FARGO – He no longer resembles the American Nazi he was 10 years ago during a recruitment drive in Fargo. He’s forgotten where he last put his braunhemden, or brown shirt, his black tie, and Nazi pin. The imperious swastika armband once wrapped around his left arm has also been packed away.
“Not the best way to convert people, I believe,” Nick Chappell said. “The purpose was to grab attention, which it did.”
Once a rising star in the American Nazi party, he left the Nationalist Socialist Movement as director of the Viking Youth Corps during a “Soviet-style purge of its ranks,” according to Nationalist Socialist Files. Eleven months after his first visit to the Peace Garden State, Chappell was ranked high on a confidential Nazi blacklist. The American Nazi Party Commander labelled Nick an “oath breaker” and “race-traitor.”
Now, Chappell, 28, of Irish and English descent, makes occasional trips to Fargo from his home in South Dakota to help organize and educate people involved with the Creativity Movement, which believes race, not religion, is absolute truth and that the white race is the highest expression of culture and civilization. The Creativity Movement rose from the ashes of the Church of the Creator founded in 1973. The organization’s colors evoke the swastika: red, white, and black; its logo is a large “W” representing the white race topped by a crown and a halo.
Chappell prepares for RaHoWa, the acronym for an inevitable racial holy war, he said, which is coming soon.
“I do believe that eventually this will boil down to a race war as we have already seen with the riots in cities like Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore,” Chappell said. His family doesn’t share his views.
“They are in denial over what I see as an inevitable war brewing.”
A reverend, also known now as a “creator” for the Creativity Movement, Chappell has been targeted before while he was a Nazi. In 2007, he was attacked by non-racists in Columbia, Missouri, and suffered a busted lip.
Hate and love are both parts to his nature, he said. He didn’t learn racism from his parents, but from attending a primarily black school in Edenton, North Carolina. “There were fights on a weekly basis. I tried to avoid them but I got suspended about once a year for a fight.
“If you were white you had to travel in a group or you would be attacked and picked on for being white.”
When he left the Nazis -- a time analysts describe as the most recent resurgence of white-power before Donald Trump’s election to the US presidency -- smaller groups splintered from larger organizations. After the American Nazi party’s troubles of 2007, Chappell formed a new group called the Nationalist Socialist Order of America, and based it out of The Redneck Shop, a memorabilia store in Laurens, South Carolina. It was known as the “site of many NSM gatherings,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a hate group watchdog and nonprofit civil rights organization.
Marriage to a woman who shares his beliefs brought Chappell from North Carolina to his current home in a small town in South Dakota. He leads a normal life, has a full-time factory job and four children. He purchased a house, invested in four others for like-minded people in need, he said. As a reverend in the Creativity Movement, he holds regular meetings for study and discussions, all open to the public.
The Creativity Movement is a four-dimensional religion, Chappell said, focusing on a “sound mind, sound body, in a sound society, and sound environment.”
“Our organization is not afraid of confrontation, so if anti-racists wish for a confrontation, our meetings are always open to give them that,” Chappell said. “We want a white-only society so it has to begin locally with white racial loyalists congregating together, helping each other. Where I live I purchased a few homes for those facing hard times…brings in people where we can get them jobs, and provide a roof over their heads.”
He and others fight to protect white culture. They say they’re persecuted, rejected by many; small-town governments fight against their plans at creating white enclaves.
The current problems in the U.S. began in the 1960s with the civil rights movement, he said.
“When we desegregated schools, people were forced to intermingle, circles of friends began to blend, and with that black culture injected into ours.” If ethnic minorities can cling to their cultures with pride, whites can do the same, Chappell said.
“Do I hate all non-whites? No, but I would hate every single one that is a threat to my race,” Chappell said. “Yes, I hate black and Mexican gang bangers, and I hate drug dealers, and I also hate degenerate whites who do drugs and have been completely obsessed with non-white culture.
“But you cannot hate without love.”
Another white power resurgence
Chappell doesn’t believe Donald Trump’s successful run for presidency is going to help his cause. “I am still waiting to see what he does, instead of what he says.”
White supremacy, in its many forms, sects, and organizations, has been given new life by Trump’s presidential campaign and election. Additionally, nationalist groups like France’s National Front and Golden Dawn in Greece are growing in numbers, threatening power balances, and effectively tipping international scales.
Violent crime and hate crime numbers are escalating, and not specifically white targeting black, but blacks also targeting whites, including the recent kidnapping and torture of a mentally challenged white person by four young black people in Chicago, or when the Tinsley Park 5 ambushing white supremacists in 2012, injuring ten in Chicago, or the Neo-Nazi rally in Washington DC in November 2016, or the post-election celebratory “alt-right” Hitler salute hailing President-elect Trump during Richard Spencer’s National Policy Institute meeting.
“Hail Trump. Hail our people. Hail our victory,” Spencer said during the meeting. “For us it is conquer, or die…To be white is to be a striver, a crusader, an explorer, and a conqueror. We build, we produce, we go upward.”
Criticism of Spencer’s speech in his hometown of Whitefish, Montana, has caused his family financial suffering, The Daily Stormer reported, forcing his mother to sell property. Neo-Nazis have struck back, announcing plans for an anti semitic “Troll Storm,” in the ski resort town on Sunday, January 15, according to The New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Daily Stormer.
In June 2015 Dylan Roof, a white supremacist, admittedly fired 70 rounds, killing 9 black people at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Cold faced, and after defending himself, Roof was sentenced to death January 10, after being found guilty of 33 counts for the attack.
Closer to home since 2004, hate crimes in North Dakota range from threats to explosives, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Fargo Police Department reported 48 hate crimes in the city since 2012, which involved 13 assaults, eight threats, and three harassment cases that occurred in 2016. Fargo Police Deputy Chief Joe Anderson said his department is aware of Nazis in Fargo.
“We are aware there are people in our community who have those biased beliefs,” Anderson said. “As far as I am aware, we don’t have any active criminal cases involving their participation or rhetoric. When a suspected hate/biased crime occurs we investigate the incident as thoroughly as possible, just like any other crime against a person or property.”
The Nazi vogue
Not unlike Adolf Hitler’s hiring of Hugo Boss, American Nazis are attempting a makeover, according to the NSM Magazine. Nazis focus much of their resources on external image, rallies, and direct action, while the Creativity Movement predominantly works quietly with their members.
Nationally, supremacist leaders are now “Gucci-fied,” dressed in name-brand suits and ties. Even the Ku Klux Klan, America’s most infamous and oldest hate group, has recently realized old ways of cross burnings, lynchings, and violence are “out of style.” They now speak from behind platforms, and run for national office.
The lingo is changing.
Uniforms and formal dress for the Ku Klux Klan and for Nazis remain stubbornly unchanged. Nazi patches, “No Mercy” sweatshirts, “100% Politically Incorrect” t-shirts, Skinhead music, and a video game named Zog 2, a first-person racialist shooter game, were for sale on NSM88records.com.
Most supremacists report they seek what they call equality, as the white race is in danger of being eliminated while African Americans are being “radicalized and emboldened by the Obama Administration,” according to Jeff Schoep, Nazi Commander.
Activists argue that if Black Pride, Black Power, and Black Lives Matter movements are considered acceptable, so too should White Power and White Pride. American Nazis are fighting to raise awareness of the “plight of whites,” according to the NSM Magazine.
“Arks of survival”
Some in the Peace Garden State believe the movement in North Dakota took root in 1983 with Gordon Wendell Kahl, aka Sam Louden, a leader of the militant group Posse Comitatus, an early anti-Semitic, white supremacist organization. After refusing to pay taxes and garnering some local support, Kahl shot and killed two federal marshals at a roadblock outside of Medina, North Dakota, then led federal investigators on a four-month-long manhunt, which ended with the death of a sheriff and Kahl himself in Arkansas.
Militant and racist groups have hibernated quietly in North Dakota, but are growing, according to analysts. White supremacist and now Creativity Movement member Cobb’s attempted takeovers of Leith in 2012, and Antler in 2015, are only a handful of recent endeavors.
White supremacy’s bite is easily found online. In letters, chats, or emails, 88 stands for HH, or “Heil Hitler.” Wolf’s angles and Odin’s hammers have been taken from Nordic culture to stand as Nazi signs. Another slogan, “14” signifies Adolf Hitler’s 14-word phrase: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
A newer campaign known as Pioneer Little Europe has recently spread its rhetoric throughout Facebook. Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota has received 1,080 likes, compared to the State of Georgia’s page with 447 likes.
Pioneer Little Europe North Dakota page organizers promise that a return to Leith and Antler is in the future, because “there are more of us.” Instead of targeting one specific city, page organizers plan to expand across the state pinpointing the cities of Leith, Underwood, Washburn, and Antler. Advertisements for available homes in Sherwood, ND, where Cobb is currently reported to be residing, are listed.
Those that oppose supremacists are brainwashed. They cry out to bankrupt anti-white cities. Anyone opposing them, no matter their skin color, is listed as an “anti-white.” Page organizers also report that Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota is trying to fill the state “with invaders.” They make fun of Standing Rock, call DAPL supporters “Marxist savages.”
Pioneer Little Europe, or PLE, is an idea developed primarily in the 1990s by Hamilton Michael Barrett and Mark Cotterill, two white supremacists with British and American connections, according to Mark Pitcavage, Director of Investigative research for the Jewish human rights group Anti-Defamation League.
Cobb, 65, is listed as a sustaining member of “Friend of Stormfront,” posting there about his second attempted takeover in Antler. After taking control, Cobb planned to rename the town of 28 to “Trump Creativity,” or “Creativity Trump” in honor of Trump, whom he admires deeply, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
On January 9, Cobb told WDAZ News that he planned to file a racial discrimination lawsuit after verbally agreeing to purchase a home for himself and his girlfriend in the Bottineau County city of Landa, population 40. Because of a DNA Diagnostics test in 2013, which proved Cobb was 14 percent Sub-Saharan African, Cobb claimed the homeowner must have thought he was a mulatto-Nazi, and refused to sell him the house on the grounds that he was part black, WDAZ reported.
In South Dakota, Chappell has met with more success than Cobb. The Creativity Movement there steers away from political rallies. “Rallies create a mob atmosphere and people don't listen, they just do what the mob wants when it’s worked up in a frenzy. You get far more accomplished one-on-one and in smaller meetings.”
During meetings, some members come in from elsewhere and stay in local hotels, fill tanks with gas from stations down the road.
“Thanks to us, we have created business in the area to improve the local economy in this town,” Chappell said. His organization owns a restaurant, a gym, and a banquet hall, to which they frequent for meetings or for socialization.
“Less risk of getting booted out last minute or having our food spit in at restaurants,” Chappell said. “Can’t prove people spit in the food at restaurants, but it’s a safe bet.”
Americans have a long history of “fringe groups trying to form communities of like-minded people,” said Pitcavage of the Anti-Defamation League. “One can think of Puritans coming to America to escape hostility in Great Britain, or Mormons trekking to Utah to escape aggression from non-Mormons.”
Two events after World War II heralded white supremacist cloistering: the Cold War and fear of nuclear holocaust, and the success of the civil rights movement in the 1970s. Since desegregation, die-hard separatists and supremacists have called upon followers to travel to states like Oregon and Utah under the auspices of the Northwest Territorial Imperative, also known as the White American Bastion, Pitcavage said.
Historically, most cloistering attempts met with little success due to infighting, crime, or lack of followers who were willing to give up their lives, Pitcavage said. The PLE campaign recognizes that such massive dreams are doomed, and believes that whites should form communities within communities as “arks of survival,” in order for racially conscious whites to survive. Their presence would “theoretically force non-whites to depart, leaving white supremacist enclaves whose members would aid and assist each other.”
In Grand Forks, Jamie Kelso, director and membership coordinator for the American Freedom Party - formerly known as the American Third Position, a political party initially established by skinheads, is a well-known figure with political ambitions.
Kelso is a bullhorn for white supremacy ideals. He claims he is not a racist, but a “red-blooded American,” and he hosts “The Jamie Kelso Show” for the American Freedom Party. He was once the personal assistant of Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and served as a moderator for hate-web guru Don Black’s forum Stormfront, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. Under Kelso’s supervision, Stormfront grew from 5,000 members in 2002 to 203,000 members in 2010.
From 2007 until 2010, Kelso became active helping to promote Republican Presidential candidate Rand Paul. On his radio show Kelso said North Dakota is “an optimal place to live as a pro-white activist,” and further claimed the Peace Garden State is full of opportunities for like-minded people. The American Freedom Party is considered “the most serious nationalist organization in the U.S.” by Southern Poverty Law Center.
Kelso refused to comment when contacted by telephone.
A double-edged sword
Fargo’s countermeasure against racism, classism, sexism, and hate, is Unity-USA. As a nonprofit organization, its directors are educators and watchdogs. One of the organization’s jobs is to stop Nazis and other hate groups from unifying in North Dakota and elsewhere through direct action and strong opposition, according to Kade Ferris, Unity-USA’s social media director.
“There is a Nazi movement totally under the radar in eastern North Dakota,” Ferris said. “These Nazi groups, they flourish when they're the only horrid voice in this sea of discourse. The discourse has changed in the last year so that more and more people feel free to spout hate and racism.”
Trump’s election is a double-edged sword, Ferris said, as hatred’s wave sweeps the nation it is also drowning out the Nazi’s voices.
“More people will be horrified who would have normally been silent,” Ferris said. “People are standing up and opposing racism as well too. In a way, this discourse had to happen because when racism hides, when it’s quiet, when it’s under the surface, it grows and flows around, but the second it comes out into the open people become horrified by seeing that.
“When people are silent about racism, racism festers.”
Racial issues do not rest solely with people like Cobb, or Kelso, but are deeply-rooted.
“Many people in North Dakota share many of the same views as Cobb and the Nazis, but they don’t see themselves that way and would be offended if you pointed that out. They hate Nazis, but are so similar in so many ways.”
Three years ago, few people were vocal about their own prejudices, Ferris said. Supremacists like Cobb shocked North Dakota, sent international hate group watchdogs and activists into a frenzy of activity. More than 400 anti-racists traveled to Leith in 2012 to face down a few dozen Nazis and supremacists.
“Now, everyone is a Craig Cobb. They all say what they want to say, they are free with their hate, and they’re proud of it. That right there makes people like Cobb irrelevant. There’s more hate being spread on the local news Facebook page than there is on Stormfront. And that in a way is both a bad thing, and a good thing, as it opens people’s eyes and they see themselves, and they see racism is growing.
But racism was already there
Founder of Unity-USA, Scott Garman, said he’s been fighting racism and fascism nearly all his life. He and his family have been targeted by Nazis with threatening emails, telephone calls, and online “doxing,” when personal information is released to the public.
Trump’s rise to power has fed hate groups courage, Garman said.
“For the last five or six years there’s been an increase in Internet chatter,” Garman said. “White nationalists are breaking through the surface now, showing themselves. They’re doing much more, they’re much braver with the election of Trump. Now we’re seeing they’re no longer below the radar, and they’re feeling much more comfortable speaking out, which is frightening.”
Nazis, skinheads, klansmen, creators, separatists, all come from the same mold, Garman said, the differences are minimal, almost interchangeable.
“They will constantly change clothes, names, just when they’re being discovered for who they are. They will all of a sudden surface somewhere else under a different name, or under a different group’s name.”
Most hate groups target the elderly, because they have money, or young people with malleable minds, Garman said. Shared religious beliefs is another tactic hate groups use to entice people into their ranks.
“It’s just like drugs, once you get a taste, once you show up at a rally with a bunch of shave-headed dudes preaching this tough guy stuff, there’s a feeling of camaraderie, a feeling of belonging,” Garman said.
Another reason hate groups are stepping into the light is because people are sipping their “Kool-Aid” for allocating scapegoats for their own problems, Ferris said. “If you’re down in the dumps how do you push yourself back up? You either work really hard, or you push someone below you.”
Scapegoats are primarily fingered by the elected few, or by organizations such as the American Freedom Party or the benign-sounding National Policy Institute, an “alt-right” think tank, as ways to pass the buck or trigger anger.
“They play to identity politics,” Ferris said. “They play to the ‘us-and-them’ binary, and in a way it has come down to that, and it’s a bad thing for America. They’re job in their mind is to elect people who are of the same mind. They are a dangerous hate group because of that.”
Those involved in the Creativity Movement are Nazis who believe the white man is God’s number one achievement, Ferris said. He is constantly harassed by Nazis and racialists. On January 7, Pioneer Little Europe Florida issued Ferris a death wish: “This is 2017 and Fidel Castro is dead. The best thing you can do is join him.”
“My address, workplace, and my family’s pictures were shared all over Stormfront,” Ferris said. He paused long enough to answer a teenaged Nazi from Florida who believes he has a strong chance for state office since Trump won the US Presidency.
“That’s not too nice I guess, but you can’t live in fear of these deplorables.”
Preparing for racial holy war
The Nazi party was established in Fargo in 2007, according to the Nationalist Socialist Movement’s NSM International blog.
In 2009, secret Nazi emails were leaked onto the Internet by Wikileaks. The Nazi correspondence provides a small glimpse into the shadow world of National Socialism. More than 600 messages between July 2007 and August 2009 depict Nazis spending as much time pointing fingers, complaining of hard times, and threatening to expose internal fiscal problems as they do at talking about protecting the white race.
William Herring, a staff member and Fargo’s Nazi contact who handled correspondence for the group in 2008, described himself as a Nazi skinhead with a satanic temper who has spent eight years in prison. Herring reports his handle in other online chats is odinn88 in the Vanguard News Network. In 2007, however, he said he “likes to stay on the right side of the law.
“Law and order are essential or we have chaos,” Herring said on the Vanguard News Network. “I live a clean, honest life now and I obey the law… Make no mistake, I am one crazy, violent mother f****r. But I choose to stay free and outside of a cell -- until such time when there is no longer law or order. Then I will cheerfully and enthusiastically pick up a chainsaw or axe and seriously go to town on the n*****s and Zionist swine. When that horrible day comes, you will see me on the front lines laughing my ass off and taking off heads. Until then, I just want a quiet little life with no mayhem or bullshit.”
According to the emails released by Wikileaks, Herring was in contact with Schoep in 2009, apologized for not paying annual party dues, and said he values his position with the Nationalist Socialist Movement and with the SS.
While in Fargo, he described personal struggles to the Nazi commander, writing about a cheating girlfriend, a battle with pneumonia, and being free from alcohol for 75 days. When he hit bottom, he began using toilet paper as coffee filters, and was forced to live in a homeless shelter. To friends outside the Nationalist Socialist Movement he wrote his name as Bill; to Schoep and other party members, he was SS Mann Herring.
The Nazi party’s goals in Fargo are to engage in public speaking events, participate in local and state elections, and to distribute information and literature, according to Herring. “Our plan is to convince others that this system is broken beyond repair and that the principles of National Socialism are superior to this ‘democracy' we find ourselves in.”
Toward the end of 2008, Herring wrote that his office was overwhelmed by the influx of new membership applications. In July the same year, Herring moved from Fargo to Springfield, Missouri. “I really didn't have much left for me in North Dakota and I missed the hell out of my girl, so I moved to where she lives.”
Herring could not be contacted directly for information.
The Nazi party has divisions applicants can apply to, including the Skinhead Division. For those who aren’t keen on wearing the uniforms, support divisions are available. Stormtroopers are the Nazi party’s “fighting force.”
In South Dakota and across the world, the Creativity Movement is preparing for a racial holy war.
“We prepare for RaHoWa by stockpiling food, water, and protective gear in case riots happen in our areas,” Chappell said. “We have had ups and downs like any organization, but we are making progress,” Chappell said.
The Creativity Movement’s enemies are the fear mongers, Chappell said, and for 14 years -- as long as he has been a racial loyalist -- only federal informants have tried to incite violence. Most groups are focused on growth, recruitment, adhere to strict legal means and ideals such as creating white enclaves.
“Should people fear us? No, they shouldn’t, but the should definitely fear for their children’s safety, not from us, but from the society they have created.”
Only non-whites, or non-racists, should fear them.
“You can only push a man so much until he begins to swing back. Even the atrocities of Adolf Hitler were petty in comparison to America's allies at the time -- Stalin and Mao Zedong of China. Stalin killed 40 million Ukrainians and and Mao killed 90 million Chinese. As far as people using the actions of Hitler and the KKK to justify anti fascist actions, I would say unless they want to see atrocities on a greater scale than Stalin and Mao Zedong, they might want to find a better way to take action. Eventually people are going to snap, and it won’t be pretty.”
In the meantime, white supremacist projects like Pioneer Little Europe and other white enclave endeavors are trying to expand in North Dakota.
“I prefer a quieter approach,” Chappell said, referring to Cobb’s two attempts in North Dakota. Nazis also helped hurt the cause at that time, he said. “There is no need for so much attention. The economy is good and can attract people with lots of small towns and relatively cheap land. Jews believe in racial loyalty and help each other succeed, so they rise in society easier. That’s something whites should do as well.
“It’s a successful business model. Why not?”
Days after the Nazi salute to Trump, which was performed in public, in the nation’s capital, Dan Rather, former reporter for CBS 60 Minutes and the current president of News and Guts, issued a statement.
“Now is a time when none of us can afford to remain seated or silent. We must all stand up to be counted. History will demand to know which side were you on. This is not a question of politics or party or even policy. This is a question about the very fundamentals of our beautiful experiment in a pluralistic democracy ruled by law.”
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