[Editor's note: Although reports have yet to appear widely outside of Colorado area, Denver has recently witnessed a series of apparent hate crimes committed by white "skinheads."
Events began earlier this month, as two young white men led a police SWAT team on a 20-mile freeway chase during rush hour. Then two weeks ago, a police officer was murdered by a young man who killed himself afterward.
Evidence linking either case to an organized group appears circumstantial, at this writing. The man who killed the officer supposedly belonged to the "Denver Skins," but also had been arrested several times, once for ordering his dogs to attack the same officer that he later murdered.
Less ambiguous was the apparently random murder last Tuesday of a West African immigrant waiting at a bus stop. The bald 19-year-old suspect admitted in a television interview that he killed Oumar Dia, 38, because he was black and "didn't belong where he was at." Also shot and paralyzed was a white nurse trying to help the dying man.
"I don't like some blacks," said suspect Nathan Thill. "I guess it's sort of a thing that I love my own people and I'd like to see a place where just we could be."
The White House officials said a civil rights investigation into Dia's death has begun, and that the Justice Department is also scrutinizing Denver skinhead organizations under domestic anti-terrorism laws. On Saturday, President Clinton said these incidents "are painful illustrations of ... why we have to do more to combat acts like this," and appealed for reconciliation. Denver Mayor Wellington Webb took a dramatic stance, vowing at a news conference, "We're not going to give up the streets of Denver." ]
(AR) CHICAGO --
was small and held in a local tavern on
Chicago's Southwest side. The attendees were a mixture of young men in
their early 20's with extremely short haircuts, tattooed "bikers" with
blue jean vests, and what appeared to be middle-aged blue collar workers.
There were also several scantily-clad young women in halter tops and very short shorts. The drink of the day was Old Style Beer and a shot of Jose Cuervo tequila or Jack Daniels whiskey.
Strangely enough, everyone there seemed to be wearing boots ... combat boots, engineer boots, cowboy boots, or workmen's boots, although most were also wearing shorts. The discussion of the day was about race ... and hate ... hate of anyone that wasn't white, Protestant, and "right-thinking."
to law enforcement sources, this meeting is like dozens
of others that go on everyday across America. This small and purposefully
nameless group in Chicago is only a microcosm of the reported 50,000
members of White Supremacist organizations that exist in the United
States. The younger generation of these "white power" advocates like to
refer to themselves as "skinheads," and demonstrate their defiance against
society and the other races by wearing their hair in a buzz-cut or
extremely short hair style.
In recent years, skinheads have reportedly enthused new life into many older and more established groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Brotherhood, and White People's Party. The skinheads have been recruited in large numbers to provide the labor to distribute leaflets, perform menial chores, and provide the "muscle" for confrontations. The impetuousness and fury of youth also provides some motivation for violence that the skinheads seem to so readily relish.
It is this rage that has prompted the deaths of at least 37 people in recent years at the hands of youngsters with guns and Nazi leanings, according to the Antio-Defamation league (ADL). While this may seem a relatively small number, it may only be the "tip of the iceberg" when it comes violent plots being planned or carried out against Jewish, Hispanic, and Black people.
In Denver, after what the Los Angeles Times in Friday editions characterized as "a series of fatal shootings, high-speed chases, running gun battles and death threats involving violent young white supremacists," the murder of a city police officer followed by the suicide of his alleged skinhead assailant and another skinhead ambush of a second police officer Thursday has prompted a citywide "skinhead alert." The sheriff of Jefferson County, which includes Denver, told the Times "We've got a real problem here, no doubt about it. This is really a street war."
The national character of that war was already demonstrable during the early 1990's in the bombing of an Oregon NAACP office and the arrests of several people who plotted to bomb a Los Angeles church and start a "race war."
Arrested in California in an alleged plot to attack the popular First African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) church were Christian G. Nadal, 35, wife Doris Nadal, 41, and Christopher David Fisher, 20. Fisher was also charged with conspiracy to lead a 50-member group called the Fourth Reich Skinheads against the A.M.E. church and well-known black leaders.
Allegedly, the Fourth Reich group had targeted such high-profile blacks as Rodney King, the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, the rap group Public Enemy and others. The purpose in these attacks was reportedly to start "an all-out race war." The suspects were arrested just as they were completing a letter bomb to be sent to a well-known Orange County, Calif., rabbi. Confiscated were weapons, Nazi uniforms and paraphernalia, and explosives.
In what was then
a new wrinkle on skinhead violence, in 1993
police arrested Jonathan Preston Haynes earlier this past week in the
affluent Chicago suburb of Wilmette, Ill., in the murder an Irish-American
plastic surgeon, Martin R. Sullivan, because members of his profession
supposedly provide "Aryan" characteristsics to "non-Aryans." According to
investigators, Haynes had picked Sullivan's name out of a phone book and
made an appointment under an assumed name. Haynes then went to the
doctor's waiting room and waited until Dr. Sullivan called Haynes into a
treatment room, pulled a .38 caliber handgun and shot the prominent
physician to death.
Stranger and more bizarre than the act of assassination itself was the purported motivation behind the killing. According to prosecutors, Haynes condemned "'fake Aryan cosmetics' that allow non-Aryans to look like members of the Master Race." Haynes was quoted by the Chicago Sun-Times as saying, "I condemn bleached blond hair ... I condemn tinted blue eyes ... and I condemn fake Aryan facial surgery."
"Stop feeding off the Aryan beauty like a horde of locusts in a field of wheat," Haynes continued in his public tirade, and concluded by saying "I consider it an honor to give my life to this cause." Haynes is also alleged to have written an open letter to other "white comrades" in which he compares himself to Adolf Hitler and offers to send Nazi artwork to those requesting it.
During the Haynes interrogation, the skinhead reportedly took responsibility for the May 27, 1987 killing of a San Francisco hairdresser named Frank Ringi. Haynes admitted to making an appointment with Ringi and then shooting him at point blank range. His motivation for the Ringi shooting, he said, was similar to that for killing Dr. Sullivan: Ringi specialized in hair bleaching and coloring.
The skinhead phenomena is not limited to the United States. In Germany, a tremendous resurgence of neo-Nazi violence directed against foreigners has prompted the German government to outlaw some groups and take extraordinary measures against those advocating the establishment of the Fourth Reich, a mystical product of Hitler's imagination that promises a 1,000 years of white Aryan rule. But firebombings, arson, beatings, rioting, and shootings seem the order of the day.
Germany's Federal Office of Criminal Investigation, which is charged with monitoring and prosecuting hate crimes, says that 6,336 "racist attacks" occurred during 1992; that is a 160 percent increase over 1991; by 1993, more than 1,339 attacks had already occurred in the first three months of the year.
Turkish nationals increasingly became the target of choice for neo-Nazis in Germany, with five separate attacks coming during a fateful weekend in early June of 1993. Attacks took place in Soest, Hattingen, Konstanz, Hanau and Bad Oldesloe. A week earlier, on May 29, 1993, five Turkish nationals were killed in Solingen by an arson fire that took the lives of the three women and two children.
Federal police said all of the fires were set by members of a right-wing neo-Nazi extremist group. On August 4, 1993, suspected neo-Nazis firebombed a home of a Turkish family in Pulheim; three people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and shock. Swastikas were found painted on the walls of the building by police who are investigating the latest round of rightist violence.
have drawn links between neo-Nazis in Germany
and some groups in the United States. Others have attributed the "Nazi
Skins" to a cultural movement that originated in England in the 1970's.
Many observers say that what had originally begun as a political and
fashion statement has mutated into a far more dangerous and life-threatening movement. Former "punks," motivated by a downturn in the American
economy and increased "civil rights" and quota programs for minorities,
became more violent in their protest against those that they perceived as
the source of their problems.
Certainly, the propaganda and paraphernalia of the Nazi Skins are remnants of a failed era of Nazi glorification. The "roots" of many white supremacist ideologies are founded in a dislike of foreigners and "those of color." The neo-Nazis are also known for their fundamentalist Christian ethnic that declares that black people were created by God "in error," and that Judaism is a religion that advocates economic control and manipulation of politicians, the media, and non-Jews.
More frightening than the fact that the Nazi Skins already exist is the fact that younger and younger members are being drawn to the trappings and ideology of violence that the neo-Nazis offer. Youngsters as young as twelve are reportedly participating in rallys and survivalist meetings, often brought there by their parents who also believe in white supremacist teachings. Reports have been received of very young teenagers being involved in the "stompings" of foreigners by skinhead organizations. And, the violence only seems to escalate.
The atrocities described continue to occur in increasing numbers, and the number of Nazi Skins continues to grow. Groups from Chicago, Portland, Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Billings, Mont., Huntington Beach, Calif., New York, and numerous whites-only prison gangs say they are waiting for the racial holy war that will allow them the opportunity to take with force the land and rights that Adolf Hitler promised them 55 years ago.
In the process, America is only slowly awakening to the prospect of racially-based violence on a large scale.
Albion Monitor November 24, 1997 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor)
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