The National Socialist Movement (NSM), America’s largest neo-Nazi organization, is promising to bring hundreds of “Patriotic Americans” to Washington, D.C, to protest illegal immigration this Saturday — the 13th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which was carried out by a man influenced by neo-Nazi ideology.
NSM “Commander” Jeff Schoep, who late last year moved his group’s headquarters from Minneapolis to Detroit, writes that his purpose is “to send a message to the crooked Politicians of both the corrupt Democratic and Republican Parties. … We as Americans demand that our Nations Borders [sic] are closed, and that an America First Policy is enacted.” He did not publicly say where and when the march would take place, and NSM apparently has not yet obtained a parade permit.
The rally would only be the latest of scores of anti-immigration events put on by hate groups in recent years. Hate groups’ focus on immigration has helped them recruit and grow, driving a 48% spurt in the number of such groups between 2000 and 2007, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s annual count.
The NSM last year claimed a total of 76 chapters, making it by far the largest such group in the country. But that number may greatly overstate the strength of NSM, which has been sapped by weak leadership, the departure of many key activists toward the end of 2007, and feuds with other racist leaders. It hasn’t helped that Schoep left for Michigan to follow a new girlfriend, leaving his daughter and her mother in Minnesota — not exactly sterling conduct for an “Aryan” parent. That came on top of Schoep’s guilty plea in 1998 to felony aiding and abetting of a burglary. Court records show that Schoep had accompanied his then-girlfriend, the mother of his daughter, as she stole $4,000 worth of computer equipment — all while four of the woman’s children waited in the back of their getaway car.
The NSM began to lose strength in 2006 when Bill White, a Roanoke, Va., chapter leader who was acting as national spokesman, left the group in an internal dispute. In 2007, several other key activists also departed, including Ohio coordinator Mark Martin, Jim Ramm, John Taylor Bowles (who had been the NSM’s 2008 presidential candidate), Chris Drake and Justin Boyer. Martin was especially active and his loss reflected how far the NSM’s fortunes have plummeted recently.
Another indication of Schoep’s troubles came in an April 11 E-mail sent to dozens of white supremacist activists by Matthew T. Roberts, the founder and leader of the Ohio State Hooligans, a racist skinhead crew. Roberts, a huge man on parole for armed robbery, described Schoep as a “coward” and said his NSM was a “laughable” embarrassment to white nationalists in Ohio. He announced that his group was “DECLARING OPEN WAR WITH THE NSM” and promised to target for violence anyone associating with that group. “[W]hen we come, there won’t be any talking,” he wrote. “I along with my crew are willing and ready to go to prison or die over this… . FUCK THE NSM WE NOW OWN YOU!!!!!”
Among those expected to attend Saturday is Hal Turner, a neo-Nazi propagandist from New Jersey who, at least until January, was a paid FBI informant. Earlier this week, Turner issued an unusual plea for funds for his Internet talk show. “With proper funding,” he wrote, “we could muster enough men to surround the White House and take President Bush out at gunpoint to face the War Crimes trial he so richly deserves — or just hang him by the neck until he is dead.” It is just such comments, sometimes attached to the home addresses of his targets, that have caused Turner’s FBI handlers to come in for severe criticism from experts who say that he should never have been allowed to publicly advocate assassinations and violence.
The NSM rally comes on the 13th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, although Schoep did not mention that fact in his announcement. That bombing was carried out mainly by Timothy McVeigh, who modeled the attack that left 168 people dead on one described in The Turner Diaries, a neo-Nazi novel about a future race war. The bombing came on the second anniversary of the end of a standoff with federal agents in Waco, Texas, and was carried out to avenge the deaths of some 80 people there. Since the events in Waco and Oklahoma City, April 19 has become a key date on the calendar of the American radical right.