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A string of violent incidents by Aryan Brotherhood members on the streets of Mississippi has renewed interest in the violent prison gang.

As reported by Jerry Mitchell of the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, three incidents during the past summer occurred. A shooting by an Aryan Brotherhood (AB) member in Iuka, a murder of a two-year old child in Jones County by an Aber, and a high speed chase and shooting near Tupelo, all added to the long list of murder and misery created by gang members. Mitchell cites a recent investigation of a meth ring organized by the AB in Texas and Oklahoma that led to 73 arrests and multiple convictions.

The Aryan Brotherhood (AB) was first formed in the mid-1960s in the California state prison system and is now strong throughout all the state prisons. The AB established drug trafficking rings, gambling rackets, committed extortion, murdered opponents, and communicated with each other through coded letters. Although they have been subject to multiple investigations, the gang itself is virtually immune because most of its members are already serving life sentences. To join, inmates must draw the blood of another inmate. The only way to get out, according to popular mythology, is to die.

Although AB members are all white and adorn themselves with swastika tattoos and a swastika is at the center of the organization’s logo, the organization should not be considered by anti-fascists as part of the white nationalist movement. It’s goal are criminal and not political. It operates entirely by the methods of a criminal gang, not a political organization. And devoted white nationalists cadres do not join the AB, even when they are sent to jail for a long time. The case that opened this reporter’s eyes was that of David Tate, a young Aryan Nations members who joined The Order led by Bob Matthews. As the gang was being swept up by authorities in 1985, Tate got snared in the web and shot and killed a Missouri highway patrolman, before he was later captured. While in the Missouri state prison, he has not been part of the AB, but kept to himself and formed an Aryan Nations-type group instead. None of The Order sent to prison for a long stretch (99 years, etc.) have joined the AB while in prison. Instead they have eschewed it. They would not join an organization with “666” in the logo, no matter how many swastikas were tattooed on members.

Leonard Zeskind

Author Leonard Zeskind

is founder of IREHR. For almost four decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. [more..]

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