The following is a background document for the study in the psychology of hate group recruitment. We go from this document to the interviews with Dan Joshua Sims, Charles Scott, Matt Harrison, Kerry Noble, Christopher Brodsky, Ernst Zundel and the several young women who are now anti-racists. Segments of these interviews can be found on Youtube. A listing of the interviews can be found at anti-racist videos and anti-racism on Youtube. We are working on posting more on Youtube and several will be posted by the end of 2009. There are also several more background reports to be published here by the end of the year.
Results of an Interview with Carney Nerland
Stony Mountain Penitentiary, 10 December 1993
On December 10, 1993, I interviewed Carney Nerland in Stony Mountain Penitentiary, Manitoba, five days before his release into the Witness Protection Programme of the RCMP.
From the night of the killing of Leo LaChance in Prince Albert on January 28, 1991 until the weeks preceding his mandatory release from a Manitoba federal prison on December 15, 1993, Nerland had consistently refused to grant interviews. His reticence to speak with the media was matched only by his protracted refusal to testify at a Saskatchewan government Commission of Inquiry convened to examine the shooting death of the Cree trapper by Nerland, a regional leader of the white supremacist Aryan Nations organization. When finally threatened with the possibility of contempt proceedings, Nerland relented and testified at commission hearings scheduled in the Saskatchewan Penitentiary under extraordinary security conditions in March, 1993. Much of the testimony that emerged out of these hearings was "without substance and truth," as the report of the Hughes Commission noted (p.32 - cited in Report of Commission of Inquiry into the Shooting Death of Leo LaChance, Queen's Printer, Government of Saskatchewan, 1993; cited hereafter by page).
After considering testimony from 41 witnesses, the LaChance/Nerland Inquiry concluded its public deliberations in Prince Albert in May, 1993. From the Inquiry's conclusion to Nerland's release into the RCMP Witness Protection Programme, Nerland still maintained his silence, despite the efforts of journalists to contact him for comment on a case that carried with it the sense of an incomplete and unsatisfactory conclusion.
In the weeks leading up to his release, however, Nerland broke his silence by seeking out as his "journalistic confidante" the well-known CBC Manitoba broadcaster, Ms. Leslie Hughes, who conducted extensive interviews with Nerland for approximately 40-45 hours in a section of the Stony Mountain Penitentiary medical ward in proximity to the cell in which Nerland was being held in segregation from the rest of the prison population. (Nerland's willingness to speak on the record about aspects of his life and of his involvement in racist and fascist organizations -- and to do so in some detail over the period of approximately three weeks -- introduces new complexities into a case already fraught with many diversions, deflections, ambiguities and outright lies. It should also be noted that the bulk of Nerland's interviews with Ms. Hughes were not recorded. The one exception, as far as can be ascertained, is a brief statement by Nerland which was broadcast on November 1 by CBC Saskatchewan, in which Netland accused Bob Mitchell, Saskatchewan Minister of Justice, of violating a Supreme Court decision that the RCMP need not disclose the name of an informant within the Aryan Nations, a charge which the Minister denies. See Dave Traynor, "Mitchell disregards Nerland's call for resignation," Saskatoon Star Phoenix, December 1, 1993.)
I was approached by the journalist to assist her in preparing for the interviews. To that end she was provided with numerous documents and news accounts about the killing of LaChance, the Inquiry and its aftermath, as well as with historical accounts of the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations and the white supremacist movement with which Nerland was involved. (These included accounts by the Klanwatch Project, the Centre for Democratic Renewal, and information from members of Western Canadian anti-racist organizations.) A copy of Larry Ryckman's film on the Aryan Nations was also provided. I further suggested some guidance as to possible lines of questioning. On at least two occasions, after consultations with anti-racist activists, I provided her with sets of written questions concerning various aspects of far right, white supremacist, neo-Nazi activity in Saskatchewan and elsewhere. During the course of her interviews I then requested that she ask Nerland for his permission to have me interview him.
The interview with Nerland, conducted in the presence of Ms. Hughes, who also posed questions during the approximately two-and-a-half hours of discussion, was conducted on December 10, 1993. The following summary and assessment of Nerland's claims are based on my notes, the notes taken by the journalist, and follow-up discussions with her. It should be noted that I had access only to Ms. Hughes' notes from the session of December 10, although she did provide me with some of Nerland's responses to the written guestions which I had submitted to her during the course of her interviews. Further, it is important to include that Nerland did not impose any restrictions as to when and how the information conveyed in our interviews could be released. Any restrictions or constraints reside in the material itself and are likely due to the terms of the Witness Protection Programme to which Nerland would have been subject.
Let it also be noted that I sought out the opportunity to speak with Nerland for information that might assist antiracist activists in gaining greater insight into a case whose complexities will remain for many years to come. The information which I could elicit was not publicized through the media, even though some journalists were ready to run with the story. My aim has been to convey this information -- despite its limited usefulness -- to those who work in the field of tracking and monitoring hate groups. It is my view that sensationalistic headlines would not only have been counterproductive, but might also entail certain risks for those involved. For if it is the case, as Nerland stated, that his appointment as Saskatchewan leader of the Aryan Nations constituted a security breach within that organization -- given that an informant would have been put into a position of regional leadership by national leader Terry Long -- then the matter of security must also be raised for those who came into contact with Nerland. Indeed, as shall be shown below, one of the themes to which Nerland returned was the question not only of his own security, but the risks that anti-racists face when working to expose and oppose the hate purveyed by members of the far right, white supremacist, neo-Nazi network in Canada and abroad.
Readers are also asked to consider the position in which an anti-racist activist who has followed this case finds himself when presenting the results of this interview. As noted to Nerland, until there is more detailed information forthcoming both from himself and from the RCMP, we have no grounds upon which to assess the credibility of Nerland's more substantive claims. It is thus not the aim of this report to rehabilitate a man who remains entangled in a complex web of white supremacy and State protection. Our attention must not be diverted from the fact that Leo LaChance, a gentle and peace loving Cree trapper, was brutally killed and refused assistance by a man who had long been part of a violent racist organization and in whose store premises, according to sources, there was continual racist discourse, distribution of neo-Nazi propaganda and paraphernalia, and possible recruitment and consolidation of racist organizing. It is the family of Leo LaChance and the aboriginal people of Saskatchewan who are now compelled to live with this death and with the ensuing uncertainties and ambiguities surrounding this case.
Issues Raised During the Interview
The interview covered a wide range of topics, none of which could be explored in any depth, despite the interviewer's efforts to press Nerland for details on specifics, especially as regards his activities in Prince Albert. Because of the many issues raised, we will summarize the points raised and not attempt to cast the interview into a well-shaped narrative. The sporadic nature of Nerland's responses and what was perceived as his ongoing deflections from any in depth exploration of substantive issues necessitates conveying this information in an almost pointlike manner. It must also be underscored that the summary intends only to convey what Nerland claimed and that many of his statements necessitate the requisite skepticism, especially given that until there is further corroboration, the grounds to assess his credibility are not at hand:
(1) Nerland began the interview with a reference to the 1992 Winnipeg trial of Bill Harcus and two other members of the Manitoba Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Noting that Daniel Levitas, then Executive Director of the Center for Democratic Renewal, had been called by the Crown to serve as expert witness in that case, Nerland lauded that choice, called it "quite a coup" that Levitas appeared on the witness stand, stated that such testimony was useful and then wondered why anti-racist activists from Manitoba and Saskatchewan were not called to serve in a similar capacity at the Prince Albert Inquiry. He claimed to know that we (i.e. anti-racist activists) were in a position to offer valuable information at the hearings, but that we were "shut out" by the Commission. He claimed further to have overheard a conversation (without specifying when) by Commission lawyer Morris Bodnar, according to which anti-racists were viewed by the Commission as a "bunch of wingnuts" (a favoured term of Nerland himself, one which he also used to describe Nazis he had known).
He contended that the exclusion of such expert testimony was deliberate and thus indicative of how the Commission operated, as if the Inquiry did not wish to put too much on the record about the case. Nerland derided the work of the Commission, claiming cynically at one point that it was simply an NDP Government ploy "to get the Native vote." Although Nerland did not show that he knew the name of the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism, referring instead to "your people in Saskatchewan," he did argue that anti-racist coalitions are effective in their work against neo-Nazi organizations. Indeed, on a number of occasions he contrasted what he took to be the effective monitoring work of anti-racist groups with the well-funded, yet ineffective "song and dance" of state-sponsored multiculturalism.
He said that the state uses multiculturalism for a "divide and conquer agenda," adding: "... look at the record of how the state operates." He seems to have been briefed during his time at Stony Mountain Penitentiary (likely from clippings conveyed to him by a member of the Manitoba KKK in packages of material brought into the prison before their ostensible falling-out) about the Manitoba Coalition's work against the KKK. Referring to the Manitoba case, Nerland said: "You had success at the trial and [human rights] tribunal." He went so far as to claim that the Aryan Nations and KKK were wary and even afraid of such grassroots anti-racist activity, since the monitoring of the far right by anti-racist groups is based on reliable information. He noted that "you know about these matters." While addressing these issues Nerland attempted to convey the impression that he, too, in his own way, was engaged in anti-racist activity from within "the movement."
(2) At the outset of the interview Nerland also referred to security matters, including concerns for his own safety upon release from prison. He claimed to have seen a Manitoba Klan hit list with the name of a Manitoba activist "right at the top." He added that Harcus was "fixated" on that activist and that "he really had it out for him," but again, such claims have not been corroborated. (Indeed, it is likely that the RCMP could affirm or deny these claims, but even if the federal police had such information it would likely not be conveyed to those concerned.)
He said that letter bombs were a favoured form of violence and urged caution, stating that he did not know what kind of security measures we might have taken, but that precautions were in order. In speaking of Harvey Kane, National Director of the Calgary-based Jewish Defence League of Canada, an activist whom Nerland has derided and reportedly threatened on various occasions, Nerland even spoke well of him, noted his effective work and also urged caution, stating -- with reference to the Final Solution group in Alberta -- that "the skinheads will take his head off!" He stated that members of the neo-Nazi movement have "a long reach ... long memories" in this connection.
(3) When asked about his views concerning the work of the then newly-formed Winnipeg Police Hate Crimes Unit, Nerland showed contempt for municipal law enforcement efforts to shut down the Klan, despite the successful infiltration of the Manitoba KKK by the Winnipeg Police. He derided local law enforcement as "flunkies" who could not make it into 'higher levels' of law enforcement and claimed that local police were "racists from top to bottom." He claimed that local police "screwed up the investigation" of the Klan and obliquely referred to "different levels of professionalism" in terms of law enforcement with the RCMP occupying a "level of sophistication" that is situated between municipal police, on the one hand, and the state intelligence service on the other. He referred to this as a "three-tiered system."
Despite a position put to him to the contrary, Nerland was adamant in disclaiming the significance of the successful and unprecedented Winnipeg Police infiltration of three klaverns of the KKK in the Manitoba capital and the Interlake region. His derisive attitude towards local law enforcement could have a number of motivations, including his attempt to cast himself as an agent working for 'more sophisticated' levels of law enforcement and state monitoring. (It is to be noted that these and other points from the interview have been conveyed to members of the Winnipeg Hate Crimes Unit for their own assessments and that Harvey Kane and others have been briefed on Nerland's contentions.)
(4) In the context of his critical comments about Canadian government sponsored multiculturalism and race relations programmes, Nerland spoke at some length about the racism that permeates North American society. Citing Canada's treatment of aboriginal peoples, Nerland said: "Canadians are not the guardians of racial ethics." He said that Canada had set up its own apartheid system. He knew about the South African architects of apartheid having studied Canada's treatment of aboriginals for their own implementation of a policy of 'separate development' in South Africa.
Further, because of the way in which Canadians and Americans of Japanese descent were interned during World War II and in light of the exclusion of Jewish refugee attempts to emigrate to North America during the Third Reich, Nerland stated that "America has no right to judge" the Germans. In a telling statement Nerland asked:
"What kind of example has North America set for Europe?" In speaking about "America's" influence on Europe and specifically Germany, Nerland displayed the attitude of a Germanophile* who is highly affirmative, laudatory and even uncritical of 'things German' and who -- like many conservative (but not necessarily fascist) Germans -- bemoans the Americanization of postwar Germany with its "Coca Cola culture." Nerland's views struck this interviewer as indicative of an approach which infers a cultural "betrayal" of Germany by "the West," i.e. by "America" and which exculpates Germany of responsibility for the atrocities of the Nazi genocide. Yet even on this score Nerland did note the "terrible" treatment of Jews during 1933-45.
(* Nerland's Germanophilia extends to his discourse, as was evident from the course of our conversations which were interspersed with frequent German sentences and phrases. He brought a number of books with him to the interview, including material on Nazi history and an anthology of the 19th century German philosopher Schopenhauer who he preferred, when asked, to Nietzsche, without further specification.)
In terms of Nerland's views on racism in Canada, Nerland also commented on the Reform Party. He noted that with the electoral collapse of the NDP in the 1993 federal elections, there was now nothing to counteract the right-wing drift in Canadian politics. He claimed that for all of its populism, the Reform Party would be co-opted by "the system" and that "Manning will become a systemite." Using a designation in common usage within the far right to refer to 'moderate' and 'safe' right-wing positions, Nerland called the Reform Party "kosher conservatives."
But he noted -- both in connection with the rise of the Reform Party and the escalation of far right hate group activity -- that "there's never been a more dangerous time than now"; dangerous, it was understood, in the sense that the far right and neo-Nazism are more firmly entrenched now than at any time since the demise of Hitler. He argued that fascism is firmly embedded within the American polity and even claimed that the emblem of the Roman Imperial fasces is depicted on the floor of the United States Senate. He spoke, as well, about Nazi war criminals being allowed into the U.S. and Canada after 1945 with the support of government officials.
(5) Nerland's discussion of the Aryan Nations cast a wide span. These points will be summarized as follows: - Nerland argued that neo-Nazis the world over receive inspiration and support from the Idaho-based Aryan Nations. He noted the interconnectedness of the neo-Nazi movement in various countries and that there are direct links between the remnants of the original Nazi movement and neo-Nazi organizations such as the Aryan Nations. To illustrate the connection between old and new Nazis, Nerland spent some time detailing the following incident. (We have not been able to corroborate this as yet, but there is significance to the point of this anecdote): Nerland claimed that at an Aryan Nations Congress during the 1980s Harold von Braunhut (a.k.a. Jensen) had contact with Dr. Manfred Roeder, a figure who emerged out of the scattered Nazi movement after the War and forged links between the old Nazi network and the neo-Nazi movement of the 1960s and after. Nerland said that at the time of the Nazi surrender, Admiral Doenitz (who had assumed Nazi leadership briefly after Hitler's suicide) gave Roeder a memento.
He claimed that Roeder had given yon Braunhut an original SS Proficiency Decoration which was then entrusted to Richard Butler, head of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations. Nerland showed the interviewer a depiction of this medal from one of the books he had brought to the interview room and detailed its significance. (His interest in and knowledge of Nazi memorabilia was most evident from this part of his conversation.) He noted that this rare medal is a "war badge" given as a "decoration for underground activity."
The meaning of the act of passing on the SS Proficiency Decoration to the Aryan Nations was that "the Aryan Nations views itself in a state of war" against what it takes to be an illegally constituted and "traitorous" government, a "Zionist Occupational Government," i.e. a government that is run by and for ostensible conspirators working for "the Jews." Nerland noted that this link between old and new Nazis was one of many and that groups like the German-American Bund and nativist North American white supremacist groups like the KKK had cooperated after the War.
His point in recounting this story, he claimed, was to show that the Aryan Nations "have blurred the distinction between above and below ground activity," operating sometimes covertly, sometimes overtly, sometimes with the different levels engaged concurrently, but that the willingness to commit egregious violence to implement a fascist agenda should not be underestimated, given the Aryan Nations' self-image as an organization that is at war with the society in which it finds itself.
When asked about his own involvement with the KKK, National Socialist Liberation Front, Aryan Nations and other fascist groups, Nerland stated that "at one time I believed they would straighten things out." When pressed on what he thought needed "straightening out," he did not respond, noting instead that an examination of the "25 Points of the National Socialist programme" would reveal much that one could agree with. He even made the spurious claim that "if you take out the anti-Semitism" of the Nazi platform, "there was a lot of socialism" in the Nazi programme! When the interviewer argued against that claim, he was adamant in his contention and went on to other matters. It is further the case that Nerland's current political views are difficult to pinpoint, even though he was urged to specify what kind of political ideology he would affirm, given his alleged rejection of Nazism.
The CBC interviewer has noted that on other occasions Nerland has expressed views which indicate his rejection of all electoral politics, without any indication of where he may stand on various issues. Yet, at the same time, he will have attempted to have us believe that he rejects the right-wing drift in Canadian politics.
When asked about what he could say about his time at Aryan Nations Congresses, Nerland spoke about the various figures with whom he had contact in "the movement." He said that he had met John Ross Taylor -- whom he derided as an eccentric, given his odd numerological and conspiratorial views -- and that he had once chauffered Taylor to visit Edgar Foth in Bruderheim, near Edmonton. (Foth, it is to be noted, is not only a Canadian member of the notorious Silent Brotherhood; he reportedly served as a body guard during the trial of Ernst Zundel in Toronto and played roles in the training of neo-Nazi skinheads in Alberta: see Warren Kinsella's "Web of Hate" for important documentation on the role of this shadowy figure.)
Nerland also met Louis Beam, Scott Graham, Terry Long and many others. In connection with the Aryan Nations meeting held in Provost, Alberta in September, 1990, Nerland took delight in showing how the Alberta Inquiry into that case had succeeded in forcing Ray Bradley (on whose farm the event was held and whose group BHORP, the Brotherhood of Racial Purity, was a local Aryan Nations affiliate) from his property. He noted that the Inquiry's ruling to disallow any public display of Nazi insignia in that province was a most effective action to put a dent into organized racist activity.
Nerland commented on his appointment by Terry Long as Saskatchewan leader of the Aryan Nations in September, 1989. He contended that he had never requested such a leadership position. Had he actively sought leadership, he argued, such a request "would have drawn unwarranted attention and suspicion." The role of leader was conferred on him, he said, and had he rejected the offer, this too would have caused him to be viewed with some suspicion, especially given his long involvement in the movement. He insisted that "it was given to me; I didn't want it [the position of Saskatchewan leader]."
When queried about the sources of funding for groups like the Aryan Nations, Nerland spoke of C-FAR (Citizens for Foreign Aid Reform), Final Solution, Aryan Nations and Ernst Zundel: "that's where the money is." By themselves, such broad references -- and the erroneous inclusion of Alberta skinheads in this category -- are not useful. He dismissed the Church of the Creator members he had met -- he noted that some COTC skinheads had attempted to infiltrate the Aryan Nations compound and that they were simply a "bunch of dopers" -- as "Klassenites," a reference to the now deceased founder of COTC, Ben Klassen. He noted, as is well known, the ideological differences between the more "Christian" oriented KKK/Aryan Nations/Christian Identity alliance and the racialist atheism and 'naturalism' of COTC.
Nerland delighted in scorning many neo-Nazis he had met both at Hayden Lake and during his time in Louisiana as Karl Hand's lieutenant. He spoke of David Duke in derogatory terms and referred to his gambling and pornography habits. About Wolfgang Droege, whom he met around the time Droege was implicated in a KKK conspiracy to invade and overthrow the government of Dominica, Nerland reserved a special contempt, noting his involvement in the cocaine trade and adding that he "was the most shadowy figure I have met in the movement." About Doug Christie, Nerland only said that he believed that Christie thought of him as "suspect." Many portions of the interview elicited this kind of anecdotal and superficial comment, despite efforts to get into particulars.
(6) Nerland was asked about when he will have disavowed his racist views and what his motivations were to turn against a movement with which he had been involved since his youth. He did not specify when his alleged disavowal took place. His only comment on the matter was: "When I saw what I saw in the movement, I considered it an emotional and psychical rape of the mind." He added: "I got out and I screwed 'em hard!" He entertained no further examination of this position, even though it was put to him that such statements constitute neither a disavowal nor do they show any sense of what might approximate a democratic commitment.
Nerland's comment about his experiences in the neoNazi movement constituting a "rape of the mind" require further comment. As was the case with many of his statements, this view places his ostensible rejection of fascism not in the violence and the virulent racism which the movement propagates; it situates the rejection and disavowal in his persona; it is a rejection based on what it did to his mind, as he put it. The alleged rejection is not based on other than subjective factors and, as such, is highly problematical. It still leaves open the possibility - especially in the absence of any indication of Nerland's commitment to a democratic ethic, however broadly defined - that Nerland envisions another, more "refined" kind of fascism, one that is not as sectarian as that manifest in the current neo-Nazi movement. Such statements leave open more questions than they answer.
At another point it was stated to him that "I don't know what sort of deal you made with the RCMP." At this he got agitated -- the only time during the interview -- and adamantly stated that he had made no deals with the RCMP and that any protection or compensation that he might have received or would receive could not make up for what had happened. His life was destroyed and he even claimed that his family's safety was compromised. (Towards the end of the interview he claimed that the federal authorities had stopped a vehicle from entering the U.S. at the Saskatchewan border. He claimed that a Klan hit squad had intended to enter Saskatchewan so as to hurt his family, but that the authorities had preempted the plan -- a claim which, by its very nature, can only be corroborated by federal sources.)
(8) Nerland made some cryptic comments about what he took to be the repercussions of his appointment in 1989 as Saskatchewan Aryan Nations leader. He made a number of comments along the line of "I put the screw to this [movement]." He claimed that because he had been accorded regional leadership by Canadian Aryan Nations leader Terry Long, "heads would roll!" When asked about who would be called to task over this, Nerland replied that the responsibility would fall to Terry Long, ostensibly because Long would have appointed -- unwittingly -- someone who was working "to subvert" white supremacy "from within."
His appointment as leader, Nerland argued, had constituted a "breach of security" within the Aryan Nations organization, presumably because Nerland was already acting as an informant or agent at that time: "In terms of internal security within the movement," Nerland added, "this [my appointment] has been a blemish on the Aryan Nations." When asked about the role he may have played in Prince Albert in his alleged capacity of working against the Aryan Nations from within, Nerland continued: "My field of operations were specific." He neither confirmed nor denied that the RCMP or any other federal agency were "handling" his case.
When pressed further, however, to convey to the interviewer any evidence of his bona fides in terms of his claim to have prevented the development of neo-Nazi organizing in Saskatchewan or Manitoba, he stated: "If I was for real, I could have organized a serious Klan in Saskatchewan." When asked about Manitoba he discounted any role in assisting Bill Harcus in organizing the Manitoba Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. He also attempted to show how he even prevented the further development of racist organizing in Manitoba with the following reference. He claims that he was asked to see Mrs. Yvonne Platt (who resides in Manitoba's Interlake region) with the intent to offer her the Aryan Nations leadership for Manitoba, but that he did not follow through on this directive. (This, too, cannot be corroborated, although it is interesting to note that Platt has close ties to Terry and Janice Miller Long, that she had contacts with members of the Manitoba Klan and that she reportedly has ties to the Salmon Arm based Council on Public Affairs, among Canada's largest purveyors of anti-Semitic hate propaganda.)
Nerland disclaimed that those who were with him in the gun shop "were ready to be organized" into the Aryan Nations. When asked about the many unsolved Native murders in the area and whether there was any involvement from any Corrections workers or other government employees in the area, he simply said: "You're barking up the wrong tree." He claimed that the targeting of Natives is not high on the priority of Aryan Nations members, given their "subhuman" status according to the ideology of that organization ("mere cannon fodder"). Instead, the Aryan Nations are more interested in going after opinion makers, government officials and other "race traitors." These claims are both interesting and problematic. The reference to a specific field of operations leaves unanswered why it may have been necessary to place an agent -- if that is what Nerland was -- in the Prince Albert area. Is it the case, as many suspect, that there are significant numbers of overt racists -- in Prince Albert but not only in that city -- to have warranted the special attention of federal monitoring agencies? If, indeed, Nerland was playing the role of a Nazi even as he was working as an operative, did his activities contribute to the consolidation of an organized racist network in that region? A source who at one time was close to Nerland has indicated that he witnessed the distribution of hate literature and incessant racist discourse on the occasions of his visits to Nerland's store. In short, one must ask to what extent did Nerland pre-empt organized racism (as he claims, using the example of Yvonne Platt) even as he was encouraging it while ostensibly "playing the role" of a hardened neo-Nazi? The Commission's report does little to answer these and other key questions.
(9) Nerland literally laughed at the Commission's conclusion that "We know of no evidence of organized racist activity in Saskatchewan today" (p. 68). Yet aside from merely confirming the ongoing presence of KKK, Aryan Nations, and Church of the Creator members, as well as "Zundel's people in Saskatchewan," he offered no details as to organizational structure and membership of such groups in the Province. His only point was that Saskatchewan was not immune from racist organizing. Indeed, he seemed to take delight in his characterization of that province as "bargain basement Bible Belt bigots," again a typically derisive characterization, but one which was of little substance. He noted, though, that such groups should not be underestimated in terms of what they may do in the future.
(10) In discussions about the way in which neo-Nazi groups are organized, Nerland said: "If they were concentrated in one movement, they'd be easy to smash. With many groups it takes more resources to smash them." He noted that the factionalism of such groups has a number of motivations. Scott Graham of the Aryan Resistance Movement in British Columbia, he noted, while cooperating with the Aryan Nations leadership, liked to operate as "a one-man show." Nerland said that "his ego" necessitated that he operate with a relatively free hand. The same was noted of Manitoba's Bill Harcus. Even though the Manitoba Knights of the KKK were affiliated with the Invisible Empire, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan headed by J.W. Farrands of North Carolina (that group has now reorganized under the name Unified Knights of the KKK in the wake of legal difficulties), Harcus, too, through his own persistence and organizational skills, set up what Nerland noted was a semi-autonomous Klan. Nerland said that if anybody was "self-appointed," it was Harcus.
Further, the factionalism of especially Klan/Aryan Nations cells is due in part to the messianic complexes of many of the local leaders; each views himself, as Nerland said, as a kind of "Yashua," a self-image that is fuelled by the racist Christian Identity doctrine. It is clear, though, that whatever the motivation, factionalism within the neo-Nazi alliance spreads out the racist hate in a trans-regional manner and makes for more difficult monitoring and penetration. On the matter of factionalism, it is important to add that the Aryan Nations organization has split into a number of factions since the summer of 1993.
According to sources, Wayne Jones and Carl Franklin set up a splinter group during a "coup" at the Idaho compound in 1993. That "renegade" group is called the Church of Jesus Christ Christian of Montana and is based near the Idaho-Montana state line at an encampment in Noxon. A source formerly associated with the Idaho-based group has also recently claimed that Terry Long is affiliated with the Montana group.
It is known that the Hayden Lake headquarters has been in turmoil for some time, given the aged leadership of Richard Butler. The Center for Democratic Renewal has claimed that Louis Beam, a frequent visitor to Hayden Lake, may be in line to assume Butler's leadership. Other sources discount this, however, noting that Charles Tate is being groomed by Butler to assume his post. Most disturbing, though, are reports that Tom and John Metzger of the California based White Aryan Resistance (WAR) may attempt to take over the Aryan Nations infrastructure and then utilize its extensive resources to consolidate their own network. Metzger is still in financial difficulties because of the judgement rendered against him in a case concerning his involvement in the Portland skinhead murder of Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian exchange student.
It is also known that John Metzger has been working closely with Tony McAleer of B.C.'s Aryan Resistance Movement and that the two were recently barred from entering Germany. The alliances between the Metzgers and Canadian neo-Nazis may be part of a plan eventually to secure access to property and resources which are needed to consolidate the burgeoning, though factionalized, organized racist movement in the Pacific Northwest and the Lower Mainland. Given the interconnectedness of these groups with others in various Canadian regions, such plans would not bode well for the Prairies. It is known, for example, that members of the Northern Hammer Skins are also successfully contending for the same "turf" as that previously occupied by the Aryan Resistance Movement, Final Solution, Church of the Creator and other Aryan Nations/KKK-linked formations.
(11) It was the interviewer's impression that Nerland was not fully briefed on recent developments within the Aryan Nations and the broader white supremacist movement. He was interested to hear of the suicide of COTC leader Ben Klassen in August, 1993. When asked about some of the leaders he had known at Aryan Nations headquarters, he did not seem to have known that Floyd Cochran had very clearly disavowed his racist views and that upon defection from the Aryan Nations was now working actively for the Center for Democratic Renewal in the U.S., going on speaking tours with strong public statements against the hate movement.
The interviewer cited the case of Cochran not only to gauge the extent of Nerland's briefing, but for another purpose. Given that Nerland would have us believe that he was only posing as a Nazi -- at Provost, in Prince Albert, and at the Alberta Inquiry -- and that he had been actively working to pre-empt and subvert racist organizing from within, might he not have this view of himself confirmed if he, too, like Cochran, were to work actively and publicly against racism? This was the only query which caught him off guard during the interview. He asked, in German: "Was wuerde das bringen?" - "What would that achieve?/ What good would that do?" Besides, he added, there is the matter of security. It was noted that if he were to show his credibility by doing active work against racism, security could be arranged, that is, if the antiracist movement would even wish to use him in that capacity.
But the example of Cochran, as well as a similar case involving Ken and Carol Peterson of the Wisconsin Klan who, too, have come out against racism -- these precedents were mentioned as a way in which Nerland could finally make good on some of his contentions and intimations. (He was, as he repeated, full of remorse for the killing, which he continued to contend was accidental and not racially motivated.) While he did not commit himself to any such action, he said that once he is out of Witness Protection (Nerland spoke cryptically about coming out and "heading this way", i.e. towards Winnipeg in 4 or 6 months), he would be willing to speak to the interviewer more forthrightly and in greater detail and that if such were to occur it could be arranged through the broadcaster who had interviewed him over the three weeks before his release. It does not seem likely that this will occur, nor is it a priority of this interviewer to go after additional material from Nerland.
The point of recounting the Cochran episode was to elicit a sense of what Nerland may be able to do if there is some truth to his contention that he worked against racism from within the neo-Nazi movement.
The complexities of this case will remain for years to come. As can be ascertained from the summary of Nerland's statements, there was little in the way of new information that could be elicited from a man whose intelligence and cunning have served him and his handlers well in deflecting and diverting the public's attention from the details not only of the LaChance killing, but of the inextricable web of organized racism and state monitoring in which he is caught. Organized far right, neo-Nazi racism may have temporarily subsided in Saskatchewan with Nerland's incarceration and in the wake of the Commission's examination of the case, but to assume that somehow Saskatchewan is immune to the activities of individuals and groups associated with the broader network of far right, neo-Nazi hate network is both erroneous and dangerous.
In light of what antiracist monitoring agencies are predicting will be a difficult and volatile summer -- with neo-Nazis assembling for a major strategy meeting in late May near Ottawa and with heightened activities planned especially by racist skinhead formations in both Western and Eastern Canada -- it is important that all sectors in the community, from anti-racist and human rights groups through law enforcement agencies, increase their vigilance and step up their own programmes of action to expose and oppose hate groups.
If there is one lesson that can be learned from the Nerland case, it is that a community without strong antiracist action is a community that is vulnerable to the spread of hate propaganda and violent action inspired by racist ideology. We do not need a Nerland to tell us this. We need only to remember the fate of Leo LaChance to awaken us out of our quiescence and out of half-hearted measures which talk the anti-racist talk but which do little to expose and oppose the ongoing threat of organized racism.
Notes on Karl Hand's "National Socialist Liberation Front."
Nerland made reference in his interview to a number of white supremacist leaders with whom he had been in contact since 1984. In this connection he mentioned Canadian Nazis such as John Ross Taylor, formerly of the Western Guard, "Canadian Ambassador" of the Aryan Nations, and still active in Toronto in fascist circles, and Edgar Foth, the only living Canadian member of the Silent Brotherhood, also known as The Order, a violent, paramilitary offshoot of the Aryan Nations, a group whose leader, Bob Mathews, died in a confrontation with the FBI on Whidbey Island in Washington State in 1985.
Among the many Nazis to whom he made reference, Nerland singled out for particular derision his mentor in the Louisiana-based National Socialist Liberation Front (NSLF), Karl Hand, who -- according to an August, 1993 message on Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance hotline -- was due for release from federal prison in the early part of 1994. Given Nerland's training by and access to some of the highest levels of leadership within the North American organized racist network, it is instructive to get a sense of the ideological line taken by a figure like Karl Hand, a man who would have been instrumental in shaping the worldview of the young Nerland.
It is also germane to note that even if Nerland's deep roots in fascist organizing did not play a role in the decision of the Prince Albert prosecutors to charge him with manslaughter, a presentation at the Commission of Inguiry of some of his links with Nazi organizers like Karl Hand, David Duke or Richard Butler would have served a useful function in educating the public about what is meant when reference is made to "organized racist activity." It is clear, as Warren Kinsella has noted in his two books on the subject, that such activity is embedded in a "domestic terrorist network" which has international connections.
A sense of what such organized racist activity entails can be gained by examining the sources of Nerland's neo-Nazi beliefs. A key leader who was instrumental in shaping the views of Nerland was Karl Hand, in 1984 the leader the NSLF in Louisiana. During that period Nerland served Hand in various capacities and met various members of the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations and other groups, including Wolfgang Droege, now of Canada's Heritage Front, and Louis Beam, the volatile white supremacist and former KKK Grand Dragon from Texas.
Karl Hand's writings from U.S. federal prison are widely printed and circulated in the neo-Nazi movement, including various racist skinhead publications. During his incarceration, Hand would continue to formulate plans for a hardened core of committed white supremacists willing to engage in the violent implementation of racist ideology. One such tract is an article entitled "The Time is Now ... The Building of an Armed Party," an article by Hand which appeared in a Canadian neo-Nazi skinhead publication, "Stride for Pride" [SfP, #2, 1989/90), based in St. Catharines, Ontario.
At the outset of his sketch of a "revolutionary racialist" army, Hand examines predecessors in the far right's attempts to forge a political ideology, a strategy of indoctrination and an armed para-military wing:
"The 'Order' may have realized the concept, but the idea of an armed Racial party is not new to the American Racialist scene. The Ku Klux Klan was the forerunners [sic] of the armed party but it lacked one important ingredient, a Racial ideology set down coherently in print so that its adherents would have a philosophical pole to gravitate to. Without such an instrument the Klan was missing the necessary cement to hold it together, and as a result, with its goals clouded by ideological confusion, it fragmented intothe splintered movement it is today." (SfP, #2)
Other forerunners in Hand's vision of an armed party include the National Socialist White Peoples Party (itself a predecessor to the still active American Nazi Party based in Chicago), the NSLF, Tom Metzger's California-based White Aryan Resistance (WAR), the Aryan Resistance Movement and finally The Order of Bob Mathews and others. Hand refers to various works such as Hitler's "Mein Kampf," George Lincoln Rockwell's "White Power," and William Pierce's "The Turner Diaries" as forming "a historical base for our followers." Karl Hand sketches the NSLF strategy of both overt and covert operations, viewing the indoctrination of recruits into the white supremacist movement as proceeding in stages:
"As Commanding Officer of NSLF, my first priority was to establish the NSLF as the political wing of what was later to develope [sic], an armed party. Some may wonder at my strategy. I viewed NSLF as both a training ground for future revolutionaries and as an instrument of propaganda. It was a beacon for the hard core National Socialist. We trained people in stages. The masses were educated to our Racial message. Then they were guided to political activism. And lastly, we radicalized them to the idea of armed struggle." With reference to the neo-Nazi skinheads, who have emerged as the shock troops of the far right, Hand emphasizes the importance of a decentralized racist network with many sources: "Another thing is the emergence of a network of Racialist publications. I have advocated this for awhile, a many headed Hydra that ZOG would find difficult, if not impossible to shut down because of its many sources. The Skinhead movement has contributed to this significantly, with each group putting out its own Skin publication."
Hand's statements are significant for a number of reasons:
(1) They attempt to situate the current stage of white supremacist organizing within an historical framework with his references to predecessors in the movement. In doing so, new recruits, such as young racist skinheads, are conveyed a sense of being part of a movement that is not confined to one period or locale.
(2) Hand recognizes, as do many other leaders, that the traditional Klan is not the most effective vehicle to implement racist ideology. While it is doubtful that his plans for an armed racialist political party is the way to go, given the current absence of a broad social base for such overt, violent racist organizing, Hand's criticisms of 'traditional' groups like the Ku Klux Klan are shared by other strategists on the far right. To cite but one recent example. In an article reprinted in "News from the White House," a Pennsylvania neo-Nazi skinhead newsletter, Ernst Zundel writes: "I totally and without reservation reject the Klan as a meaningful or viable organization, idea, concept or solution to what is needed in the struggle for Aryan survival today and in the future .... David Duke, Tom Metzger, Terry Long and now others in Winnipeg and Montreal should serve us as warnings that the Klan is no vehicle to advance the white race's cause in the 1990s." Zundel is perhaps in part critical of the Klan and the Aryan Nations for the legal difficulties which they faced after having been infiltrated by law enforcement agencies; further, his critique of David Duke is likely due to Duke's machinations when he was a KKK leader and that he is now viewed as a 'sellout' politician in the Louisiana State House. At any rate, the criticism of the KKK as inadequate to the advancement of a "white rights agenda," such as that articulated by the Heritage Front and others, is a point made by other neo-Nazis.
(3) Hand's reference to the NSLF as the "political wing" of what was to become an armed political party is significant for a number of reasons.
(3.1.) In terms of Nerland's involvement in fascist organizing, it must be underscored that the NSLF was "a beacon for the hard core National Socialist." This echoes Nerland's own statements at an Alberta Inquiry convened to examine the "Aryan Fest '90" held at Provost.
(3.2) Not only was the NSLF an ingathering of the convinced "National Socialist;" his strategy of a stage-by-stage process of growing militancy (from racialist indoctrination to "political activism" and finally to armed struggle) echoes the strategy adopted by other white supremacists who view the implementation of their racist agenda as proceeding both overtly and covertly and who have recognized the importance of leading youth and other sectors from initial exposure to a seemingly benign "racial message" camouflaged as a "white rights" agenda through stages of increasing militancy until there is a readiness to commit violent action for the cause.
(4) The reference to racist skinheads is prescient, especially in light of the rapid growth of neo-Nazi youth groups ready to embark on extremely violent actions. It is not insignificant that Hand's article appears in a Canadian skinhead magazine. Following patterns established in the U.S. since the mid-1980s, various parts of Canada have seen disturbing levels of organized racist skinhead activity in various regions. It should be understood that such neo-Nazi youth activity is not random, but rather linked to higher levels of fascist organizing in Canada and the U.S. The violent activities of Alberta's Final Solution skinheads have been well documented and include most notably a violent attack on retired broadcaster and anti-racist activist Keith Rutherford. Final Solution was closely linked to the Idaho based Aryan Nations and its members were reported to have worked closely with Canadian Aryan Nations leader Terry Long and Edgar Foth. In British Columbia and Nova Scotia, Aryan Resistance Movement skinheads have also been associated with the KKK and Aryan Nations. Tony McAleer, also of the Canadian Liberty Net, is still active in the Lower Mainland and is known to be associated with Aryan Nations leaders such as Justin Dwyer and Liz Bullis in the Pacific Northwest. Skinheads, part of the White Power Canada network in Quebec, who were tied in with a Quebec faction of the KKK, were implicated in at least two murders in the Montreal area. Currently, various factions of the Northern Hammer Skins are active in a number of Canadian centres, including Winnipeg, the Lower Mainland, Ontario and Quebec. As of May 1994 the Northern Hammer Skins, with their extensive links to groups in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Illinois and throughout Canada, are the fastest growing neo-Nazi formation in Canada. In Winnipeg a former member of the Hammer Skins has been sentenced to two years in federal prison for assault and a second member, a reservist in the Canadian military, has also been charged in a case which goes to trial in Winnipeg on June 17, 1994. It is also known that the Northern Hammer Skins, together with the Heritage Front and other groups, will be holding an "Aryan Fest" on the weekend of May 28-29 on the Metcalfe, Ontario farm of Ian Verner Macdonald, a notorious fascist and former career diplomat and Canadian Trade Commissioner to the Middle East. It is thus the case that Karl Hand's reference to the "many sources" of racialist organizing and to the contribution of skinheads is on the mark. It is not a distant frightening prospect, but a reality with which antiracists have to contend in their assessments of the current state and future developments in the organized racist movement.