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CHAPTER 20—AMERIKKKA FOR ME

I settled into married life effortlessly. I was bringing in a steady salary, working full-time at the pizza place. And Lisa had begun working part-time at a furniture store in town. With some semblance of financial stability, and because we figured having my mother close to help with the baby might be nice, Lisa and I rented the smaller of the second-floor apartments in my parents’ two-story building. With the money from the wedding, we’d also begun talking about buying our own place somewhere. We now had enough for a down payment. I loved Lisa. She loved me. Both of us loved the baby growing inside of her. Like all couples in love for the first time, we believed our bond was stronger and more special than anything anyone had ever known. Our time together was special. We rarely argued, and everything we did was new and exciting. To prove our unity, she let me give her a tattoo. By now tattoos covered my arms and legs, chest and back, and it was only fitting she had one too. Her trust that I would do a good job, that she would be safe, was absolute. As a way to make a few extra bucks, I’d given my friends dozens of tattoos in the past couple of years. I’d done the


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first few using a homemade tattoo machine I created using a little motor from Buddy’s remotecontrol car. I used a guitar string and a hollow plastic pen tube for a needle contraption and bottles of colored India ink for the pigment. I saved my tips and eventually ordered a real tattoo kit from the back of a biker magazine for two hundred bucks. I’d been a decent artist growing up, honing my drawing skills in my grandparents’ coat closet, and now underage friends came to me for their ink. Most of the tattoos were racist, naturally, although my Irish Beverly friends were partial to shamrocks and Celtic crosses. Lisa opted for a small outline of a daisy on her ankle. Along with our wedded bliss came my commitment to support my family. The Rock-O-Rama deal had proven to be a bust, with the label refusing to pay sales royalties to any of the bands it signed—besides Skrewdriver. And working in a pizza place may feed the deserving hardworking white masses, but it sure wasn’t going to allow me to earn enough money to care for my family in the style in which I wanted us to live. It was time to look for a real job. I eventually found work on a road construction crew, with a company making and distributing road barricades and doing traffic control—setting highway lane closures, detours in construction zones, that kind of stuff. When I started the job, I made a little over four bucks an hour, but with overtime, I knew I could make more than minimum wage. The job suited me. I had the physical strength to do it, and what could be nobler, better to prove myself as a hardworking white man than joining the working-class stiffs doing manual labor? After about six months of assembling road construction signs and traffic barricades in a warehouse and loading them on trucks, one of the foremen noticed I was a hard worker, so he let me go out on the road to assist one of the drivers with setting lane closures. I’d pull the flashing


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traffic horses off the truck and set them in place to detour traffic. I did this well, too, and before long my boss made me the permanent road assistant for a shift supervisor on a long-term highway resurfacing project in the city. This meant putting in long days, but I didn’t complain. Even though I’d become increasingly distant from the Chicago skins since I found out Lisa was pregnant, I knew the job would allow me to lead by example, even if it meant sacrificing time with the group. My crew meant almost everything to me, but not at the expense of my new wife and our family-to-be. At first I struggled with the separation from my gang, as my leadership role had become my identity and the movement my family. But I justified it knowing I was doing something far nobler for our cause—being a productive white man. My role in the movement had begun to change over the last year and I couldn’t stop it from happening. What had meant everything to me for the last five years was competing with what had given me renewed life, my family. But I was convinced the two could somehow continue to live simultaneously in harmony. As a skinhead, I knew that no job was too menial when it came to supporting my wife and child. I would have believed this even if I wasn’t a skinhead, but I might not have taken as much pride in being a blue-collar worker. I knew I had the intelligence to do more than labor, but being a skinhead made it easy to be satisfied with a job that was physically demanding and offered no real reward other than bringing home a decent paycheck to support my family. So I buried my growing desire to work for myself, to be an entrepreneur like my parents. I stilled the voice inside me that wanted to put my imagination and talents to work, telling myself I had bigger responsibilities now and couldn’t risk our wellbeing by pursuing interests that might not put Top Ramen noodles in a pot.


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I threw myself wholeheartedly into my road construction job, being a model to other skins—doing my work with pride and honor, and this dedication caught the attention of my manager. Within a year of starting my construction job, I became a driver, had my own truck, and was entrusted to manage an overnight road shift of my own. In six short months I’d labored my way from a little over four dollars an hour to almost fifteen dollars an hour. While I didn’t advertise my skinhead activities on the job, I didn’t hide them either. My work boots were Doc Martens, my tattoos clearly visible on my arms. But I worked hard and I was white—two factors that were readily apparent on a construction crew dominated by lesserpaid, unskilled minorities. I toiled away daily with every intention of proving to my bosses that I was more worthy of the work than my counterparts. Coincidentally, I wasn’t the only racist around. Chuck Johansson—a rotund, older gentleman with a salt-and-pepper handlebar mustache—had worked for the company for thirty years and made no secret of his long-standing membership in the American Nazi Party. He sat in the warehouse break room openly reading racist literature and wore white power T-shirts under his overalls, but he never started any trouble at work even though his tenure with the company was bulletproof. We hit it off immediately. He gave me stacks of new books to read, which I devoured during work breaks, even though I knew most of the content already. ### Whenever I could spare the time off from work and Lisa was busy with her job, I still traveled to rallies out-of-state and spoke vehemently against our non-white and Jewish enemies. Lisa wanted none of my racist rantings, nor did I want her or the child we would have to be any part of the hostility that surged through the gatherings. It was unthinkable that hate could be any part of our world. Instinctively, I didn’t want the dirtiness of the movement to destroy our family


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purity. I would wade neck-deep through that mire on my own and carry them on my shoulders so they could benefit from my sacrifice. I continued to spread my vitriol with a vengeance. While I gave my wife puppy dog eyes full of love and put my head to her stomach and whispered lullabies to our child and the two of us giggled when he kicked so hard we could see her stomach move, I was still a committed racist intent on doing damage to anyone unlike us. In September of 1992, two months before our child was born, I headed to Pulaski, Tennessee, to attend the Aryan Unity March, a Klan rally held by the Fraternal Order White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. The location was significant—the original KKK had been founded in Pulaski on Christmas Eve in 1865. This wasn’t my first Klan rally. But it was a rare opportunity for me to spend time with many of the skinheads and fellow white power associates I’d known and been corresponding with from around North America. I drove to Pulaski alone. No one from Chicago had the backbone to go with me. They wouldn’t leave the comfort of their homes to get away for a weekend of white solidarity. I began to doubt my crew’s loyalty. If they truly believed the future of the white race was in jeopardy, it was their responsibility, their duty, to pick up and go. They could lie to their parents or girlfriends or wives or bosses or whoever they were afraid of to take care of important movement business. If they were intent on being cowards, then I’d represent Blue Island, the birthplace of the American neo-Nazi skinhead movement, at the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan by myself. Together, we were the front-line fighters of the coming revolution, and there was no way in hell I would stay home and be complacent. ###


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The day of the rally was hot. Sticky. The smell of steamy asphalt and thick musty air hung like the hordes of law enforcement officers that lingered on rooftops. Sweat gathered on my forehead and at the base of my neck. I wore a “Rest In Peace Robert Jay Mathews” T-shirt to show my respect for one of my fallen heroes. Mathews had been the leader of The Order, a covert white nationalist militant group—inspired by The Turner Diaries—that successfully staged armored car heists and counterfeited money to fund the white revolution. Federal government bastards had taken his valiant life on Whidbey Island, Washington, in 1984. Trapped and burned him alive. They’d murdered Mathews for his beliefs. Spawned a martyr. The government who’d taken his life was the enemy and here they were, all over these Tennessee country roads. Watching. Waiting for us. But we would outnumber them. We would demonstrate our unity and make our voices heard. We didn’t care if they tried to stop us. We were going to stand on the city hall steps and proclaim our faith whether they wanted us to or not. We were here to show the world what white power meant. Gathered from all corners of North America here in bumblefuck Pulaski, Tennessee. I was dressed for combat. My fourteen-eyelet black Doc Martens shone deep and slick. My jeans were rolled up so the blood that was sure to flow through the streets would not stain them. My head was shaved to a close crop, and I took the thin black braces off my shoulders. They hung at my sides, a statement to my enemies that I was ready to fight and defend my race with my sweaty, balled-up fists. The boots were heavy on my feet and sweat rolled down my back. The humidity was dangerous, and so was the tension in the air. Feds were not-so-subtly stationed all over the streets, taking our photos with cameras bearing lenses as long as their arms. Hundreds of skinheads, people dressed in Klan robes and Nazi regalia, and racists of a more


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general ilk congregated at the designated staging area. Men with bullhorns barked orders for us to come together and shouted motivational white power cheers, which were followed by arbitrary stiff-armed salutes. There were men and women. Children. Hugs and embraces from folks who only saw each other a few times a year, but were kindred spirits in a vast family. The air was thick with banners. Confederate flags, Nazi battle flags, hand-painted placards with sayings like “God Hates Niggers,” “Join The KKK,” and “Save The White Race. Unite!” The attacks of September 11th, 2001, hadn’t happened yet, but the American white power movement was in full swing, and people were paranoid about every move we made. We were the most dangerous extremists within our borders, as far as mainstream America was concerned. And we were ready for action. Eager for battle. Some of us had makeshift wooden shields with swastikas painted on them. Some had God’s cross. There were militiamen in camouflage with riot helmets and Nazi armbands. The Klan leader, the Grand Dragon of the Fraternal Order of White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, was there along with several dozen different Klan factions from across the United States, all of which fell loosely under the purview of the Knights of the KKK. Despite my enthusiasm for action, I couldn’t help but notice all these organizations had different leaders. The groups were splintered and independent by design. Within the movement, we’d started to teach the concept of leaderless resistance, the idea that small independent cells of activists could inflict much more damage to the system and stay invisible if they weren’t connected to a larger group. Lone wolves. But this gathering was the antithesis of that. These groups were assembled and driven by greed. Too many clusters, too many leaders, too many loose ends and confusion. The rally was a disorganized jumble of people brimming with hate,


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sweating it from every pore. Barking orders over each other in spite of the goal to come together. There was no way of knowing who was in charge. Was it the Klansmen or the skinheads? The two groups didn’t even look like we belonged together. Skinheads were militant, natural storm troopers, like Hitler’s SS. These redneck Klansmen in their white robes spoke of God and the Bible. This was the precipice of war, not a pulpit. And they looked pathetic, downright silly, wearing sheets that looked like dresses and those stupid pointy hats on top of their heads. It may have looked intimidating to people a century and a half ago. But now they looked like clowns. No way anybody could come off as tough, wearing an outfit like that. Who would take you seriously if you looked like a buffoon? But I got a grip on my judgmental attitude. Despite the chaos, we were all here to fight for the future of our people. I spotted friends. The guys from Bound For Glory were there, as were some skinhead pals from Toronto and Dallas and Pennsylvania. We rushed toward each other, exchanged bear hugs, and felt comfort in each other’s presence. “These Klan guys look ridiculous,” I said. “Tell me about it,” one of my Canadian friends replied. “Whose brilliant idea was this? It’s not like skinheads and the Klan have a good history with each other.” True enough. They thought we were thugs, and we pegged them as dumb hillbillies. We were prepared for war and all they could do was recite bastardized Bible passages to prove their claim that God hated fags. “We have to put our differences aside,” I said. “It doesn’t matter right now. Today we show the world our unity.” Everybody agreed, and off we marched through the streets of this backwoods town. We responded to chants led by the Grand Dragon of the local Klan chapter:


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“What do we want?” “White power!” “When do we want it?” “Right now!” Rebel flags and Nazi swastikas waved furiously in the air. As we turned the corner of our gathering place, nervous energy crackled around us. A wall of thick, humid air pounded us in the face like the pressure from a blast furnace. So did the chants and protests from hundreds of people who had gathered to oppose us. Black and white. Old and young. Male and female. United by their commitment to stop us from marching. They were clamoring for us, only held back by a thin blue line of Pulaski policeman and Tennessee state troopers. We hated these cops, these ZOG marionettes. It wouldn’t take much for one of them to “accidentally” let a protester through to attack us. How’s that for quintessential irony? The very people we despised and distrusted were there protecting our civil liberties. The mob of counter-demonstrators grew by the second. They were loud. Far louder than us, and we had a bullhorn. Our mighty flags unfurled and our white power chants grew to meet their opposition. They held up peace fingers, and we flipped them off, taunting them with racist epithets and a barrage of “die, race traitor” and “faggot cocksucker” obscenities. Several of the skinheads engaged with groups of rowdy protesters that were more intent on confrontation than others. They carried peace signs. We carried the weight of the world. They were wrong.


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How could they be so gullible to think peace and love could be achieved with the muds burning down our cities and the Jews controlling our government, the media, destroying our lives? Not a chance. More than anything we wanted a white society. Didn’t we? And then it dawned on me: I missed Lisa more than anything. More than I wanted a white homeland. For a brief moment I became lost in love and I didn’t care if the blacks and Jews still existed or were rounded up and killed like the rest of my comrades wanted. I’d probably even be satisfied if whites just peacefully lived separately from other races. We could have our own territory. Maybe we could inhabit the Pacific Northwest and isolate ourselves like my hero Bob Mathews prophesized. Let the others keep their inner cities. But what would it really matter if some blacks and gays lived around us? I wasn’t gay and knew I wouldn’t magically become gay. From my experience, gays seemed pretty clean and kept mostly to themselves. They didn’t bother me much. As for blacks, the ones I knew from school didn’t want to be around whites. Most of them were as racist as we were. Jews? I’d never actually met one. To me, it seemed like they numbered in the hundreds and a powerful few secretly sat in rooms, rubbing their greedy Zionist hands, trying to figure out how to play a perverse game of chess where we were their pawns. What match were they for us anyway? And goddamn, I hated the Klan. Why would I want to live with them as my neighbors? They were white trash. Straight up unintelligent Southern rednecks that couldn’t string together a sentence without the words “dumb ass nigger” in it. The thoughts and words from the last five


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years of my life suddenly tasted foul. Why was I here and not at home with my pregnant wife who I adored? With my ear against her belly, taking in every beat of our unborn child’s heart? I suddenly felt guilty and out of sorts. I didn’t respect these people, the Klansmen, the racist clergyman wearing a priest’s collar around his neck and a KKK patch over his heart, the mother carrying her infant baby with a tiny Klan hood on, the inbred hick with missing teeth and a beer-stained “Niggers Suck” T-shirt. But there were skinheads here, too. Brothers. And sisters. I related to them. They came from neighborhoods like I did. Urban jungles, not Southern swamps. They knew what this struggle was about. It was about…well…I didn’t really feel certain anymore. It was about pride, I guess. Being proud of our white culture and standing up against those who wanted to take that away from us. That’s not hate, that’s love. Right? Doubt rushed in and my thoughts drifted back to my earliest memory of holding Lisa in my arms, her pleading eyes searching deep inside me for my truth. “Why do you have so much hate inside of you?” she’d questioned. “You are so caring and gentle. Which one is the real you?” Suddenly I wasn’t so sure. But one thing I was damn sure about was that when I was pushed, I pushed back. We marched onto the steps of the city hall in small-town, humid, hot-as-hell Pulaski, Tennessee. Klan leaders proclaimed this was once again the birthplace of a white revolution. Niggers, queers, and Jews were the enemy. Yeah, yeah, we all knew that—niggers were raping our women and forcing drugs on our youth. It didn’t happen in my town, but maybe it was more prevalent in theirs. Jews controlled our lives and queers destroyed white propagation, or so we believed—who really cared? But


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maybe the crowd didn’t know it. We could change them. Yeah, right. Here are these peace-loving protesters gathered by the hundreds, waving peace flags and holding hands singing folk songs, and we instilled so much hate and revulsion in their soft hearts that they resorted to ripping up chunks of concrete from the sidewalk to violently pelt us with. What was wrong with this picture? We inspired so much animosity in those who believed in only peace that they were trying to hurt us with violence. Confusion overwhelmed me and I felt as if someone had landed a solid blow to my solar plexus. Along with my breath, my commitment was knocked out of me for the first time, and for a brief moment I clearly saw there was a serious problem with my reality. My head spun in all directions and I began to feel sick to my stomach. The Nazi salutes had tired my arm and the cries for white power had strained my voice. I was weak from a day of heat and hate. We’d barely made it out alive. When the march came to an end and my comrades were celebrating by getting hammered with booze, I was hit by the disturbing thought that maybe the whole thing was simply an endless cycle of excuses to fight and drink and commiserate. To belong to an exclusive club of other people more fucked up than you. How superficial could it get? I left breathless and disillusioned with what I had been doing with passion for the last five years. But I couldn’t let myself give up. Not yet. I had to make sense of it all. Maybe the problem wasn’t with the principles, our beliefs. Maybe it had been that rally. With the Klan. We still needed to set the world straight.


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And I needed to get home to Lisa and our unborn child. Between work and my lingering responsibilities to the skinhead movement, we hadn’t been spending enough time together. I vowed to change that. If there was one thing I was sure of, it was that our family was what mattered. I’d already more or less given up on music, even though Rock-O-Rama had offered Final Solution a follow-up recording contract after we played in Germany. After finding out how shady the label was, we had no problem walking away from the deal and putting a record out under our own vanity record label, Viking Sounds. Not long after, the band broke up. Final Solution didn’t have the same spark, didn’t fill me with the same spirit as White American Youth had. Weimar had been a high point, but in reality, being able to keep the band at the top of my growing list of priorities diminished. My mind was elsewhere. My heart belonged to my wife and our child. And it showed in the substandard recording we released. The album sold a few thousand copies and flopped. I hadn’t had the time or the energy it took to keep it together. Now it was time to cut down on rallies and other distractions as well. I’d have to find another way to promote my pro-white agenda. I didn’t know what shape that would take, but I was in way too deep to climb out. Even if I wanted to. This life was all I’d known through every single one of my formative years. Who would I be otherwise? This was my identity. Where would I go? This was my family. ### I returned home ready to try harder than ever to prove my worth as a man. I threw myself wholeheartedly into my construction job. The hours were long, the work at times grueling and other times mind-numbingly boring, but we needed the money. Aside from the wedding money we’d earmarked to buy a home, we were broke and expecting a child in two months.


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We lived on forty-nine-cent packages of oriental noodles and macaroni and cheese. I had no health insurance, so Lisa was on public aid for her prenatal care. I didn’t let myself dwell on the fact that I was dependent on taxpayers’ money to bring my child safely into the world, something I had ripped into blacks about hundreds of times over the last few years. I did far more than my share of work. Putting in sixteen-hour days was normal. Sometimes I worked even more hours than that. In fact, the night Lisa went into labor, I’d just come off an eighteen-hour shift. I was dead to the world when her contractions began at home. Lisa’s mom cared for her through her labor pains while I napped until it was time to go to the hospital. I was far too worn-out to be the overanxious dad on the way to the hospital, but I came alive when I got into the delivery room. I watched Lisa’s every expression intently. I hadn’t been able to go to birthing classes with her because of my hectic work schedule, but I was confident I’d be able to do my part during the delivery. Labor was long, and every hour on the hour ancient nuns came on the hospital’s loudspeaker to read verses from the Gospel of John. It drove us nuts, but being on public assistance had not put us in a bargaining position, and this was the hospital we’d been assigned to by the welfare agency. After an eternity or two, our son Devin was born. I have one word for the experience. If you’ve had kids, you’ll know what it means. If you don’t, you will the moment your own child is born. Magic. I held that tiny, helpless, beautiful, flawless infant, not much bigger than my own two worn and battered hands—hands that had been curled into vengeful fists since I was a child myself— and I promised him I would be the best father in the world, no matter what it took.


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Lisa squeezed my hand and saw in my eyes that my hard outer shell had begun to crack. Caressed by the soft, gentle breath of our fragile son in my strong, tattooed arms, I was carried away momentarily from the uncertain reality of being a nineteen-year-old father shouldering the vestiges of a fraying cause. My child’s sweet, precious scent filled my lungs. I inhaled deeply and felt it permeate my soul. My son’s life was in my hands, both literally and figuratively, and never had I been charged with a greater purpose. For the first time in my adult life, I broke down and wept.


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CHAPTER 21—FINAL SOLUTION

The birth of our son changed my life. Hardly an original statement. I know a child’s birth has that effect on millions and millions of parents every year in every corner of the globe. The world stands still, everything else fades into the background, and time stops the first time you gently hold your newborn. So pure, so untainted, so absolutely unsullied by any of the world’s influence. Babies know nothing of differences. The color of someone’s skin is meaningless to them. They have no concern for someone else’s beliefs. Not money or power, creed or sexual preference matters one little bit to an infant. Not only don’t these innocents care what someone’s pay grade or position is in the world, they don’t even understand the concept that those non-essential things exist. Education level, financial success, owning a home, a luxury car, having stock options, are completely without meaning. All the worldly trappings mean absolutely nothing to a newborn. The only thing that matters to a baby is love, and they cry until they are embraced by it. My son opened his eyes and looked into mine, and I saw nothing but complete and beautiful innocence. A love purer than I imagined possible pulsated through me, pulling me into a world


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of splendor I had long since abandoned, claiming me with a power and responsibility greater than anything I’d ever experienced. And in that moment, the animosity I had felt toward strangers for half a decade was so inconsequential it was not even a minor thought in my head, a germ of an emotion in my heart. Love blocked out all the venomous anger and prejudice I’d been living with for the previous five years—all but one of my teenage years. If I could have held on to that sense of clarity, if I could have honored it in my every act and deed from that moment on, tragedy may well have been prevented. But I was young and careless. Unenlightened in ways that horrify me still. Instead of respecting the power of love my son had brought into my life, my signals got crossed, and I convinced myself more than ever that I had to make the world safe for my child by protecting him from the dangers I believed existed. Blacks. Jews. Gays. Anybody who wasn’t white, who didn’t contribute to my family’s wellbeing. Anything that came from a culture I refused to understand. I saw threats to my family’s safety everywhere. My mission to protect the white race and ensure a safe future for my child became even more critical. So, too, did the need to provide for my family. Lisa and I decided it was time to buy our own home. We found a modest, three-bedroom duplex that suited us, used the money we’d received from our wedding as a down payment, and moved in shortly after Devin was born. That’s what it was all about, right? A family. A house. A job. A future. My parents said they were proud of me. Finally. Here was their nineteen-year-old son with a good job, his own home, and a family. What a good boy. My grandparents were pleased with me,


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too. Only nine-year-old Buddy wasn’t happy. “You hardly ever do anything with me when you live in the same building,” he cried. “Now I’ll never see you.” “Sure you will,” I said. “I’ll be over here all the time to visit with the baby.” He pushed me away and thumped his little fist down on the kitchen table. I’d never seen him upset like this. “You just love the baby. You don’t love me anymore.” My heart tore with those words. “Buddy,” I pleaded. “How can you say that? Of course I love you.” He ran to his bedroom crying and slammed the door so hard that a framed picture of the gondolas of Venice hanging in the hallway fell to the floor and shattered into a million pieces. It might as well have been my soul. “Buddy?” I knocked gently. “Buddy, please open up.” No answer. “I love you.” “Go away! Leave me alone.” I’d heard that before, but it had been from my own lips. I’d watched my shy and innocent little brother grow up from a distance. And only now had he become visible to me through the murky glimpses of my own selfish determination. But Buddy was no longer the wide-eyed pudgy nuisance that I once so easily brushed away without consequence. Hearing his words reminded me of what I had been at his age. Lonely and angry. Wanting desperately for someone to pay attention. With work and my own family now, I knew I hadn’t given him much attention over the last year. But how could I have? There were only so many hours in the day. ### I continued to coordinate the Chicago Hammerskins—albeit from a more remote position than I had in the past—while I dutifully worked my construction job six or seven days a week. Pulling double duty with both the movement and my job, not to mention my wife and kid, was a difficult


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task. But despite the fact that I prided myself on working harder than everyone around me, I still didn’t go home at the end of the day with any real feeling of accomplishment. And I desired that. Desperately. I needed to work a job that didn’t shut down during the harsh Chicago winters like mine did. It was tough enough living on unemployment wages for four months every year when there were only two of us to support. With an infant, that was virtually impossible. Devin was born on November 11th, 1992, and I’d be laid off by Thanksgiving two weeks later. It didn’t take me long to figure out I could supplement my unemployment checks by importing and selling music on the side to my growing number of skinhead friends. White power music was extremely difficult to come by. Most people settled for third-generation audio dubs of whatever they could find. Record stores wouldn’t sell it, so you either had to trade tapes with your network of friends, or you had to order from Europe. Sometimes it would be weeks before your CD arrived and the customs taxes almost made it not worth the cost. I recognized that the opportunity to save money on shipping and taxes existed if I was able to place a larger order. So, I revived my relationship with Rock-O-Rama and bought a handful of titles at wholesale prices from them and marked up the prices a few dollars. I began peddling a variety of white power titles—old and new—so I always had something fresh to sell. Anyway I looked at it, this was a golden opportunity to seamlessly work on two of my commitments at once—I brought in an extra three hundred dollars a week for my family by selling music while I was laid off from my job, and I was able to keep promoting the white power message. For once, the two worlds seemed to blend together nicely. ###


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In the spring of 1993, HBO aired Skinheads USA: Soldiers of the Race War, a documentary about white power skinheads living in the South. The film opened with a scene showing my band Final Solution performing live during a celebration commemorating Hitler’s birthday at the Aryan Youth Front compound in Alabama, a mountainous plot of land owned and run by an older neo-Nazi guy named Will Manfredi, whom I’d never met. I figured it would be incredible exposure for the movement, though the film ultimately focused on the negative aspects and depicted skinheads as a bunch of lunatics. Even if there was an element of truth in that, it certainly didn’t describe the scene as a whole. Did it? I’d gotten the band back together for one last show and drove down to play the concert on two days’ notice. The Aryan Youth Front, which Manfredi ran, had a large membership base of militant skins that loved to party, and that meant a good crowd for Final Solution’s farewell concert. Skinheads from all over the United States were set to travel to the fest, and we’d been asked to perform at the last minute when it dawned on the organizers that there wasn’t enough planned in the way of entertainment. I didn’t hesitate. Rounded up the guys for our last hurrah, packed my Chevy truck with our equipment, and we headed down to Birmingham. Upon arriving at the compound, we set up our equipment on the only piece of flat land that existed on the property—a small strip of dirt next to the lingering stench of an overflowing outhouse, during the peak of an Alabama heat wave—and ran through a rousing musical set that included both Final Solution and W.A.Y. favorites. The temperatures were stifling, almost unbearable, but the crowd loved it. I have to admit it was fun getting behind the microphone one last time. After we finished performing, curious to know why the fellow whose property we were playing on was not in attendance, I asked when we’d get to talk to Manfredi. I was eager to meet


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the man who’d built such a large skinhead following and ask him if he’d have any interest in a bulk purchase for his crew of some of the CDs I’d been importing. I was promptly informed by a skinny, red-haired boy who lived on the property that “that asshole” Manfredi wouldn’t be attending because he had been arrested for illegal weapons charges the night before and was being held for further questioning in several cases involving sexual indecency and forced sodomy on a minor. “Excuse me. What the fuck did you just say?” “Yup,” said the freckled teenager, “Will’s been molesting most of us and we finally turned him in.” Jesus Christ. Turns out that dozens of underage boys—many of them disenchanted runaways—had been living with Manfredi on the compound. He gave them food, water, and shelter, and in exchange, they provided sex. The story I was told was that after he rescued these boys from a life on the streets and indoctrinate them over time to worship him, turning them into burgeoning skinheads, he’d sexually abuse these kids and then threaten to expose them as homosexuals if they said a word. Had I known about this sick bastard before the band was asked to come down and perform, I would have not-so-kindly told him to eat shit and die, while exposing him to the rest of the movement as a child molesting scumbag. Now that I’d found out, I just wanted to shove one of his illegal guns up his ass and pull the trigger. More than happy to watch him disintegrate into bloody vapor. Manfredi didn’t know how fortunate he’d been, being in that holding cell instead of at the concert. Had he been there when I found out, he would not have made it off his own mountain alive.


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### By now Lisa had begun pressuring me heavily about my lingering involvement with the movement. She’d always been afraid for me, but now she was also feeling underappreciated. My responsibilities as a leader were taking time away from her and from our son. She was right. Despite my efforts to keep my life with Lisa apart from my skinhead activities, the two worlds were colliding. The first incident happened not long into the marriage. Again I’d been arrested when I was named as party to a fight I hadn’t been involved in. I was driving some skinheads visiting from Milwaukee to get some late-night food when they started a ruckus in the restaurant with a few inebriated jocks. When the stealthy undercover cops who’d been tailing us from my house to the restaurant showed up with flashing lights and guns drawn, they all fled and I was left holding the bag. Literally. A take-out bag carrying my dinner, a foot-long pastrami sub and some butter and garlic French fries. Luckily, the prosecutor couldn’t prove I’d physically assaulted anyone, so I was only found guilty of Mob Action and Disorderly Conduct instead of Assault and Battery. I was placed on house arrest for thirty days. Had the Pakistani storeowner not testified on my behalf that I wasn’t party to the fight, it would have meant certain jail time. Again, my prejudices collided with reason. At the police station, the cops took away my food and for two hours they pressured me to give up the names of the others involved, in return for dropping the remaining charges. I had no interest in cooperating with them. I was pissed at the Milwaukee guys for coming into my town and starting trouble that I was left to clean up, but I was no rat. A second incident that had understandably freaked Lisa out happened when Devin was five months old. I’d been tipped off by one of our double agents that a rival anti-racist gang was


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planning to detonate a pipe bomb on our home on the anniversary of their founding. I rushed home from work, sent Lisa and Devin to her mother’s house where they’d be safe, and rounded up six of my most loyal associates. We stood watch all night with loaded rifles and shotguns pointed out of the windows, ready for someone to approach in the darkness. Around midnight, we saw a figure appear from the shadows. Instantly, we turned our guns on him. My finger lay poised on the hair trigger of my AK-47, waiting to squeeze it. “Don’t shoot!” one of the gunmen yelled. “It’s Steve!” Steve was a young probationary Hammerskin, arriving late for the vigil. I set my weapon down, leaned my back against the wall. For the third time in my life, I’d almost shot someone. Each time, someone innocent. I shook to think how closely we’d come to opening fire on a friend. This only increased my anger that someone was threatening my family. How dare they put me in this situation? Fuming, I ordered everyone back to their positions. We resumed our patrol. Hours passed, but nothing ever happened. By morning we were exhausted from lack of sleep, aggravated from the pointless watch, and Lisa was furious at me for worrying her for no good reason. ### Without being able to pinpoint when it had begun to turn bad, married life wasn’t all that much fun anymore. I adored Devin and still treasured my marriage, but Lisa and I rarely agreed on anything any longer. We began arguing all the time about my extracurricular activities. I looked for reasons to go away because the fights wore me down. One such weekend in the winter of 1993 I drove to a concert in Buffalo, New York, to blow off some steam from another one of our arguments. A high-energy skinhead show promised to


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give me a break from all the domestic drama. No Alibi from Buffalo set up the show and invited The Voice from Philly. Aggravated Assault from Atlantic City joined the bill. Music and beer propelled the crowd and, before we knew it, some skinheads took advantage of the copious amounts of liquid courage they’d ingested and a ragtag army of drunken warrior wannabes took to the tenement building across the street from the venue. They busted down doors and beat and dragged some black and Latino families forcefully out of bed in the middle of the night. Just for fun. Police sirens sliced through the darkness. I exited the bar from the back door and retreated into the shadows, inching my way to my car parked down the street so I could safely disappear back home to Chicago. I had no interest in partaking in the senseless brutality of the night. And I couldn’t afford to get arrested. Again. The next time I got pinched would surely mean prison time for me. ### Whether or not I still had reservations about the whole white power skinhead movement, I found it very hard to let go. It had been my entire identity from the age of fourteen and I still savored my role as a leader. By August of 1993, Big Ed from Bound For Glory had pegged me to take over management of the Northern Hammerskins organization. It meant I’d oversee the Hammerskin Nation operations for all of the northern U.S. states. Nearly two hundred skinheads would be under my direct command. Big Ed had been leading the group for four years already, but wanted to focus more on his band’s exploits, since they’d been touring and recording almost non-stop since our groundbreaking concert together in Germany. It was his sole responsibility as existing director to name his successor and he had no qualms about passing the baton to me. He knew I deserved it.


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I’d even stepped in from time to time to help him manage the role when he was busy on the road or in the studio with his band. Although it was never made official, I had more or less assumed the interim position of director for the Northern Hammerskins in his absence. The next month, while I was at Big Ed’s home in St. Paul, Minnesota, transitioning the role, we received a call from the Blood & Honour skinhead crew in England with unimaginable news. Skrewdriver’s lead singer and driving force, Ian Stuart, had been tragically killed in a car crash that morning. We were stunned. Ian Stuart was an inspirational folk hero to many skinheads, including a huge role model for me. I’d never had the opportunity to meet Ian in person, but the few letters we traded back and forth were always cordial and inspiring. He was intelligent, influential, and an undisputed pioneer for skinhead music, racist or otherwise. There was some suspicion the British government or anti-racists were involved in orchestrating his death by tampering with the car he’d been driving in, but no evidence ever surfaced to back up these theories. Nevertheless, Ian Stuart’s death kicked white power skinheads all over the world back into motion, focusing our mission and binding us more tightly for a while. But I think we all knew the movement would never be the same without Ian’s voice. I thought for a moment about Clark Martell. The man who’d been responsible for introducing me to the boisterous music of Skrewdriver and the skinhead lifestyle when I was a young boy, all of thirteen-and-a-half years old. Where might he be? I’d only stayed in contact for a short time with Clark during his lengthy incarceration, but I’d heard he’d since been granted an early release to a halfway house far north of the Chicago city limits. The letters he’d sent had gotten too bizarre and his artwork too lewd. I stopped responding after the first few years. His mail continued to arrive like clockwork for four years until it eventually tapered off to nothing. The last bit of correspondence I remembered opening came


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with a Polaroid picture of his new prison tattoo—on the center of his forehead was a freshly inked German eagle holding a swastika. In it, Clark looked old. Haggard. Sick. On the back was a simple, hand-drawn smiley face with the barely legible words, “See ya when I see ya! Long live the Aryan Goddess! 14/88. CM.” Before long, I discovered other folks had been receiving similar disturbing packages from Clark and his once mythical cachet quickly evaporated. While I sat and mourned the passing of Ian Stuart, I wondered where the man who had promised to save my life would find his own safety. Word spread that shortly after his release from prison, Clark had fled the halfway house and made his way into Michigan where he’d gotten into a row at the Detroit clubhouse and stabbed a Hammerskin with a screwdriver. The irony wasn’t lost on me.

ROMANTIC VIOLENCE: Memoirs of an American Skinhead (excerpt)  

Read a sample chapter from the highly anticipated memoir, ROMANTIC VIOLENCE: Memoirs of an American Skinhead by Christian Picciolini, availa...

ROMANTIC VIOLENCE: Memoirs of an American Skinhead (excerpt)  

Read a sample chapter from the highly anticipated memoir, ROMANTIC VIOLENCE: Memoirs of an American Skinhead by Christian Picciolini, availa...

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