A planning document for Richard Spencer’s visit — which anti-racists accessed and which we are now publishing in full — suggests that the would-be killers from Texas were not mere supporters of Richard Spencer, but traveled to campus as part of Spencer’s operational plan for the day. The operational document also reveals details such as there being an after-party for Alt-Right militants who assisted with the Gainesville event, and that Spencer and other “VIPs” planned dinner with donors while visiting the city.
The operational plan developed for Gainesville by Richard Spencer’s closest associates reveals coordination with both the University of Florida and police, with both parties described by the Alt-Right racists as “cooperating.” According to the plans distributed to staff at Spencer’s National Policy Institute, The Patriot Front, an openly fascist organization, was a key organization participating in the racist “Task Force” for Gainesville. The planning document appears to have made plans for larger numbers of white nationalists than showed up, again pointing to Gainesville as a flop for Richard Spencer’s movement. This defeat happened at a time when the racist “Alt-Right” is desperate for any sort of win, in the aftermath of the bloody and disastrous “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville this August.
The “Operation Gator” document mentions that white nationalists had plans for a “flash mob” in the event that University of Florida cancelled Spencer’s speech — with racists showing up elsewhere on campus or in Gainesville to make their presence felt (with predictable intimidation and likely targeted violence). In actuality, Spencer did not have his speech cancelled by the University but rather cut it short himself after being humiliated by the student/community mobilization. The “Operation Gator” plan stated that participants ought not bring guns. However, it was in the context of political defeat (but not any University cancellation) that some of Spencer’s allies attempted to settle scores with anti-racists, nearly committing a murder.
For years, Zachary Johnson of Alpharetta has quietly but constantly worked for the white nationalist cause. Zac Johnson is mostly active in writing, social media, and especially graphic design for the racist movement. He also travels to white nationalist conferences and organizes with “Alt-Right” circles regionally. Using an online alias, Johnson is clear that he admires Adolf Hitler, who he refers to as “uncle.” When promoting his custom bird house business or trying to rent his vacation cabin in the North Georgia mountains, Johnson is less upfront about his beliefs. We believe that key players in the white power scene deserve public scrutiny. Zachary Van Johnson is one such figure.
On Sunday, February 19th of this year, anti-racists removed nine white power stickers which had recently been placed around Georgia State University (GSU) campus in Atlanta. With one exception — propaganda for the white nationalist Traditionalist Worker Party being spotted for the first time — it was a typical evening, since removing racist propaganda from GSU as well as Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University campuses had become almost routine by this stage. Indeed, anti-racists had become so efficient at removing white supremacist materials that many GSU students only noticed anti-racist messages around campus, without realizing that some of these had been placed in direct response to far-Right and racist “white pride” materials.
This article provides context about recent organized bigotry on GSU campus, by discussing its precursors: white nationalist efforts at Georgia State University from late 2015 until the end of last year. Our focus is racist agitation by Patrick Nelson Sharp, who made headlines when he tried to form a White Student Union at GSU when he began there in 2013. Sharp graduated GSU with a bachelor’s degree at the end of 2016. White nationalist activism at GSU during this time was not limited to Patrick Sharp’s efforts, but Sharp was at the center of plenty of it, enough that by telling his individual story we can also tell the larger story of racist campus activism.
We believe it is important to write about Sharp’s activities, even months after Sharp has left Georgia State campus. Although Sharp himself has left, his playbook is in use by racist organizers still a part of the student body. Just as Patrick Sharp’s 2013 White Student Union at GSU (later the “Atlanta Area White Student Union”) first tried to mimic Matthew Heimbach’s White Student Union at Towson University in Maryland, current far-Right racist organizers at Georgia State University may be improvising around themes played earlier by Sharp.