April 15, 2014
Following deadly shootings at the Jewish Community Center and at assisted living facility Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas, on April 13, 2014, Overland Park police soon arrested a suspect, Frazier Glenn Cross (more commonly known as Frazier Glenn Miller or simply Glenn Miller).
After officers placed the handcuffed Miller into a police cruiser, local television station KMBC’s cameras captured Miller in the back of the cruiser, excitedly bobbing his head and ranting. Their microphone picked up just two words of Miller’s rant: “Heil Hitler!”
For Miller, it was a bloody return to prominence after decades in the wilderness. After its release, the suspect’s name—or, rather, his various names—meant nothing to most Americans. But this had not always been the case.
Miller’s Fall from Grace
Back in the mid-1980s, Miller was actually one of the most prominent white supremacists in the United States. As leader of the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (later called the White Patriot Party), Miller received respect from the white supremacist movement and could easily command media attention. The extreme right had experienced a major surge of activity in recent years and Miller was one of its stars.
But even as Miller achieved heights of notoriety, his downfall had already begun. In 1986, he received a conviction on contempt of court charges for violating the terms of a settlement of an earlier civil suit brought against him by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Though Miller appealed the conviction, he decided not to wait for any result, but instead to go “underground” and become a fugitive. This resulted only in his apprehension and additional criminal charges. In 1987, Miller decided to accept a plea deal. In exchange for a five-year prison sentence, he pleaded guilty to possession of a hand grenade and mailing a threat through the mail.
However, as part of the deal, Miller was required to testify in another criminal trial the following year in Arkansas. The 14 defendants in that trial consisted primarily of 1) some of the most prominent and notorious white supremacist leaders in the United States, and 2) key members of The Order, a major white supremacist terrorist group. Accused of plotting to overthrow the federal government, the defendants actually all received acquittals. By testifying against them, however, Miller sealed his fate with the white supremacist movement, which thereafter viewed him with contempt and hatred as a traitor.
Miller Returns from Exile
Miller spent the remainder of the 1980s in a federal prison in New York, serving about three years of his five-year sentence. After his release in 1990, he moved to Iowa with his family and became a long-haul trucker. Later, they moved to Missouri. Through most of the 1990s, he seems to have made no effort to rejoin the white supremacist movement.
However, by the end of the decade, Miller had decided once more to become an active white supremacist. In late 1999, he self-published 1,000 copies of an autobiography, A White Man Speaks Out, in which he described his actions in the 1980s at the height of his fame (or infamy). It pointedly excluded any mention of Miller’s testimony against members of The Order in 1988. Instead, the book described The Order in glowing terms and emphasized Miller’s connections to the group (whose members had, in fact, reportedly given him $200,000 from armored car robbery proceeds). In a sort of dedication for the book, Miller even wrote, “For our Race, Dixie, and the Bruders Schweigen, I bid you farewell and good hunting.” The Bruders Schweigen is an alternate name for The Order.
After Miller advertised his autobiography in extremist publications like The Spotlight, a conspiratorial and anti-Semitic newspaper, it did not take other white supremacists long to react negatively. In early 2000, for example, California white supremacist Alex Curtis, at the time a rising figure within the movement, warned followers that Miller was “attempting to ‘wiggle’ his way back into the racist movement.”
With no supporters within the white supremacist movement, Miller could not start a group or organize rallies or protests. But he could try to reach out directly to people, both to gain followers as well as attract publicity. To do this, Miller resurrected what had been one of his favorite tactics from the 1980s: publishing racist newspapers. His first attempt, in 2001, was a publication he titled simply Newspaper For White Men, 16 pages of white supremacist content on cheap newsprint, little of it original. Miller apparently paid for the publication out of his own pocket and distributed it around southwest Missouri, claiming in 2002 that “thousands” of people in the region had read it.
In 2002, Miller changed the name of his publication to The European-American, calling it “the white-friendly newspaper,” but it remained much the same. Neither it nor its predecessor were regular periodicals; new issues were only very occasionally produced. The paper found its way to driveways and porches in Springfield and other Missouri towns. During this period, Miller spent much of his time distributing white supremacist literature. “I simply roll the newspapers loosely in quarter-sized rubber bands and leave them in prominent places such as on driveways of houses,” he explained in a letter to the anti-Semitic American Free Press in September 2003. “Middle-class areas and nicer trailer parks are good locations to start.” Miller claimed to have distributed over 25,000 copies of American Free Press and other publications (including the notoriously racist newspaper The Truth at Last).
Miller also placed racist advertisements in local newspapers and wrote various letters to the editor in mainstream and extreme publications alike, but literature distribution was his primary activity. “Every paper I get into the hands of a White person is a blow against the enemy,” he wrote in a 2002 letter. “The more papers, the more blows. Simple as that. Every time I watch TV, read a newspaper, or see a White girl with a n----- or wet-back, I feel a compulsion to fight back, to do something. Passing out literature is what I do and how I fight back.”
Miller Finds an Ally
Though now active again as a white supremacist in southwest Missouri, Miller was essentially a one-man show with no real standing within his own movement. However, in 2004 Miller found an ally who enabled him to raise his profile as high as it would ever get in the 2000s: Alex Linder.
Linder, also a Missourian, is a long-time white supremacist originally active with the neo-Nazi National Alliance. While with that group, he created a white supremacist website, the Vanguard News Network (VNN), with active discussion forums. In the early 2000s, Linder broke with the National Alliance and became an independent white supremacist, establishing VNN as an alternative to Stormfront, the most popular white supremacist discussion forum on the Internet.
Linder thus already had a track record of bucking prominent white supremacist institutions when he encountered Glenn Miller. Miller joined the VNN forums in February 2004 and Linder did not ban his presence. Over the years, Miller would post to the VNN forums well over 12,000 times.
By the end of 2004, Miller and Linder had actually decided to work together. Their project would be yet another white supremacist newspaper, The Aryan Alternative. In appearance and format, it was virtually the same as Miller’s solo endeavors. The main difference was that, with Linder’s involvement, the Alternative could be printed in much greater numbers. Linder claimed that the first issue had a print run of around 50,000 copies.
The first issue (there would only ever be four) appeared in October 2004. According to Miller, he mailed it to 10,000 residents of Lawrence County, Missouri. Other Missouri locations also received copies of the Alternative, including Columbia and Kirksville (home to Linder), and it also appears to have been distributed in Arkansas, with Miller claiming that “our Arkansas lawyer friend has paid for 2,000 tabloids.” While Miller and Linder both distributed copies, they also relied on other white supremacists, local and otherwise, some of whom apparently sent in money for copies of the paper to distribute.
These literature distributions attracted the attention of local media in Missouri; Miller referred to one distribution as creating “a literal kike-firestorm.” But The Aryan Alternative also drew the attention of the white supremacist movement and many white supremacists were not at all happy to see Glenn Miller once again playing a role. “I would like to make it clear to everyone,” Missouri white supremacist Martin Lindstedt informed readers of one white supremacist mailing list in October 2004, “that anyone who supports Traitor Glenn Miller is either a fool or a regime criminal of some sort or both.” Another white supremacist announced to a different mailing list that he would leave VNN because Linder was “allowing free rein to a drunken, wretched traitor like the cheese-eating Glenn Miller.”
Eventually, news of Miller’s “return” made it all the way to the former members of The Order, most still serving lengthy prison sentences related to their armored car robberies, bombings, and assassinations in the 1980s. Few people were more looked up to and admired by white supremacists than members of The Order, revered by the movement as martyrs and “prisoners of war.” And The Order was not happy about Glenn Miller.
Through letters mailed to supporters (who posted them widely to the Internet), various members of The Order made their displeasure clear in December 2004 and January 2005. Randall Evans wrote from a federal penitentiary in California to label Miller a “RAT” and to warn that anybody who associated with Miller or allowed him into their group must also be considered a government RAT to be BANISHED and OSTRACIZED from the honorable of our Race.” Order member Richard Scutari announced that “this piece of fecal matter is a race traitor and a coward. Anyone from the racial Movement who supports Miller in any manner is likewise a trader [sic] who’s guilty of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” Member David Tate declared that “Glenn Miller does not deserve another chance to betray good men, what he deserves is to be tried for treason in a court of our Folk.”
Though Linder defended Miller against these attacks, few others did, and it was apparent that no matter what Miller did, he was unlikely to ever gain broad support in the white supremacist movement again.
However, Miller and Linder still had their Aryan Alternative venture. In 2005, the newspaper would see its broadest distribution, with white supremacists leaving copies of the publication in front yards across the United States, including neighborhoods in Florida, Arkansas, North Carolina, Massachusetts, California, Wisconsin, Virginia, and elsewhere. All these drops attracted local media attention as well.
A variety of white supremacists distributed the papers for Linder and Miller. One of the most prominent was Ron Doggett, a long-time Virginia white supremacist and former member of Miller’s White Patriot Party. Another white supremacist, more infamous than prominent, was Todd Vanbiber, a former neo-Nazi from Florida who spent time in federal prison for his role in a 1997 plot to detonate bombs and rob local banks. His plot failed when he accidentally set off one of the bombs. Also distributing literature was a Washington white supremacist, Kevin Harpham. Some years later, Harpham would be involved in his own failed bomb plot, when he attempted to bomb the route for a Martin Luther King, Jr., Day parade in Spokane in 2011. Harpham’s bomb failed to go off; Harpham received a 32-year prison sentence.
In the long run, however, publications such as the Alternative were expensive to produce, and it is not clear that enough money was coming in from white supremacists to sustain them in the long run. Miller changed the name of the publication to The White Patriot Leader in 2006 and tried again (it is not clear to what extent, if any, Linder was involved with this attempt). Despite Miller’s reputation, he was able to find white supremacists in several different states, from Virginia to California, to distribute his newspaper, but it seems that The White Patriot Leader had a much smaller reach than its predecessor. In 2009, Miller resurrected The Aryan Alternative for one final issue, but the tactic seemed to have run its course.
Miller on the Campaign Trail
Just as Miller had resurrected his 1980s tactic of printing and distributing white supremacist literature, he also reached into his old bag of tricks for another tactic: running for public office. Several times during the 1980s, Miller had run for different public offices, typically failing spectacularly. It is not clear whether he ever actually expected to win any of them, but one thing was obvious--those efforts brought publicity. Moreover, running for office did not require the assistance of others in the white supremacist movement, assistance that Miller could no longer obtain.
In 2006, Miller made his first attempt, filing to run for a Congressional seat in Missouri as a Democrat. However, the Missouri Democratic Party refused his filing fee. In short order, Miller decided to file as a Republican candidate, with no more success. The following week, even the fringe Missouri Libertarian Party refused to allow him on the ticket. Miller’s only other options were to run as an independent (which would require the collection of nearly 6,000 signatures) or as a write-in candidate. He chose the latter, eventually receiving 23 votes (or 0.01% of the total).
In 2010, Miller threw his hat in the ring again, electing to run as a write-in candidate for U.S. Senator. In this election, he received only 7 votes, but getting votes was probably not Miller’s true objective. Rather, Miller used his nominal candidacy for another purpose: to run racist and anti-Semitic radio commercials. This tactic had been tried before, in Ohio, by anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist Jim Condit, Jr., who in the early 2000s had argued that federal law guaranteed federal candidates the right to run any advertisements they wanted on FCC-licensed television or radio stations. Condit, running for Congress, exploited that loophole to run a variety of commercials that blamed Jews for the 9/11 terror attacks and made similar offensive statements.
After filing his candidacy, Miller bought air time on a Kansas City radio station and ran advertisements attacking Jews and minorities, while calling on white people to “take their country back.” He later expanded this campaign to other stations across Missouri. However, Missouri broadcasters protested this tactic and reached out to the Federal Communications Commission with their concerns. In June 2010, the FCC ruled that Miller was not a “bona fide” candidate and thus not entitled to mandatory access. This ruling allowed radio stations to reject Miller’s racist and anti-Semitic ads, thus ruining Miller’s attempt to spread white supremacist propaganda on the airwaves.
Miller and the Killers
Miller’s publishing efforts petered out after 2009, while his last attempt to run for public office ended in 2010. Still facing widespread hostility from the broader white supremacist movement, his options for further activism were rather limited. However, thanks to Linder’s continuing support, Miller could still use the Vanguard News Network forum as a place for expounding his views.
Miller had opinions on a variety of subjects and often expressed them. But during the period 2009-2013, Miller repeatedly made posts related to one rather disturbing theme: support for lone wolf white supremacists who had committed violent acts. Miller apparently liked the idea of lone white supremacists acting on their own, without needing the involvement of the white supremacist movement as a whole.
Based on an analysis of his writings, Miller seems to have had a somewhat complex opinion on lone wolf violence. He disliked its promotion as a conscious tactic for the white supremacist movement, on the grounds that white supremacists could use it as an excuse for inaction. “It provides the illusion of an effective strategy,” he asserted in August 2009 on the VNN forums, “thus an excuse not to do shit but sit back [and] wait for ‘lone wolves’ to do it.” This was actually an argument against concepts such as lone wolf violence or “leaderless resistance” that a number of other white supremacists had expressed in the past. At the same time, however, Miller appreciated actual acts of lone wolf violence and hoped that white supremacist activism might “inspire and spur individual white men to lone wolf underground actions against the whores.”
One lone wolf terrorist Miller admired was James Von Brunn, the 88-year-old white supremacist who opened fire at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June 2009, killing a security guard before being incapacitated by return fire from another guard. After the shooting, Miller urged other VNN forum members to support the “great patriot” Von Brunn, who was in a hospital at the time and would eventually die before trial. Miller reportedly wrote to Von Brunn and even claimed that Von Brunn had spent time at Miller’s home in Missouri back in 2004.
Another white supremacist murderer Miller admired was Keith Luke. In early 2009, Luke embarked upon a murderous rampage in Brockton, Massachusetts, killing two West African immigrants and shooting and raping a third. Luke allegedly planned to attack a synagogue that evening, killing the Jews who would be there, but police caught up to him before he could carry out the final act of his spree. He received two consecutive life sentences without parole in 2013. In early 2010, Miller described Luke as “a super courageous young white man with the guts to act, as opposed to yellow cyber-space [white nationalists] who only type, anonymously.”
When Norwegian extremist Anders Behring Breivik committed bombings and shootings in July 2011 that killed 77 people, mostly children, and injured hundreds more, Miller imagined an American equivalent. “If some enterprising American fellow went to a youth camp in the Catskills, Camp David, or Martha’s Vineyard,” he wrote on the VNN forum that same month, “and ‘sprayed’ some young’uns belong to our immigrant-loving JOG [Jewish-Occupied Government], I dare say I might not lose a whole lot of sleep…I just might sleep even better than my norm, possibly with a wide grin on my face.” Miller predicted that more attacks would occur: “Breivik fired up Aryan blood, and inspired young Aryan men to action. Mark my words.”
Not surprisingly, Miller also approved of Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who embarked upon a deadly shooting spree at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012. “Many thousands of would-be mud [i.e., non-white] immigrants…will decide not to come [after Page’s attack],” he wrote shortly thereafter. “Is that good or bad for white folks? See? Thar ya go…”
However, if there was one such killer whom Miller particularly admired, it was Joseph Paul Franklin, the white supremacist serial killer who committed a number of murders and bombings against African-Americans, Jews, and people involved in interracial relationships in the 1970s. By the 2000s, Franklin had been on death row awaiting execution in Missouri for many years.
In August 2009, Miller proclaimed that Franklin was “one hell of a [white nationalist].” Within a year, Miller had progressed to actively urging other white supremacists to support Franklin—whom he dubbed a “martyr”—by writing him, sending money to his prison commissary account, and other measures (including bribing guards). Miller admired Franklin’s attempts to assassinate civil rights leader Vernon Jordan and pornography publisher Larry Flynt, as well as Franklin’s murders of racially mixed couples. In early 2010, Miller announced on the VNN forum that he had received a letter from Franklin, “this living [white nationalist] legend.”
By September 2013, Miller and Franklin had established a relationship, with Franklin making regular phone calls to Miller. The relationship could only last so long, as Franklin’s execution date was set for November 20, 2013. Still, Miller energetically tried to raise money for Frank and to promote his reputation among other white supremacists. Franklin, he claimed in a September 29 posting to VNN, was “the most courageous American warrior for our race in our lifetime.” Two days later, Miller called Franklin, “a lone wolf hero.”
Miller even tried to put himself into Franklin’s head when describing some of Franklin’s violent actions: “This one in one-hundred-million white man, in total self control, cool and confident in himself and his Aryan abilities, does not run away to safety. No, no, no. He calmly pulls over, confronts the n-----, and blows his black ass away, and the white assed, n-----loving bitch, too, AFTER relishing, up close and personal, the terror in their eyes. And then, and only then, he calmly drives away while planning his next hit.” For a select few, Miller said in a different posting, “it’s what makes life worth living.”
On November 20, following Franklin’s execution, Miller announced his death, then proclaimed that “Joseph Paul Franklin, martyr, is born and will live forever in the hearts and minds of strong, loyal white men, women, and youth. Hail Joseph Paul Franklin!!!”
Five months later, Frazier Glenn Miller allegedly embarked upon his own killing spree in Overland Park, Kansas.