We've gotten several e-mails about a supposed white power demonstration in Ballard on December 6. Everything we've seen cites this post on Stormfront, a neo-Nazi and white supremacist message board, as the source:
Just got word from those putting on the Martyr's Day 2015 event and it is something you will NOT want to miss!
Join us Sunday, Dec. 6th in Ballard,WA. We will be meeting up at an undisclosed location in Ballard (actual address will be given the day of. Pm me or the NWHS )
The event will present five white power bands including Ironwill and Beer Hall Putsch and a couple others making their NW debuts. Comrades and crews from across the country will be in attendance and about 300 people are to be expected for a day of comraderie, music, hailing our heroes and good ol' goosestepping. Food and drinks will also be provided.
After the bands and a traditional cross burning we will be marching through Capitol Hill in Seattle to show these liberals, anarchists antifa and fags that we are here and here to stay.
This will be the biggest event in NW history as of yet so let's put the beautiful Pacific Northwest back on the map and make Robert Mathews proud!
The NWHS, which presumably stands for the Northwestern Hammerskins, is a local chapter of a national white supremacy hate group that represents Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. I tried messaging the NWHS to see if this rally was indeed happening, but the e-mail address listed on their website appears to be defunct.
"I've never heard of this event before or any kind of white power gathering in Ballard," the SPD's Officer Lauren Lovanhill told me earlier today.
The King County Sheriff's Office hadn't heard of Martyrs Day 2015 or the Northwestern Hammerskins, either. When I spoke to FBI spokesperson Ayn Dietrich, she told me that the FBI doesn't "investigate individuals absent specific information that they are committing crimes or pose a risk to national security." Constitutionally protected free speech is not an FBI matter, she said.
The most recent gang threat assessment from the National Gang Intelligence Center (NGIC)—a federal coalition of law enforcement representatives from the FBI, DEA, ATF, ICE, DOD and more—listed the Hammerskins as a gang in Ohio and Florida, but not in Washington State. That was four years ago. The Southern Poverty Law Center, however, has described the Northwestern Hammerskins as an "active racist skinhead group" based in Seattle as recently as March of this year.
According to the SPLC, last December local racists from the Northwestern Hammerskins celebrated "Martyrs Day" on Whidbey Island. About 36 of them showed up to honor the fiery death of Robert J. Mathews, a founding member of a white terrorist group called "The Order," which murdered Jewish radio host Alan Berg in 1984. Mathews died the same year in a standoff with the FBI on Whidbey Island:
At the cabin, Mathews refused to surrender to the FBI, which later fired flares into the building to force him out. Matthews refused to leave, and died in an inferno when the cabin caught fire.
Because of Mathews' unwillingness to surrender, he is widely regarded now as a martyr for white nationalists and racists, who annually visit Whidbey Island as part of a pilgrimage of sorts. This year was no different, attracting racists mostly from the Northwest Hammerskins, considered one of the most violent skinhead groups in the country.
In the spring of 1985, just a few months after Mathews’ death, several members of The Order were indicted in nearby Seattle on federal racketeering charges, covering murders, armed robberies, counterfeiting and other crimes the neo-Nazi gang committed in its failed attempt to start a race war.
The Rose City Antifa (short for "anti-fascists"), an organization Brendan Kiley once described as "a secretive, militant group that likes to 'disrupt' white-power organizations," also told me that the Northwestern Hammerskins have a Martyrs Day event every year.
To the extent the Rose City Antifa are an authority on the subject, here's more from an unnamed RCA spokesperson:
Usually they have a gathering on private land and visit the site of the final shoot out in which Matthews died on Whidbey Island. This year they are planning a concert in Ballard with a number of white supremacist bands, and a march in Seattle. This represents a significant escalation in their tactics. While the numbers they are claiming for attendance (300) are doubtless inflated, this is still a very troubling development in white supremacist organising in our region.
To be clear, we still haven't gotten word from the organizers of the rally themselves that this is actually happening in Seattle, and the SPD hasn't confirmed its existence either. There is a possibility that white power types could just be trolling us, and that getting publicity for their cause through a post like this could be exactly what they want.
That said, we will be following this closely. It's one reminder that the United States is already home to plenty of violent, white-skinned extremists (something that tends to be ignored by the Republican presidential candidates now whipping up fears about foreign, non-Caucasian extremists sneaking in as Syrian refugees).
Anyone have any more info on Martyrs Day and the NWHS in Seattle? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
UPDATE: The SPD says that they've seen the posting and detectives who are partners with the NGIC are reviewing it.
UPDATE: "This very much looks like a real thing to me," says Dave Neiwert, Northwest correspondent for the SPLC. It's hard to fake a respected account on Stormfront, he says, though SPLC hasn't ID'd the original poster. Hammerskins, Neiwert adds, "are well-known for being real hotbeds of the most vicious kind of hate and violence that comes out of the far right" and "they like to beat people up."
Asked why the Hammerskins might choose to march into Capitol Hill proper this year, Neiwert says: "Normally they've kind of hidden from view, but it's becoming pretty obvious that white supremacists are feeling a lot bolder. After all they have a presidential candidate, obviously. I think they are feeling a lot more emboldened these days."