White supremacist groups are openly protesting and recruiting in cities with large black populations like Chicago, targeting prominent African-American politicians and leaders, and drafting support from more members all while under protection of a compromised police force and a white nationalist president.
When several members of groups with ties to white nationalists showed up at a rally criticizing Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx, it represented the latest attempt by the groups to raise their profile in Chicago.
What happened at the rally outside the Daley Center earlier this month, experts say, is part of an intensifying movement by the groups to recruit new members in recent years. While the organizations still do not have a large following in the Chicago area, their actions — which include flyering city streets and college campuses — are part of a disturbing trend that can’t be ignored, Foxx and other public officials say.
Members of three groups — the Proud Boys, the American Guard and the American Identity Movement — attended the rally organized by the Chicago police union, according to witnesses and photos the men posed for that were posted on social media.
The Proud Boys has been labeled a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — a designation the right-wing group denies. The Anti-Defamation League calls the group “overtly Islamophobic and misogynistic,” noting that some members are “anti-Semitic and racist.”
The American Identity Movement (AIM) is considered by some experts to be a rebranded version of Identity Evropa, which the SPLC dubs a white nationalist group and the ADL considers white supremacist. Current leaders of AIM deny that and have distanced themselves from Identity Evropa.
The SPLC has also designated the American Guard as a hate group, while the ADL calls the group “hard-core white supremacists.”
While the police union denied any knowledge the groups would be at the rally, Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, said the event offered group members a chance to be seen at a more “mainstream” event.
The rally came after Foxx’s office’s controversial decision to drop charges against actor Jussie Smollett for allegedly faking a hate crime.
“It represents a significant recruiting opportunity,” said Levin, who two decades ago helped write the hate crime manual used by Cook County prosecutors. “They can ensconce themselves into rallies that are already highly-charged and actually get coverage as opposed to doing it themselves.”
And if you believe the police union "didn't know" white supremacists were coming to these anti-Foxx rallies, then understand that America's police and military are both full of white supremacists like Identity Evropa.
Four more members of the United States armed forces are now under investigation for their ties to a white nationalist group, military officials have confirmed to HuffPost.
A lance corporal in the Marines, a master sergeant in the Air Force, a specialist in the Army, and a private in the Minnesota National Guard have been identified as belonging to Identity Evropa, an organization listed by the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center as an extremist group.
There are now a total of 11 Identity Evropa members known to be under investigation by the U.S. military. Last month, HuffPost found seven other U.S. servicemen were being investigated over their connections to the group.
The investigations, which could last for months, are looking into whether the 11 servicemen violated military rules regarding discrimination and extremist activity. All 11 could face expulsion from the armed services, or even be court martialed and potentially sentenced to time in prison.
Members of Identity Evropa, like many other white nationalist groups, have long used the messaging platform Discord to chat with one another. Last month the independent media collective Unicorn Riot obtained Identity Evropa’s Discord messages and published them online.
Since then a network of anonymous anti-fascist activists have mined those messages for clues as to the offline identities of the Identity Evropa members, most of whom posted on Discord under fake names. Among those exposed by anti-fascist activists are cops, teachers, a lawyer and members of the U.S. military.
And let's not forget that the reason the SPLC and other anti-fascist orgs are doing the detective work here is because President Orange Creamsicle disbanded the DHS task force looking into this.