Every year on Dec. 8, white supremacist groups in the U.S. and sometimes in the U.K. and Germany hold “Martyr’s Day” parties to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Robert Matthews, the founder of the infamous – though long defunct – neo-Nazi domestic terrorist organization The Order, also known as the Silent Brotherhood or Bruders Scheweigen.
Matthews died in a shootout with FBI agents on Dec. 8, 1984.
A Martyr’s Day gathering hosted in a Florida rental hall earlier this month by the Confederate Hammerskins (CHS), a regional division of the Hammerskin Nation, was typical in many respects: it drew 100-150 skinheads who drank a lot of cheap beer and slam-danced to live hate rock bands.
But this Martyr’s Day party was more noteworthy than usual for two reasons.
First of all, it was co-sponsored by the American Front, a resurgent national skinhead syndicate modeled after Britain’s National Front, along with Volksfront, a Portland, Ore., skinhead gang. This marked a high level of cooperation between the three skinhead groups.
Even more remarkable, however, was the keynote speaker: Richard Kemp, the youngest member of The Order, who called in from the Federal Correctional Institute in Sheridan, Ore., to deliver his “Martyr’s Day Address,” amplified through loudspeakers.
“Let each of us be so inspired by the devotion of our fallen comrades that we lift their standards as we march into the future,” Kemp said.
The members of The Order demonstrated their “devotion” in the early 1980s by robbing armored cars and assassinating Jewish radio host Alan Berg, along with committing other serious crimes.
“Some of you here tonight were the children of which David Lane spoke when he coined the 14 words,” Kemp said, referencing the “14 words,” a white nationalist catchphrase coined by David Lane, a founding member of The Order who died in May.
“You were the promise of a future upon which we all fixed our star,” Kemp continued. “It was for you that great men struggled, sacrificed, and were felled by the enormity of their task. On this night we remember these champions and raise a [drinking] horn in their honor.”
Kemp, 46, has served 24 years of a 60-year sentence for armed robbery, conspiracy and racketeering. After spending more than half his life in prison, he’s scheduled to be paroled early next year.
American Front leader David Lynch is leading a fundraising drive to “help Richard Kemp get on his feet when he is freed from the walls of our enemies.”
All proceeds of the CHS party went to a “Prisoner of War” fund, according to promotional flyers.
“The phone call from Richard Kemp made us feel like the earth was moving under foot,” a CHS member gushed the next day on the racist website Stormfront. “You could have heard a pin drop (which is a lot to say when over a hundred skinheads are in one room). When we all saluted and yelled “Hail Robert Matthews, Hail the Order,” he [Kemp] asked if we were in a football stadium…I think most of us must have shed tears.”