|Leader||Burt Colucci (disputed with James Hart Stern) |
|Preceded by||American Nazi Party|
|Headquarters||Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|Youth wing||Viking Youth Corp|
|International affiliation||World Union of National Socialists|
|Colors||Black, White, Red, Blue|
|Ethnic group||White Americans|
|Part of the Politics and elections and Politics series on|
The National Socialist Movement (NSM) is a neo-Nazi organization based in Detroit, Michigan. It is a part of the Nationalist Front. The Party claimed to be the "largest and most active" National Socialist organization in the United States. Although classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, it refers to itself as a "white civil rights organization", and compares itself to the NAACP. The party also objects to being referred to as "racist", and "Neo-Nazi", stating that such descriptions of their goals are unflattering and inaccurate. Each state has members in smaller groups within areas known as "regions". The NSM holds national meetings and smaller regional and unit meetings.
In January 2019, the leadership of the group was turned over to James Hart Stern, a black activist, who announced his intention to undermine the group and "eradicate" it. In March 2019 in a press release the group's leader, Jeff Schoep said that Stern “does not speak for the NSM and he holds no legal standing with the NSM” and in addition to him speaking out against Stern he also noted that he was leaving and giving his position to Burt Colucci.
The NSM was founded in 1974 in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the "National Socialist American Workers Freedom Movement" by Robert Brannen and Cliff Herrington, former members of the American Nazi Party before the decline of the ANP. In 1994 Jeff Schoep became the group's chairman,, a position he held until January 2019.
The NSM was responsible for leading the demonstration which sparked the 2005 Toledo riot. In April 2006, the party held a rally on the capitol steps in Lansing, Michigan, which was met by a larger counter-rally and ended in scuffles. In 2007, some members left to join the now-defunct National Socialist Order of America, which was led by 2008 presidential candidate John Taylor Bowles.
In January 2009, the party sponsored a half-mile section of U.S. Highway 160 outside of Springfield, Missouri, as part of the Adopt-A-Highway Trash Cleanup program. The highway was later renamed the "Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Memorial Highway" by the state legislature.
In 2009, the NSM had 61 chapters in 35 states, making it the largest neo-Nazi group in the United States according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. As of 2015, the NSM reports having direct organized presences in seven countries around the world, and other affiliations beyond that.[unreliable source?]
In May 2011, the NSM was described by The New York Times as being "the largest supremacist group, with about 400 members in 32 states, though much of its prominence followed the decay of Aryan Nation and other neo-Nazi groups".
On May 1, 2011, Jeff Hall, a leader of the California branch of the NSM, was killed by his 10-year-old emotionally troubled son, who claimed he was tired of Jeff beating him and his stepmother. Hall had run in 2010 for a seat on the board of directors of a Riverside County water board, a race in which he earned approximately 30% of the vote.
The NSM held a rally on September 3, 2011 in West Allis, Wisconsin, to protest incidents at the Wisconsin State Fair on August 5, 2011 when a large crowd of young African-Americans allegedly targeted and beat white people as they left the fair around 11 p.m. Police claimed the incident began as a fight among African-American youths that was not racially motivated. Dan Devine, the mayor of West Allis, stated on September 2, 2011, "I believe I speak for the citizens when I say they [the NSM] are not welcome here."
In 2012, two former members of the NSM were arrested and sentenced to prison for drug trafficking, stockpiling weapons, and plotting terrorism against a Mexican consulate in the United States.
As of March 2015, the organization had planned a return to Toledo, Ohio, for a rally focusing on crime in the area.
In June 2016, the group helped organize (with the Traditionalist Worker Party) the rally which turned into the 2016 Sacramento riot. In November 2016, following the election of Donald Trump, the organization changed its logo, replacing the swastika with an Odal rune in an attempt to enter mainstream politics.
After the August riot and violence rising from the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, two lawsuits targeting 21 racist "alt-right" and hate group leaders, including the NSM and leader Jeff Schoep, were filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia and another in Virginia Circuit Court. Organizations named in both suits were the National Socialist Movement; Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP); League of the South (LOS), and Vanguard America, a two-year-old white supremacy group claiming 12 U.S. chapters. Two Ku Klux Klan groups, the Loyal White Knights and the East Coast Knights of the KKK, were named defendants in the federal suit.
The 96 page federal court filing accused the white supremacists of violating the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 and other statutes and seeks compensation and punitive damages. They also asked the courts to intervene with legal orders preventing a repeat of the deadly events that occurred in Charlottesville on August 11 and 12, and barring use of private militias at such events. Plaintiffs in the 96-page federal suit were described as "University of Virginia undergraduates, law students and staff, persons of faith, ministers, parents, doctors, and businesspersons – white, brown and black; Christian and Jewish; young and old". The City of Charlottesville, along with several businesses and neighborhood associations, were plaintiffs in the 81-page state suit.
The lawsuits claimed the August rally in Charlottesville was planned for weeks, with its organizers making extensive use of social media – coordinating everything from telling individuals to buy tiki torches to use of an internet-based communications system originally designed for gamers. The federal suit said "hundreds of neo-Nazis and white supremacists traveled from near and far to descend upon the college town ... in order to terrorize its residents, commit acts of violence, and use the town as a backdrop to showcase for the media and the nation a neo-nationalist agenda".
While the federal suit focused on civil rights violations, the state suit targeted what it describes as the illegality of using militia forces to protect alt-right and white nationalist demonstrations.
On February 28, 2019, the Associated Press reported that, according to Michigan corporate records, Jeff Schoep had been replaced as director and president of the NSM in January by James Hart Stern, a black activist. Stern became its leader after receiving a call for help from Schoep who wanted to get out of the organization due to the legal issues that were mounting against it, and he has said that he wants to use his position to undermine the group. Stern had previously been instrumental in dissolving a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Michigan.[notes 1] Stern wrote in a blog post in February that he had worked with Schoep to replace the Nazi swastika as the group's symbol with an Odal rune, and that he would be meeting with Schoep to sign a proclamation in which the NSM would disavow white supremacy.
Stern and Schoep began a relationship when Schoep called Stern in 2014 to ask about his connection with Edgar Ray Killen, the head of the Klan chapter that Stern dissolved. According to Stern, Schoep said that Stern was the first black man he had reached out to since Malcolm X. When Stern learned that Schoep was a white supremacist, he arranged for a meeting between the two. Since then the pair has engaged in debates over the Holocaust, the swastika, white nationalism, and the fate of the NSM, with Stern attempting to change Schoep's mind. This he was not able to do, but Schoep came to him in 2019 for advice about the group's legal problems. He felt that the NSM was an "albatross hanging around his neck" and wished to cut ties with the group in order to start a new organization that would be more appreciated in the mainstream of white nationalism. Stern then encouraged Schoep to turn over control to him, and Schoep agreed.
Stern filed documents with a Federal court in Virginia, asking that it issue a judgment against the group before one of the pending Charlottesville-related lawsuits went to trial, but because the law does not allow a corporation to be its own attorney, Stern is looking for outside counsel to re-file the papers. Stern does not plan to dissolve the NSM in order to prevent any of its former members from reincorporating it. He plans to turn the group's website into a place for lessons about the Holocaust.
The group's former community outreach director, Matthew Heimbach, commented that Schoep had been in conflict with the membership, who resisted the ideological changes Schoep wished to make, and wanted to remain "a politically impotent white supremacist gang". Heimbach estimated that the group had 40 dues-paying members as of last year. In a video posted on his blog, Stern took credit for "eradicating" the NSM. Burt Colucci is currently the NSM's 'Commander,' a position disputed by many outside of the racist, neo-nazi group.
James Stern died of cancer on October 11, 2019, leaving the future of his plans for the NSM uncertain.
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