Laurie Wood previously joined the Justice Clearinghouse to talk about White Nationalists where she unpacked the beliefs, groups, leaders, and tactics used in the movements. Today’s webinar is a continuation of the overview she provided, this time around zeroing in on the boots on the ground front liners, the young warriors immersed in the physical altercations, called shock troops.
Charlottesville is a turning point in our history proving how an outdated belief fueled by hate is still alive with its young recruits. These newbloods are not your robe and hood-wearing Klansmen or skinheads. They are young individuals fresh out of school indoctrinated with a principle grounded in hate. They serve as the soldiers to the generals which are the movements' charismatic leaders.
Laurie acts as the Director for Investigations for the Southern Poverty Law Center and is the speaker for this webinar. With more than 20 years’ experience training, researching, and dealing with radical right, anti-government and racist groups she is our resource person to provide information about the groups, leadership and their strategies.
Some of the areas Laurie discussed in today’s Justice Clearinghouse webinar are:
- What shock troops are and the role they play in leading physical confrontations for the white nationalist movement.
- How shock troops front-lined the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, and other similar succeeding events.
- The rate of growth of the hate groups in the last two years and the activities they do, as well as the beliefs embedded in their language, clothing, etc.
- A definition of what alt-right and white nationalism mean, and the groups that fall under these categories.
- How the Daily Stormer serves as the primary propaganda machine and the launching pad of the Stormer Troll Army that provokes people online by forcing their beliefs.
- The various chapters, aka book clubs, and campaigns launched by the members of the Daily Stormer.
- The umbrella coalition of the Nationalist Front and its member groups.
Information on the various organizations that trained shock troops such as:
- The Traditional Workers Party (TWP) that has been the most visible shock troop in Charlottesville, their participation in riots, and the rise and fall of its leadership.
- Vanguard America (VA) which recruits young ‘preppy' people and is involved in defacing Jewish institutions, flash mobs, and in Charlottesville – running over counter-protesters, killing one.
- The secessionist movement of the League of the South that espouses a master-slave dynamics and the beliefs and activities promoted by its leaders.
- The most terroristic and violent neo-Nazi group of the AtomWaffen Division (AWD) that recruits teens and is involved in flyering, militant and terroristic acts, and has been linked to 5 murders in the span of 8 months.
- The different key leaders of these organizations/movements namely Richard Spencer of the NPI, Andrew Anglin of the Daily Stormer, Matthew Heimbach of TWP, Dillion Hopper and James Alex Fields of VA, Michael Hill and Michael Rolf Tubbs of the League of the South, and Brandon Russell of AWD.
- Poll questions aimed to understand the audience’s level of familiarity and exposure to these groups and their activities.
The Q&A was a chance for Laurie to clarify audience inquiries related to:
- The resources available for everyone via their website through researches, publications, and the Hate Map.
- Information about the New Confederate States of America (CSA II).
- Why the Antifa is not considered as a hate group, despite their involvement in the physical altercations.
- The movement and organizations’ funding source coming from membership dues and sponsors, and the cost of their activities and initiatives.
- Potential flashpoints for such events and the likelihood and anticipation of similar events to transpire.
- Comparing the size of the KKK to the AtomWaffen group.
- Which states have the highest concentration of hate groups and how to get more in-depth information related to this through the SPLC.
- The extent of online trolling and campaigns related to the movement.
- The level of violence of the groups.