Rose City Antifascists. Aug 17:
Wade Michael Page, The Hammerskin Nation, and Pacific Northwest Neo-Nazis
On the morning of Sunday, August 5, Wade Michael Page arrived at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, WI and opened fire. Page murdered six members of the religious community and wounded three others, including a responding police officer. When Page was wounded by fire from another responding police officer, Page committed suicide with his own gun. Page’s murderous rampage was the worst instance of anti-Sikh violence within the US in recent memory. It is also follows on from other dramatic acts of neo-Nazi violence in recent years. As Rocky Mountain Antifa point out, recent years have seen such acts of extreme-Right violence as the March 2010 shooting (and attempted murder) of Portland anti-racist Luke Querner by still-unidentified neo-Nazi assailant(s); the 2011 attempted bombing of a Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane, Washington by a white supremacist associated with National Alliance; as well as this year’s arrest of several American Front members in Floridapreparing for acts of terrorism in what they viewed as an advancing race war.
Much media coverage has been devoted to Wade Michael Page’s massacre, and the possible motives behind it–which almost certainly flow directly from Page’s white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideology, which Page advocated for until the end. Many news articles have centered on Page’s participation in white supremacist musical subcultures as well as Page’s white power projects End Apathy as well as Definite Hate (which Page joined some time after the original line-up.) Page’s fully-fledged (since late last year) membership and heavy participation within the neo-Nazi Hammerskin Nation has also now come to light. The notes here attempt to supplement such coverage by bringing forward information about the presence of Page’s organization, the Hammerskin Nation, in the Pacific Northwest; to discuss the Oregon-based white power act Intimidation One which Wade Page once filled in as a musician for; and to consider Page’s links to the Portland, Oregon-founded racist organization Volksfront International, links primarily but perhaps not exclusively via Page’s ex-girlfriend Misty Cook. The turbulent relationship between the Hammerskin Nation and Volksfront International–at times allied, at times hostile and feuding–will also be discussed in passing.
The Hammerskin Nation
The Hammerskins were founded in 1987 in Dallas, TX as a confederation of boneheads (racist “skinheads”) in the region. They soon expanded further, eventually with a presence in many locations across the nation, and now also internationally with affiliates in Europe and Australia as well as throughout North America. The far-flung “Hammerskin Nation” is divided into different regional groups, with for example Wade Michael Page belonging to the Northern Hammerskins which represents states in the midwestern US. Known from the start for their violence, Hammerskin members have been involved with fire-bombings against perceived enemies, numerous assaults, as well as murders. Page’s own murderous attack is therefore a dramatic example of, not any deviation from, the way Hammerskins pursue their racist goals. Marcus Faella, the leader of an American Front chapter in Florida arrested earlier this year as his his group prepared for a campaign of terrorism, had also been involved with the Hammerskins during an earlier part of his racist career.
The Hammerskin Nation attempts to portray itself as a select band of race warriors, and does not immediately accept those who seek to join its ranks. Prospective members go through a period in which they are merely “supporters” of the Hammerskins, before becoming accepted as full “patched” members. It may take years for a supporter years to prove their worth to the organization and be accepted as members–this process involve performing various tasks for the “Nation,” possibly including demonstrating a sufficient propensity towards violence. No women are accepted within the Hammerskin Nation. Rather, women, those prospecting for Hammerskin membership, as well as hang-arounds are currently relegated to “Crew 38,” the supporter wing of the Hammerskin Nation. (“38” stands for “CH,” the third and eighth letters of the alphabet, which in turn stand for “Crossed Hammers.”) Wade Page avidly posted on the Crew 38 web forum promoting regional Hammerskin gatherings which he helped to organize, as well as promoting his own white power movement musical projects there. On the Monday following Page’s murders, the Crew 38 forum was abruptly made private and locked-down. At the time of writing this forum appears to be back online with some content publicly viewable.
Elsewhere on the web, the Hammerskins-associated record label Antipathy Records appears to be taking a celebratory approach towards Page’s murders. Whereas the white nationalist Label 56 which stocked releases by Page’s project, released a split 7” vinyl record between Definite Hate and End Apathy, and interviewed Page for its blog and website, has since the murders tried to disassociate itself from Page, Antipathy Records takes an opposite approach, appearing to revel in Wade’s Hammerskin Nation membership and his gruesome acts. The Antipathy Records Facebook page states that “we still proudly carry” the recordings of Definite Hate and End Apathy. It furthermore announced in a separate posting a new special offer following the murders: “For the next month use the coupon code WADEPAGE and get 10% off your order of $25 or more.” Antipathy Records describes itself as “a White Nationalist record and merchandise company” and notes that “We support the HSN” (Hammerskin Nation).
The Hammerskin Nation in the Pacific Northwest
The Hammerskin Nation section in the Northwest USA is the “Northwestern Hammerskins,” whose division represents the Hammerskins in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. The Northwestern Hammerskins appear to have a particularly heavy presence in Idaho as well as Washington State, with its Washington presence concentrated in the Puget Sound region. Some recent photographs of the Northwest Hammerskins are below.
In recent years, the NorthWest Hammerskins have each December held a memorial event on Whidbey Island, Washington for neo-Nazi terrorist Robert Jay Matthews of the The Silent Brotherhood/The Order. The Silent Brotherhood was a white supremacist terrorist group responsible for bank robberies and murder during the 1980s. Robert Matthews died in a confrontation with federal law enforcement on the island on December 8, 1984, and is considered to be a martyr by many within the white supremacist movement.
The Hammerskin Nation has also held its annual national gathering, Hammerfest, in the Pacific Northwest. In 2007, Hammerfest came to Portland, Oregon. While the event was billed as a Hammerskin event, much of the organizing for this festival was actually done by Volksfront International, who had a significantly stronger presence in the Portland metro region (Volksfront were formed within 1994 in the Oregon prison system and have traditionally had one of their strongest bases of support in Portland.) The precursor group to Rose City Antifa disclosed the primary venue for the 2007 Hammerfest outside Portland, and had the festival shut down at that location.
The Hammerskin Nation announced the location of their latest Hammerfest event on Facebook the day before Wade Page’s murders: Hammerfest 2012 is scheduled to take place in Boise, Idaho on October 6 of this year. The event is a twenty-five year anniversary event for the Hammerskin Nation. We hope that anti-racists in the region will organize to oppose this neo-Nazi event.
While Volksfront rather than Hammerskins predominate near Portland at present, some Hammerskins-linked individuals may also be located in the area. Shawn Stover, a tattooist at Convictions Tattoo & Piercing in Vancouver, Washington, is known for doing tattoo work for neo-Nazi activists. Stover’s old Myspace page uses the name “ShawnStover1488,” the “1488” being Nazi code for the “14 words,” a slogan invented by deceased neo-Nazi terrorist David Lane of the Silent Brotherhood (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children”) plus 88 for “HH” or “Heil Hitler.” One of Stover’s social networking profiles includes a photo of Stover posing with Northwestern Hammerskin member Jeremie Kaufman of Idaho. (Kaufman is also active in tattooing, owning Valhallas [sic] Gate Tattoos in Nampa, ID.) Shawn Stover is also friends with other neo-Nazis, such as Christian Coats of Portland/Gresham, Oregon, who has a history of convictions for racially-motivated assault and intimidation. Stover does not appear to be an official Northwestern Hammerskins member or prospect, but the photo certainly seems to express some degree of past or present affinity.
Rose City Antifa is currently interested in receiving information on an individual who goes by the name Corey, lives approximately half an hour outside of Portland, and who posted on the Crew 38 forum as “Creeper38.” This individual, in his early- to mid-20s, currently appears to be prospecting with the Northwestern Hammerskins to become a full member. Posts on the Crew 38 website suggest that Corey/“Creeper38” may have travelled with other Northwestern Hammerskins to a St. Patrick’s Day event on the East Coast this March; the East Coast event was promoted by Wade Page and featured a performance by Page’s group Definite Hate. Please contact our organization if you have any further information about this Hammerskin prospect and his activity regionally.
Among the various white power musical acts Page played with is Intimidation One, which at one point was Oregon’s most well-known bonehead musical act. Intimidation One was founded in 1993 and was based in the Portland/Milwaukie area. The group’s name is adopted from an Oregon hate crime law (Intimidation in the First Degree.) Intimidation One was initially aligned with the Volksfront organization (founded 1994) but later was a Hammerskin Nation-affiliated musical group. An 1998 interview from Intimidation One’s Volksfront-aligned days is here; the band’s website later featured a Hammerskins logo and more closely tied with that organization. Prior to ending entirely, by the end of 2004 a version of Intimidation One again with a transformed line-up was again affiliated with Volksfront; this version lasted for a further couple of years.
Intimidation One played extensively both nationally and also at white power gatherings in Europe. Its discography includes a couple of full-length CDs on white supremacist music labels, a split CD with a racist band from England, and appearances on several compilation releases, including a 2002 benefit CD for racist murderer Ken “Death” Mieske on a Volksfront-affiliated record label. (Mieske along with other white supremacists Kyle Brewster and Steve Strasser beat Ethiopian immigrant Mulugeta Seraw to death in 1988; Mieske died last year while serving his prison sentence.)
Since Wade Michael Page’s murders in Wisconsin, former Intimidation One singer Jason Stevens has been speaking to the media about his former bandmate. Wade Page filled in on bass and guitar for Intimidation One on various shows and tours. According to one interview with Jason Stevens, Wade Page filled in on bass and guitar during a late 1990s European tour by Intimidation One. However, the time period given in that particular account may not be accurate. Another article citing Jason Stevens states that Page and Stevens first met in 2000 during a Hammerskin music festival–this would place Page’s involvement with Intimidation One somewhat later. Page’s own interview on the Label 56 website states that Page travelled after that Hammerfest, eventually ending up in Southern California and playing with racist group Youngland there. It was during the period of 2001-2003 when Page was playing with Youngland, that he also filled in with other groups including Intimidation One, according to the interview with Page. During that same time period, Intimidation One was a Hammerskin musical group but also still maintained extensive links to Volksfront. That Page played with an Oregon band while primarily based out of California is one example of how the white supremacist music scene tends to be deeply connected up and down the West Coast, as well as networked nationally and internationally.
Interviews with Jason Stevens in the aftermath of Page’s murders state that Stevens left the white power movement in 2004. Stevens is also quoted as saying that he “felt sick” upon hearing of Page’s murders. The OC Weekly article linked earlier mentions that Stevens currently plays in a non-racist musical group in the Portland area named The Suppression. However, while Stevens does not appear to be pushing a white supremacist message as aggressively as in his Hammerskin days, this does not mean that Stevens has completely cut ties with racist circles–indeed he remains in contact with many participants in the white power scene, and in his media interviews Stevens admits having talked with Page on the phone as recently as 2010. Steven’s initial reaction on Facebook to Page’s murders states: “So my friend Wade went on a massive killing spree today in Wisconsin. […] wade, if u are in the spirt facebook world reading this shit…I don’t hold what u did against you… I hope your troubled soul finds peace brother…” (Steven’s Facebook profile is under the name Jason Sandeaux.)
The actual story of Stevens’ steps back from white supremacist movement is also missing from media coverage. Stevens’ departure from more active involvement within this movement does indeed date to 2004. At that time, the Intimidation One website read: “Sorry for the inconvenience. We are currently under harassment. Stay tuned…” That same year, Jason Stevens was rumored to have been stabbed by rival boneheads, possibly affiliated with Volksfront. The dispute appears to have been regarding the Intimidation One lineup once then-Volksfront member Dylan Wheeler left Intimidation One and Jason Stevens took the role of lead vocalist. The conflict was likely interlinked with a dispute over record labels, as well as regarding for which racist organization Intimidation One would function as a fundraising and organizational resource. In any case, a different version of Intimidation One without Stevens and again heavily linked to Volksfront rather than the Hammerskins stumbled on for a couple of years, from later in 2004 onwards. In other words: Steven’s withdrawal from the forefront of the white supremacist scene appears to have been linked to bonehead power struggles, not any principled renunciation of racism as Stevens’ recent media appearances misleadingly suggest.
Another ex-member of Intimidation One living locally is Kevin O’Leary. Kevin O’Leary’s older brother, Josh O’Leary, was a Volksfront member active in the original version of Intimidation One. Josh O’Leary died in a car wreck in January 1997. Kevin O’Leary later joined Intimidation One as “Young O’Leary.” At present Kevin O’Leary plays with the Portland/Milwaukie metal group Endless Rage which was founded in 2003. Endless Rage does not have racist lyrics or imagery and projects a more mainstream image. Nevertheless, boneheads and racist hangers-on have occasionally had a presence at Endless Rage shows, which makes sense given O’Leary’s older neo-Nazi association.
In the aftermath of Wade Page’s murders, attention has also been focused on Volksfront International and its links to Page. While media accounts stating that Page was a member of Volksfront may be incorrect, Volksfront’s blog statement emphasizing their distance from Page also appears misleading. Volksfront’s strongly-worded statement calling Page a “coward and disgrace to his people” and stating that the Volksfront organization “publicly reject violence as a political tool and as morally objectionable” contradicts Volksfront’s long history of violence and violent associations. Volksfront has organized support for prisoners of the Order/Silent Brotherhood terrorist group, been linked to the murderers of Mulugeta Seraw, and has engaged in many acts of intimidation and violence against its perceived enemies, ranging from synagogue attacks to the murder of a homeless man in Tacoma, Washington by boneheads there including the leader of a Volksfront probationary chapter.
Volksfront’s statement that it has “no dealings with Wade’s band or the organization he belongs too” is also misleading. At the time of writing, relationships between the Hammerskin Nation and Volksfront are extremely tense, and have been for a number of years–one thread on the Crew 38 forum suggests that Volksfront may have been involved last year in putting pressure on and threatening Portland-area bonehead “Krueger14/88” until he dropped out of his prospecting period with the Hammerskins. However, at several times relations between Volksfront and the Hammerskins have been much better. As has already been mentioned, Intimidation One was at one point linked to both the Hammerskins as well as Volksfront. Whatever may have then happened between those organizations, by 2007 feuding had calmed down enough for Volksfront to collaborate on the hosting of the Hammerfest gathering in Portland, Oregon. Volksfront are therefore dishonestly exaggerating the political and interpersonal distance between their own organization and the Hammerskin Nation as well as Wade Page, inasmuch as they suggest their current animosity has always been that way. (Those interested in more recent Volksfront/Hammerskins conflict may find this blog entry on Slackbastard to be worth reading.)
While Wade Michael Page was a Hammerskin Nation member at the time of his murders, he may have had more extensive dealings with Volksfront at one stage. Pete Simi, an academic who studied Wade Page from 2001-2003 while doing fieldwork on the white supremacist music scene in Southern California, noted in an interview about Page following the murders that Page had “contacts with the National Alliance, Hammerskin Nation, different Klan groups, Volksfront and various other groups” during the 2001-2003 period. Simi’s interview emphasizes a second time that during this period Wade Page was “closely associated” with Volksfront amongst other racist organizations.
Another strong connection between Wade Page and Volksfront comes via Page’s ex-girlfriend, Misty Cook. Cook was a long-term girlfriend of Page’s, the couple breaking up in July of this year. The week following Page’s bloody attack, Cook was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm (that weapon is unrelated to Page’s temple shootings.) Cook, like Page, most recently was affiliated with the Hammerskins rather than Volksfront. However, in Cook’s past she was heavily active in circles around Volksfront. While Volksfront, like the Hammerskins, do not allow women to be full members, Cook still appears to have played a heavy activist role in support of Volksfront while living in the Chicago, IL area a number of years ago. By Volksfront’s own admission, Cook also dated several (now) former Volksfront members prior to her relationship with Wade Page. Rose City Antifa would appreciate any background information on the circumstances that led to Cook parting ways with Volksfront circles from 2008 onwards. By all accounts, the energy which Cook had put into pro-Volksfront activism years before, was transferred to support work for Crew 38 and the Hammerskins later on. Rose City Antifa are also interested in documentation regarding Cook’s past attendance at Volksfront events; one photograph from the collaborative Volksfront-Hammerskins “Hammerfest” of 2007 in Portland, appears as though it may show Cook there, again posing with various Volksfront members.
Wade Page’s extensive white power résumé shows the deep connections between various segments of the white supremacist movement, including those that are at times also in conflict with each other. The violence glorified by the white power music subculture is all too often acted out in the real world by movement participants. Participants in this subculture are networked and organized regionally, nationally, and even internationally. These white power activists present a real danger, and their political movement should be actively opposed on a community basis so as to prevent further tragedies. Rose City Antifa is committed to the fight against neo-Nazi and white supremacist organizing. By discussing the Hammerskin Nation presence regionally, as well as Page’s one-time associates and their circles within the Northwest, we hope to draw attention to movements that, if left unchecked, will inevitably enact further violence and terror. We hope that the information and background provided here is of practical assistance to antifascists in our region. We welcome all further information on this and related topics.
Thanks for this most informative article.