NAME: Brien James
HOME BASE: Knightstown, IN
This clown will not have the luxury of playing the “I’m not racist” bullshit that we commonly see from racists trying to angle themselves in the mainstream. If anyone is down with Brien James, you are a friggin’ Nazi, plain and simple. Throw your temper tantrums all you like, but you really don’t want to be in the business of cleaning this clown up from the over thirty years of being the Nazi that he is, especially considering there are a lot of people who are dead because of what he created. And if you do, well…
We never profiled Brien James in a Rogues Gallery entry before. Sure we have written stories about the exploits of him and his various crews, but never really spotlighted him. But now folks are talking about the latest group he founded, the American Guard. We have seen them at various neo-fascist events and rallies since 2016, and people really want to know who they are. The best way to figure that out is via Brien James, and when you see that he was a former Klan member who became known as a member of the Outlaw Hammerskins (OHS) and after a series of other incarnations ended up with his most well-known, the Vinlander Social Club (VSC), you know that the American Guard is going to be about the crap that VSC was about in its perceived heyday.
Brien James himself pretty much is a POS to his core. Growing up poor in a single parent household in Knightstown, Indiana and graduating Arsenal Technical High School in the Brookside neighborhood of Indianapolis in 1994, he says he had a rough time of it in a school that was predominately Black, saying that he had his head busted open with a flagpole in 1992 in the wake of the Rodney King verdict and the L.A. Rebellion during an altercation that went on at that time. He says he found himself in the news around that time quite a bit, because he was starting different kinds of crews and making himself a spectacle since he had come to the conclusion that the races cannot mix. He found himself in the Klan when he was 21, according to the SPLC, but that wasn’t really for him and there were other crews that he eventually decided to hook up with.
Other than Chicago Area “Skinheads” (CASH), the Hammerskin Nation (HSN) was among the first bonehead crews established and they were represented in the Midwest by the Northern Hammerskins (NHS) Chapter. But after some time, there were a few rifts. A cached link to the Outlaw Hammerskins (OHS) website tells the story of it’s formation:
“As many of you already know, the illustrious history of the Hammerskins starts in Dallas, Texas in late `87, early `88. The mission was simple — Be the elite in the skinhead world, set the example, keep the standards of what a skinhead should be high and dismiss the low. The Hammerskins did exactly that in the early years. Many of them sacrificed years of their lives in prison for their beliefs in their crew and their race. We could write volumes on the history of the Hammerskins and in the future we probably will, but for now you get the point. To be a Hammerskin in the first 7 or 8 years was an honor, an accomplishment to be proud of. The motto was “Quality over Quantity”, but in the summer of `99 those of us that were then members of the Northern Region of the Hammerskin nation began to realize that the motto was becoming a hollow cliche. The forging of the Outlaw Hammerskins came in June of `99. To make a long story short, we had a member that wasn’t living up to his oath. His attempted suicide 2 years previous and his current prescription of lithium (to balance his emotions) wasn’t what we classified as mentally stable; and his persistent sexual propositions towards another Hammerskins’ wife was an insult to our entire group, therefore we kicked him out. There’s no argument that it was violent; details include a blow torch, pool cue and two black X’s under his arms. Apparently that came as a shock to our bosses in Dallas. Out of 19 members, 5 of us were kicked out of the nation. 13 of us formed O.H.S. and the other 4 members and 2 probates remained H.S.N. We heard later that 2 of the 6 were dismissed from the nation and another was severly beaten outside of a restaurant in Ft. Wayne, Indiana shortly after our separation from the nation. In a nut shell, that’s how we came to be. There are 2 words that sum up our crew — Brotherhood and Freedom. We exist for one another and no other … period. We do remain open and hospitable to other racialists who pass through our cities and states. We don’t discourage different views and opinions; however, we do not tolerate disrespect. We don’t give out “free passes” to those who don’t want to “play nicely”. Meaning we don’t talk shit; there is no “next time”. We’ll light you up on the fucking spot. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Our crew will remain and always be pro-white. We only accept those of the master race as our true brothers. We are all free-willed and minded individuals with different faiths and political opinions; however, one thing that never changes from brother to brother is our undying loyalty towards our patch. The Outlaw Hammerskins are our religion, our politics and our race.”
By this time, Brien, who was never in HSN, was well out of the Klan, and he reached out and eventually became a probate to the OHS. Eventually, his position in OHS was 2nd in the South Central region under the leader known as Brick. OHS was extremely violent and some folks learned that the hard way when they would screw with them over their penchant of being about hip hop from the music to the gear despite being White Power. They would play Ludachris and Tupac at their events, mostly to piss people off and get a rise out of them, and when someone ridiculed them or insulted them for it, they caught a beatdown. Their biggest thing was more significant. They made it a point to go after HSN every chance they got. This proved to be problematic during the times Hammerskins were a larger force. During the 2000 Nordic Fest, OHS arrived in Kentucky to attend, but the three vanloads of members were turned away by the security of Imperial Klans of America, the sponsors of Nordic Fest. OHS responded by firing off a volley of rounds in the air to let folks, particularly the Hammerskins inside what was up.
Brien wasn’t at that particular outing. He was on house arrest on a charge that he stomped a man to the brink of death at a party in Indianapolis for refusing to seig heil. In an OHS website post years later, he addressed the issue
“The first thing I want to do is give a big FUCK YOU to all of the cops, feds, task force specialists, and ZOG agents of all shapes and sizes who have been harrassing (sic) me, and my friends and family. If you people think that you can intimidate me into submisssion (sic) with your bullshit then think again. I’m not easily intimidated. Thats why I stand up for who I am and work a real job in the real world. I’m not hiding behind a badge like you cowards. You guys are the punk little bitches that got picked on in High School so now you want to hide behind your government “shield” and try to fuck with people. I was framed up on attempted murder charges in Indianapolis. I beat the charges because there wasn’t a shred of evidence against me, and a year later I turn on the TV and my face is still plastered all over your HATE seminar. I have a wife and 2 small children and you people are constantly trying to take away thier (sic) only means of support by following me around trying to dig up ways to throw me in jail.”
OHS continued on for a few more years, building more and more chapters in the midwest and fighting with HSN every step of the way, but infighting caused the group to dissolve in 2002. From the ashes, James and others started both the Hoosier State “Skinheads” and the Ohio State “Skinheads”, and for a year this worked with both groups working with each other, but after a year of this they figured it made more sense to come together again as one group, so on July 4, 2003, James, former Rahowa guitarist Eric “the Butcher” Fairburn, Bryon Widner, Nate Sliter and Donald Weirich founded the Vinlander Social Club (VSC). One might make the argument that the Vinlanders were worse than any of those than the past crews. They grew to chapters across the country and this was while the fortunes of the Hammerskins was experiencing a downturn. HSN is a shell of its former self these days and nowadays the few members that they have is not enough for anyone to talk about. The Vinlanders and other bonehead crews have filled the space, and the Vinlanders were experiencing a notoriety that rivaled anything Hammerskin Nation had in its heyday.
In 2005, the immigration issue exploded with the reinvention of the old David Duke -styled Klan Border Patrols of the 1970s with a new group curiously with the name of an old White Supremacist group – the Minutemen. When the Minutemen thrust immigration into the conservative mainstream, White Supremacists all over the country came along for the ride and the newfound respectability was something they did not want to let go of. To that end, some longstanding neo-Nazi institutions started to pull back on a lot of their Nazi rhetoric and symbolism in order to maintain and eventually build politically and socially, and the VSC were no exception. Early in 2007, Brien James wrote a lengthly statement saying that the Vinlanders were no longer a part of the white racialist political movement and will be solely about culture:
STATEMENT OF PURPOSE AND DIRECTION FOR THE VINLANDERS SOCIAL CLUB IN 2007
Entering into the year 2007 the Vinlanders have found themselves at a crossroads. It is not uncommon for an organization that is young and innovative to have to redefine itself during its formative years and that time has come again for the Vinlanders. We created this group because we were disappointed with the movement that we dedicated our young lives to. Several different types of pro-white activists and fraternal order members came together in 2003 to create a new organization. It was to be something that was going to replace and surpass the old guard in the skinhead scene. Even by force if necessary.
We accomplished our goals. With the help and friendship of other crews such as the KSS (Editor’s Note: Keystone State “Skinheads”–OPP) and MDS (Editor’s Note: Maryland “Skinheads”–OPP) we set a new standard that will endure in the American skinhead scene for all time. It is now possible for any decent group of guys in America and possibly abroad to establish a regional crew. They can get the respect, support, and mentoring they need to be a success. They can meet yearly with other crews, as we did with the the Council 28, and exchange ideas and debate direction and tactics. No skinhead crew has been excluded. Any crews that have not made an appearance have done so out of fear or apathy. We have welcomed previous enemies as brothers. We have silenced and de-stabilized our critics. We have seen people brought together and groups and events torn apart by our influence within the movement. Our internal successes and growth have been phenomenal, while our success at organizing and working with outside groups has been slow and painful at best.
After careful review of the events and circumstances, we have determined that our best course of action as Vinlanders is to separate ourselves from the racist movement. Most of the groups and crews who have been our friends will remain our friends. The Council 28 will continue in private as an outlet for good and sensible skinhead crews. However, we do not see anything positive being accomplished, for our nation or our people, by participating in the white racialist movement as it stands. We have attempted to change this movement from within and have not succeeded. It is our opinion that a large number of the people involved in the greater movement are paid informants, social outcasts, and general losers in life. While the vast majority of skinheads specifically entered into this movement for the right reasons. Some did not. Those people will never change or listen to reasoning because thier motives were all wrong from the start .
The basic premise that ALL white people are superior and decent is flawed. They are not. Our own people have harmed us the most. This movement specifically has the ability to attract the lowest common denominator. By the same token all non-whites are not savage beasts that have to be treated with disrespect in order to maintain ones “white power” credentials. You can easily find dozens of drunken, abusive. unemployed and very dangerous people at any given White Nationalist gathering. If you get out enough in society you will also find people of all races who go to work day after day, and take care of their responsibilities to society and their families. If you preach in absolutes, eventually your supporters and friends will see this basic truth and abandon you.
What does this mean? Does it mean our beliefs are wrong? For the most part it does not have to. Our beliefs stem from being deprived of our individual freedoms and from our witnessing of the decline of western civilization. One of the most obvious and sometimes relevant symptoms of this decline is forced integration and the decline of our towns and neighborhoods based on racial make-up. However this is just a symptom. It is not the PROBLEM. The problems are complex and relate more to power and money than any of the issues we have been distracted with. Politically the Vinlanders intend to work within, and subvert the established two party systems. We intend to pursue enforcement of the 10th amendment against the federal government’s excessive abuse of its powers. We also intend to work on projects more relevant to improving the quality of our lives.
As an organization and a tribe we will do what we have always done. We will thwart and displace those who want to harm us, and protect and better those who support us.
We believe there are three stages of conflict. Domination, open and equal conflict, and survival mode. The conservative working class has lost its dominance and the open conflict battles for now. It is time to re-think our stances and strategies and go into survival mode. That is what we will do.
We are no longer in competition with anyone to “change” or “control” the white racialist movement. Others such as the NSM (Editor’s Note: National Socialist Movement –OPP), Bill White, Volksfront, etc… can have it. We will no longer be regarded as “white power skinheads”, racialists, or members of the movement or old scene. We will simply be Vinlanders, modern tribalists, and followers of an older and better way.
We will make our own scene, and a lot of you are welcome in it. I would like to personally ask those of you who are in this for your children and your nation to think about what we have said in this statement, and apply it to your own life. Ask yourselves if you think you can do more than you have. We know we can, and that is why we are making this change. We will always be here as your friends.
On behalf of the Vinlanders,
It was a crock of shit.
The biggest problem that neo-Fascist groups have when they say they are abandoning their racism and fascism publicly is that they are still racist and fascists. Add to that the violence that the VSC was still about, and that made 2007 the beginning of the end for them. In March Fairburn and fellow Vinlanders Tim Dumas and Josh Kern attacked a black man in Indianapolis and was arrested for the assault. Dumas and Kern eventually got a year in prison while Fairburn got five with three suspended. Fairburn was also barred by the judge – a Black woman – from associating with any bonehead crews, to which he replied, “I’m no longer a member of the Vinlanders and I no longer have any association or ties whatsoever with the Vinlanders Social Club or any other [racist] clubs or anything. I haven’t been around those people in over a year. I’m 34 years old, and I’ve got too much going on in my life to waste any more of it.”
When Fairburn eventually got out, he found out he had nothing going on in his life. He had nowhere to go because of his renouncement, and Brien James felt betrayed and hated him with every fiber of his being. There is even a video somewhere on the internet of James punching Fairburn in the face as Fairburn tries to walk away. With all that going on. Fairburn felt he had nothing left in the outside world, so in 2010 he walked into an Indianapolis police station and confessed to the 2004 shooting death of 57-year-old William McDaniel in Springfield, MO, in what was a retaliation shooting for McDaniel allegedly killing a friend of his in a drunk driving accident. Fairburn is now serving life in prison on a second-degree murder charge.
This isn’t a isolated thing with Vinlanders. The violence they were known for often came with murder. There was the 2009 drive-by killing of Kelley Ann Jaeger while she was walking with her African-American boyfriend in Phoenix, Arizona. Vinlander Aaron Levi Schmidt, pled guilty to second-degree murder for being the driver and testified that it was fellow Vinlander Travs Ricci, who is currently serving a 22-year sentence for a 2010 incident where he slammed his girlfriend into a wall and stabbed the two men who tried to assist her, that fired the 12-gauge shotgun at the couple. Schmidt won a retrial in July 2018 because of a gaffe in his earlier trial that exposed the jury to information it wasn’t supposed to hear, but he eventually pled guilty and in March 2019 was sentenced to life in prison, but prosecutors wanted the death penalty because they believed that the murder was to further the interests of the Vinlanders. Also in 2009, Vinlander Probate Michael Parrish, who was also a corrections officer in Monroe County, Penn., killed his live-in girlfriend and their 2-year-old son. He pled guilty to two counts of first-degree murder and currently sits-on Death Row.
The ADL counts at least nine murders committed by Vinlander members as well as other crimes. And that’s only the ones they can definitively attribute to them.
Vinlanders began hemorrhaging members, many of them moving on to other clubs. Most notable of them was Bryon Widner, who was actually the one who brought James to OHS back in the day. 2007 was when he started talking with Daryle Lamont Jenkins, about getting out of the Vinlanders and White Power scene altogether. He eventually did, and it became the subject of the documentary Erasing Hate, which chronicled him getting the hate tattoos on his face and arms removed, and that documentary has been turned into the movie Skin starring Jamie Bell as Bryon and Mike Colter as DLJ. Brien James is not depicted in the movie.
With Vinlanders steadily collapsing, James came up with yet another crew. In 2013, he came up with American Vikings (AV). On the website he said that AV was “dedicated to creating entertaining and meaningful discussion about issues affecting patriotic, constitutional libertarian leaning, working class Americans.” And James became a T-shirt entrepreneur too. In fact, to be patched up with this crew you just had to buy a T-Shirt and you will get a free patch in the mail. Needless to say, that went over like a rock with the old school Nazi crews commonly referred to these days as the “1.0”, but James didn’t care. He had a whole new fascism to peddle. That would explain why he ventured out to Philadelphia in Oct. 2013 – with Matt Parrott and Matthew Heimbach of the Traditionalist Workers Party in tow – to participate in Keystone State “Skinheads” (KSS) annual “Leif Ericsson Day Celebration”. That became a rather embarrassing day for the KSSholes, who still reference that year as they organize future such events because that year they saw over 200 people coming out to greet them, and that has never happened to them before. Still, it gave Brien a chance to hawk his goods and talk smack on a megaphone, but after that day until 2018 when the statue was somehow pushed into the river by unknown people and removed from public view by the city, KSS tried all they could to make future “celebrations” a clandestine operation.
Eventually James decided to stop calling American Vikings a crew. It is now American Vikings Clothing and it even had a Facebook page. (the page is now removed). But James still needed a crew, and that’s where the American Guard (AG) comes in. Founded in 2016 by James, Joshua Long and Ryan Ramsey, the latter two both former members of another White Power crew called the Hated (and in the case of Ramsey is a Libertarian Party of Florida Region 4 Representative and a onetime candidate for the Florida House of Representatives), American Guard originally started as the Indiana chapter of another neo-Nazi crew called the Soldiers of Odin USA, a branch of an extreme anti-immigrant group founded in Finland in 2015 that has spread to other countries and is focused on vigilante patrols to “protect” citizens from the refugees, patrols that the Indiana Soldiers of Odin conducted in 2016. Rebranded as the American Guard, they are capitalizing off the fervor around the so-called “alt-right” and according to the Anti-Defamation League, states that they are about “voluntary community protection, activism, and service based around the ideals of American Constitutional Nationalism and the preservation of western culture.” Moreover the American Guard “encourage(s) Americans of any race, class or faith to participate with us in these beliefs.” The group’s logo, features two crossed meat-cleavers, which is in reference to “Bill the Butcher”, a fictionalized version played by Daniel Day-Lewis in the movie Gangs of New York of William Poole, the leader of the Bowery Boys, a violent street gang in 19th Century New York City known for its attacks on immigrants. AG members frequently use images of actor Daniel Day Lewis his “Bill the Butcher” role. You know who else was about Bill the Butcher? Eric “the Butcher” Fairburn, James’ former friend and Vinlander sitting in jail on a life sentence for murder.
Since February 2017 people started seeing American Guard in numerous places, generally at rallies in support of Donald Trump, or just right wing rallies in general. Brien James himself was in Charlottesville, VA for the ill-fated “Unite the Right” rally, an event he now calls a disaster, and a month later in Washington, DC for an event called the Mother of All Rallies. But American Guard is not the only group James is associated with. In a video posted last year, he noted that he was he is the Indiana state representative of the neo-fascist hipster street gang the Proud Boys as well as the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, the “tactical defense arm” of the Proud Boys. Now this should complicate the many attempts that Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes has made to pretend that the Proud Boys are not racist nor would they be associated with racists. But it doesn’t seem to bother McInnes one bit since he has not said anything about the fact that James is a member, perhaps it is because he can’t since his personal Twitter account as well as the account for the Proud Boys is suspended, something that happened just prior to the “Unite the Right Rally 2” that was held in Washington, DC. It’s a little something they have in common with James, since he has been kicked off of several sites for people to make online payments to him for his stuff.
And lest folks get it twisted, James makes it clear he didn’t abandon the ideals he says he used to espouse. According to the SPLC, he participated in a reunion of the Vinlanders in October 2017, even wearing their colors. Two months later on the anniversary of his death, he pays tribute to Robert Matthews, the leader of the White terrorist organization the Order, who is the eighties was responsible for a series of robberies and murders that ended with the arrests of its members and the death of Matthews in a December 1984 shootout.
People are wise to the American Guard now. They know who they are, and who Brien James is. Now its a matter of assuring the right wingers who keep cozying up to them that doing so shows who they are too. Folks are good for that. That’s why Brien keeps pulling all this subterfuge. It’s not working. He will always be seen as a neo-Nazi lowlife.