Last April, the leaders of dozens of white supremacist groups got together with an age-old idea: unify the unruly and questionable characters that populate the ranks of the white supremacist world under a new banner. What they came up with was the Aryan Nationalist Alliance (ANA).
The ANA was formed in the wake of a rally in Rome, Ga., and included racist skinheads, Klansmen and avowed white nationalist groups, including Matthew Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP). The group’s stated mission was to create an “ethnostate” where “each racial group” could “govern themselves according to their culture and ethnic self interest.” People of color, “Jews and other groups who have light skin … should have their own homes, separate from ours,” ANA said.
With such lofty –– but hardly new –– goals, ANA hoped it could be stronger and more put together than its parts. But maybe that was just to hide the weaknesses of its members.
Josh Steever, who goes by “Hatchet” and founded the racist skinhead Aryan Strikeforce (ASF), is one of ANA's central members. He brings with him to the group a long history of questionable criminality and drama that has earned him a poor reputation in the skinhead community –– a community heavily governed by customs and protocol.
Steever also served time for beating a man with an axe handle in Texas and for threatening to stab two black high school students. Then, while to the outside world it may seem trivial, Steever has taken in members without meeting them in person, a move that violates the deepest protections of skinhead culture.
That reality was not lost on Richard Kidd, president of the Supreme White Alliance (SWA), who posted a photo on Facebook of skinhead Kent McLellan handing over his old ASF patch to Kidd. “Aryan Strikeforce history is being made the first time a strike force patch exchanges hands to another without a mailbox,” the photo caption read.
Chris Barker, the imperial wizard of the North Carolina-based group Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, is also in the alliance. Barker helped testify against Glendon Scott Crawford, a member of the United Northern and Southern Knights who was convicted in federal court of building a radiation weapon in the back of a panel van. Barker recorded his phones calls with Crawford for the FBI, hoping to receive a lesser sentence on a firearms conviction.
The groups in ANA include: the Loyal White Knights; the National Socialist Movement; Aryan Nations; Texas Rebel Knights; the America First Committee (Art Jones); the Racial Nationalist Party of America; SS Action Group; Phineas Priesthood; NSDAP/AO; Pacific Coast Knights; the Racial Volunteer Force; the Great Lakes Knights; Werwolf 88; the Aryan Terror Brigade; the White Nationalist Front (Canada); the Authoritarian Party; White Wolves Invictus; the United Society of Aryan Skinheads - USAS; the Nordic Order Knights; the Traditionalist Workers Party; and White Lives Matter. Some of those groups, including the America First Committee, Authoritarian Party and the Racial Nationalist Party of America, consist of fewer than five people.
But with so many conflicting ideologies –– and tensions already seeming to emerge –– it is hard to say how long the alliance will last. Other attempts at unifying disparate racist groups under a single banner have suffered spectacular failures, or just plain withered before the idea ever gained momentum.
The United Aryan Front, a coalition of racist skinheads and Klan groups formed late last year, appears to have already vanished after only six months. In 2004, hoping to counter a quickly factionalizing white nationalist community after the death of National Alliance founder William Pierce, David Duke drafted the “New Orleans Protocol,” a coalition filled with former Klan leaders and neo-Nazis. Despite longstanding racists signing the agreement, such as Willis Carto, Paul Fromm and Stormfront founder Don Black, little materialized in its wake.
The groups that make up this new alliance, and their figureheads, are small potatoes compared to those who have previously tried to unite. What’s more, if their reputations are not already plagued by dishonesty and their careers peppered with dramatic twists-and-turns, they bring long criminal rap sheets and gutter-mouthed racist rants to a collective that hopes to be the future of racism in America.
Matthew Heimbach’s Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) has been involved in a number of violent skirmishes during its public rallies. In California last month, TWP and the Golden State Skins (GSS) members clashed with antifascist protesters –– a skirmish that left seven people with stab wounds. It was the group’s first major event, and Heimbach was across the country in Ohio. Heimbach now also faces criminal charges after accosting a black protester at a Trump rally earlier this year in Louisville.
Then there’s Karl Hand, 65, chairman of the Racial Nationalist Party of America. He was convicted of aggravated assault in the early 1980s after he fired shots into a black man’s home in New Jersey.
National Socialist National Director Jeff Schoep has perhaps one of the worst reputations in the lot. His credibility among racists was questioned after it was revealed that he married an Arabic woman who had a child with a black man. In 1998, Schoep was charged with burglary after he helped steal $4,000 worth of computer equipment. Schoep pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.
Another ANA partner, the United Society of Aryan Skinheads’ (USAS), was included in an August 2008 “Situational Intelligence” report by the San Diego division of the FBI, which alerted state and local law enforcement agencies to the “significant pattern of criminal violence” of the group.
The Aryan Nationalist Alliance promises unity for the white supremacist movement. But to buy into such a vision requires almost blind ignorance of racist divisions and rivalries the very leaders of the idea embody.