Traditionalist Worker Party
The Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) was a neo-Nazi, white nationalist group based in the United States. Established in 2013 by Matthew Heimbach under the name Traditionalist Youth Network (TYN), the group promotes white separatism and a white supremacist view of Christianity. Part of the neo-Nazi Nationalist Front, the TWP has held a number of protests and other local events. Since 2015, the group also operated as a political party to run in elections for local office.
In April 2018, The Washington Post reported that the TWP had been disbanded the previous month after group leader Matthew Heimbach’s arrest for battery and his falling out with co-founder Matt Parrott.
Traditionalist Youth Network
The Traditionalist Youth Network was established in May 2013 by Matthew Heimbach and Matt Parrott. Heimbach has been a white supremacist activist since fall 2011, when he formed a group at Towson University in Maryland and invited the white supremacist Jared Taylor to speak at Towson’s campus. The following year, Heimbach founded a “White Student Union” on campus, adopting racist and antisemitic views. In spring 2013, upon graduation, Heimbach established the Traditionalist Youth Network in partnership with Parrot, who founded a white supremacist group, Hoosier Nation, in Indiana around 2009. The group eventually became a chapter of American Third Position (later known as the American Freedom Party).
Traditionalist Worker Party
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks extremist groups, has designated the Traditionalist Worker Party as a hate group and has written of Heimbach: “Considered by many to be the face of a new generation of white nationalists… Since graduating in the spring of 2013, he has entrenched himself further in the white nationalist movement and become a regular speaker on the radical-right lecture circuit.”
In January 2015 the TYN established the Traditionalist Worker Party (TWP) as its political-party offshoot in preparation for the 2016 elections, and a small group of candidates from the far right announced plans to run under its banner. The party states that it stands against “economic exploitation, federal tyranny, and anti-Christian degeneracy”. The group’s strategy differs from that of the American Freedom Party (AFP), a different fringe group: while the AFP “has long run presidential candidates with no hope of success” in order to “exploit the election cycle as a way to raise money and generate publicity for their racist positions, TWP actually hopes to win by running for local offices in small communities.”
On April 22, 2016, the Traditionalist Worker Party formed a coalition with several other organizations called the Aryan Nationalist Alliance. The Aryan Nationalist Alliance later changed its name to Nationalist Front. Its aim was to unite white supremacist, neo-Confederate, and white nationalist groups under a common umbrella. The coalition was joined by the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement (NSM), neo-confederate League of the South, the neo-Nazi Vanguard America, and four other groups.
In April 2017, the group organized the white supremacist rally in Pikeville, Kentucky which attracted 100 to 125 supporters. In August 2017, the affiliated groups participated in the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. In October 2017, the Nationalist Front was a key organizer of the “White Lives Matter” rally in Shelbyville and Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Participating groups included: NSM, TWP, League of the South, Vanguard America, The Right Stuff, and Anti-Communist Action.
Internal conflict and disbandment
On March 13, 2018, Heimbach was arrested in Paoli, Indiana on charges of domestic battery arising from an alleged attack against spokesman Parrott and Heimbach’s wife, who was also Parrott’s stepdaughter. Following this, Parrott shut down the TWP’s websites and said he planned to delete membership data, citing privacy concerns. According to Parrott, the TWP no longer existed, as the incident had destroyed the group’s credibility. Days later, however, Parrott filed a sworn declaration in court (in an ongoing federal civil lawsuit over the Unite the Right rally in 2017), stating that he had not deleted or destroyed the membership information, as it was relevant to the ongoing litigation.
On April 5, 2018, the independent media collective Unicorn Riot released hundreds of thousands of messages on TWP’s Discord server and associated ones such as “Silver Guild” and “Not Tradworker” as part of a series on alt-right and neo-Nazi organizations. The messages on TWP’s Discord server revealed that the group promoted and praised Dylann Roof, the perpetrator of the Charleston church shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina as well as James Alex Fields, the man behind the Charlottesville car attack during the violent Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The group also praised Jacob Scott Goodwin, a member of the group that was involved in the beating of DeAndre Harris in the parking lot during that rally. Additionally, there was a conflict within TWP over one of its members, Colton Williams, having a non-white spouse. These conversations also included the group’s ties to Atomwaffen Division, a violent neo-Nazi terrorist network linked to 5 murders such as the death of Blaze Bernstein of which Mark “Illegal Aryan” Daniel Reardon and Vasilios “VasilistheGreek” Pistolis were members of both organizations. They talked about making Molotov cocktails and their assault on an interracial couple in Shelbyville, Tennessee after the White Lives Matter rally. Despite of his group having been involved in violent incidents as well, Heimbach expressed concern over Atomwaffen’s level of extremism and influence and eventually denounced it.
Heimbach and his group advocate white separatism, and the group also adheres to a white nationalist and white supremacist ideology. Heimbach and Parrott are “self-declared ethnonationalists“ who aim to create a separate white ethnostate. The group specifically promotes a white supremacist interpretation of Christianity, recruiting members to battle what it terms “anti-Christian degeneracy.” The group supports the prohibition of abortion, restrictions on immigration, and ultimately the carrying out of what Heimbach describes as “peaceful secessionist projects.” Heimbach has been described in media reports as an “alt-right personality”.
The SPLC describes the group’s ideology as being “virulently racist and anti-Semitic.” Both the SPLC and the Anti-Defamation League note that the group is modeled after the European Identitarian movement. The TWP proclaims itself to be “against modernism, individualism, globalism and Marxism.” The group identifies itself as an anti-capitalist organization and it connects this position to its advocacy of nationalism stating “For us, to be anti-capitalist is to be a nationalist. Nationalism is a bulwark against capitalist exploitation and globalism.”
In 2016, Heimbach hailed the British vote to leave the European Union as “the greatest European nationalist victory since 1933,” the year of the Nazi rise to power in Germany. In 2016, the TWP and the Barnes Review, a Holocaust denial publication, announced a partnership to promote each other.
Organization and activities
Traditionalist Youth Networks’s only active university chapter is at the Indiana University Bloomington; this group is led by a white-supremacist activist Thomas Buhls, who has been affiliated with the Harrison, Arkansas-based Knights Party, a Ku Klux Klan group. In December 2016, the group’s founder Heimbach claimed that it had some three dozen active chapters and 500 members across the United States; analysts at the Southern Poverty Law Center and Anti-Defamation League state that these numbers are likely exaggerated. The SPLC’s 2017 annual report identifies the TWP as having chapters in Paoli and Bloomington, Indiana; Benson, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, and the affiliated Traditionalist Worker Party as having chapters in Paoli and Columbus, Indiana; Sacramento, California; Louisville, Madisonville, and Murray, Kentucky; Kansas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Dallas, Texas; and Virginia.
In September 2013 the group, as Traditionalist Youth Network, held an event in Corunna, Michigan in support of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad‘s government. The group initially planned as a “Koran BBQ” that would feature the burning of copies of the Qur’an and pictures of Muhammad to show “Islamic immigrants and citizens alike that they are not welcome here in Michigan”, but changed to a pro-Assad protest after the U.S. government announced its plans to support Syrian rebels. Heimbach told MLive that he did not regret the group’s original plan and that the group supported Islam “when it’s in its own home in the Middle East.”
In 2014 the group filed an amicus brief in a federal court in Michigan in the case of DeBoer v. Snyder. In its brief, the group took a stance against same-sex marriage, which Parrott described as part of “the Leftists [sic] social engineering campaign to destroy every last vestige of Western civilization.” Later the same year, the group filed a second amicus brief in a case in Maryland challenging a law prohibiting assault weapons; in a four-page filing, the TYN stated that it opposed “the enemy of freedom—the Culture Distorter—in its sights and wishes to shoot down unconstitutional legislation that disarms our people”.
In July 2015 the group called for the filing of hate-crime charges in connection with the beating of a white man in Fountain Square, Cincinnati. The local prosecutor, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters, stated that there was no evidence of ethnic intimidation in the crime.
At a March 2016 Donald Trump rally at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, Heimbach was caught on film shoving a black woman who was protesting Trump. Heimbach and two other men was initially charged with misdemeanor harassment with physical contact and was served with a criminal summons in April 2017. The charge was later amended to second-degree disorderly conduct; in June 2017, Heimbach entered an Alford plea, a form of guilty plea. Heimbach was fined $145, was ordered to attend anger management classes, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail; the jail sentence was suspended on the condition that Heimbach not commit another crime within two years. In 2018, after Heimbach was charged with misdemeanor battery and felony domestic battery in Indiana in a separate case, Heimbach’s probation in the Kentucky case was revoked and he was sent to jail for 38 days.
In a separate civil case, Heimbach is being sued in federal court for assault and battery by the woman he accosted at the March 2016 rally, Kashiya Nwanguma, and two of her fellow protesters, Henry Brousseau and Molly Shah, who allege that they were also the victims of violence at the rally. Also named as defendants are Alvin Bamberger (who is accused of assault and battery) and Donald Trump and Trump’s campaign (who are accused of incitement to riot, negligence, and vicarious liability). In the case, Heimbach, who is representing himself, said that he “relied on Trump’s authority” in order to oust the woman from the rally, citing Trump’s directive to “Get ’em out of here” and promise to “pay for the legal fees” of supporters who expelled dissidents from rallies. On this basis, Heimbach has filed court papers seeking indemnity from Trump.
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