8/10/2020: update on Matt Gurtler and Marjorie Taylor Greene here.
As this report was being prepared for publication Thursday evening, far-Right militiaman and 9th Congressional District candidate Michael Boggus released a video on Facebook, stating that he is the new State Director for American Patriots USA. Since neo-Nazi Chester Doles and the white supremacists around Doles remain in the organization, we assume this is a shell game.
Summary: American Patriots USA (APUSA) was formed last year in north Georgia by Chester Doles, a longtime neo-Nazi. As documented in this and earlierreports, the organization is a thinly disguised front group for white supremacists. APUSA has spent the last few months building a broader front of “constitutionalist” Republican candidates, including several people of color, which it uses to mask its agenda. The white power organization even hosted a current State House Representative, Matthew Gurtler, at their March meeting. We document APUSA’s “Trojan horse” effort and highlight the complicity of GOP candidates and networks in normalizing white supremacist organizing.
Paul L. Townsend, a resident of LaFayette in north Georgia, born in 1964, is an active member of the League of the South (LoS), a white supremacist and Southern secessionist organization. Townsend attended the August 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia with the LoS contingent that was at the forefront of violence that day. Following the Charlottesville rally – in which one counter-protester was murdered and dozens more injured – Townsend stated that he was “proud that I participated in the Charlottesville rally” which he “knew […] would be epic.”
Townsend set up a profile on the Russian social networking site VKontakte (VK) the month before 2017’s “Unite the Right”. On VK, he is connected to many LoS members and other white supremacists. Townsend posted a photo of his younger self in camouflage fatigues in a desert environment, suggesting that decades ago he was in the US military.
The Sacred Knights KKK members now serving as Georgia state leaders for the Soldiers of Odin are part of “Soldiers of Odin – Heiðinn Division”. The SOO “Heiðinn Division” in the United States was founded by a murderer who was released from prison last year. In this article we will provide more information about the SOO “Heiðinn Division” and its Missouri-based leader; about the Soldiers of Odin Georgia chapter president and its vice president; and finally, about another white supremacist affiliated with SOO in Georgia.
In the end, the November 4 call to action captured the imagination of the far-Right just as much — if not more — than it did working class people fed up with Trump’s rule (or even other Leftist organizers.) On widely-circulated social media posts, YouTube videos and stories on Right-wing websites, the November 4th protests were portrayed as an “antifa” plot to usher in civil war, with likely mass violence that day. As nonsensical as November 4 conspiracy theories were, many on the far-Right paid attention and believed them. Just as the “Pizzagate” conspiracy theory led to a true believer firing shots in a restaurant, some observers began to worry that “antifa” “civil war” hype could lead to real violence from people determined to play hero against an imaginary threat.
While “Refuse Fascism” and “antifascists” include variants on the same term, “antifa” groups such as our organization were generally not involved in November 4 planning or promotion — a point that seems to have been missed by portions of media, even though a quick glance at our social media could have cleared up any confusion.
In Atlanta on the evening of the 4th, Refuse Fascism rallied in Little Five Points, attracting several dozen to their protest. Large amounts of police staged nearby. A group of counter-protesters waved an American flag catty-corner from the Refuse Fascism event. Other Right-wing individuals moved within in or infiltrated the Refuse Fascism crowd. Heavy rains brought the entire spectacle to an early end. There were no clashes.
The remainder of this article sets out which far-Right forces did and did not show up for the anticlimactic “civil war” in Atlanta.