Racist Group: Middle America Understands

When Shelly Niemeyer found racist fliers in her upper-middle-class St. Louis suburb, she was horrified and couldn't believe anyone in her community would agree with the message. But one of the people behind the fliers says maybe Niemeyer doesn't really know her neighbors.

"That's where our members come from," said Shaun Walker, chief operating officer of the National Alliance, whose fliers have been showing up with new frequency in people's driveways, mailboxes, newspapers and even children's trick-or-treat bags in middle-class neighborhoods from Arizona and Colorado to New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Virginia over the past four months.

Most recently, residents of towns all across eastern Nebraska have reported waking up to find messages inside plastic bags weighted down with white stones on their lawns.

And Walker said those fliers — touching on issues such as immigration and race relations — distributed in neighborhoods where professionals live have brought many new members to the white separatist organization, which the FBI has called one of the most dangerous hate groups in America.

"They're trying to recruit a different kind of member from within these communities, people who might appear to be liberal but are disillusioned," said Devin Burghart, a researcher with the Center for a New Community, a faith-based group that tracks white separatist organizations.

When Niemeyer found the flier on her lawn, it took her a minute to realize that it was from white separatists and not about a missing child, she said. But when she did she wanted to know more about the group, even though she felt uncomfortable going to its Web site.

Her mind was not changed by what she found.

"It said, 'Distribute these in neighborhoods that would be receptive,' " she said. "That was even more disturbing to me, that somebody would consider our neighborhood receptive to this."

The description of disillusioned might fit "Chuck," a doctor who asked that ABCNEWS not identify him further. He said he used to consider himself a liberal but joined the National Alliance four years ago, after seeing a television interview with the group's founder, William Pierce.

"I started out like most people, a bubble-headed liberal, but over the years I started to realize our policies weren't working," he said. "I started trying to find out why, did a lot of research. It starts to dawn on you that we're fed a lot of propaganda and once you start going, you just keep going and wind up in the radical right."

The group has seen unusual growth over the last three months, since it began distributing fliers in Colorado warning white women that they would get AIDS if they had sex with black men, Walker said. The campaign was unleashed after news of allegations that NBA star Kobe Bryant, who is black, had sexually assaulted a white woman in a Colorado resort hotel.

"That was the biggest response we've had from a flier in our 33-year history," Walker said.

He declined to tell ABCNEWS how many members the National Alliance has or how many new members had joined since August. When asked if ABCNEWS could interview one of the new recruits, he said only members who are "ideologically sound" were allowed to speak for the organization.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...