National Alliance member arrested while distributing white supremacist flyers

A long-time white supremacist and National Alliance member, 53-year-old James Mathias of Davenport, Iowa, was arrested on a warrant for a weapons charge on Monday, January 22.

In early August of last year, Davenport residents were shocked to discover white supremacist flyers on their car windshields and posted in a local neighborhood. The flyers imitated missing persons posters, but what they declared missing was “a future for white children,” an echo of the racist neo-Nazi “14 words” catchphrase coined by white nationalist terrorist David Lane. The text on the flyers attributed the message to the National Alliance, once the most prominent and dangerous hate group in the country.

Residents of the Quad Cities region of southeastern Iowa and northwest Illinois, where Davenport is located, responded with a “No Hate” rally later in August that drew more than 1,000 people. But the same racist National Alliance flyers were distributed again in the parking lot of a minor league baseball title game  on Saturday, September 16.

Scott County, Iowa, of which Davenport is the county seat, is 86.2% white, according to the Census Bureau, compared to the country being 76.9 percent white — ostensibly a target-rich environment from the National Alliance’s point of view.

On the evening of Friday, September 22, Davenport police responded to a report of a suspicious man putting white supremacist flyers on cars at Brady Street Stadium, the sports facility for the Davenport School District. According to the criminal complaint, an officer encountered a man at the site distributing the National Alliance flyers. The officer asked for identification, and as the suspect reached for his wallet, the officer “observed a bulge on his right waist line which appeared to be a firearm.” The suspect, James Lee Mathias, confirmed it was a firearm and provided a permit, but was cited for carrying a weapon on school grounds, a Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison, according to Scott County Attorney Michael Walton.

A warrant was issued for Mathias on the charge in October, and Mathias was arrested Monday, January 22; County Attorney Walton said he was unaware of the circumstances leading to Mathias’s apprehension.

Mathias has been a member of the neo-Nazi National Alliance since 2000.

The National Alliance was founded in 1970 by William Pierce, and advocates for the genocide of all non-white races to create an all-white homeland. Pierce is the author of The Turner Diaries, an ultraviolent race war novel that has inspired extremist violence since its publication in 1978, including the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City by Timothy McVeigh in 1995.

The National Alliance was the dominant neo-Nazi hate group in America for nearly 30 years, and in the early 2000s counted 1,400 members. But when its figurehead, Pierce, died unexpectedly in 2002, the National Alliance was plagued by infighting with other racist extremists and incompetent leadership, and the SPLC declared it “almost irrelevant” by 2009.

Still, Mathias maintained his membership through the tumult, and in 2015 was identified in an SPLC exposé revealing the National Alliance’s financial troubles as a major donor to the hate group, who purchased bulk quantities of racist books from its latest chairman, Will Williams.

It’s not clear if Mathias was responsible for the other incidents of racist flyering in the Quad Cities area; Scott County Attorney Walton told Hatewatch, “I’m not aware of what his involvement with that is or what’s suspected.” But as a longtime National Alliance member and supporter, attempts by Mathias to regrow the organizations ranks, estimated at under 100 dues-paying members in 2015, are considerably less than surprising.

Now-chairman Williams, who’s been unsuccessfully trying to resuscitate the National Alliance through tactics like trying to “discreetly cherry pick” members from a Stormfront gathering, seems to be reaching new levels of desperation in the organization’s recruitment efforts. Mathias’s arrest while distributing racist flyers at a high school stadium parking lot only serves to underscore the point.

A National Alliance member reportedly attended a gathering last fall of the sex- and race-scandal-plagued Nationalist Front, an umbrella group of far-right organizations that includes the neo-Confederate League of the South and neo-Nazis in the Traditionalist Worker Party, Vanguard America, and the National Socialist Movement. This could be a further attempt to swell the National Alliance ranks and burnish its soiled reputation among fellow white supremacists (kiddie-porn fan Kevin Strom is apparently still involved, after all), but it speaks just as much to the quality, or lack thereof, of neo-Nazi activist that the Nationalist Front is now attracting.

Comments, suggestions or tips? Send them to HWeditor@splcenter.org and follow us on Twitter @Hatewatch.