Meet the Oregon Chapter of the American Freedom Party: Part One

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AFP members (left to right): Laura Cole, Tyler Cole, Angela Purdy, and Gary Dean Purdy II
Originally posted on 01/12/2014

The American Freedom Party (AFP) is a nationwide white supremacist organization that markets itself as an upstanding, family-friendly, and nonviolent political party by portraying white people as an oppressed group, and themselves as an advocacy organization similar to the NAACP. However, locally, they have embraced a number of white power veterans with histories of race-based violence and murder, such as Kyle Brewster. Scratch the surface and it is apparent that AFP is a fascist party with an extermination agenda.
AFP uses tactics and rhetoric borrowed from the activist left and libertarian right as part of their work to build a white nationalist political party. AFP is part of a fascist tradition known as Third Positionism. Third Positionism presents itself as a new, ‘third” alternative to both right and left-wing politics by advancing hard-right ideas through adopting and deploying radical left signifiers in ways that confound mainstream expectations for what the right looks like; an example of this is utilizing environmentalist framing to promote neo-Eugenicist policies. However, rather than being a new dimension of political thought, Third Positionism actually harkens back to the very origins of fascism--in Mussolini’s Italy, populist trappings were paradoxically used to crush the working class.

The American Freedom Party models itself after large, contemporary European fascist parties such as Golden Dawn in an attempt to build similar broad bases of support. Part of that strategy is creating an activist wing called Free America Rally (FAR). FAR and AFP have built momentum locally by doing low risk, short duration forms of activism that they then document. They are efficient propagandists and have created a wealth of online videos and photos to promote their organization from these frequent, short events. Their recent ventures into Portland show that they are emboldened by their successes in the surrounding suburban and rural areas. AFP's primary target audience is Ron Paul libertarians and racist paleoconservatives. The local branch of American Freedom Party has, however, attempted to make inroads at liberal left events such as at an anti-war rally in Portland. This tactic has precedent--both the anti-globalization and Occupy movements were used as recruiting grounds by the racist right. Racist groups incorporated these movements’ populist messages into their own propaganda, added a hefty dose of anti-semitism, and produced distorted fairy-stories about a dwindling and oppressed white race.

Antifascists must crush AFP now before they are able to grow stronger. There are many ways that AFP can and should be confronted here in Portland. As militant Antifascists, we believe in taking the fight to them, which means not waiting to pounce on them when they have events. While they certainly should be confronted at their events, we believe that this strategy is insufficient for damaging and halting their organizing. Waiting until AFP stages demonstrations affords them control of the timeline and opportunities to prepare for confrontation. We therefore believe that other strategies need to be used in tandem with counter-demonstrations: specifically, that they should be deprived of income and peace of mind at all times until they capitulate.
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The man on the left is Tyler Cole; the man on the right is wearing the Totenkopf (Death’s Head) on his shirt, an SS Nazi symbol.
How It Began : The Short Con

The groundwork for the American Freedom Party was laid in May of 2009 by a Southern Californian racist street gang called Freedom 14. The number “14” is used widely by white supremacists as it refers to the fourteen words, "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children," a phrase originally coined by the late white supremacist and author, David Lane. Freedom 14's initial attempt at forming a popular political party for white nationalists was called the Golden State Party (GSP). According to their old Facebook page, GSP stated that they were “a political protest-party” whose goal was “to win political representation for European-Americans." Merely four months after its inception, in September of 2009 the Golden State Party fell apart when it came to light that their chairperson, Tyler Billington Cole, had been using aliases such as “Eugene Cameron” and “Tim Robbins” to conceal his criminal past. Cole had served a 5 year sentence in Arizona for a felony conviction of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in 2001. He was also convicted in 2008 of possessing an illegal machete in California.

Extreme Makeover: Nazi Editio n

Shortly after the collapse of the fleeting Golden State Party, on October 15th of 2009, Freedom 14 held a meeting to elect a new leader and a new party name. The leader they chose was William Daniel Johnson and it was then that they became known as American Third Position (A3P).  Officially launched on January 4th, 2012 A3P’s website stated that they were, "both a political party and activist organization dedicated to the interests vital to the preservation and continuity of ethnic European communities within the United States of America." This new description was a more focused and sophisticated version of GSP’s original statement of purpose.

In February of 2012, as a part of #OpBlitzkrieg, which targeted various Neo-Nazi organizations around the world, members of the Anonymous Movement hacked A3P's website as well as forums and email accounts connected to the group. One year later, on February 1st, 2013, A3P announced that they would be changing their name to the American Freedom Party, though their "passionate defense of freedom," as well as their platform and values would remain the same.


Even though the Golden State Party has changed their name and leadership multiple times, their affiliations have remained the same. In a photo posted on October 31st to AFP’s Facebook page, Tyler Cole (left) is seen standing next to current party directors Tom Sunic (center) and Kevin B. McDonald (back) at a conference in Washington D.C. for the National Policy Institute (NPI), a white nationalist think tank “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of European people in the United States, and around the world.”
White Victimhood: The Zero Sum Game of Human Rights

AFP ideology revolves around the idea that white people are in danger due to large oppressive anti-white forces at work in the world. AFP talks about a "white genocide", an appeal to deeply held racist fears and beliefs. The power of this idea should not be underestimated. Many white people believe that the historical scales have turned and that reverse racism is an actual phenomenon. For example, a study conducted by researchers from Tufts University’s School of Arts and Sciences and Harvard Business School found that self-described white Americans believe they have replaced blacks as the primary victims of racial discrimination in contemporary America. The study finds that the majority of whites believe that anti-white racism is a bigger problem than what blacks face. 11% of white respondents assigned the maximum rating of 10 to the seriousness of anti-white discrimination while only 2% reported the same of anti-black racism. Eleven percent of white Americans joining a fascist party is bone-chilling.

Many people do not understand the difference between institutional oppression and interpersonal discrimination . Institutional or structural racism refers to large patterns of white supremacy that are replicated and enforced by institutions such as the criminal justice system and schools. It is buttressed by widely held beliefs, values, and historic relationships within a culture.

One contemporary manifestation of racism is the belief that it no longer exists. In our society, most white people do not have a critical analysis of white supremacy, nor any awareness of how central it is to the way our society is structured. Pervasive forms of white supremacy are largely invisible to the white American-- for example the creation of a large, permanent underclass via the systematic, mass criminalization of black men went largely unnoticed by whites. Racism is not understood beyond individual interactions. So despite empirical realities such as better outcomes for whites in areas like income, home ownership, health, and employment, the subjective feelings of indignation, persecution, fear and so on that white people have are considered evidence of the growing problem of reverse racism .

Worsening economic hardships, the disappearance of the middle class, unemployment, and environmental collapse are all tied in many white minds with the advancement of other races. Many whites see human rights as a zero sum game, where in order for one group to get human rights, they must be taking them from elsewhere.
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From left to right: Unknown AFP member, Shawn Saunders, Devin Chapman, and Gary Dean Purdy II, outside a courthouse in Oregon City for the South Africa Project Rally, April 27, 2013
Circular Logic: “Anti-Racist is a Code for Anti-White”

“Anti-Racist is a Code for Anti-White” is the mantra of the American Freedom Party. AFP promulgates the idea that people that oppose racism are actually trying to destroy the white race. This idea alchemizes anyone promoting anti-racism into an enemy bent on destroying whites, which proves the existence of the anti-white conspiracy. The use of the word ‘code’ is deliberate--it implies dishonesty and a secret agenda, and portrays anti-racists as liars, misinformation agents of the imaginary “Zionist Occupational Government,” or ZOG, an ever-popular theory among white supremacists.

Conspiracy theories have their origins in very old antisemitic narratives. Jews are called “bankers,” “Rothchilds,” or “Illuminati” in contemporary adaptations. The 911 Truth Movement and swaths of the Occupy movement both disseminated narratives that blended populism with antisemitism. Conspiracy theory catches hold where there is a twinkle of political consciousness, but still a strong incentive or desire to maintain the existing order. In the case of AFP, the hope is that white men will once again have easy access to decent, middle class lifestyles once the underhanded oppressors are overthrown. The truth is that poor white people are being exploited and screwed over, but it isn’t by a secret anti-white cabal. Poor white people are being screwed over alongside everybody else by the horrors of a capitalist system which sees people only as resources to use up and throw away. People sense that they are being lied to in the mass media, and that there is some hidden danger lurking. Unfortunately this gets redirected by white nationalists onto people they view as enemies, rather than at the systems that are actually oppressing them.
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FAR’s newest logo
The Free America Rally

The Free America Rally (FAR) is the activist wing of AFP. It originated as a nationwide anti-immigration protest and morphed into a subdivision of AFP. FAR tends to look more like your stereotypical bonehead crowd with flight jackets, white pride t-shirts, and white-laced boots. FAR seems to have developed as a way to maintain a role for the edgier white supremacist types without marring the wholesome, family-centered aesthetic of AFP. FAR gives a flavor of militancy and subculture to the organization. It is also a good place for the orphaned remnants of white power crews past to find a niche. This strategy of creating nominally separated branches appears to attempt to reconcile the age-old conflict in the hard right between mass movement party-builders and insurrectionary militants.


For long-time white supremacists, one advantage of FAR is that the organization is not yet subject to the same hazards and risks associated with white power gang lifestyle. Local old timers with prior convictions often have probation and parole restrictions which prohibit them from fraternizing with other white supremacist gang members, so FAR functions as a loophole, a space where they can maintain contact with other dangerous white supremacists. In areas where convicts are prevented from voting, FAR acts as a way for racists with records to participate in electoral politics. However you look at it, FAR’s identity as a political protest movement lends them an air of legitimacy. Finally, members of FAR get to be heroes to a new generation of bigots. The combination of militant aesthetic and direct action rhetoric, minus the gang baggage, is attracting a younger set of recruits as well. Meanwhile, maintaining  AFP as a somewhat separate entity reduces the risk of losing appeal for racists who are interested in appearing more mainstream and do not want the stigma of being viewed as extremists or thugs.
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Books by Harold A.Covington, White Supremacist Author & Leader of Northwest Front.
Council of Conservative Citizens

Here in Oregon, the local AFP seems to also be representing the Council of Conservative Citizens. On two different websites, CoCC lists Free America Rally’s email address as its primary contact information. CoCC is  the successor organization to the segregationist White Citizens' Council. They seem to hope to catch all possible recruits through myriad organizational masks, and to inflate their numbers in their propaganda by claiming numerous organizations attended or participated in events, when in fact it is the same people.

Northwest Front

On 4/20/13 (Hitler’s Birthday), The American Freedom Party tabled the Collector’s West Gun Show in Portland with several books by Harold Covington of the Northwest Front, a White Nationalist group that advocates white people settling the Pacific Northwest and creating a whites-only homeland. At another event, AFP members took and posted video of themselves handing out Northwest Front literature. It is unsurprising that the American Freedom Party would choose Covington’s literature, considering his own success as a white supremacist politician. In the 1970’s and 80’s, prior to founding the Northwest Front, Covington served as the National Socialist White People’s Party chief. Covington took fifty-four thousand votes in the 1980 North Carolina Republican primary for state attorney general, accounting for 40 percent of the total votes. Covington moved to the United Kingdom for a time where he helped found Combat 18, a British neo-Nazi network that openly promoted violence. C18 continued to have their mail routed through Convington’s address after he returned to the states.

Nationalist Movement

The Nationalist Movement is a Christian Identity organization that is based in Mississippi. A couple of members of the local FAR/AFP grouping are also affiliated with the Nationalist Movement. The Nationalist movement as well as Northwest Front were reported as having joined AFP in their “Protest of the racist media” on July 7th 2013 in Milwaukie, OR. From the photos it looks like the same cast of characters that typically attends AFP events.

Christian Identity is a white supremacist form of Christianity that views whites as the true chosen people of the bible. Adherents of Christian Identity view other forms of Christianity as heresy. They believe that the tribes of Israel were comprised of whites that later resettled in Europe. Christian Identity followers believe that Adam and Eve are the ancestors of whites alone, and that Adam and Eve were preceded by non-Caucasian races often identified as "beasts of the field". To support their theory on the racial identity of Adam, Christian Identity proponents claim that the Hebrew etymology of the word “Adam” refers to someone that can “show blood in the face”. Many believe that Jews are compelled by their Satanic ancestry to carry on a conspiracy against the Adamic seedline. In addition to promoting religious racism, Christian Identity advocates the murder of homosexual people, and the total submission of women to men.

Other Associated White Nationalist Groups

Several long-standing fascist groups have adopted Third Positionism, including the American Front, a racist and antisemitic group founded in the 1980’s by Bob Heick. American Front adopted Third Positionism as an ideology until 2002. At that point David Lynch, who had become their de facto leader, decided to drop the rhetoric and turn the American Front into a more typical bonehead crew.

Modern forms of Third Positionism are consistent with current trends in emerging neo-fascist organizations. National Anarchism, for example, is a movement calling for an anti-capitalist style of ethnic separatism; It is another iteration of this style of fascist appropriation. Despite stylistic and nominal ideological differences, National Anarchism and the American Freedom Party enjoy considerable social and political overlap. Notably Welf Herfurth , German expatriate to Australia, National “Anarchist” and Author of “A Life in the Political Wilderness,” supports the American Freedom Party.

American Freedom Party shows a particular political affinity for the neo-fascist Greek Golden Dawn party, who over the summer of 2013 were the recipients of a major fundraiser held by AFP. Until recently, Golden Dawn was the fifth largest party in the Greek Parliment, taking 6.97% of votes in the 2012 election . Members and affiliates of the Golden Dawn party made international headlines for assaulting over 300 people, mostly immigrants, non-white people, gay and trans*people. In September 2013, several of its members murdered antifascist rapper KillahP (Pavlos Fyssas), eventually paving the way for the arrests of several of the Golden Dawn party’s key players, including party leader Nikolaos Mihaloliakos, and an investigation into their activities by the Greek government, which had previously been complicit in the neo-fascist group’s activities (particularly the Greek Police who made up a staggeringly large portion of party membership). The FAR site recently advertised rallies at Greek consulates in support of Golden Dawn, although the Oregon chapter performed a small, private memorial instead. It should be noted that Golden Dawn itself is not Third Positionist; however, both groups are ultra-nationalist and the American Freedom Party aspires to the kinds of political wins achieved by Golden Dawn.

Escalating Activities and Recent Events in Portland

American Freedom Party and its activist branch, FAR, have adopted an effective strategy for producing relatively large amounts of propaganda with minimal personal risk. They typically stage an event of some kind that serves primarily as a camera opportunity, producing plenty of video and photo material to post on their websites afterwards. Though recently AFP has been worming its way into Portland proper, originally, the locations of their demonstrations were held in more rural and suburban areas. Afterwards AFP would report these events as having occurred in cities such as Salem or Portland despite having been actually held in more remote outskirts of these places.These events were scattered over quite a wide area which made them difficult to respond to. Even when we anticipated an event say for some invented White Pride holiday they were touting, it could potentially end up happening in Eugene, Longview, or another far-flung area. They usually selected locations that were sparsely populated, had fast moving traffic but few pedestrians (highways), or somewhere that had ample police protection (courthouse).  It seems that they were testing the waters to see what they could get away with. These events are very short-lived, generally lasting around thirty minutes. The events now occur in more densely populated areas, and they may also be slightly increasing in length. The very short length of these demonstrations has posed a logistical challenge for Rose City Antifascists.  Even when we receive notification that an event is starting, by the time we arrive at the location, the fascists have usually already packed up and left. They usually bring children along to appear family friendly and to avoid physical confrontation. Over time, they grow bolder and bolder and have begun trying their hand at this tactic in Portland itself. This represents a major shift and underscores how important it is for them to be immediately smashed.

Conclusion

The American Freedom Party has the potential to bring white supremacists of various camps together under a banner that affords them some legitimacy and protection. AFP’s messaging is sophisticated and appeals to a wide audience of disaffected whites. The Oregon branch of AFP has been making forays into Portland. This creates a climate of terror for people of color, queer people, trans*people, and Jews in Portland. It also may embolden other white supremacist groups that are skulking about in the greater Portland area. American Freedom Party must be crushed immediately. Any and all tactics should be used to oppose them. While we believe in the importance of militant action against fascists, if this is not an option for you, there are still lots of ways that you can help out with the fight against AFP in Portland:

  • If you see them, chat them up, Get information such as names, physical descriptions (tattoos, height, weight, scars, etc), interests, jobs, and so forth. Sometimes a tiny tidbit of information can lead to a big breakthrough. Write these things down as soon as you can so you don't forget specifics.
  • Heckle them.
  • Interfere with their recruiting.
  • Let people around you know that they are fascists.
  • Take pictures on your phone, particularly faces.
  • Pay attention to their vehicles.
  • Remember the faces from part two of this article.
  • Get the word out in your school, workplace, social club, union and so forth about what American Freedom Party is.
  • Make phone calls to their jobs and landlords. (use *67 to block your phone number)

In order for us to dismantle white supremacist organizations any and all information helps! Send us tips!  If you have any additional information on American Freedom Party or Free America Rally members or activity in your area, or any information relating to racist or fascist organizing in or surrounding Portland, then please contact Rose City Antifascists. Together we can continue to Fight Them Back!

Click here to go to Part Two