One of the largest neo-Nazi groups in America has a new leader. According to CNN, a California pastor and activist has taken the helm at the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement (NSM), and he has one goal as its president – total destruction.
James Hart Stern, 54, told CNN that the former leader of the hate group gave him the reins after group members began fighting among themselves and a lawsuit was filed against the organization following their participation in the Charlottesville attacks.
Victims who were injured during the clash between white supremacists and those opposing them, have civilly sued more than 20 organizations and individuals for their role in the fatal events.
Stern, who has been fighting white supremacy for much of his career, used the chaos within the group to his advantage. Jeff Schoep says in a letter sent to CNN that he turned over the organization on paper to “protect membership.” Now, as president, Stern is doing what he thinks is best for the rest of the country. In his first act as leader, the author of Mississippi Still Burning: (From Hoods to Suits) asked a judge involved in the Charlottesville lawsuit to issue a summary judgment and find the group responsible for conspiring to commit violence in Charlottesville.
Stern’s transition to the top-spot started in 2014 when Schoep, who led NSM for more than two decades, found out Stern had the prison ID of infamous KKK leader Edgar Ray Killen. Stern served time for mail fraud and was housed in the same Mississipi penitentiary as Killen. When Stern wouldn’t willingly hand over Killen’s ID, an exchange between Stern and Schoep commenced.
When Schoep expressed to Stern that he wanted to dissolve the organization because of the turmoil it faced from the Virginia lawsuit, the pastor of Racial Reconciliation Outreach Ministries (RROM), a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change according to the website, convinced Schoep to hand the leadership over to him.
“I did the hard and dangerous part,” Stern told The Washington Post. “As a Black man, I took over a neo-Nazi group and outsmarted them.”
Up next, Stern plans to turn the current NSM website into a place where white supremacists can go for history lessons on race. “I’d like to see ‘Schindler’s List’ … and ‘Amistad’ … stream on that website,” he told CNN. “So, generations of nationalists have to look at it for the first time.”
Schoep and other leaders of the organization are contesting Stern’s new position that became official earlier this year. But Stern says regardless of what happens, he’s not giving up his presidency. “Everything is out in the open,” Stern told the WaPo. “My plans and intentions are not to let this group prosper.