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Supreme White Alliance: An ADL Backgrounder

The Supreme White Alliance (SWA) is a racist skinhead group formed in 2007 by racist skinheads from several different states. The group is relatively small, with about two dozen active members, but SWA is notable in that even though its members are mostly in their 20s, many already possess a lengthy history of white supremacy, including belonging to a variety of other white supremacist groups. SWA thus combines the energy of youth with the veteran hate of hardcore racist skinheads.

In October 2008, law enforcement officers from the Crockett County (Tennessee) Sheriff's Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives uncovered an alleged violent plot by two young white supremacists, one of whom, Daniel Cowart of Bells, Tennessee, had been a member of SWA and had attended SWA events such as a Hitler birthday celebration in Cincinnati in April 2008.

Cowart and the other suspect, Paul Schlesselman, allegedly plotted to embark upon a murderous rampage, primarily of African-Americans, which would culminate in a possibly suicidal assassination attempt on presidential candidate Barack Obama. The suspects also allegedly planned to murder 88 people ("88" being a white supremacist code phrase for "Heil Hitler") and behead 14 more (for the 14 Words).

Goals of the Group

SWA is open about its white supremacist ideology (sometimes brazenly so; one leading member, Joshua Steever, has the word "racist" tattooed on his forehead). SWA organizers proclaimed its existence in the summer of 2007, describing it as an organization that would bring together unaffiliated racist skinheads, neo-Nazis, neo-Confederates and other white supremacists under one banner. "We have battled with many," read one SWA statement, "and are tired of the fighting within. So we have decided to build a Club that will no longer be part of others [sic] infighting."

From the beginning, SWA members expressed concern both about the state of the white supremacist movement and the state of modern white youth, which they declared was "falling into the hands of the enemy." Describing themselves as "modern day Separatists," SWA declared that "we must start a new era of the working class White youth. That is exactly what we plan on doing."

The SWA has also claimed that it exists "for the Defense of our beloved White Race," wholeheartedly adopting the concept of the "14 Words," a popular white supremacist slogan ("We must preserve the existence of our people and a future for white children") created by deceased terrorist David Lane. "Our Western Civilization is falling into the hands of extinction," bemoaned the SWA in one statement.

SWA's perceived enemies consisted primarily of African-Americans, Hispanics and Jews. "I despise treachery, tyrants and treason in government," declared one SWA leader," and hope we are ALL collectively WAKING UP to the Jewish global White genocidal Conspiracy, while also recognizing the Gentile…traitors who Aid and Abet them."

SWA Membership

As initially formed, SWA included members from a variety of states, from Florida to California to Rhode Island. However, the group soon coalesced around a core of white supremacists from the Midwest and Upper South. These were people who knew each other not only from on-line conversations, but through actual contact, by virtue of membership in previous organizations as well as attendance at events such as Nordicfest, the annual white power music festival hosted by the Imperial Klans of America in Kentucky. SWA has officially allowed only men as members, though women can be "supporters."

Currently, SWA claims "state representatives" in Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, Kentucky, and Texas (as well as contacts in Argentina and Holland), but SWA has members in other states as well.

A number of SWA members have had past or concurrent membership in other white supremacist groups. Steven Edwards, for example, the current leader of SWA, is the son of IKA founder Ron Edwards and was a member of that group for a number of years. The younger Edwards formed a chapter of Blood & Honor, the international racist skinhead group, and a white power music group, the Totenkopf Saints, before joining the newly formed SWA. Richard Kidd, the Cincinnati white supremacist who became Ohio state leader for SWA, was another former IKA member.

Other SWA members have claimed membership or associations with white supremacist groups ranging from Troops of Tomorrow to the Aryan Renaissance Society to Aryan Nations to the Creativity Movement, among others.

Relations with Other Groups

Billing itself as a unifying group and containing members with past and present connections to other white supremacist organizations, SWA has usually tried to maintain good relationships with other groups in the white supremacist movement. However, the fractious nature of the racist subculture, combined with their own white power machismo, has inevitably led to frictions with various white supremacist groups, especially the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement. Missouri SWA leader Jarod Anderson even claimed in an angry declaration in early 2008 that NSM had banned all SWA members from its white supremacist social networking site NewSaxon. However, within a few months, SWA and NSM members had arrived at an uneasy peace. By May 2008, SWA members had even been invited to an NSM barbecue in Missouri.

SWA continues to maintain good relations with other whites supremacist groups, especially those in the Midwest and Upper South, including the Ohio State Hooligans, IKA, the Vinlanders Social Club, Blood & Honor, and others.

Group Symbology

Like other white supremacist groups, the SWA quickly adopted a set of images and codes to identify the group and its members. Chief among them is the number 43, a coded reference derived from the formula 19 (S – the 19th letter of the alphabet) + 23 (W) + 1 (A) = 43 (SWA).

The SWA designed several logos and a patch for members to wear, and in 2008, some members began getting SWA tattoos. SWA logos and patches typically contain the initials SWA, a swastika and the number 43, along with one or more other hate symbols, including the Wolfsangel, the Triskele, and the Confederate flag.

SWA and the Cowart/Schlesselman Arrests

Following the arrests of Cowart and Schlesselman in October 2008, SWA members posted to their Web site a statement admitting that Cowart was a probate member of SWA but claiming that he had been "ousted" earlier in the year.

Yet whatever the truth of his claimed ouster, the alleged intentions of Cowart and the hardcore white supremacist views of SWA were certainly compatible. The SWA, for example, endorsed an essay by David Lane (who coined the 14 Words) called "Fighting Words" in which Lane declared that the white race was doomed unless it had an "unseen army of total Barbarians, devoid of pity, of compassion, of compunctions, of restraining moralisms."

Lane called for an "army" with a commitment equal to "that of Palestinian suicide bombers fighting to free their land from the jewish [sic] scourge." Only out of anarchy and revolution, he claimed, could a "new WHITE nation arise."

SWA members echoed such calls elsewhere. One member, Jarod Anderson, declared his determination to "re-light the Fire in the Movement." He added that SWA was his "Crew and Life," and that he would die for it "as much as I would for my Family." Ohio SWA member Richard Kidd claimed, in May 2008 in an Internet posting titled "Its [sic] time for war," that "We will all die one day so lets [sic] die for some thing [sic] not nothing."

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