April 15, 2024

Hate Groups

Hate In The Sunshine State

Florida trails only California in the number of organized hate groups.

Amy Keller | 9/1/2006

Hate Groups in Florida

National Alliance/ National Vanguard/ Nationalist Coalition

In 1997, Todd Vanbiber was trying to assemble a pipe bomb when it exploded in his face. A police investigation revealed that the Winter Park man was a member of a violent neo-Nazi group called National Alliance. Vanbiber and other gang members were planning to set off bombs along two major roads in Orlando to divert authorities from bank robberies they planned in the area, police say. Although once highly active in Florida, with chapters in Orlando, Tampa/St. Petersburg, Palm Beach and Gainesville, National Alliance has declined in recent years, the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center report. Infighting has led to splintered factions, with many members reorganizing under the name National Vanguard. A small spinoff of National Vanguard, the Tampa/St. Petersburg-based Nationalist Coalition, has garnered local media attention by handing out fliers urging "Support White Victims of Hurricane Katrina," holding anti-immigration rallies and distributing CDs of racist rock music. Vanbiber resurfaced in Winter Park in the fall of 2005 after serving a prison sentence. He was distributing hundreds of copies of a neo-Nazi publication.

Stormfront

From his home in West Palm Beach, self-described "white nationalist" and former Klansman Don Black runs the world's largest white supremacist web forum. Launched in 1995, the website claims to have more than 80,000 registered users and gets between 10,000 and 30,000 hits per day. Typical discussion threads between "net Nazis" may range from weaponry to dating but almost always exhibit a racist tone. The message board is a forum for sharing hate literature such as "Free Ethnic Cleansing Manual," a 145-page book describing "the military operations necessary to eradicate the predatory black race from the contiguous United States."

National Socialist Movement

Working in cooperation with the KKK, racist skinheads and other neo-Nazis, the National Socialist Movement proclaims itself the "largest Nazi party operating" in the U.S. today. Wearing brown shirts and swastika armbands, members spread their message of hate through rallies and by selling violent video games like "Zog's Nightmare," touted on the group's website as a "first-person n----- shooter video game!" According to the Anti-Defamation League, a Lakelandbased unit is led by Klansman Burt Colucci, and until recently Sarasota resident Michael Herbert Blevins had been an outspoken member of the group. Blevins abruptly resigned as "minister of radio and office of information" for the Nationalist Socialist Movement in July, citing differences with other members of the neo-Nazi group. For several years, the neo-Nazi shock jock has been hurling racial epithets over the internet using the name "Von Bluven."

The Creativity Movement
(formerly World Church of the Creator)

The group's former leader, Matt Hale of Illinois, is serving a 40-year prison sentence for soliciting the murder of a federal judge. The group has maintained a Florida presence since it was founded in the 1970s by former Florida state lawmaker Ben Klassen. Klassen, a real estate agent and sometime inventor who made the first electric can opener, committed suicide in 1993. Hale, former head of the National Socialist White Americans' Party, revived the group in 1996 as the World Church of the Creator. The group considers white people to be "nature's highest creation" and Jews and non-whites to be the "mud races." As recently as 2005, the group had a presence in Seminole, but the Southern Poverty Law Center describes it as a "mere remnant" of its former self.

Aryan Nations

August Kreiss, the national director of Aryan Nations, left Sebring for South Carolina in 2003, but the neo-Nazi group still has a Florida presence.

Nordwave

The group takes its name from the "Euro-American Racialist Newsletter" published by Lake Worth resident Alex Hassinger. For several years, it helped organize an annual "Folk Fest" gathering in Martin County that it billed as a celebration of "European heritage." The Southern Poverty Law Center, which sent a camera crew into the 2003 event, featured a photo of attendees on the cover of its "Intelligence Report." The group canceled a Folk Fest it planned this year.

Racist Skinheads

Racist skinheads like the Confederate Hammerskins, a regional branch of the Hammerskin Nation, are active in Florida. In March 2002, the group held its annual "white power" music festival called "Hammerfest" in Jacksonville. The group held another concert in Ocala in March 2005 and teamed up with National Vanguard to host a St. Patrick's Day show in Tampa this year. Other skinhead groups in Florida include The Hated and the South Florida Aryan Alliance.

Ku Klux Klan

The KKK is alive and well in Florida. From 1900 to 1930, Florida witnessed the highest per capita rate of lynchings in the nation. Today, race is still the No. 1 motive for hate crimes, and the Klan "remains the most common type of hate group in America" in terms of sheer number of groups, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project reports the Empire Knights of the KKK has replaced the now-defunct Southern White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan operating in Daytona, Gainesville, Homosassa Springs, Ocala and Tampa. Other KKK groups operating in Florida include the American White Knights of the KKK in Englewood, the Imperial Klans of America in Gainesville, the Aryan Nations Knights of the KKK in Milton and the National Knights of the KKK in Silver Springs. According to the ADL, other "traditional" racist groups with Klan-like ideologies include the Council of Conservative Citizens; the European-American Heritage Foundation; the European- American Unity and Rights Organization; and the National Association for the Advancement of White People.

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