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Huffington Post investigation leads to White nationalists kicked out of military

National

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 8/8/2019, 10:50 a.m.
Months after a series of reports that exposed at least a dozen known or suspected members of a White..

Months after a series of reports that exposed at least a dozen known or suspected members of a White nationalist group in the U.S. military, officials have confirmed that at least four of those servicemen have been removed from the ranks of the armed forces. However, according to the Huffington Post, at least another four have been allowed to serve in the Army. And another four remain under investigation.

In March and April, HuffPost published two reports identifying 11 servicemen who belonged to Identity Evropa, the White nationalist group best known for helping organize the deadly 2017 “Unite the Right” White supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. In a separate report in May, HuffPost confirmed that the Army was investigating a 12th soldier for his alleged ties to the Atomwaffen Division, a neo-Nazi terror group that has been connected to five murders in the U.S. over the past two years.

The danger of White nationalist terror was brought into devastating focus this week after a gunman who reportedly held White nationalist views massacred 22 people in a Wal-Mart in El Paso, Texas. The man arrested in that attack does not appear to have any connections to the U.S. military. However, the serviceman with possible connections to the Atomwaffen Division is still stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, and is among the four who the Army has determined are still fit to serve.

Scholars of extremism and law enforcement officials have long warned about the risks of White nationalists serving in the armed forces, where they can pose a risk to fellow service members and receive combat training they can use to attack civilian targets. Earlier this year, federal authorities arrested a White nationalist Coast Guard lieutenant who prosecutors said had been stockpiling firearms to kill leftists and media figures as part of a plot to establish a “White homeland.”

Military regulations forbid service members from engaging in extremist activity or committing acts of discrimination, but an alarming 2017 Military Times poll found that nearly 25 percent of service members reported encountering White nationalists within their ranks. The revelation that at least four of the 12 White nationalists exposed in HuffPost's reporting will be allowed to remain in the armed services raises questions about how seriously the U.S. military is disciplining its recruits and active-duty members for ties to extremist groups.

Citing privacy reasons, military officials largely declined to elaborate on why certain servicemen are no longer members of the armed forces and why others were allowed to remain. Two Marines, Lance Cpls. Logan Piercy and Jason Laguardia, were “administratively separated” from the military in May after HuffPost exposed them as members of Identity Evropa, a Marines Corps spokesman confirmed last month. Piercy had made deeply racist and anti-Semitic posts on private White nationalist message boards. “REMOVE KIKE,” he once wrote, using a slur for Jewish people, above a photo of Adolf Hitler.

Laguardia was a frequent commenter as well, posting photos of Identity Evropa propaganda he had placed throughout Connecticut and New York City, particularly on college campuses. “There is no place for racial hatred or extremism in the Marine Corps,” said Maj. Roger Hollenbeck, a Marine Corps spokesman. Another Identity Evropa member, Jonathan Gould, is no longer in the military. Army spokeswoman Cathy Brown Vandermaarel confirmed that he left in April, shortly after an anonymous group of anti-fascist activists in the Pacific Northwest exposed his membership. However, she would not elaborate on the circumstances of his departure.

It appears that Gould is still active in White nationalist organizations. A photo that anti-fascist activists posted to Twitter in May showed him at the American Renaissance White supremacist conference in Tennessee. Anti-fascist activists also spotted Gould among a group of fascists belonging to the American Identity Movement, the name Identity Evropa has now adopted, who stormed a reading by author Jonathan Metzl at a Washington, D.C., bookstore in April. (Metzl is the author of “Dying of Whiteness, a book about racism and politics.)

The fourth Identity Evropa member to leave the military is 20-year-old Jay Harrison, an ROTC cadet at Montana State University. The Daily Inter Lake, a newspaper based in Kalispell, Mo., previously reported that Harrison quit the military amid the investigation into his extremist ties. Vandermaarel said she would “not comment or disclose the circumstances concerning any investigative, administrative or disciplinary action” regarding Harrison.