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White power skinhead

Neo-Nazi skinhead in Germany

White power skinheads are members of a neo-nazi, white supremacist and antisemitic offshoot of the skinhead subculture.[1][2][3][4] Many of them are affiliated with white nationalist organizations and sometimes prison gangs.

In the United States, the majority of white power skinhead groups are organized at either the state, county, city or neighborhood level. The Hammerskin Nation (HSN) is one of the few exceptions, due to its international presence.[5]


The original skinhead subculture began in the United Kingdom during the late 1960s, and had heavy British mod and Jamaican rude boy influences — including an appreciation for the black music genres ska, soul music and early reggae.[6][7][8][9] The identity of skinheads in the 1960s was neither based on white power nor neo-nazism or neo-fascism, but some skinheads (including black skinheads) had engaged in "gay-bashing", "hippie-bashing" and/or "Paki-bashing" (violence against Pakistanis and other Asian immigrants).[10][11] This began after Enoch Powell's inflammatory Rivers of Blood speech in 1968, which unleashed "Paki-bashing" violence, often referred to as "skinhead terror" in the media, with the "Paki-bashers" often simply called "skinheads".[12]

The original skinhead scene had mostly died out by 1972, but a late-1970s revival emerged partly as a backlash against the commercialization of punk rock. This revival coincided with the development of the Oi! music genre.[8][13][14][15] The late-1970s skinhead revival in Britain included a sizable white nationalist faction, involving organizations such as the National Front, British Movement, Rock Against Communism and — in the late 1980s — Blood and Honour. Because of this, the mainstream media began to label the whole skinhead identity as neo-Nazi.

The racist faction of the skinhead subculture eventually spread to North America, Europe and other areas of the world. White power skinhead groups such as the Hammerskins emerged, and racist skinheads gained acceptance among other organized white power organizations such as the Church of the Creator, White Aryan Resistance and the Ku Klux Klan.[16][17][18] In 1988, there were approximately 2,000 neo-Nazi skinheads in the United States.[19]

In 1995, neo-Nazi skinheads Malcolm Wright Jr. and James N. Burmeister were charged with the murder of an African American couple in North Carolina.[20][21] Wright and Burmeister were in the United States Army, and part of Fort Bragg's 82nd Airborne Division. Wright and Burmeister were both arrested at a trailer park where police found a 9-mm semiautomatic pistol, a Nazi flag, white supremacist pamphlets, and other gang paraphernalia. Both men were sentenced to life in prison.

A neo-Nazi skinhead from Germany in front of a Imperial-era Reichskriegsflagge, a popular symbol for German neo-Nazis as a substitute for banned Nazi symbols

According to a 2007 report by the Anti-Defamation League, groups such as white power skinheads, neo-Nazis, and the Ku Klux Klan have been growing more active in the United States, with a particular focus on opposition to illegal immigration.[2]

Style and clothing

Skinhead 88 graffiti in Turin, Italy. The "88" stands for "HH" or "Heil Hitler", "H" being the 8th letter of the alphabet

Skinheads of all types are known for wearing Dr. Martens or combat-style boots, flight jackets, jeans and suspenders (also known as braces). Some white power skinheads wear badges, chains or rings featuring Nazi or white power emblems.[22][23] Many punk-influenced Oi! skinheads dress similarly to white power skinheads, without the racist or neo-Nazi symbols.

In contrast to the 1960s-style mod-influenced Trojan skinheads, white power skinheads have typically worn higher boots, T-shirts, flight jackets and army trousers or jeans instead of Sta-Prest trousers or suits. Some white power or moderately right-wing/nationalist skinheads may dress quasi-traditional with Fred Perry or button down shirts and Harrington or denim jackets. They usually crop their hair shorter than the 1960s-style skinheads — often to grade 0 length — or they shave their heads completely with a razor. White power skinheads tend to have more tattoos than the skinheads of the 1960s, many of whom had no tattoos at all. These tattoos often feature Nazi, racist, or nationalistic imagery. Rune symbols as well as Nordic, Celtic and Germanic artwork are also common themes.

In Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, the Lonsdale clothing brand has been popular among some neo-Nazi skinheads. This was partly because the four middle letters of Lonsdale, NSDA, are almost the same as the abbreviation for the name of Adolf Hitler's political party, the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (NSDAP).[24] The Lonsdale brand has been popular with non-racist skinheads for decades, and the company has sponsored anti-racist events and campaigns, and has refused to deliver products to known neo-Nazi retailers.[25]

Notable organizations with white power skinhead members