White supremacists, newly emboldened by their racist buddy Donald Trump, are working to grow their numbers, actively recruiting on college campuses, and using social media to to expand their reach. They’re also training for violent confrontation.
The Daily Beast reports that Marine veteran Erik Sailors heads the Texas chapter of Patriot Front, a group formed in the wake of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville in which a white supremacist killed anti-racist protester Heather Heyer, and “uses his military experience to train other extremist recruits in military tactics.” The report is based on messages leaked to media nonprofit Unicorn Riot from an internet forum for white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
The report continues:
Erik Sailors is the head of a Texas chapter of Patriot Front, a white-supremacist group that splintered from one of the main groups at the deadly white power rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, last year. Sailors gives “hip pocket classes” (short, informal military class) to white nationalists, from the “gear list” of what members should bring to protests (Marine Corps issued combat boots and decontaminate wipes) to lessons in mixed martial arts and hand-to-hand combat techniques, the leaked messages reveal.
Sailors is hardly the first former Marine to join a white supremacist group in recent months: Former Marine recruiter Dillon Ulysses Hopper led Vanguard America, the white nationalist group that Charlottesville killer James Alex Fields Jr. appeared with during the violent march. Another veteran, former Marine Corporal and leader of white nationalist group Identity Evropa Nathan Damigo, was reportedly invited to speak at the Charlottesville rally. In May, ProPublica and Frontline revealed that Marine Vasillios Pistolis had bragged about violently assaulting anti-racist counter protesters in Charlottesville.
While the Marines opened an investigation into Pistolis and military policy nominally excludes white nationalists, it still has a huge white nationalist problem. In October 2017, a Military Times poll found that “nearly one in four troops polled have seen examples of white nationalism among their fellow service members,” and nearly 42 percent of non-white troop respondents claimed to have experienced or witnessed examples of white nationalism in the military.