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Jailing of Proud Boys leaders removes leadership from far-right – but on a bridge in Florida two neo-Nazi groups meet…

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It was billed as the March of the Red Shirts.

On a motorway overpass, on the edge of Orlando, there was a gathering of around 50 neo-Nazis.

They were members of two antisemitic, white nationalist groups – Blood Tribe and the Goyim Defense League.

Those present, all male, were dressed in red and black and most had their faces covered.

They gave the Nazi salute, chanted anti-Jewish slurs and waved swastika flags at passing motorists.

Earlier in the day, around 15 members of a different neo-Nazi group – The Order of the Black Sun – had gathered outside Orlando’s Walt Disney World and flown swastika flags.

Jailing of Proud Boys leaders removes leadership from far-right - but on a bridge in Florida two neo-Nazi groups meet...
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Two groups of neo-Nazis meet on a motorway overpass, on the edge of Orlando

Orlando on 2 September felt a long way from the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Clearly, a collection of a few dozen extremists in Orlando on America’s Labor Day weekend is a distance short of a full scale assault on its democracy.

The prosecution and sentencing of January 6 ringleaders, Enrique Tarrio et al, removes leadership and influence from established groups that were in the vanguard of revolt at the Capitol.

The kind of extremist sentiment that drove the insurrection hasn’t disappeared, however.

There is an open question around a continuing risk posed by the far-right, how that might evolve and from whom, specifically.

On the Orlando overpass, I spoke to Christopher Pohlhaus – aka Hammer – the leader of the group, Blood Tribe.

He said he was there for “white sovereignty, white independence, white prosperity, white health”.

Jailing of Proud Boys leaders removes leadership from far-right - but on a bridge in Florida two neo-Nazi groups meet...
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Christopher Pohlhaus – aka Hammer – the leader of the group, Blood Tribe

How would he achieve that? I asked.

“Well, you know, you’re really just going to have to spread the message, get people, eh… actually really what it is, is getting white guys that are afraid of all you out of their shell.

“To be honest, they’ve been facing a lynch mob for some time and it’s a little scary to stick up for yourself some time as a white guy.”

“There is an opposition of violence,” he went on.
Read more:
How four Proud Boys secretly planned to overthrow American democracy

Former Proud Boys leader Ethan Nordean jailed for 18 years
Former Proud Boys leader Enrique Tarrio jailed for 22 years

“So what we need to do is show other white men that they can stand up too, to not be afraid, stick up for your f***ing self.”

I asked him if that meant violence and he replied: “No it doesn’t mean violence. All of our goals can be achieved non-violently.

“The most violence is on your side, subjugation of our race, that’s what we stand against.

Jailing of Proud Boys leaders removes leadership from far-right - but on a bridge in Florida two neo-Nazi groups meet...
Image:
They are members of two antisemitic, white nationalist groups – Blood Tribe and the Goyim Defense League

“The reason that you presuppose that there would be violence is because you are ready to use violence to stop us.”

The January 6th trials have removed key players from the far-right extremist movement in the United States.

The Orange County Sheriff’s office condemned the actions of demonstrators.

In a statement, it said: “We know these groups demonstrate in high profile areas in order to agitate and incite people with antisemitic symbols and slurs.

“The Orange County Sheriff’s office deplores hate speech on any form, but people have the First Amendment right to demonstrate.

“What these groups do is revolting and condemned in the strongest way by Sheriff (John) Mina and the Sheriff’s office.

“They are looking for attention and, specifically, media attention.”

David Spalter, Chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Orlando, said of the demonstrations in the city: “To the groups promoting antisemitism and other forms of hate in our community, we have nothing to say, as they are not worth engaging.

“To their message of hate, and their attempt to instil fear by proclaiming that they are everywhere, we say this: ‘We’re not going anywhere. We will continue to build our community, celebrate our traditions, and combat those who wish to tear us down with hate’.

“We are not alone in this fight. We have, and will continue to, work with our friends, neighbours, law enforcement and leaders to exclaim, in one, unified voice, that hate has no place here. ‘Never again’ is not a slogan, it’s a solemn oath.”

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