who helped assassinate a Jewish talk show host in Denver in 1984.
While a student at Towson, Heimbach spoke at the Harford County Sheriff’s Office for the Route 40 Republican Party Club in Edgewood, Maryland. The vice president of the group at the time was John Stortstrom. In July 2013, Stortstrom was suspended from his job as a mechanical engineer at the U.S. Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Maryland after his ties to Youth for Western Civilization and American Renaissance were exposed.
From Towson’s White Student Union to the Traditionalist Youth Network
On May 22, 2013, at a WSU dinner, Heimbach proposed that the group merge with Matthew Parrott’s Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN), “an organization that will take the message of the WSU [White Student Union] far beyond the confines of Towson.” Heimbach, following graduation, assumed the role of national director for the group.
On June 8, 2013, Heimbach spoke at the racist Council of Conservative Citizens’ annual conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, while wearing a pistol on his hip. Claiming that “Our people haven’t had a voice since 1860,” Heimbach called for secession. “The system can’t be reformed, nor should we try to do so,” he said. “We’ve tried every avenue to try to resolve the [race] issue.” Quoting Theodore Bilbo, a Klan member who was governor of Mississippi in the early 1900s, Heimbach stated, “It’s separation or mongrelization.”He closed with Lane’s “14 words,” which state: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
Heimbach has attended several of the League of the South’s annual gatherings – in Abbeville, South Carolina (2011); Wallsboro, Alabama (2012); and Wetumpka, Alabama. (2013). The neo-Confederate group advocates a second Southern secession, a society dominated by “European Americans,” and a leadership composed of “Anglo-Celtic” elites.
At the 2013 AFP conference, Heimbach spoke alongside Tomislav Sunic, an AFP director; Bill Johnson, the AFP chairman; Mark Weber, director of the Holocaust-denying Institute for Historical Review; Kevin McDonald, then an antisemitic professor at California State University, Long Beach, who has since retired; and Michael “Myers” Sessumes of the Golden State Solidarity movement, later known as the Golden State Skinheads.
In the summer 2013, it became evident that Heimbach was wading into neo-Nazi territory. He spoke at the annual Stormfront gathering in Tennessee, where he sang the praises of neo-Nazi David Duke. This followed a late August interview on Duke’s radio show. In September he participated in a gathering hosted by the violent skinhead group Aryan Terror Brigade and co-hosted by the Imperial Klans of America and the National Socialist Movement. The event included a cross and swastika lighting. A photograph surfaced showing Heimbach standing under a large swastika performing the TYN favorite Avalonian salute, nearly indistinguishable from a sieg-heil, with a group of Klansmen and neo-Nazis.
As a result of Heimbach’s appearance at that gathering, Michael Hill, LOS president, barred him from attending a LOS rally in October and booted him out of the group. However, the ban was only temporary. Soon, Heimbach was reinstated and made LOS’s training director.
By spring 2014, Heimbach and Parrott found themselves embroiled in a new kind of controversy, one that involved their adopted faith, Eastern Orthodox Christianity.
On April 21, seven days after Heimbach was formally received into an Antiochian Orthodox Church near his home in Indiana, images surfaced of Heimbach wielding a wooden Orthodox three-bar cross while bludgeoning an antifascist activist. The event took place during the city’s “Slutwalk,” an annual rally against rape culture. Several days later, on April 29, the parish priest at the church Heimbach and Parrott had been attending issued a formal statement calling upon Heimbach to “cease and desist all activities, both online, in print, and in person, promoting racist and separationist ideologies.” The pair were subsequently excommunicated. Though Parrott and Heimbach stepped down from their posts at TYN, passing the reins to Thomas Buhls, their departure from white power organizing was brief.
Despite being formally sanctioned by the church, Heimbach’s steady activism continued and was highlighted by a presentation at the annual Stormfront Smoky Mountain Summit. The speech contained many familiar white nationalist talking points, such as claims about the purportedly Jewish-controlled U.S. federal government and scathing indictments of affirmative action. Some of Heimbach’s other points, including the idea that America was born of a secret partnership between Freemasons and the Jews, were not received as warmly by onlookers.
Heimbach’s presentation stirred up controversy among some attendees, particularly the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan leader and well-known Christian Identity pastor Thom Robb, who said of Heimbach: “Speakers should be experienced, grounded, mature and employ wisdom, otherwise they will never inspire others or be able to give a vision for others to grasp. … Perhaps Matt will someday, becomes [sic] those things, but until then he needs to humble himself and seek wisdom both of which he, at this time, lacks.”
The following September, Heimbach married his girlfriend, the stepdaughter of Matt Parrott, co-founder of TYN. Despite Heimbach’s excommunication, the two were married at an Orthodox church in Greece. They honeymooned across Europe, where they met with leaders of several far-right political parties including Greece’s violent Golden Dawn neo-Nazi group and the Czech Workers Party – even speaking at a political rally for the latter.
The year 2015 saw an increase in TYN activities including several protests against speaking engagements by Tim Wise, a well-known anti-racism activist, and a demonstration with members of the LOS at a panel centered on Russia at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference.
Around the same time, Heimbach and Parrott also put forward some suggestions on how to live a life grounded in the principles of an ideology they referred to as “Traditionalism.” They did so through a series of articles titled “Becoming a Legionnaire.” Though their vision was not officially affiliated with any particular religious movement, the group’s focus on crafting a white nationalist lifestyle rooted in “Traditionalism” mirrored the self-proclaimed, albeit heretical, Orthodox faith of key members of the group. Heimbach’s relationship with the now-excommunicated Greek Old Calendarist priest Matthew Raphael Johnson – a longtime contributor to The Barnes Review and, later, an occasional guest host on Heimbach’s podcast, “The Daily Traditionalist” – provided additional ideological depth to Heimbach’s vision.
Heimbach and the rise of the Traditionalist Worker Party
But for Heimbach, the merits of any successful white nationalist movement lay in its ability to seize power. To that end, in January 2015, TYN created its own official “political” wing, the Traditionalist Worker Party. Among the first candidates TWP ran in an attempt to gain a foothold in local governments were Tony Hovater, who ran for city council in New Carlisle, Ohio, and Tom Pierce, who ran for county commissioner in Knox County, Tennessee. The group made its first official endorsement in the summer of 2016 backing Rick Tyler, candidate in Tennessee’s third congressional district, who made headlines through his campaign’s “Make American White Again” billboards.
Broadly, Heimbach’s desire to instigate change through political means made part and parcel of the so-called “alternative right” – a term used to refer to a racist ideology with deep ties to paleo-conservatism whose proponents believe that “white identity” is under attack. Like many within the alt-right, Heimbach gave lip service to the idea of peaceful change because, as he told Vegas Tenold in a July 26, 2015, Al Jazeera profile, “We need to use the tools that we have.”
At the same time, Heimbach was quick to blame racist violence on anyone but the movement itself. After Dylann Roof killed nine people at an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, Heimbach referred to him as a “victim.” As he told ABC’s “Nightline” on June 23, 2015, Roof “was a white man born in a society that actively hates him and hates his people, hates his culture and his identity.” He blamed the “left” for pushing “individuals only so long before they react.”
“You cannot step on an individual forever before they decide that they are going to bite back and that’s what we see,” Heimbach continued, referring to Roof.
Throughout 2015, Heimbach and TWP began to shift more toward National Socialist talking points – a trend that continued into 2016 and 2017. A December 2015 blog post by Heimbach, entitled “Learning from Europe: How Our Nationalist Movement Can Enter the 21st Century,” endorsed the notion of “third positionism.” The concept refers to a political movement that rejects both capitalism and communism, while also embracing fascism. The idea, sometimes known as Strasserism, was first put forth by Nazi leader Gregor Strasser. Although Strasser was an early member of the Nazi Party, he was assassinated by fellow Nazis in 1934.
But Heimbach’s efforts to build bridges within a white power movement ridden with infighting through the Aryan Nationalist Alliance (ANA), later renamed the Nationalist Front (NF), formalized this shift. The ANA, founded in July 2015, brought Heimbach and TWP into close cooperation with the National Socialist Movement (NSM) and a number of Klan, skinhead and other white power groups. As Tenold pointed out in his 2018 book, Everything You Love Will Burn: Inside the Rebirth of White Nationalism in America, which lent a great deal of focus to TYN and TWP, Heimbach portrayed himself as instrumental to NSM’s later shift away from overt neo-Nazi imagery.
But rebranding did little to separate Heimbach or the neo-Nazi, Klan and other groups associated with the ANA, and later the NF, from their own violent actions. Heimbach, for his part, was caught on video, alongside two associates, at a Trump rally in Louisville, Kentucky, violently shoving and screaming racial slurs at a black woman, who was there to protest then-candidate Trump. He was summoned to appear in court in Kentucky on June 14, 2017.
About one month later, Heimbach entered an Alford plea, which made it possible for him to accept the consequences of a guilty plea without stating he was guilty of a particular criminal act. He was requested to pay a fine of $145 and attend anger management classes, according to The Guardian.
Heimbach’s coalition approach suffered one of its first major setbacks in summer 2016. Golden State Skins (GSS), a racist skinhead group in California, agreed to hold a joint rally with TWP on June 26, 2016, which Heimbach bailed on at the last moment for an ANA meeting. Though the event went on, TWP and GSS members found themselves embroiled in a violent confrontation with anti-fascist counterprotesters in Sacramento, California, as Heimbach stood safely halfway across the country. Failing to show up for his own TWP-sponsored event, as Hatewatch reported, did not stop Heimbach from fundraising for his “comrades” in GSS almost immediately after the rally. In the end, it was GSS, not TWP, that suffered the consequences of that day. Two members of the group, William Scott Planer, 34, and Nathan Lowry, 28, were arrested on charges related to weapons, vandalism, and fleeing justice some 13 months later, in July 2017. Though the charges were unrelated to the event in Sacramento, the violence undoubtedly resulted in the group earning increased focus from law enforcement.
A few months later, Heimbach’s outreach circuit brought him to Hammerfest, the annual gathering of the ultra-violent racist skinhead group, the Hammerskin Nation, which was held in Georgia that year. One former Hammerskin was severely beaten at the event. According to Tenold’s account of the event in Everything You Love Will Burn, Heimbach’s appeal to the dangers of imperialism and centrality of Bashar al-Assad to their movement did little to rouse the masses of skinheads.
On Nov. 5, 2016, Heimbach traveled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to announce the ANA’s “rebranding” as the National Front. The event featured speakers from Klan groups, the NSM, the American Freedom Party and others.
TWP and the “Alt-Right” sweep into the Trump era
Trump’s electoral win brought a new wave of inspiration and fervor to the white power movement. Heimbach and TWP swept into the Trump era with bold plans and claims about the imminent arrival of their white ethno-state. As he told The New York Times in December 2016, the election cycle was evidence that “political establishment has made an entire generation of young white men and women into fascists.”
In January 2017, Heimbach’s charm offensive brought him to Iron March, a neo-Nazi forum that helped birth the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division (AWD). Heimbach used his brief tenure at the forum to promote events, including TWP’s April 29, 2017, rally in Pikeville, Kentucky, and explain the development of the ANA/NF. On May 22, 2017, he penned an expression of solidarity for “our fallen AW comrades,” referring to the murder of two AWD members, allegedly at the hand of their fellow neo-Nazi, the 18-year-old Devon Arthurs.
Around the same time as the rally in Pikeville, Heimbach cited the neo-Nazi forum as heavily influential on his own thought, writing in TWP’s Discord server on April 24, 2017, that “Iron March has been a big net positive for me, drove me to read [national socialist] books, SIEGE, and evolve ideology.” This same ideological evolution appeared in TWP’s own rhetoric throughout 2017. By fall, the party explicitly described itself as a “revolution … governed by the principles of National Socialism.”
Despite long-running distrust between Heimbach and another alt-right figurehead, National Policy Institute president Richard Spencer, TWP emerged as a core organizer in the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” rally on Aug. 12, 2017. Heimbach and other NF members were promoted as speakers.
Heimbach and TWP organizers prepared for the rally in Discord chats, where they discussed training and preparing for violence. According to a massive archive of TWP- and Charlottesville-affiliated chats made available by the independent media site Unicorn Riot, Heimbach excitedly told TWP members as early as July 23 that the event was “gonna be epic….Our official TWP riot shields arrived.”
Heimbach was one of the key organizers of “Unite the Right,” as well as one of its most prominent speakers. The event drew together numerous white nationalist, neo-Nazi, and neo-Confederate groups from across the country. Its stated purpose was to defend Confederate monuments in the area. A July video featuring Heimbach and posted to TWP’s now-defunct YouTube account promoted the event as a means of standing up to “white genocide” and “the Jewish power structure.” Meanwhile, a flyer on TWP’s website promoting the event encouraged white Americans to perceive efforts to remove Confederate monuments as “an attack on your racial existence.”
On the morning of Aug. 12, 2017, Heimbach led members of TWP to Emancipation Park in order to push down police barriers, according to The Indianapolis Star. As Matt Parrott wrote in his own account of “Unite the Right,” members of TWP and other NF groups worked together to provide “shield walls” for fights breaking out during the rally-turned-riot.
Heimbach praised the event, glossing over the murder of Heather Heyer entirely. “We achieved all our objectives. … We showed that our movement is not just online, but growing physically. We asserted ourselves as the voice of white America. We had zero vehicles damaged, all our people accounted for. … I think we did an incredibly impressive job,” he told The New York Times on Aug. 13, 2017.
“We carried the day,” Heimbach said of the event, on “Nordic Frontier” – a podcast affiliated with the neo-Nazi terrorist group the Nordic Resistance Movement – on Aug. 24, 2017.
Heimbach and TWP were both subsequently named as defendants in Sines v. Kessler – a lawsuit filed by Integrity First for America (IFA) against the organizers of the “Unite the Right” rallies.
In September 2017, Heimbach led a representative of the ultra-nationalist, Orthodox monarchist group the Russian Imperial Movement around Washington, D.C., and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In photos posted on RIM’s VKontakte page on Sept. 26, 2017, Heimbach and Stanislav Shevchuk, a man he identified as RIM’s Western European representative in an interview with ThinkProgress, can be seen posing for photos, including in front of the White House, with a Russian imperial flag in hand. Though Heimbach boosted his meeting with Shevchuk as a major step in “formalizing” cooperation with RIM, the trip seemed to be about as productive as RIM’s own busted attempt to build a World National Conservative Movement in 2015.
On Oct. 28, 2017, Heimbach, TWP, and several NF partners travelled to Shelbyville, Tennessee, for a “White Lives Matter” rally. According to Hatewatch, neo-Nazis and white nationalists were drastically outnumbered by counterprotesters. Heimbach’s own speech was largely drowned out by counterprotesters across the street.
Spurred by the fallout from “Unite the Right,” late 2017 and early 2018 brought botched attempts at outreach, along with plenty of infighting. In early February 2018, Heimbach announced his “National Socialism or Death” college speaking tour, which was scheduled to kick off at the University of Tennessee on Feb. 17, 2017. The name echoed the slogan “Orthodoxy or Death” favored by some ultra-conservative Orthodox Christians, including some of the members of schismatic Orthodox sects in Heimbach’s circle.
On March 5, 2018, Heimbach and other TWP members were spotted outside Richard Spencer’s Michigan State University speech brawling with counterprotesters. Antifascist protesters blocked Heimbach and TWP’s Johan Carollo from entering the building where Spencer’s sparsely attended speech took place.
Heimbach faces charges for a domestic dispute
In the early hours of March 13, 2018, the police in Paoli, Indiana, responded to a domestic dispute call. Police arrived on the scene sometime after 1 a.m., when Parrott called from a nearby Walmart, following a violent domestic confrontation with Heimbach, according to a police report.
The event served as a reminder of the deep, patriarchal roots of the white nationalist and neo-Nazi movement. Here, as Alex DiBranco noted in The Public Eye in winter 2017, in the white nationalist and neo-Nazi movement, “Misogyny thrives alongside, and intertwined with, racism.”
Heimbach himself has engaged in gender-based violence on numerous occasions throughout his career in the white nationalist movement. The act of violence that prompted his excommunication from the Orthodox Church in April 2014 took place at a rally focused on reasserting women’s bodily autonomy. At the same event, the white nationalist counterprotesters joining Heimbach carried signs encouraging women to embrace “traditional” gender roles. In March 2016, Heimbach assaulted a young black woman at a Trump rally. Despite pleading guilty in July 2017, Heimbach decried the charges as “a political motivated prosecution that is totally out of touch with [the] reality of what happened that day,” noted the Guardian at the time.
TWP also pushed rigid gender roles as part of its “Faith, Family, Folk” platform. Others within the party, including Parrott, argued even for the exclusion of women from movement work entirely. Indeed, as Parrott observed in a blog post from April 2015: “Our work is implicitly male at this stage and we can’t afford to waste time trying to make it more comfortable for or inclusive of women.”
As Hatewatch reported at the time, both Parrott and his stepdaughter, Heimbach’s wife, had attempted to catch Heimbach and Parrott’s wife, with whom Heimbach had been having an affair for a couple of months, in the act. When Parrott approached Heimbach about the affair, Heimbach grabbed Parrott and “choked [him] out.” The same report indicates that Heimbach choked Parrott out twice, and then turned on his then-wife, whom the SPLC is declining to name due to privacy concerns. While she was attempting to put her two young children to bed, Heimbach’s then-wife told the police that he “had grabbed her by the cheeks” and pushed her in front of the kids. The officer noted that she “was visibly upset and crying while holding one of her children,” and “Her cheeks were red around the mouth area.”
Heimbach was arrested and placed in a nearby jail.
Though Heimbach posted bond and was released shortly after the incident, the blowback for TWP was swift. Parrott, in a statement to Hatewatch, announced that he was “done” and “out of the game.” (His departure, however, was only temporary, as Parrott has since re-entered the movement.) TWP’s website, which Parrott had overseen for years, went dark almost immediately. Parrott announced on Gab that he destroyed the group’s membership list, noting that “[i]t was a practical security step, and not a political act.”
On May 15, 2018, Heimbach was ordered to serve 38 days in jail for a parole violation. Heimbach had previously evaded a 90-day jail sentence for shoving a protester at a Trump rally in Kentucky in 2016 on the conditions that, according to an AP report from May 15, 2018, “he stayed out of trouble.”
Heimbach served his time over the summer, and on Sept. 18, 2018, signed a guilty plea stemming from the assaults in March of that year. An Indiana judge gave Heimbach a suspended sentence of 287 days in jail, compelled him to pay $446 in court costs and requested he limit contact with his wife to discussions related to divorce proceedings.
Heimbach’s life as an organizer after TWP
Heimbach’s stint in jail did little to keep him out of the movement. Days after signing his guilty plea on Sept. 18, 2018, Heimbach announced that he had signed on as the director of community outreach for the National Socialist Movement.
He made his NSM debut in Little Rock, Arkansas, on Nov. 10, 2018, at an NSM rally held at the state capitol. The next month, Heimbach was summarily booted from NSM. Kynan Dutton, Tennessee’s NSM state leader, described Heimbach as a “betrayer, traitor, and a Communist.”
Heimbach re-emerged in late 2019 with a new venture supporting “political prisoners.” The group was first dubbed the National Socialist Charitable Coalition (NSCC) but has since changed its name to the Global Minority Initiative (GMI). The group lists a number of violent offenders in its registry of prisoners. It also lists several active prisoner support campaigns focused on aiding former members of the Order (Brüder Schweigen), the Base, the World Church of the Creator, and Atomwaffen Division.
On March 3, 2020, GMI announced on Gab that Heimbach had left the group. Less than a month later, Heimbach announced he was no longer involved with the white power movement.