Hate Groups

Boston Phoenix/December 10, 2004
By David S. Bernstein

The National Socialist Movement (NSM), the second-largest neo-Nazi group in America, has never been able to establish a permanent presence in New England. Yet. It has taken another stab, however, with the launch of a Boston unit on November 5.

NSM is the most openly Nazi-like of the prominent American neo-fascist organizations. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), which monitors hate groups, there are probably between 100 and 200 official members nationwide and an unknown number of "hangers-on" in nearly 40 chapters. Members often wear brownshirt clothing and swastikas, and use paramilitary terms; some engage in weapons training, according to the ADL. They advocate for a "greater America," in which Jews, nonwhites, and homosexuals are denied citizenship. The primary targets of their literature are Jews and immigrants.

The official creation of the Boston chapter, led by local resident John Gray, was spurred by a recent NSM rally in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, which several local people attended.

"Our intent is to get word out ... that whites still control our own destiny, and can still rid our society of parasites and tribal subhumans," says Gray, in an e-mail exchange with the Phoenix.

Gray claims to have almost 100 members in New England and many more supporters, but the ADL believes the chapter currently "is a handful of people," says ADL New England regional director Rob Leikind. The group is so new that it has yet to list anyone on the "race traitors" page of its new Web site (link no longer active). But it is already trying to recruit through various online chat forums.

NSM is not the only new neo-fascist presence: Volksfront, based in Oregon, moved its Eastern regional office to Boston last March. Several members of Volksfront passed out materials (and got into at least one fight) during the Democratic National Convention, along with members of White Revolution, which has a chapter in Haverhill, and the Creativity Movement, which has one in Sterling.

These and other groups may be trying to take advantage of the decline, both nationally and in New England, of dominant neo-Nazi group the National Alliance (NA). NA's founder and leader, William L. Pierce, died in 2002, and membership has dwindled since, Leikind says. Some local NSM members are former NA members who left after Pierce's death, Gray says. Meanwhile, another group that had been making local inroads, World Church of the Creator (precursor of the Creativity Movement), began declining after two members were convicted in 2002 for planning to bomb Jewish and African-American targets in Boston.

"The National Alliance has sustained a presence here [in Boston] over a long period," Leikind says, "but one of the features of this movement is fluidity among the actors." The Boston unit of the National Alliance, headed by Michael Medeiros, has gotten considerably less public attention recently than groups such as White Revolution, which has protested at gay-marriage and pro-Israel events in the area, and has distributed anti-Semitic leaflets in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Gray says his group works closely with White Revolution, the Ku Klux Klan, and other white-nationalist organizations.

Overall, the level of violent activity from these groups remains low in Massachusetts - especially considering the confluence of provocative events such as gay marriages, the DNC, and John Kerry's presidential run. "We watched, and we didn't find any massive movement," Leikind says. And NSM's Boston foray might not do any better than the New Hampshire unit that opened - and closed - this year. "These types of chapters come and go," Leikind says. Or, as Gray puts it: "It's a tough fight up here in Liberal Jew England."

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