"The skinhead path leaves a trail of broken trust, lost comrades, and a little love and a lot of betrayal along the way. [...] For the very unfortunate ones it ends behind bars for one reason or another. For these people there is no chance to ever make something of life. And while the "fresh cuts" out there will be gone in a few months or a few years, [those in prison] will still be looking through bars and thinking about what's become ancient history to everyone else."
-- excerpt from a letter to New Times from Samuel Compton, one of two skinheads facing capital murder charges in the October 16, 2002, beating death of Cole Bailey Jr.
On an otherwise lazy Sunday in March at Cortez Park in Glendale, the playground echoes with hushed whispers and staccato glances. Despite the hope of spring, tension fills the air. Everyone, especially the playground mothers, keeps one eye on a group of skinheads under a gazebo in the corner. Basking in the shelter of Nazi flags, 25-year-old Joshua Fiedler puffs on a cigarette while his guests sip beer and blast white-power music. The "Aryan Barbecue" was his idea, and the fliers he circulated have attracted quite a crowd.
The mood at the park shifted hours before when a muscle-bound skin in full dress (khaki Dickies, tall black work boots, and red braces over a wife-beater) strolled into the park -- his gait a clenched fist, badass, short-guy strut designed to draw attention. Two black fishermen forgot their lines for a moment and watched the skin stop, raise his fist in an SS salute and shout "RaHoWa" (skinhead shorthand for "Racial Holy War") to friends lurking in the shade. The fishermen watched him march over to his friends and grip forearms in a warrior's handshake. Then they reeled in their bait.
The battle the assembled skinheads are fighting is not one of race or holiness -- it's one of image, a concerted effort to counteract the shaved heads and evil deeds that have been popping up on the evening news. For once, skins are gathered in the hope of creating a positive white-power photo op.
It's also a show of force the Valley hasn't seen since the early 1990s. The last time this many skins were on public display was a decade ago, marching down Central Avenue shouting "White Power" and demonstrating in front of a Jewish business chanting "six million more."
Todd Gerrish, a gang investigator with the state Department of Corrections who has been monitoring Valley skinheads both in and out of prison since 1987, says young leaders like Fiedler are part of a recent upsurge in white supremacist recruitment and activity. "We're seeing growing numbers [of skinheads], and they're establishing themselves as more of a presence with the younger crowd, the 18- to 21-year-old group that is more prone to violent activity," Gerrish says. "They're currently cycling themselves [upward] based on some young guys with violent tendencies who have assumed leadership roles."
Soon a satellite truck pulls into the parking lot, and the skinheads trade the beers they've been sipping for white trash bags. By the time the cameras and reporters reach them, most are dutifully plucking juice boxes, cigarette butts and rotting fruit from the grass around their picnic area while some slink back into the trees and out of camera range.
"We're here for the community," Joshua Fiedler earnestly tells Channel 15 as a cameraman rushes to film him filling his trash bag.
Circumstances and not much else separate Fiedler and his crew from the skins who are awaiting trial for stomping Cole Bailey Jr.'s head into the sidewalk last October. The accused are Fiedler's friends, his brothers. "Any of us could have been there that night," he admits.
Law enforcement sources say Bailey's murder is a symptom of an increasing tendency toward violence, and a growing public presence as skinhead crews become bolder and better organized. A national resurgence in extremist activity as well as the increasingly darkening complexion of Arizona's population adds fuel to a fire tended by aggressive and appealing leaders.
In the past, an incident like Bailey's murder and the ensuing heat from law enforcement and the media would be enough to drive skinhead crews underground.
But Fiedler's a different breed of skinhead. Charismatic and controversial, Fiedler looks good for the television cameras. But he also has an extensive rap sheet and a posse of violent felons to bolster his legitimacy among his peers.
An easy leader and an adept self-promoter, Fiedler has ruffled feathers among his brother skinheads in recent months. His approach to the media and vocal disdain for "knuckleheads" whose criminal activity makes the evening news has his incarcerated brethren and their supporters questioning his loyalty and devotion to the movement. Fellow skins are critical of his posturing. They say he values image more than tradition and that he has turned his back on his brothers.
Consequently, some of Fiedler's violent friends are none too pleased with him. "Fiedler and his ilk use alienated white kids, pretend to teach them some history, act all knowing and all wise," writes Sammy Compton, in a letter to New Times from his jail cell. Compton, along with Christopher Whitley, faces the death penalty if convicted of murdering Bailey.
"I was THE skinhead in Phoenix, [Fiedler] couldn't shine my boots."
From jail, the infighting between skins continues. Aggression and rage are difficult emotions to abandon, even with death row looming large on Compton's horizon. When word reached Madison Street Jail that Fiedler had invited New Times to his birthday party to talk about skinheads, Compton wrote a series of scathing letters denouncing Fiedler and his version of skinhead culture.
"We heard about [Fiedler] and his ignoramuses," writes Compton. In a subsequent letter, he adds, "I will tell you fact from fiction to let the public know more about skinheads, and I will want to expose people like Josh for the backstabbers they, well, he, is."
Josh Fiedler sits serenely in his living room. Still fresh from his television appearance, he's clearly enjoying his role as leader of the crew he calls SS Guardians and the attention it has brought him. He's charismatic enough that his entourage of friends is eager to please him. They fetch him beers when he's thirsty, KFC when he's hungry and adjust the lighting when the sun sets and darkness slinks into the room.
Fiedler wants to rule the world. Although he's a convicted felon recently released from prison, he's also a talented tattoo artist raking in enough cash to purchase the $20,000 tattoo chair that sits in the office of the $300,000 home he rents with his curvaceous blonde roommate.
The blonde is Chase (no last name, she's a "racialist," he says, but not a skin and he'd like to keep her out of this part of his life). Chase has been his girlfriend for five months, and she lets him kiss her and call her "baby" as much as he wants. Fiedler thinks she's beautiful and buys her bouquet after bouquet of red roses that dry and linger for weeks in vases on the kitchen counter.
Chase works as a bartender and likes to make Screaming Nazis -- shots of Jagermeister and Rumplemintz -- for Fiedler and his friends. Fiedler recently tattooed an "I love you" bracelet around one of her wrists.
Fiedler says he and Chase are planning on buying a Cadillac Escalade and starting a family.
Fiedler married young, during his first stint in prison, and has a 5-year-old daughter named Zana who lives with his ex-wife in Illinois. When Fiedler makes a fist with his left hand, you can see Zana's name tattooed in Celtic runes on his fingers. (Fiedler, like many white supremacists, is a devotee of Asatru, an ancient northern European religion.)
Fiedler hasn't seen his daughter much. "I didn't want her to visit me when I was locked up," he says, and Fiedler's been locked up since before Zana was born.
Irish-German, with a shaved head, a barking voice and puppy dog eyes, Fiedler's been an outlaw most of his life. Court records show his childhood includes an alcoholic father, physical abuse, foster parents and juvenile hall. His background is typical of those who share his beliefs.
Fiedler says his racial awakening began in northeast Phoenix in high school at Shadow Mountain. "When I was young, there were gangs running everywhere, black gangs, brown gangs. I looked at it like, Where is there something that makes sense for me? Where do I stand in all of this?'" Fiedler met some people in the movement, he says, and began to study.
Yet as much as Fiedler learned before he went to prison, his knowledge of White Power took off under incarceration.
Joe Roy, a former police officer, private investigator, and current director of intelligence projects for the Southern Poverty Law Center, calls the prison system an "ideal environment" for skinhead gangs, and an "ideal culture for recruitment."
Todd Gerrish says that the estimated 1,000 white supremacists within the prison system are adept at assessing a new inmate's potential. "They try to pinpoint the violent ones as they come in. They give them the sales pitch that us white people need to stick together to support the white race," he says.
"They're not necessarily looking for the one who's going to stand up and fight and not back down. They're looking for the one who is going to stand up and fight and get a weapon and hurt somebody."
Fiedler's first felony was an arrest for possession of LSD in Nevada in 1997. A few months later, while on probation in Arizona, Fiedler and Patrick Bearup (son of candidate for Maricopa County sheriff Tom Bearup) drove to a home in Glendale with a couple of guns in the car. Bearup was attempting to iron out a dispute over a girl with the home's occupant, according to court records and Fiedler's memory of the incident.
Instead, Fiedler and Bearup got into it with two men also visiting the house, one black and one Hispanic. Shots were fired, and Fiedler was the one pulling the modified hair trigger of the assault rifle he'd grabbed out of the back seat of the car, spraying the two men's fleeing vehicle with more than 40 rounds, police say, although Fiedler claims it was more like 200.
In a presentencing report, Fiedler's probation officer wrote: "It is clear to this officer that the defendant is highly capable of being a responsible person. However, when placed into a group setting, especially one which is emotionally charged, the defendant freely and willingly joins in."
Fiedler was convicted on felony endangerment and aggravated assault and served a little more than three years. During his time in prison, Fiedler earned his GED, attended drug and alcohol counseling and immersed himself in his Aryan culture under the tutelage of prison skins. He married his pregnant girlfriend while awaiting trial; Tom Bearup, an ordained minister as well as candidate for sheriff, officiated the jailhouse ceremony.
To Fiedler, prison still seems to be a nearly perfect environment, where races naturally segregate. "Blacks with blacks, whites with whites, Hispanics with Hispanics," he says. "It's an ideal society."
Fiedler was released on probation February 8, 2001. On September 1 of the same year, Fiedler and Patrick Bearup found themselves partners in crime once again. The pair (who are no longer friends) were at a fellow skinhead's birthday party, minding their own business, as Fiedler tells it, just drinking beer and celebrating with friends. "We were just having fun. At one point we built a big bonfire and burned a Jewish star, you know, just fun."
But beer kept flowing and a fight broke out. When the police arrived, they found Fiedler in possession of two handguns and a 14-inch bowie knife. Fiedler says he had confiscated the weapons from the two who were fighting in order to make sure things didn't get out of hand.
Fiedler's probation officer wrote after the arrest: "Mr. Fiedler is a clear, viable threat to the community. He was given counseling while in prison and also received his GED yet he continues to violate the law."
"Mr. Fiedler is dangerous," the probation officer wrote, adding "It is inevitable that Mr. Fiedler's actions can and will lead to himself or someone else getting hurt."
Fiedler landed back in prison. Immediately after his release six months ago, he formed the gang he now calls the SS Guardians. "When I got out was when all of us came together," he says. "I just try to do everything I can to pull everyone together and get an idea of what we need to do."
Fiedler says he'd be in politics "if I thought a National Socialist candidate would have a chance in this country."
He is unapologetic about his ambition. "Do I want to be high-profile? For doing things that are right and good. That needs to be shown, that needs to be out there."
What is right and good to a traditional skinhead is always on the tip of their tongues -- the code many profess to live by. "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children."
This mantra is known in skinhead circles as "The 14 Words." (The 14 words even make it into skinhead secret code: Many skinheads close conversations with "14/88." 14 stands for the 14 words, and 88 meaning HH, or Heil Hitler -- H being the eighth letter of the alphabet.)
But there are other standards a "good" skin should hold equally dear. "You don't take insults unchallenged, you don't do drugs, and you don't disrespect women," says Paul, a self-described traditional skinhead who has been in the movement since its earliest days, and is a mentor today to many of the Valley's skins. (Paul asked that his last name not be used out of concern for his family.)
Paul, who is nearly 40, says he went from military brat to soccer hooligan in England in the mid-'70s when he was recruited into the movement by scouts from Britain's fascist National Front party. "Their largest recruiting venue was the soccer stadiums. Soccer hoolies started booting up with them. They were chosen, picked." National Front members would go to the soccer terraces (the cheapest seats where hooligans would often fight for space) and recruit the more promising, more aggressive specimens.
Closely tied to their racist philosophy and integral to their identity was the racist skinheads' distinctive dress, a sharp contrast to the mods and hippies that dominated the youth scene.
Compton, writing from jail, also has much to say about the history of the movement. "The persona of a traditional' skinhead was a working class white kid that did not come from wealth or privilege. Traditional skinheads had a popular dress code of Doctor Marten work boots, Sta-pressed pants or Levi's and Fred Perry tennis shirts and Ben Sherman sweaters. Traditional skinheads wore scarlet suspenders or braces to hold their pants up. . . ."
Paul returned to America in the '80s, around the same time skinhead culture and music also jumped The Pond. "The biggest uniting factor in skinhead culture is the music, besides shared beliefs in white nationalism," he says.
(In this story, "skinheads" refers to racist skinheads, whom anti-racist skinheads claim have appropriated their music and culture.)
Compton adds: "White Power Rock and Roll gave these alienated white kids something of their own that was Rebel' and it was theirs' unlike the rebel qualities of rap' and the enchantment of the whole Latin experience.' Here was something loud, cool and made for white kids."
Groups like Ian Stuart's Skrewdriver have remained legends on the skinhead music scene for more than two decades, and white-power record labels such as Resistance Records, owned by National Alliance (the largest and most sophisticated white supremacist organization in the country), bring in more than $1 million in revenue annually. With a core audience of more than 3,000 skinheads in the United States alone, marketing hate music has become a lucrative funding tool for the white-power movement as well as invaluable to recruiting efforts.
"MTV shapes the way America thinks and we are force-fed multiculturalism," says Paul. "VH1 did a documentary called Inside Hate Rock . . . we couldn't have paid for publicity that good."
Yet an increase in numbers doesn't necessarily mean a stronger resolve. Paul believes firmly in the traditional rules of advancement in the ranks and values knowledge and education about race and heritage highly. But there are so many new recruits, or "fresh cuts," and so few longtime skinheads on the street to educate them. Most skins Paul's age are either dead or in jail.
Paul is careful to be diplomatic when he talks about Fiedler. Fiedler's "a good guy, he's talented and has a gift of inspiring people, kids, youngsters. He's got abilities I don't have," Paul admits.
But he's concerned with Fiedler's tendency to value quantity over quality when bringing new skins into his crew.
"A lot of skins today are much more focused on image and drama within the movement," he says. "Some of them aren't even skinheads. They remind me of the punks in London who pose for photoSgraphs with tourists for beer money."
Sean Gaines has been described by law enforcement sources as Josh Fiedler's Barney Fife, a bumbling second-in-command who they warn is capable of absolutely anything, including extreme violence.
Gaines will do anything to impress his friends, inside or outside the law. At 22, Gaines has an extensive record, and has multiple convictions for car thefts and violent assaults. He's a Tasmanian devil of aggression and depravity who delights in implying there's an even darker side to his already murky character.
Gaines was busted for stealing a car in May 1998, and also convicted of aggravated assault for attacking a Hispanic man outside a trailer park at 2 a.m. During an argument, Gaines, then 17, seized a two-foot tree branch and bashed the man's head in, dislodging several teeth. Court documents say Gaines yelled, "This is for the West Side, nigger." The man was transported to the emergency room where doctors stapled and stitched his face and scalp back together.
While awaiting trial, prosecutors told the court Gaines sent letters to a woman threatening to rape her.
Gaines spent 16 months in prison. Prison records show disciplinary action was taken against Gaines 11 times for infractions including disobeying orders, threats, disorderly conduct and fighting.
Since last fall, Gaines' criminal activities have increased. Last September, according to police, Gaines chased a Jewish boy over a pool fence and beat him to unconsciousness.
In December, Gaines and a girlfriend turned up in Washington state and rented a room from a disabled woman, Dawn Coffinberry. When Gaines discovered Coffinberry was dating a black man, she says he poured glow-in-the-dark paint into the carpet and dresser drawers and painted swastikas and "I Hate Nigger Lovers" and "White Power" on the walls, causing $1,500 in damage.
Six weeks ago, Gaines was arrested for car theft and being a felon in possession of a firearm when a pistol was discovered under the passenger's seat of the stolen vehicle. Gaines is currently incarcerated on those charges and awaiting trial.
Obnoxious and volatile, Gaines comes off as a ticking time bomb; get too close and he'll take you down with him -- not the best kind of friend for Fiedler, who is on his third attempt at abiding by the terms of his probation, which include a prohibition against associating with other convicted felons. Yet just before Gaines' most recent arrest, Fiedler, who swears he's "never going back to prison," openly embraces Gaines.
On an evening at the end of April, Gaines -- short and stocky with a combative posture -- stands in Fiedler's backyard and announces he's one of the most prolific flashers the White Power movement has ever seen, and he's about to prove it. There's a glimmer of metal as Gaines quickly pulls a handgun from the waistband of his shorts and passes it to the man next to him, then he unbuckles his fly and lets his shorts drop to the ground, exposing himself.
Gaines' penchant for exhibitionism is nothing new, judging from the tired groans that ensue. It takes a lot to shock such a jaded crew, and Gaines works as hard at being a jester as he does an enforcer.
The man holding the gun moves to pass it back to Gaines. Someone suggests "you should have wiped that thing off before you held it for him." Gaines takes the gun and shoves it back down his pants with a grin. "You only wipe 'em off after you fire 'em," he corrects.
Fiedler reemerges from his bedroom dressed in a chemical survival suit. The gas mask he wears makes him look like something between Snuffleupagus and a Mexican wrestler. Fiedler poses for a few photos and then the crew caravans across town to a skin-friendly pool hall, The Break on Peoria Avenue. Here, shaved heads are the norm and the SS Guardians are warmly welcomed.
While Fiedler shoots pool with one of the girls -- "byrds" in skinhead speak --Gaines says loudly that three women are currently pregnant with his children and that he's growing his hair out to change his appearance because he's got warrants out for his arrest. He is all but ignored by his peers.
Gaines makes out with a petite blonde for a while, and then tries another tactic to get attention. He decides someone should tell New Times about the racist implications of laces. For skinheads like Gaines, shoelaces are everything.
Gaines walks over to Jessica Nelson and puts an arm around her shoulder. Nelson, 27, is a lifelong racist and Fiedler's former fiancée. It's been two weeks since she last injected methamphetamine into her veins, she admits, and her presence back in the fold is controversial -- good skinheads don't touch drugs. Nelson's once pretty face has been eroded by vice into a craggy grimace and she weighs less than 80 pounds. She's cheerful, though, and obviously in awe of Fiedler, who buys a red rose from a vendor and hands it to her between pool shots.
"Every Nazi starts out with black laces," she explains at Gaines' request. Moving from black laces to white laces depends upon education and information, and is determined by the person bringing you up, the leader of your crew. "You have to write and read stuff to earn them," she says. "You have to learn about history, heritage, do your family tree." (Nelson, because she has "smutted up" by using drugs, has been condemned to six months in black laces, a condition she says is "humiliating and humbling.")
Moving from white laces to red requires bloodshed, she continues.
"The blood of another race," Gaines chimes in. "Reds mean you're on the front line, you do the dirty work."
Gaines looks down at his own red-laced boots and smiles broadly, reveling in the pause their color brings to the conversation. "I killed a nigger," he says in a tone clearly meant to impress. Whether Gaines' statement is the confession of a murderer or the empty boast of a frustrated flasher is difficult to discern. Police have no record of this case.
Gaines says he hasn't done time for this crime -- yet -- his smile getting even bigger.
"The only thing better than red laces are gold laces," he continues. "You have to kill a cop to get your golds."
Paul, who is not present for this lesson in skinhead culture, explains later: "Skins are violent by nature. White urban youth that live in a violent society, they reflect that," eschewing hollow concepts like pacifism and multiculturalism for the law of the jungle.
And skinheads do not limit themselves to racially motivated crimes. DOC's Todd Gerrish says skins are behind an ever-increasing variety of criminal activities, "from the worst of murders, serious assaults, robberies and extortion to a more sophisticated newer trend of false identity, paper crimes and check washing." He says, "The younger breed is hard for the older breed to keep up with as they become more refined and their criminal activities become more mainstream."
There are five or six more crews like Fiedler's out there, and Gerrish estimates the total skinhead population in the Valley at around 150.
Despite the at times buffoonish antics of some members of Fiedler's crew, law enforcement says the danger they pose is real, and potentially as prevalent as it was in the late '80s and early '90s when skinheads like Michael Bloom and Jimmy Miller were in their prime in Phoenix. Bloom was convicted for plotting a string of bombings targeting Jewish day care centers and businesses. Miller was responsible for a string of firebombings, and assaults, including slicing the tattoo off a rival skinhead with an Xacto knife.
Extremist groups and individuals are monitored closely by various agencies, including the Phoenix Police Department's Bias Crimes unit, whose officers have been specially trained in the recognition and handling of hate crimes and hate groups.
The Bias Crimes unit, formed in 1997, consists of five detectives. They used to handle about 300 cases a year, says unit supervisor Sergeant Jerry Hill. Last August, the Bias Crimes unit was also assigned all cases involving school violence, which added approximately 1,500 cases a year. "We used to investigate every hate crime like a homicide, turning over every leaf, every stone," says Hill. "Needless to say, we can't do that anymore."
The Anti-Defamation League also collects data on various extremist groups, locally, nationally and internationally, which it shares with law enforcement. "We believe as they believe that hate groups are a threat to everybody," says Bill Straus, ADL's regional director. "I've lived here all my life, and every town in the Valley has made a point of presenting and promoting itself as a place to come live and do business. A lot of the people being appealed to are potential targets of extremists and white supremacists. It's important that law enforcement realize that."
On a recent Thursday night, Fiedler and the SS Guardians are trying to play pool at the Lazy Cue pool hall near Fiedler's home in Gilbert. Management interrupts the second game, objecting to the swastikas on their clothing, and the skinheads are asked to leave.
"It's part of our dress code," manager Wes McCabe explains as Fiedler looks at him coldly. "You can't have that SS shit on in here."
"Since when?" Fiedler protests. "We come in here all the time."
"Since now," says McCabe. "It's not you guys, but the way you dress can draw negative attention from other customers."
McCabe says Sammy Compton and Christopher Whitley used to come in here, and they've had trouble with skinheads and fighting. "With all that's happened, we're just trying to keep everybody safe."
McCabe is referring to the night last October at another pool hall, River City Pockets in Phoenix, when what began as a simple dispute ended in senseless death.
Cole Bailey Jr. wasn't looking for trouble the night he was killed; he was looking for a job to help him make payments on his Mustang. Bailey was 20, white, and of slight build, and wore a pacemaker for a congenital heart defect. He was waiting for a taxi in the parking lot when bouncers ejected a group of angry skinheads from the pool hall for fighting.
They inexplicably turned their wrath on Bailey. "What are you looking at?" witnesses say someone asked Bailey before punching him in the face, court records show. The prosecution says that person was Sammy Compton.
What ensued was a melee of blood and unfettered rage. In the space of minutes, the skinheads had Bailey on the pavement and were trampling him with steel-toed boots. They stomped his head into the pavement and kicked holes through his skull, fracturing his jaw and eye socket and nose, as he lay nearly motionless on the sidewalk, Cole Bailey Sr. says. "My son was so disfigured the bouncer [who found him] couldn't tell what race he was. We couldn't have an open casket. They kicked through bone and into the temporal lobe." Bailey Sr. adds, "The white race doesn't deserve to be saved by those guys."
Compton and Whitley won't talk about the case and refused interview requests for this story. They are awaiting trial for capital murder.
A third suspect, Brandon Miller, was recently released from jail with charges dismissed. He's being shunned by his former skinhead friends, who suspect he has cut a deal with authorities.
McCabe is only being cautious with the new dress code, and it's understandable that Nazis are not his favorite customers. On the night he's asked to leave, Fiedler is irritated, a little humiliated, but polite. This is not the first pool hall he and his crew have been kicked out of, and this experience is typical of any public outing, he says.
He thinks people are prejudiced toward skinheads. Any sort of confrontation gets blamed on them. "They turn everything around, even when all we're doing is defending ourselves."
He turns to his friends. "Let's vacate," he orders.
March 24 is Fiedler's 25th birthday, and he couldn't be more pleased. "This is the first birthday I haven't been locked up for in 20 years," he exclaims.
Though slow to arrive, friends trickle in until the house at the end of a quiet Gilbert cul-de-sac is filled with about 20 skinheads. They eat pizza, open beer bottles with their teeth, and skateboard up and down Fiedler's driveway.
Fiedler sits out on the porch for a while, chatting and sipping St. Pauli Girls with a guy they call Ben the Marauder. Ben, who is the nephew of a state senator from the East Valley, asks that his last name not be used because he doesn't want to taint his uncle's political career.
Ben says he's done time for meth possession, burglary, robbery and car theft, and he talks and drinks to excess. His wife soon sends her young daughter inside as her husband continues to preach about how skinheads are unfairly persecuted by law enforcement, prejudged on appearance.
"The cops drive right by 50 fucking illegal aliens on the street and then arrest some white dude for loitering?"
It's immigration that has turned America into "shitville," Ben says, and he has a simple solution: genocide. "We're Americans. We didn't start out mixing with the Indians, we slaughtered them."
Then he pulls out his penis to show off a tiny swastika tattooed on its shaft.
Ben has a lot on his mind, including what happened that night last October at the pool hall.
Despite the fact that loyalty to the white race and fellow skins is central to their belief system, Fiedler and his friends seem quick to judge -- and distance themselves from -- Compton and Whitley.
"The majority of skinheads aren't beer Nazis or Sammy Compton, we're about family and staying true to your heritage." He belches, and continues.
Compton "is lost, he doesn't know how to handle himself. He's not mentally prepared to be a responsible person."
Ben's wife nods in agreement.
"Beating up a 150-pound white boy and it taking three of them to do it? Please," says Ben.
"Sammy was on restriction for drinking that night," Fiedler adds. "It's stupid, this never should have happened."
Soon after Fiedler's party, someone tells Compton what was said about him. Compton responds angrily: "Me, Whitley, Miller, we caught a bad wrap [sic]. It could have been anyone," he writes. "[Fiedler] could have been there. They simply charged the three people who they had names and rap sheets on and our pictures were on the news the next day. Josh, among others, never stopped to think maybe some of us were getting railroaded. Keep in mind there were five of us."
Later, Fiedler seems to backtrack from comments made at the party. Now, he says he stands by his "brothers," Compton and Whitley.
"I don't know what happened that night, I don't know who is responsible," he says. He says he wishes he could write to them in prison, "but I can't have contact with another felon because it would violate my probation." (He apparently doesn't include Ben, or Sean Gaines or Jessica Nelson in that ban on association with felons.)
On his desk, Fiedler keeps a framed photo of himself, Compton and Whitley giving a Nazi salute at a recent National Alliance event. "I love those guys, they're good-hearted people. Skinheads are not about a bunch of frickin' violence and bullshit which is what people automatically think. If you would have known those guys the way I knew them."
His devotion to his friends sounds a lot like damage control from a budding public relations man.
Eventually, Fiedler moves into the living room to open his gifts -- pair after pair of Dickies, in khaki, red and black. Sean Gaines shows up bearing numerous bottles of hard liquor.
Gaines again announces: "I got three girls pregnant right now, can anyone top that?"
When no one can, Gaines tries to hand Fiedler a gun, joking he can shoot those who gave gifts he's not pleased with. Fiedler, apparently considering the terms of his probation for the first time in weeks, puts his hands up and backs away. "Hey, man, you know I can't touch that," he says.
Fiedler talks often of his disdain for knucklehead skins. He wants his SS Guardians to be Aryan warriors making the world safe for white children one park at a time. Yet by surrounding himself with skins like Ben and Gaines, whose violent tendencies cannot be overlooked, Fiedler seems to be endorsing the same character flaws he finds in jailed skins like Compton.
As for Sammy Compton, the thought of Fiedler preening for the cameras and calling himself a skin has him seething. And like so many skinheads, Compton can't seem to let go of the violent culture that helped put him behind bars in the first place.
"With an exception of Paul and his wife, not one skinhead has done a thing for my family," Compton writes. "A church brings [my wife] to see me. A Mexican helps me call my little girl on his three-way.
"I fought three men for Sean Gaines one night to recruit three youngsters for them. I jumped in front of a Mexican with a gun for Patrick [Bearup] and Ben the Marauder. I fought and got my ass kicked by 30 anti-racists at the Warped tour last summer, but not one of them does anything for my family.
"So I have learned a lot about loyalty. If I come out on top with this case I'm only coming back to kick the ass of everyone who badmouthed me then I am going away with my family. Oh, I have learned what's important."
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