While some of its local sympathizers are likely to stick around, the country’s largest remaining neo-Nazi group has officially pulled up stakes in Minnesota: the Hitler-inspired National Socialist Movement (NSM) has left its longtime Minneapolis headquarters and relocated to Michigan, according to a press release dated Dec. 29.
NSM head Jeff Schoep moved from Hutchinson to Detroit, bringing the group’s business operations with him, says Michael Brooks, a former Detroit resident who now lives in Toledo and covered NSM-sparked riots there for the Free Press two years ago.
Along with the move, NSM announced leadership changes and touted that it is “aggressively strengthening the organization with mandatory leadership requirements including mandatory training seminars and other measures designed to increase the level of efficiency across the board.”
The white separatist group has a track record of going into minority and mixed-race communities to rally, as it did in North Toledo, Ohio, in October 2005. When police shielded neo-Nazis from angry residents, the crowd turned violent. Schoep commented that the “Negro beasts proved our point for us.” (Its last Minnesota event of note was a January 2007 book-burning.)
But in Detroit, it’s Schoep (at right) who’s in the minority: around 88 percent of the city’s population is non-white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (by contrast, 18 percent of Minneapolis residents are African American).
Reached by email, Brooks said he didn’t think Schoep moved to stir up conflict. “I wouldn’t expect Schoep to suddenly turn into a one-man vigilante force, and I don’t see this as a ‘belly-of-the-beast’ move,” he wrote. “Schoep has always been a low-key, behind-the-scenes operative who participates in few public rallies.”
NSM has attracted the attention of hatewatch groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center for, among other activities, recruiting young people through its Viking Youth Corps. A SPLC report in 2004 stated that Viking Youth “will be taught military skills, national socialist theory and practice, the history of the white race and, in general, how to become ‘a more effective warrior.'” At that time, Schoep claimed there was so much interest that “we can barely keep up.”
The group has two endeavors that presumably target that demographic: a profitable record label (now promoting Arrow Cross, dubbed “real rock that you will be proud to turn up load [sic]!”) and a social networking site for “people of European descent.”
Like MySpace meets Mein Kampf, the site states, “Hot topics of interest include defending the rights of white people, preservation of European culture and heritage, reform of illegal immigration policies, workers rights, withdrawal of our military from an illegal Middle Eastern occupation and promotion of white separation.”