National Socialist Movement
|“||When you put on your NSM uniform, you are not just representing the NSM but all National Socialists that fought and died for our Race and our Cause! You are showing the Jews and the rest of the world that our Führer is not forgotten and that his life's struggle was not in vain!||„|
|~ Excerpt from the NSM's official website.|
The National Socialist Movement (NSM) is a neo-Nazi organization based in Detroit, Michigan. It is a part of the Nationalist Front. Originating as a splinter group of the American Nazi Party, the Party claimed to be the "largest and most active" National Socialist organization in the United States.
Although classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, it refers to itself as a "white civil rights organization", and compares itself to the NAACP. The party also objects to being referred to as "racist", and "Neo-Nazi", stating that such descriptions of their goals are unflattering and inaccurate. Each state has members in smaller groups within areas known as "regions". The NSM holds national meetings and smaller regional and unit meetings.
The NSM was founded in 1974 in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the "National Socialist American Workers Freedom Movement" by Robert Brannen and Cliff Herrington, former members of the American Nazi Party before its decline. In 1994 Jeff Schoep became the group's chairman, a position he held until January 2019.
The NSM was responsible for leading the demonstration which sparked the 2005 Toledo riot. In April 2006, the party held a rally on the capitol steps in Lansing, Michigan, which was met by a larger counter-rally and ended in scuffles. In 2007, some members left to join the now-defunct National Socialist Order of America, which was led by 2008 presidential candidate John Taylor Bowles.
In January 2009, the party sponsored a half-mile section of U.S. Highway 160 outside of Springfield, Missouri, as part of the Adopt-A-Highway Trash Cleanup program. The highway was later renamed the "Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel Memorial Highway" by the state legislature.
In 2009, the NSM had 61 chapters in 35 states, making it the largest neo-Nazi group in the United States according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. As of 2015, the NSM reports having direct organized presences in seven countries around the world, and other affiliations beyond that.
On April 17, 2010, 70 members of the NSM demonstrated against illegal immigration in front of the Los Angeles City Hall, drawing a counter protest of hundreds of anti-fascist demonstrators.
In May 2011, the NSM was described by The New York Times as being "the largest supremacist group, with about 400 members in 32 states, though much of its prominence followed the decay of the Aryan Nations and other neo-Nazi groups".
On May 1, 2011, Jeff Hall, a leader of the California branch of the NSM, was killed by his 10-year-old emotionally troubled son, who claimed he was tired of Jeff beating him and his stepmother. Hall had run in 2010 for a seat on the board of directors of a Riverside County water board, a race in which he earned approximately 30% of the vote.
The NSM held a rally on September 3, 2011 in West Allis, Wisconsin, to protest incidents at the Wisconsin State Fair on August 5, 2011 when a large crowd of young African-Americans allegedly targeted and beat white people as they left the fair around 11 p.m. Police claimed that the incident began as a fight among African-American youths that was not racially motivated. Dan Devine, the mayor of West Allis, stated on September 2, 2011, "I believe I speak for the citizens when I say they [the NSM] are not welcome here."
As of March 2015, the organization had planned a return to Toledo, Ohio, for a rally focusing on crime in the area.
In June 2016, the group helped organize (with the Traditionalist Youth Network) the rally which turned into the 2016 Sacramento riot. In November 2016, following the election of Donald Trump, the organization changed its logo, replacing the swastika with an Odal rune in an attempt to enter mainstream politics.
The account of its leader, Jeff Schoep, was suspended by Twitter on December 18, 2017.
On February 28, 2019, the Associated Press reported that, according to Michigan corporate records, Jeff Schoep had been replaced as director and president of the NSM in January by James Hart Stern, a black activist. Stern became its leader after receiving a call for help from Schoep who wanted to get out of the organization due to the legal issues that were mounting against it, and he has said that he wants to use his position to undermine the group. Stern had previously been instrumental in dissolving a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Michigan. Stern wrote in a blog post in February that he had worked with Schoep to replace the Nazi swastika as the group's symbol with an Odal rune, and that he would be meeting with Schoep to sign a proclamation in which the movement would disavow white supremacy.
Stern and Schoep began a relationship when Schoep called Stern in 2014 to ask about his connection with Edgar Ray Killen, the head of the Klan chapter that Stern dissolved. According to Stern, Schoep said that Stern was the first black man he had reached out to since Malcolm X. When Stern learned that Schoep was a white supremacist, he arranged for a meeting between the two men. They have since engaged in debates over the Holocaust, the swastika, white nationalism, and the fate of the movement, with Stern attempting to change Schoep's mind. This he was not able to do, but Schoep came to him in 2019 for advice about the group's legal problems. He felt that the National Socialist Movement was an "albatross hanging around his neck" and wished to cut ties with the group in order to start a new organization that would be more appreciated in the mainstream of white nationalism. Stern then encouraged Schoep to turn control of the NSM over to him, and Schoep agreed.
Stern filed documents with a Federal court in Virginia, asking that it issue a judgment against the group before one of the pending Charlottesville-related lawsuits went to trial, but because the law does not allow a corporation to be its own attorney, Stern is looking for outside counsel to re-file the papers. Stern did not plan to dissolve the movement, in order to prevent any of its former members from reincorporating it. He planned to turn the group's website into a place for lessons about the Holocaust.
The group's former community outreach director, Matthew Heimbach, commented that Schoep had been in conflict with its membership, which resisted the ideological changes that Schoep wished to make, and wanted to remain "a politically impotent white supremacist gang". Heimbach estimated that the group had 40 dues-paying members as of last year. In a video posted on his blog, Stern took credit for "eradicating" the NSM. Burt Colucci is currently the Movement's 'Commander,' a position disputed by many outside of the neo-nazi group.
James Stern died of cancer on October 11, 2019, leaving the future of his plans for the NSM uncertain.
Jeff Schoep has since renounced his racist past and involvement in any racist groups.