Over the past two years, what began as a small collection of racist skinheads in Stratford, Connecticut, has grown into the largest and most active extremist group in the state. Known as the Connecticut White Wolves, the group describes itself as a "white nationalist skinhead organization" and promotes an ideology espousing hatred of Jews and racial and ethnic minorities. Members, though typically young, have been involved in a number of criminal acts in Connecticut and have forged ties with nationally recognized hate groups, including the National Alliance, the Creativity Movement, White Revolution and the Ku Klux Klan.
The White Wolves were founded by Kenneth and Matthew Zrallack, two brothers from Stratford. Ken Zrallack is the White Wolves' recognized leader, although the group initially made its presence known in the community in 2002, after Matthew Zrallack and another student appeared on the cover of Stratford High School's 2002 yearbook giving a Nazi salute. Around that time, the Zrallack brothers and a few of their friends set up a White Wolves Web site and an Internet message board called "The White Order" to attract new recruits and spread their message.
Although based in Connecticut, the White Wolves have not limited their activities to that state. From the group's inception (ostensibly on April 20, Adolf Hitler's birthday), members have sought to expand the group's influence and attract new members outside of Connecticut by traveling to other parts of the country and reaching out to established hate groups. In August 2002, the White Wolves attended a rally in Washington, D.C., to protest U.S. support for Israel that was sponsored by the neo-Nazi National Alliance.
The following year, the group took part in "White Unity Fest," a racist event held by the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in Osceola, Indiana, and participated in a cross burning. White Revolution member Mark Martin described Ken Zrallack and his group in Osceola: "Shortly after I arrived I met Ken and his Whitewolves from CT. Talk about a brilliant display in their black T-shirts, black pants, red suspenders and boot laces! Meeting Ken was truly one of the high points of the weekend. We had communicated several times over the last month and his motivation, determination and yes, tattoos, came through loud and clear…"
Two months later, in October 2003, members of the White Wolves joined an anti-immigrant rally at Liberty State Park in New Jersey organized by white supremacist radio talk show host Hal Turner.
The group's attempt to link to other hate groups paid off in 2003 when Kenneth Zrallack, recruited by Mark Martin, was named the Connecticut contact for White Revolution, an Arkansas-based neo-Nazi group with regional chapters throughout the country. "We are now part of an elite force," Zrallack proclaimed. This new position provided Zrallack with the opportunity to enhance the groups' contacts among other like-minded racists locally and nationally.
In Connecticut, the White Wolves have gained notoriety for a series of assaults and other crimes. In September 2002, Hamden police responded to an incident at a bar involving Arthur Legere, a member of the White Wolves. Legere and two other men, including Louis Wagner, a Grand Titan for the Connecticut White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, allegedly made threats against bar patrons. By the time police arrived, Legere had struck a customer in the head with a pair of brass knuckles. Legere was arrested and charged with second degree assault, breach of peace and carrying a dangerous weapon. In April 2003, Legere was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison (the White Wolves consider him to be a "prisoner of war"). No charges were filed against Wagner or his companion.
Legere's arrest was just the first of several run-ins between the White Wolves and local law enforcement. On May 21, 2003, several White Wolves tried to disrupt a meeting of a lesbian and gay rights group at the Stratford public library by chanting and holding up signs that read "Homosexuality Is a Sin," and "No Way Will CT Turn Gay." After being ordered by Stratford police to leave, Matt Zrallack was arrested for grabbing a plainclothes officer by the throat. Zrallack was convicted on third degree assault and breach of peace in January 2004, and sentenced to six months in prison with an additional three years probation. At his trial, Zrallack denied membership in the White Wolves and claimed he did not share his brother's beliefs.
Another White Wolf, Brian Staehly of West Haven, currently awaits trial on charges of bias intimidation and second degree mischief stemming from an incident in Trumbull in September 2003. Local police, responding to a noise complaint at an underage party, witnessed several white teenagers surround a car containing two African-Americans and their white friend. When the car attempted to pull away, Staehly punched out the rear window with his fist, according to police. Staehly faces up to three years in prison if convicted.
In December 2003 in West Haven, after receiving a call from a woman who complained that her neighbors had yelled racial slurs at her, police showed up at the scene and identified several members of the White Wolves; one member was cited for breach of peace and interfering with police officers, but was later released. Fliers and other materials from Resistance Records, a distributor of racist records, were found at the scene.
Like other established hate groups, the White Wolves promote their hateful ideology through leafleting neighborhoods with white supremacist propaganda. Over Valentine's Day weekend in 2004, numerous local businesses and residences in Milford and Stratford were leafleted with fliers promoting the Wolves' ally, White Revolution.
The Wolves have also shown up at events not normally associated with racist skinheads, including anti-war protests, assemblies held by regional civil rights' committees and other community meetings in Connecticut. In several instances, members of the National Alliance and the Creativity Movement also took part in these events. The Wolves did not gain any converts through these efforts, but garnered considerable publicity.
The White Wolves have received far greater media attention than most other racist skinhead groups, which unsettles Connecticut citizens who fear that the group is trying to recruit new members, especially in area schools. In response, local government and community groups in Stratford, Milford and Trumbull have taken steps to decry hate and reiterate that their communities are accepting of all people. These steps have included town council resolutions reiterating a commitment to acceptance, police training for officers from across the region, the creation of an anti-hate task force, community forums on issues of bigotry and discrimination, the creation of a "Declaration of Tolerance" for local residents to sign and anti-bias educational initiatives.
Despite these efforts, however, police and community leaders in Connecticut will likely continue to contend with ethnic and racial tensions created by the White Wolves.