In Its Own Words
“What happens to blacks in this country at the hand of law enforcement is none of our concern ... other than to prepare to restore order and rebuild our neighborhoods taking back our lands one community at a time. When the enemy destroys … we guard our town borders and make our homes white and great again.”
—Rebecca Barnette, White Lives Matter co-founder and Women’s Division leader of the National Socialist Movement, July 16, 2016
“Do not allow our lands to turn into Haiti ... time to shut the savage beasts down. Shut down Black Lives Matter.”
—Rebecca Barnette, July 9, 2016
“It should be apparent to the world ... Obama is for the n------.”
—Rebecca Barnette July 9, 2016
“Ever hear the term if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck and acts like a duck ... then it's a n-----. This is why I hate n------.”
—Rebecca Barnette, April 2, 2016
“And the n------ are too damn STUPID to realize Obama is using them to bring in martial law and the men in blue suits.”
—Rebecca Barnette, July 10, 2016
“We have to do what ever possible to stem the rising tide of color and acts of violence upon our people; we must try our best to take back our communities, we have to stand firm in the face of adversity, be rational, sensible and strong along the way.”
—Doug Chism, White Lives Matter co-founder and president of the Aryan Renaissance Society, July 18, 2016
Formed as a racist response to the Black Lives Matter movement, White Lives Matter (WLM) describes itself as “dedicated to promotion of the white race and taking positive action as a united voice against issues facing our race,” in the words of its website. “The fiber and integrity our nation was founded on is being unraveled … [by] homosexuality and [racially] mix[ed] relationships,” it says. “Illegal immigration, healthcare, housing, welfare, employment, education, social security, our children, our veterans and active military and their rights … are the issues we face as white Americans. The laws and immoral orders the current [Obama] administration are passing are drastically … targeting everything the white way of life holds dear.”
Although it’s not easy to track WLM’s precise evolution and leadership structure, two white supremacists and the Texas-based Aryan Renaissance Society, a neo-Nazi group, appear to be the main players behind it, hosting WLM rallies and engaging in WLM flyer distributions across the nation since 2015.
Rebecca Barnette, a self-described homemaker from Surgoinsville, Tenn., has said she is one of WLM’s co-founders, and she has probably done more than anyone to spread its message. A veteran of a string of neo-Nazi groups, Barnette simultaneously holds the post of director of the Women’s Division of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), which is currently the largest neo-Nazi organization in America. She describes herself as a “revolutionist” working to “create a new world” for white people.
And Barnette doesn’t hold back. She has claimed that Jews and Muslims are allies in an effort “to commit genocide of epic proportions” against white people. In a particularly bloodthirsty post on her page on vk.com, a Russian social networking site favored by white supremacists for its lack of censorship, she wrote that it is time for “the blood of our enemies [to] soak our soil to form new mortar to rebuild our landmasses.”
Barnette first appeared as a WLM activist after she ran a social media campaign against a planned Black Lives Matter rally near Johnson City, Tenn., in August 2015, telling the Johnson City Press she was a local representative of WLM and the Aryan Renaissance Society (ARS). (She has since left the ARS.) The newspaper quoted a post of hers saying that she was part of “a small army ready to blow their little party out of the water … in the proper way… the white.”
Barnette has moved around the white supremacist scene a fair amount, jumping from the ARS to the racist skinhead group Aryan Strikeforce and then, in 2016, to the leadership of the NSM’s Women’s Division. On April 23, 2016, she attended an annual event in Rome, Ga., that was hosted by the National Socialist Movement. She has tried to bring unity to the fractured racist world, encouraging “a unified voice against a tyrannical reign of government” and deriding “a bunch of idiots in my own race that care more about fighting amongst each other … than to stand as a people.” Apparently pursuing that goal, Barnette brought WLM into the neo-Nazi Aryan Nationalist Alliance, a coalition of 24 white supremacist groups.
Barnette is not the only prominent WLM activist.
Connecticut resident Kevin Harris, identified as another WLM co-founder, has also openly displayed his white supremacist beliefs, sporting white supremacist symbols on his clothing. One of the patches on his black jacket includes the White Pride World Wide symbol, which is the main logo for Stormfront, the largest white supremacist web forum in the world. Another displays the number 1488. That is a common neo-Nazi symbol that references the “The 14 Words” white supremacist slogan (“We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children,” coined by David Lane, who died in prison while serving a 190-year sentence for his part in the assassination of a Jewish talk show host) and “Heil Hitler” (H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, and so 88 stands for HH, which in turn stands for Heil Hitler).
Harris, who says his work is “to raise awareness of the Caucasian genocide,” has regularly posted videos of himself passing out WLM flyers in grocery store parking lots on a WLM YouTube channel. (Another activist on that YouTube channel has asked supporters to collect box tops to support public schools as a way of gaining influence even though he described them as “Communist reprogramming centers.”)
Meanwhile, the Aryan Renaissance Society, which is based in Texas, has also adopted WLM ideas and worked to spread them.
On Aug. 21, 2016, ARS National Director Ken Reed organized a rally attacking the NAACP in Houston, complete with “White Lives Matter” placards, that drew national press attention to the movement for the first time. Reed’s group describes itself as “one of the founders of the White Lives Matter movement sweeping the country” and ARS members have been identified as the “go-to person[s] for all things White Lives Matter,” according to a 2015 posting on the WLM Facebook page. Reed is an administrator of that page along with ARS member Scott Lacy. ARS members have also posted videos on the WLM Facebook profile teaching people how to distribute WLM flyers in their communities.
Doug Chism, the president of ARS, has erected a large “White Lives Matter” billboard in front of his home in Texas City, Texas.
Elsewhere, ARS has described itself as a “network of dedicated White Separatists diligently striving to impart a New Racial Consciousness to Aryankind.” It hopes to create “an Aryan oligarchy based on genetic aristocracy” to “enhance the Race.” The overall idea, ARS has said, is to protect threatened white people from genocide and the “bastardization of the white race” through interbreeding. In one of its flyers, ARS wrote: “More whites die everyday through interracial offspring than the wars, abortions, accidents, and natural deaths put together. We must live geographically separated from other races with strict border control!!!!”
The ARS website was taken down in August 2016, shortly after gaining national headlines after its protest against the NAACP. But before that, it was thick with celebratory photos of Nazi soldiers. In addition, Reed and other ARS members have posted group photos showing them giving the Nazi salute, while other members have posted photos of themselves, and sometimes their children, sieg-heiling in front of Nazi flags.
ARS first started posting WLM flyers on light posts and bus stops in the summer of 2015. After the murder of Harris County (Texas) Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Goforth in August 2015, members also held up WLM signs as a funeral procession for the fallen deputy passed by.
Another key player in the WLM is Greg Calhoun, an Atlanta Klansman who in June 2016 described himself as a WLM contact, asking “anyone in Georgia and Alabama that wants to be involved with White Lives Matter to please contact” him.
The WLM website, apparently managed by Barnette, urges activists to grow the movement, much as white supremacists in the last several years have worked to seed the idea in the political mainstream that white people are being subjected to genocide. The site asks supporters to find “like-minded people” and organize groups to attend school board and local town council meetings, arrange neighborhood block parties “to discuss the problems affecting our community,” and to “find out who your local state rep is” in order to confront them about issues of illegal immigration and health care.
Since 2015, WLM flyers, reading “It’s Not Racist to Love Your People” and carrying the hashtag #whitelivesmatter, have been posted on bathroom walls, light posts and bus stops from Utah to Connecticut. Some incorporate language about black-on-white crime, a reminder of the racist Council of Conservative Citizens website that is obsessed with the same topic and inspired the racist 2015 massacre of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., by Dylann Roof.
Other racist groups that have joined the movement include the Golden State Skins, a racist skinhead group that says it distributed WLM flyers around Sacramento, Calif., on Sept. 6, 2015.
Melissa Dennis, a California woman who is a contact for the Noble Breed Kindred racist group, has designed and sold WLM T-shirts and stickers to raise funds for other racist groups. She joined a “flyer drop” where activists distributed WLM propaganda on Jan. 9, 2016, as part of what was billed as a national anti-Muslim event. (On the same day, Billy Roper, a well-known racist leader, pasted up flyers in Harrison, Ark.) Dennis also sold WLM T-shirts at a June 25, 2016, Aryan Nationalist Alliance meeting in Salem, Ohio, according to a web posting.
One of the more noticeable early appearances of the WLM movement came on Feb. 27, 2016, when a car containing six Klansmen bearing “White Lives Do Matter” signs arrived at a park in Anaheim, Calif., to protest “illegal immigration and Muslims.” Counter-protesters set upon the Klansmen, who stabbed three people, one of them critically. Although police initially arrested five Klan members, they later released them because they apparently were acting in self-defense. Several anti-racist protesters were charged for their roles in the violence.
Another racist group, the Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP) led by Matthew Heimbach, co-hosted a “White Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter” demonstration with the ARS in Dallas shortly after the murder of five police officers there in early July 2016. But Kevin Harris, one of WLM’s co-founders, seemed less than supportive of “blue lives” — he posted a photo of himself in front of a police car with his middle finger extended. Rebecca Barnette sounded similar, writing that “[w]hile White Lives Matter supports law and order and feels the terroristic attacks on law enforcement officers is a tragedy, we are not proponents for blue lives matter.”
Chris Johnson, a TWP organizer who attended the Dallas rally, posted a photo of himself holding a Karabiner 98k rifle, once the standard weapon of the German Wehrmacht, saying he was “Defending Faith, Family, and Folk with a K98K.”
The WLM message is spreading.
In July 2016, members of the white supremacist Aryan Nations Worldwide held up signs near Temple, Ga., reading “White Lives Matter” and “Only White Lives Matter.” Keystone United, a Pennsylvania-based racist skinhead group, advertises its own WLM stickers. And Tightrope, a white power music label, sells WLM T-shirts as part of its array of white supremacist merchandise.