Armed, Extremist 'Hate Groups' Heading for the GOP Convention
July 17, 2016 Ryan Lenz / Southern Poverty Law Center & Keegan Hankes / SPLC
A year of extreme political rhetoric on the campaign trail approaches a milestone as several antigovernment and racist groups have announced plans to attend the Republican National Convention, including some promising to be armed. A recent confrontation between white nationalists and anti-fascist counter-protesters left five hospitalized in Sacramento. The following is a list of groups that have confirmed plans to attend the RNC.
Here Are the Extremist Groups
Planning to Attend the RNC in Cleveland Ryan Lenz /Southern Poverty Law Center
(July 14, 2016) -- A year of extreme political rhetoric on the campaign trail approaches a milestone as several antigovernment and racist groups have announced plans to attend the Republican National Convention, including some promising to be armed.
The following is a list of groups that have confirmed plans to attend the RNC. Absent from the list is the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), the group at the center of a violent confrontation in Sacramento last month between TWP members and anti-fascist protestors. [See story below -- EAW] Matthew Parrott, co-chairman of TWP, told Hatewatch the group will not be attending.
The groups that will be attending include:
Oath Keepers: Founded in 2009, the Oath Keepers have risen to be one of the most influential groups in the antigovernment movement.
Comprised mostly of former military and police personnel, the group is defined by a set of "New World Order" conspiracy theories including fears that the federal government will round up American citizens in prison camps. Its members vow to defy a specific set of orders.
In recent years, the Oath Keepers have inserted members into tense confrontations and moments of civil unrest, most notably in 2014 during Cliven Bundy's standoff with Bureau of Land Management Agents in Bunkerville, Nev. During the riots that gripped Ferguson, Mo., after the death of Michael Brown, Oath Keepers served as a private security force to protect white businesses from looting.
New Black Panther Party: Founded in Dallas, the group portrays itself as a militant, modern-day expression of the black power movement.
Principals of the original Black Panther Party of the 1960s and 1970s -- a militant, but non-racist, left-wing organization -- have rejected the new Panthers as a "black racist hate group" and contested their hijacking of the Panther name and symbol.
The group frequently engages in armed protests of alleged police brutality. In the wake of high-profile videoed police killings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota, the NBPP has said armed members will attend the rally.
"If it is an open state to carry, we will exercise our Second Amendment rights because there are other groups threatening to be there that are threatening to do harm to us," Hashim Nzinga, chairman of the New Black Panther Party, told Reuters.
Westboro Baptist Church: Known for its extreme anti-gay beliefs and the crude signs its members carry at their frequent protests, the group is basically a family-based cult of personality built around its patriarch, Fred Phelps. The group is typified by its slogan, "God Hates Fags." The group is arguably the most obnoxious and rabid hate group in America.
This list will be updated as more information becomes available.
(June 27, 2016) -- Matthew Heimbach's Traditionalist Workers Party was confronted by antifascist organizations during a protest in Sacramento, Calif., that quickly turned violent.
A violent confrontation between members of the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP), members of the Golden State Skins (GSS), and anti-fascist counter-protesters left five hospitalized in Sacramento, Ca., on Sunday.
The conditions of those hospitalized ranged from good to critical according to Karen Finney, a spokeswoman for the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.
The scheduled protest, for which TWP had secured a permit at the state Capitol, immediately turned into a brawl. According to a preannouncement posted on the website of the Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN), the parent organization of TWP, the protest was "against globalization and in defense of the right of free expression."
Heimbach tweeted out photos of TWP and GSS skin members wearing masks and carrying shields emblazoned with racist iconography in advance of the event.
"Some media are reporting that our men targeted minorities in our self defense," wrote a TWP representative on the group's Facebook page. "This is categorically false. The left started the fight and we finished it, defending our right to political expression. We will not be intimidated. We will not back down."
An estimated 30 TWP and GSS protestors were met by nearly 400 counter protestors, according to George Granada, public information officer for the California Highway Patrol's Capital Protection Section. "I don't think there was any verbal exchange, just full on fight," Granada told the Los Angeles Times.
Neither Matthew Heimbach, Chairman of TWP, nor Matt Parrott, Vice Chairman, were present for Sunday's rally. The violence is hardly new for the organization or its leadership though.
Before the event, Heimbach posted images on Twitter reading, "We won't bow down to leftist scum." After the event, he was quoted on Red Ice Radio, a racist online radio broadcast, "They got 1 of ours, but we got 6 of them. 6 Antifa [anti-fascists] on the way to the hospital."
Heimbach was at the center of another controversy as recently as April of this year after he was identified at a Donald Trump rally in Louisville, Ky., pushing and screaming at a black University of Louisville student who was protesting the event. Writing about the incident afterwards, Heimbach stated, "White Americans are getting fed up and they're learning that they must either push back or be pushed down."
Little more than a year earlier, while protesting an annual Slutwalk protest at the University of Indiana, Heimbach, an Orthodox Christian, was photographed using the Orthodox cross as a weapon.
This was only one of several incidents where Heimbach and members of TYN were involved in violent conflicts in Bloomington.
TWP, a relatively new political wing for the larger TYN, bills itself as "America's first political party created by and for working families." The organization's four major tenets are "ethnic consciousness," "traditionalism," "localism," and "ethnopluralism," all purposely obscured, but well-worn, white nationalist talking points in service of the creation of an all-white ethnostate.
TYN was formed in 2013, following Heimbach's graduation from Towson University, where he first formed two other white nationalist student groups: a chapter of Youth for Western Civilization in 2011 and a White Student Union in 2012.
Both organizations stirred controversy on the Towson campus, particularly when Heimbach invited Jared Taylor, a well-known white nationalist who founded American Renaissance, to speak on campus, and when the group chalked messages like "white pride" and "white guilt is over" around the college's campus in the middle of the night.
Taking a big tent approach to organization, Heimbach wasted little time ingratiating himself with as many white supremacists as he could following his graduation.
A mere four months after he graduated, he appeared in a photo with members from both the Aryan Terror Brigade, a racist skinhead group, and the Imperial Klans of America, a Kentucky based Ku Klux Klan organization that was sued by the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2008 for severely beating a Latino teenager at the Meade County Fair in Bradenburg, Ky.
A month later, Heimbach spoke at a rally held by the National Socialist Movement in Kansas City, Mo. He has also repeatedly appeared at and organized events with Keystone United in Pennsylvania.
Following the event, members of the Alt-Right rushed to Heimbach's defense, including Richard Spencer of the white nationalist Radix Journal, who banned Heimbach from the group's most recent gathering.
"I stand in solidarity with those who freely assembled and peacefully expressed themselves today in #Sacramento," Spencer wrote. "#Sacramento reminds us of the kind of people who make up "anti-fascism" and what they are willing to do to silence their enemies."
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