Vanguard America (VA)
- VA is a white supremacist group that opposes multiculturalism and believes America is an exclusively white nation.
- VA spreads their hateful propaganda via the internet and by distributing fliers, posters, and stickers.
- VA is particularly focused on recruiting young men and has engaged in unprecedented outreach efforts to attract students on American college campuses.
- VA has participated in white supremacist rallies and protests around the country.
- VA members have targeted Jewish institutions with hateful propaganda.
Vanguard America (VA) is a white supremacist group that opposes multiculturalism and believes that America is an exclusively white nation. Using a right-wing nationalist slogan, Blood and Soil, VA romanticizes the notion that people with “white blood” have a special bond with “American soil.” This philosophy first originated in Germany (as Blut und Boden) and was later popularized by Hitler’s regime. In the same vein, VA uses “For Race and Nation” as a variant slogan. Following this theme, VA maintains that America “is to be a nation exclusively for the White American peoples who out of the barren hills, empty plains, and vast mountains forged the most powerful nation to ever have existed.”
Originally VA was firmly in the alt-right hemisphere with focus on white identity. At that time the group was called American Vanguard. However, the VA has increasingly demonstrated a neo-Nazi ideology. In one iteration of their manifesto, posted in February 2017, the VA explained that America was built on the foundation of White Europeans, and that the glory of the Aryan nation must be recaptured. VA has also stressed the need for the nation to be free of the influence of the international Jews. In July 2017, VA tweeted, “Those behind the subversive elements eroding our culture often have something in common. Jewish influence is prevalent, invasive, dangerous.”
In April 2017, VA broadened their ties to the neo-Nazi movement by participating in a white supremacist rally in Pikeville, Kentucky. The event was organized by the Nationalist Front (NF), an umbrella group co-led by Jeff Schoep, the leader of the neo-Nazi Nationalist Socialist Movement, and Matthew Heimbach, the leader of the Traditionalist Workers Party. A short time after the rally, VA became a member of the NF.
Dillon Irizarry (aka Dillon Ulysses Hopper), a Marine Corps veteran from New Mexico, has been leading the group since early 2016. During a speech at the previously mentioned neo-Nazi gathering in Kentucky, Irizarry said that VA started in California two years ago and that he took over leadership about a year ago. Irizarry also said that the “future is about the youth” and (for that reason) his group base is 18 to 24 years old. At the time, he also claimed approximately 200 members, in 20 different states.
There are small, active VA chapters in Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.
VA has some paramilitary characteristics. In states with open carry laws, Irizarry, who uses the title Commander, and several other members have openly carried firearms during rallies and protests. The standard uniform for members consists of khaki pants and a white polo. At several venues, members have stood and marched in military-styled formations, and utilized military facing movements and rest positions.
Membership is typically male. However, VA recently formed a women’s division. In June 2017, VA tweeted, “The woman has her own battlefield. With every child that she brings into the world, she fights her battle for the nation. Strong nations grow from strong families. Vanguard America Women’s Division.”
Vanguard America is active online, particularly on Twitter, but is best known for posting white supremacist fliers at universities across the country throughout the 2016-17 school year. During the year, the ADL counted at least 32 incidents where VA fliers were posted on campus in Arkansas, California, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington.
In addition to distributing racist and anti-Semitic flyers, Vanguard America has directly targeted Jewish institutions with hateful propaganda. Recent incidents include:
- Shreveport, Louisiana, March 11, 2017: VA stickers were left at two synagogues.
- Lakewood, New Jersey, July 2, 2017: an anti-Semitic VA banner was hung at the Holocaust memorial.
- Houston, Texas, July 16, 2017: two synagogues had anti-Semitic VA flyers taped to signs, doors and gates on their property.
Vanguard America has organized small public events and participated in events organized by other white supremacist groups. These events have included events focused on the preservation of Confederate monuments, anti-Muslim protests, and events billed as “free speech rallies.” Recent public activity includes:
- Austin, Texas, July 16, 2017: VA members waved a “For Race and Nation” banner from a highway overpass.
- Washington D.C., June 25, 2017: VA members participated in a free speech rally with Richard Spencer and Identity Evropa.
- Austin, Texas, June 17, 2017: VA members participated in an Austin Capitol Demonstration organized by the neo-Nazi Aryan Renaissance Society.
- Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, June 10, 2017: VA members participated in an anti-Muslim march.
- Houston, Texas, June 10, 2017: VA members protested the removal of the Sam Houston monument along with other white supremacists.
- Charlottesville, Virginia, May 13, 2017: VA members participated in a white supremacist rally against the removal of confederate monuments.
- Pikeville, Kentucky, April 29, 2017: VA members participated in a neo-Nazi rally organized by the Nationalist Front.
- Auburn, Alabama, April 18, 2017: VA members attended a Richard Spencer speech at Auburn University.