South side ARA and the Illinois antifascist scene 2009-present

This is the first submission I’ve gotten since starting to edit Scene Reports for People Not Profit. Hopefully it’ll go up on http://www.peoplenotprofit.net soon, and if not, I’ll probably print it in a ‘zine purely for radical networking. Also posted on Squat the Planet.

http://southsideara.blogspot.com
southsidechicagoara at hushmail dot com

The Illinois National Socialist Front and “White Pride World Wide”
in Chicago

In early winter of 2010 members of the Illinois National Socialist Front began to publicize a “White Pride World Wide” event on March 21. March 21st is the anniversary of the Sharpsville Massacre, where South African anti-apartheid demonstrators lost their lives to police violence, and is a day of remembrance for those that lost there lives in the massacre. March 21st has also been more recently been appropriated by white nationalists, with South African whites being a cause celebre of some white nationalists fearful of the loss of their white-skin privelege in an increasingly multicultural society. With initial posts going up on the INSF’s website and Stormfront.org, a major white nationalist forum, the march was advertised to be at an undetermined location in urban Chicago. While Chicago antifascists had often encountered white supremacists in the suburban Chicagoland area and elsewhere in Illinois, open white supremacist organizing in Chicago itself was much less common and showed a sense of bravery (or foolishness) on the part of Illinois boneheads.

The neo-nazis of the INSF had previously held a series of events and actions before the announced WPWW march, testing the waters and organizing increasingly larger events. These previous events included recruitment barbecues, flyer drops that received media attention, co-organizing a protest of the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie, Illinois with the National Socialist Movement, and passing out fliers and white power music samplers at the South Side Irish St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Another incident of note was a protest of an alleged “anti-white hate crime” in Belleville, Illinois, in September 2009, which saw the INSF again collaborating with NSM, as well as Ku Klux Klan and other organized racist groupings.

Of course, Chicago anti-fascists were keeping tabs on the INSF.
During the summer of 2009, antifa had successfully infiltrated an
INSF recruitment barbecue, which was also under surveillance by either
FBI or police. Intelligence gathering had allowed antifa to map out the
leadership of the INSF, which seemed to be based around two neo-
nazis: Phil Anderson of Peoria, Illinois, and Steve Turpel of Arlington
Heights. Phil Anderson was a former member of Bill White’s defunct
American National Socialist Workers Party, and was the obvious
frontman of the group. Steve Turpel, a landlord and amateur fencer,
was an active white supremacist organizer that stayed behind the
scenes and maintained a less public profile.

During the fall of 2009, antifa began to take a more proactive
approach to shutting down the INSF. Anti-fascists used the gathered
information to lure Phil and another INSF member into meeting up to
“recruit” potential Chicago white power skins into their
organization.

Upon discovering that they had been lured into a trap, the INSF
boneheads decided to pull knives and fight their way out of the
situation. This proved to be a case of “poor decision-making” that
white supremacists are often known for, as they were left stranded
with flat tires and bruises. Although they tried to play it up as a
win in online posts on stormfront:

“When INSF members Phil Anderson and Andrew Jackson showed up to
meet some one they thought was a potential new recruit to our Movement,
they were attacked by six low-life pieces of waste. Our brave Brothers
quickly took control of the situation, turned the ambush around, and
gave the race-traitors a beating they will not soon forget.
The six cowards were last seen rapidly retreating, several with
limps, down 55th street.”

a post on the anti-fascist blog threewayfight revealed otherwise:
“Piecing together overheard rumors and reading between the lines of
the NSF report, it seems the NSF wasted several months communicating
with someone claiming to be interested in starting a chapter within
Chicago itself. The two neo-nazis met with this person at a
restaurant on the southside, but at some point they realized what was going on
and either flashed or drew a knife. The restaurant owner noticed
this and called the police as a brawl broke out. One antifa may have been
hit, but the injury was minor.

The police arrived and detained, possibly arresting the NSF members
for their weapons. Either way, the neo-nazis probably had to ask the
cops for a ride home after discovering their disabled or damaged
vehicle.”

Members of South Side Anti-Racist Action later took a trip to visit
Phil Anderson at his community college in Peoria, passing out fliers
to students and professors informing them of fascist organizers in
their community. Concerned community members responded back, giving
more information to be disseminated amongst anti-fascists. Phil
also bragged about the event and claimed to have met a “beautiful Aryan
woman” because of the fliering, although no one believed him.
South Side Anti-Racist Action put out a call to action against the
White Pride World Wide march, and began to organize with others to
shut down the event. Around this time, started to change for the
INSF. Communication on the part of antifa attempting to learn more
about the upcoming White Pride World Wide march wasn’t being
responded to as quickly, and eventually not at all. The INSF was becoming
increasingly dysfunctional and paranoid, with less visible presence
online and no presence on the streets. At some point, members of
South Side Anti-Racist Action noticed that the INSF had pulled the
original call for the march off of their website, although posts
still existed on Stormfront. As we learned from later intel gathering,
the INSF had passed the event off to other local neo-nazis at the last
minute.

Prior to March 21st, others on the left had been involved in
organizing against the WPWW march. South Side Anti-Racist Action
had called a private meeting between different anarchist, Marxist, and
feminist/queer groups that had previously signed onto the statement
against the march in an effort to network and coordinate in the
weeks leading up to March 21st. The International Socialist
Organization, a vanguardist Marxist party and the largest single presence in
Chicago’s left, also attempted to intervene around this time and organized a
well-attended public meeting to coordinate different groups and
individuals working on resistance to the march. The ISO attempted
to use the meeting as a front to push their politics onto the assembled
body in the form of a non-violence agreement, which was quickly
rejected by a number of the attendees. The ISO front group did
schedule a large protest action downtown, bringing a public but
largely non-confrontational presence to the day.

Chicago anti-fascists were on the prowl early on the morning of
March 21. Prior intel gathered from public sources, infiltration, and
elsewhere had not given a definite location or time, but had
revealed that the event would be somewhere downtown along Michigan Avenue, an
area known as Chicago’s pricey shopping district and a common
destination for tourists and locals. Antifa spent the morning hours
in well-planned patrols, which resulted in chasing off at least one
crew of boneheads that were also there looking to join up with the
march. The inability of the boneheads to coordinate with the
organizers of the march showed just how effective infiltration
efforts were in preventing useful communication and networking with
the neo-nazis putting together the march, and is a success in
itself.

Afters several hours of calm, ARA members sent out a call that they
had spotted four neo-nazis with flags and gear at Millenium Park.
Anti-fascists quickly put together a plan, with one group crossing
the street with the intention of catching the fascists off guard and
another serving as spotters. As antifa crossed Michigan pretending
to be tourists they ambushed the shocked boneheads, even beating one
neo-nazi with his own flag. The antifa and neo-nazis brawled for
less than a minute, with the antifa running off and dispersing into the
crowd while they left they heavily costumed boneheads with their
white power flags to deal with the police that had arrived on the scene.
Two of the neo-nazis were reportedly taken away in an ambulance,
while the other two were taken away by police. Spotters ensured that all
antifa were accounted for, and witnessed a crowd move from the rally
to Millenium Park to taunt the injured neo-nazis and create a lively
blockade in the middle of the projected fascist march. At the end
of the day, all four neo-nazis participating in what had originally
been billed as a large white supremacist event in the Chicago made it
about two blocks before they were publicly beaten and humiliated, with at
least 10 times as many leftist anti-racists taunting them while they
were dealing with police and medical hassles. South Side ARA
eventually dropped intel releases on all four of the boneheads,
increasing their fear and paranoia and resulting in at least one
losing child custody because of public evidence of his participation
in neo-nazi organizing.

The Aftermath and Ongoing Anti-Fascist Organizing

Following the success of shutting down the White Pride World
Wide march and routing the Illinois National Socialist Front, Chicago
anti-fascists needed to figured out what to do next. A quick survey
on Stormfront.org revealed serious frustrations on the part of
Illinois area white supremacists, a wedge that was used to further
break apart attempts at unity and collaboration between white
supremacists. Following up on the INSF proved to be difficult, as
intelligence gathering on the group yielded little. After a number
of months came a major breakthrough: not only was the INSF defunct,
but the infiltration of other white supremacists had revealed that ex-
INSF organizer Steve Turpel was a convicted pedophile that many other
neo-nazis had been hesitant to work with, explaining why he had kept
so much of his information under wraps. With this information
quickly made public, South Side ARA was sure to directly inform his
neighbors about his past history as a white supremacist organizer and
conviction for child pornography. Ex-INSF organizer Phil Anderson later
became a state collaborator against his former mentor Bill White, testifying
in his trial and earning recognition as a snitch from white
supremacists familiar with White’s case. Both Turpel and Anderson appear to have
been shunned by white nationalists in Illinois and beyond.

Major events were happening with anti-fascist organizing in North
America that showed the importance and seriousness of confronting an
active white supremacist presence. Anti-fascists and anti-racists
protested a Vancouver, British Columbia white supremacist rally held
in conjunction with White Pride World Wide events, and fascists in
response firebombed an Anti-Racist Action-affiliated household
shortly after. In Portland, Oregon, an anti-racist and anti-fascist
skinhead was shot by black-clad assailants waiting outside while leaving a
bar after celebrating his birthday. This attack left him with severe
paralysis, and showed the lengths Portland-area white supremacists
are willing to go to remove antifa from their city. Portland has a long
history of white supremacist organizing that reached a pitched battle
in the 1990s between groups like Tom Metzger’s White Aryan Resistance
and Anti-Racist Action, Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice and other
groups. Portland has since spawned Volksfront, a neo-pagan white
supremacist brotherhood that began in Oregon’s prison system and has
since spread across North America, that has attracted plenty of
attention for their participation in white power music circles and
their membership’s numerous racist, xenophobic, and anti-semitic
attacks. In response to this attack, a call for the first July 31st
Day of Action Against Fascism and Racism was put out and resulted in
actions and events across North America (and a few in Europe) to
counter fascist and white nationalist organizing.

In Chicago, white supremacists moved their attention to the
upcoming Hitler birthday celebration on April 17. Adolf Hitler birthday
celebrations are a common cultural activity for neo-nazis, giving
them another chance to gather together and network. Unlike the White
Pride World Wide march, the Hitler birthday celebration was a private
invitation-only event that was kept hidden from the public for fear
of retribution. This didn’t help the neo-nazis for long, as the next
year the Hitler birthday celebration was disrupted by a smoke bomb
attack that forced the white supremacist gathering to close early and
ties between the organizer and the restaurant were strained due to
bad publicity. The disruption of the event and the publicity surrounding
it helped South Side ARA identify Lyons, IL neo-nazi Art Jones as an
organizer and target for an outing and home demonstration as part of
the July 31st Day of Action against Fascism and Racism in 2011.
Following the demonstration South Side ARA learned through intel
gathering that publicly outing Jones in the community had caused
further problems by causing him severe financial problems that led him
to grow desperate enough to swallow his pride and beg for handouts
from other neo-nazis to make ends meet, leaving Jones unable to
continue funding white supremacist events and campaigns out of his
own pockets.

The National Socialist Movement, a nationwide neo-nazi group
headquartered in Detroit and best known for their gaudy uniforms and
overly theatrical rallies, has also taken a few hits from
anti-fascists over the past few years. The NSM never did seem to
have a strong hold in Chicago, likely due to having rivals like the
Creativity Movement with a longer-running presence. The NSM was
largely centered around Susan Lenner, with regional leader Mike
Schloer based in the suburb of Naperville. Lenner’s employment in a
head shop/adult toy store in the heart of Chicago’s gay district
proved to be too juicy a secret to keep to ourselves, and eventually
resulted in outings and demonstrations that cost Susan her job.
Mike Schloer proved just as easy to topple, as his (now ex-)wife had
kicked him out of the house and later went public with sexual assault
accusations. Schloer never really got his act together and had to
move on to Kentucky, where telephone calls revealed that those
neo-nazis that had taken him in had also gotten tired of him and
kicked him out of the house. He was last seen at a November 2012
NSM rally in North Carolina where he appeared to be intoxicated.

Perhaps the biggest blow to the National Socialist Movement in
recent years was the failure of a national conference in April 2011.
Believing themselves to be safe while holding an internal planning
conference inside a church in Pemberton, NJ, the NSM members were
surprised to discover about 30 antifa standing outside their door.
The resulting brawl was captured on video by an unknown NSM lackey
and posted to Youtube, and showed several neo-nazis injured with the
security detail uncertain about how to handle the situation. The
next day’s public rally still happened, although the neo-nazis that did
show up appeared more than a little nervous about the opposition in
the counter-demo crowd.

In May of 2012, white supremacists representing the American
Third Positionists, National Socialist Movement, Council of Conservative
Citizens, and others gathered in the Chicago suburb of Tinley Park
at a restaurant to participate in a forum on white nationalist economics
organized through Stormfront.org. During the event, approximately
20 anti-fascists entered the restaurant and confronted the white
supremacists, resulted in a rumble that injured five fascists badly
enough to be taken to the hospital and completely disrupted the
meeting. Two of the white supremacists at the meeting were arrested
by police, one for illegal possession of a firearm and the other
for a warrant for possession of child pornography. Five affiliates of the
Indiana-based Hoosier Anti-Racist Movement were later arrested some
distance away and charged with a number of felonies. These five,
known as the Tinley Park Five, have been charged with 37 counts
including armed battery and mob action. While the Tinley Park Five
were all granted bail, it should be noted that not a single one of
them received a bail amount of less than what George Zimmerman was
initially given for shooting Trayvon Martin to death. Anti-fascists
in across North America have been active in drumming up support for
the Tinley Park Five since the incident, and working on fundraising
and prisoner support has been a major focus for South Side ARA for
some time.

http://tinleyparkfive.wordpress.com

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