Brien James was among the founders of the Vinlanders Social Club in 2003, after being a member of the Outlaw Hammerskins and helping to form the Hoosier State Skinheads. James, who has boasted that his Joint Terrorism Task Force file is “a mile long,” has long been involved in feuds among rival skinhead groups.
Even in the violent world of the racist skinhead subculture, Brien James, one of the co-founders of the Vinlanders Social Club, stood out, albeit for all the wrong reasons. In the opinion of neo-Nazi activist and longtime James antagonist Bill White, the beefy tattoo shop owner from Indiana is "nuts and violent – a joke you want to keep away from you because you know he's going to do so something to bring the cops over."
In 2000, he allegedly punched and stomped a man to the brink of death at a party in Indianapolis for refusing to seig heil. "I have been tried for attempted murder and multiple batteries and hate crimes," James boasted years later. "My JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] file is a mile long."
James began his gang career young, when he and some childhood friends in Knightstown, Ind., formed a gang called the Knightstown Boys. In his late teens, James became involved with the Klan before helping to found the Outlaw Hammerskins in 1999 in the first direct challenge to the authority of Hammerskin Nation.
Online, James used the screen name "Hando2000," an apparent reference to the character Hando, played by Russell Crowe in the 1992 cult film classic "Romper Stomper." In the movie, Hando is the leader of a racist skinhead gang in Australia. Like Hando, James has a reputation for trying to exert total control over whatever skinhead crew he's running with by acting as the "brains" behind the outfit, as well a good portion of the brawn. Invariably, the demands of his huge ego would lead James to eventually split off from his group to form a new gang, with himself as the self-appointed leader.
In 2002, James left the Outlaw Hammerskins to found the Hoosier State Skinheads along with several other skinheads. Then, in 2003, James, Eric Fairburn, Bryon Widner, Nate Sliter and Donald Weirich formed the Vinlanders Social Club, a coalition of regional skinhead crews – including the Hoosier State Skinheads, the Ohio State Skinheads and the Keystone State Skinheads – that did not recognize the authority of Hammerskin Nation. In October of 2005, James helped convene a Blood & Honour coalition of several white supremacist groups in yet another direct challenge to the de facto national leadership of the Hammerskins.
Tensions between the Vinlanders and other neo-Nazi groups exploded in May 2006 at the hate-rock festival known as Nordic Fest at a Klan compound in Dawson Springs, Ky. The violence was sparked by Missouri National Socialist Movement (NSM) member Steven Boswell, who started a speech touting NSM accomplishments by telling his audience that the white supremacist movement could not succeed "by belonging to a social club where all we do is drink and shoot the shit every Saturday night."
James and fellow Vinlanders took the comment personally. They rushed Boswell immediately after his speech and beat him in front of his wife and young daughter. Other NSM members were attacked as well in the melee that ensued. NSM member Gary Robinson described his comrade Austin Ibarra's face as looking "like hamburger covered in boot prints."
In the fall of 2007, James declared a truce with the Hammerskins in a post on the Vinlanders website entitled “The New Era,” proclaiming he was “proud to announce that after nearly a decade of conflict and division, the Vinlanders and the Hammerskin Nation have ... decided to declare peace.”
In the summer of 2011 the Vinlanders held their first-ever white power concert, entitled “Plunder and Pillage,” which drew more than 50 racist skins to Ohio from around the country. Then, at a later concert, James hung out with Richie Myers, head of the Florida faction of the Confederate Hammerskins, a sign that the truce declared four years earlier with the Hammerskins apparently was still in force.