This article is the first in a two part series examining California organizations that are connected and affiliated with the Republican Party, and have increasingly demonstrated a pattern of promoting and pursuing fascist and neo-Nazi politics under the cover of promoting the GOP.
Earlier this year, NoCARA shared some of its research on the Berkeley College Republicans (BCR) weeks before an event in which the student club would host Milo Yiannopoulos at UC Berkeley. The event, planned for February 1st, 2017, was successfully cancelled and disrupted by university students along with the local community. Our previous research exposed the Alt-Right leanings of a handful of the club’s members and associates in an attempt to illustrate the fascist creep that was infecting the campus.
This process of the fascist creep, or the increasing integration and legitimization of fascist political positions within mainstream discourse, has continued with the aid of institutions including media outlets, GOP-linked organizations, and even the University of California itself. Resistance to the far-Right’s attempts to advance their vision of inequality persists, and we hope this expanded look at BCR will aid those engaged in antifascist work.
Leader of Berkeley College Republicans is also a big fan of Sellner, and wrote about his brand of white nationalism in Alt-Right paper. pic.twitter.com/bUeoFLbH3v
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 24, 2017
While BCR members have been profiled in local media such as Berkeleyside and bigger outlets like the New York Times, these articles have largely served as no more than superficial puff pieces that simply frame BCR as innocent victims of overaggressive Leftists or ‘antifa.’ Lacking in these journalists’ work is any serious attempt to understand why BCR has caught the attention of antifascists, as well as what role the club plays in mainstreaming white supremacy in the era of a Trump presidency. This piece will attempt to outline how BCR maintains one foot in the world of traditional mainstream conservatism while keeping the other in the world of far-Right organizing and fascist violence.
“Some of the most red-pilled people you’ll ever meet in your life.” – Kyle Chapman referring to BCR in an interview with InfoWars at Sproul Plaza, 9/27/17
“…[S]ome of the club members who supported Worden told him they were “national socialists,” a term often used by neo-Nazis…” – The Mercury News, 10/28/17
Throughout 2017, BCR has made various connections to far-Right individuals and groups, including members of the Alt-Right movement responsible for organizing the deadly rally in Charlottesville, VA last August. Most of the club’s associations with these far-Right activists are made through Troy Worden, who has filled the role of President of BCR for most of 2017. Even after his removal from the group by way of an internal coup, Worden still has kept close with other BCR members, and attended a talk by anarchist and antifascist author Mark Bray in Berkeley in November, along with various other BCR members, including Vice President Naweed Tahmas. Clearly, despite Worden being voted out as the President, he still has a leadership role within it as a member, as evidence by the fact that other members of BCR who support him literally self-identified themselves to news media as actual National Socialists, or, neo-Nazis.
The following list details the growing connections between BCR and other formations, organizations, and individuals within the far-Right, the Alt-Right, and Alt-Lite.
Keith Campbell aka kpikklefield
Keith Campbell of El Cerrito, CA is a member of the Oath Keepers, a patriot militia organization who has livestreamed from many right wing events in Northern California throughout 2017. When BCR and others attacked a BAMN meeting at UC Berkeley for instance, Campbell tagged along to document it.
Campbell has encouraged right wing violence and promoted it using his social media pages. Other times, Campbell has used social media to doxx and harass and antifascist and Leftist activists. His desire for violence caught up to him at the August 27th rally in Berkeley where he was confronted by demonstrators.
Campbell is well networked into the local and regional far-Right and Alt-Right scene, following a variety of neo-Nazi, Alt-Right, and white nationalist accounts, despite his attempt to distance himself from white nationalism when he was interviewed by Reveal. Only several months later however, he was back on the streets, supporting Patriot Prayer in Portland, Oregon, on November 4th.
Daniel Quillinan is a fascist living in Berkeley associated with BCR. Quillinan has engaged in violence at rallies in Berkeley and is close to Kyle Chapman. On social media, Quillinan constantly posts racist and violent content, including discussions of weapons. Politically, Quillinan comes from a ‘reactionary Libertarian’ perspective that seeks to make common cause with neo-Nazis and members of the Alt-Right, by way of in his words, attacking ‘anti-racism.’ Quillinan is also a mainstay at BCR meetings and events, as well as street demonstrations. In September, Quillinan was a part of a group that also included BCR members that attacked and disrupted a BAMN meeting on the UC Berkeley campus.
Charles Murray is the author of 1994 book, The Bell Curve, widely known as a pseudoscientific attempt to legitimize racism by arguing that intelligence potential is biologically linked to race. Though Murray’s claims have been debunked, his book remains a staple among the Alt-Right, white supremacists, and growing amounts of ‘average conservatives.’ Troy Worden describes Murray as “one of the most stimulating conservative intellectuals out there.” Murray visited BCR at UC Berkeley in April.
Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer
Joey Gibson founded the group Patriot Prayer and is known primarily for organizing right wing events in the Pacific Northwest, one of which was attended by Portland white supremacist murderer Jeremy Christian, who soon after would go on to murder two people on a train and critically injure another with a knife. Other Patriot Prayer events have also become safe spaces for neo-Nazis, Alt-Right trolls, and white nationalists to gather in a united from with other far-Right individuals. A local leader of the white nationalist group, Identity Evropa, even stated that members of Patriot Prayer welcomed neo-Nazis and white supremacists, as long as they were fighting:
“Tiny [Joey’s second in command] reached out to me and called me up over Facebook and said, ‘You know, I support [IE] and what you do,” Von Ott said.
Von Ott added that Toese told him IE members were “the only people that actually were up front the entire time along with the Street Preachers. The Oath Keepers just sat back—in his words—with their fancy gear and stayed in the back the whole time.”
Gibson traveled to Berkeley with others for the rally on April 15th, where members of BCR were also in attendance. Patriot Prayer has continued organizing events in Berkeley in August, September, and November. BCR members participated in every one of these rallies, and Gibson’s events in September coincided with the so-called “Free Speech Week,” organized by members of BCR.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 27, 2017
During that week of actions, BCR members spent considerable time with Joey Gibson. On September 27th, Troy Worden was at Pappy’s in Berkeley having drinks with Joey Gibson and members of Patriot Prayer as well as Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman and members of the Proud Boys. The night before, Troy Worden traveled with the same group to have drinks at Forbidden Island Tiki Lounge in Alameda. For more information on Joey Gibson and his own ties to the fascist movement, see Rose City Antifa’s article here.
The Proud Boys, a Alt-Lite group with links to the Alt-Right and white nationalists, have attended all of BCR’s major 2017 events in Berkeley, starting on February 1st for the Milo Yiannopoulos failed speaking event. BCR members have also in turn been seen with members of the Proud Boys at these events.
The Proud Boys, founded by Gavin McInnes, describe themselves as “Western Chauvinists,” and the group does include token people of color and queer folks, who they frequently point to in order to claim they are not racist while advancing implicit white nationalist politics. At the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, various members of the Proud Boys were present, along with their ‘military’ division, FOAK, or the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights, and even the event’s organizer Jason Kessler was a member of the Proud Boys himself.
Back in the bay area, members of the Proud Boys were seen at the Ben Shapiro talk put on by BCR, as well as all of the Alt-Right, far-Right, and Alt-Lite demonstrations which were also attended by BCR members over the past several months. In October, Troy Worden even made an appearance on Gavin McInnes’s show.
Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) November 23, 2017
Kyle Chapman is a high ranking and influential member of the Proud Boys, the leader of their militia division the Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK), and a racist “celebrity” known to the Alt-Right as Based Stickman. NoCARA wrote about Chapman after his participation in a March 4th rally in Berkeley, which he now faces charges for after being suspected of felony possession of a club.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 4, 2017
Since Chapman’s rise to prominence in far-Right circles, he has attempted to mainstream white nationalist talking points such as ‘white genocide,’ worked openly with Alt-Right figures like Augustus Invictus (a Unite the Right speaker), and helped to promote neo-Nazi groups like Rise Above Movement (RAM). Chapman’s group FOAK was also very prominent in Charlottesville, VA during Unite the Right on August 12th, and his own Facebook page featured a livestream from the event, though Chapman has since deleted the video. Chapman has even gone so far as to call for a return to lynching, called a black Trump support the ‘n-word,’ and told him that he would “have fun slapping those blue gums out your cock holster.”
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) December 4, 2017
Kyle Chapman has also worked with BCR and been seen with them on several occasions. Aside from their time together with Joey Gibson already mentioned above, Chapman spoke at a Make Cali Great event with BCR’s Troy Worden, (here Chapman claimed whites were being wiped out and railed against Muslims), and they were seen together at the California GOP convention as well as other events in the Bay Area. As with other Alt-Right and far-RIght figures, the connection between BCR and Chapman show how the campus club has their feet both in fascist street movements and in institutional politics.
The Red Elephants is a pan-far-Right media group based in Southern California. The organization has known ties to the neo-Nazi group, Rise Above Movement (RAM), which includes members of the Hammerskins neo-Nazi skinhead gang, and has promoted and encouraged violence carried out by this group on several occasions.
To watch live streams of the Red Elephants is to be hit with a barrage of references to neo-Nazi memes and code words, from the “14 words,” to how awesome David Duke is. Unsurprisingly, earlier in 2017, Ashton Whitty of BCR started working for Red Elephants, livestreaming events in Northern California. Disqus wrote:
This past Friday the neo-Nazi propaganda group The Red Elephants announced the expansion of its coverage in the San Francisco Bay area with the addition of Ashton Whitty. She is a student activist at Berkeley who works with the Berkeley College Republicans and the Berkeley Patriot. She has also collaborated with the Leadership Institute’s propaganda group, Campus Reform. She has been given the epithet Patriot Barbie by her neo-Nazi fans.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) August 27, 2017
The Red Elephants typically creates videos catering to fascists and white supremacists, livestreaming from events such as the neo-Nazi rally, Unite the Right in Charlottesville, VA on August 12, as well as the neo-Nazi White Lives Matter rally in Tennessee, and many events in Berkeley. Members have also been seen on streams disseminating white supremacist propaganda such as Holocaust denial. For more information on the connection between white supremacist groups and The Red Elephants, see NoCARA’s previous research here.
On August 27th in Berkeley, members of the Red Elephants recorded a video after a failed far-Right rally led by Patriot Prayer, where they openly endorsed forming militias to kill antifascist protests and sympathized with the murderer of Heather Heyer.
Lauren Southern is a far-Right and Alt-Lite activist from Canada. She recently became known for joining the fascist group Generation Identity for their “Defend Europe” media stunt along with Brittany Pettibone from California, who writes for AltRight.com, a website run in part by Richard Spencer.
While onboard the ship, Southern shot flares at a boat containing refugees. Lauren Southern has traveled to Berkeley on multiple occasions to join BCR at various events and also livestream. The students were seen with her during the April 15th rally, and she also came to the university campus for BCR’s Ben Shapiro event and their “Free Speech Week,” and has been seen taking various group photos with members of BCR both during street actions and while on campus tabling.
Martin Sellner and Generation Identity
Martin Sellner is a leader of Generation Identity, a fascist and white identitarian group based in Europe, who gained notoriety for being the primary organizer behind the failed “Defend Europe” publicity stunt.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 24, 2017
Sellner is from Austria and visited Berkeley during BCR’s “Free Speech Week” where he was seen with Troy Worden, Kyle Chapman, and Lauren Southern, while spending time with girlfriend, Brittany Pettibone. Generation Identity recently started branches in the UK and Ireland, and may be looking to bring their movement to the US, where it has also inspired groups such as Identity Evropa. Worden himself has also written glowingly of Generation Identity, claiming that white Identitarianism is able to succeed whereas neo-Nazi groups in the US generally fail.
Francois Marion and the American Freedom Keepers
Francois Marion and his organization American Freedom Keepers have been at several far-Right events, including in Berkeley and Washington DC. The American Freedom Keepers are described as a militia group, and even attended the neo-Nazi Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville. Because of this, both Marion and his organization are listed among the defendants in a lawsuit from the City of Charlottesville and other plaintiffs due to Marion’s “illegal paramilitary activity” at the Charlottesville, VA rally on August 12th. The group is connected with the Berkeley College Republicans.
For instance, on August 27th, Marion picked up BCR member Ashton Whitty from MLK park in Berkeley during the cancelled “Rally against Marxism.”
Nathan Damigo and Identity Evropa
Nathan Damigo is the founder of the fascist and white supremacist organization Identity Evropa. Damigo and his organization were among the primary organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA in August where Heather Heyer was murdered and many more were injured. Before that rally, Damigo and supporters participated in the April 15th rally in Berkeley where Damigo was caught in a viral video punching an antifascist woman in the face. Nathan Damigo has also been linked to BCR repeatedly.
At the April 15th rally, BCR member Jack Palkovic was seen meeting with and shaking Damigo’s hand. Damigo had already been spending time with BCR and developing a relationship with the group as early as January 2017. On January 20th, BCR allowed Damigo to join them at their table on Sproul Plaza to celebrate the inauguration of Donald Trump, where they did an interview with him on a conspiracy theory and white supremacist internet show, Red Ice TV.
Troy Worden has written approving articles which compare Generation Identity to Damigo and Identity Evropa as well as Julius Evola, an admired philosopher within the fascist and neo-Nazi movements; praised even by Steve Bannon. Identity Evropa focuses their recruitment on college students, and their stickers and posters have been appearing on and around the UC Berkeley campus since May 2016, when the group got it’s start after organizing a rally alongside Richard Spencer. Unsurprisingly, the event was attended by several members of BCR.
Damigo also attended the Milo Yiannopoulos event at UC Davis on January 13th to recruit for Identity Evropa and showed up to UC Berkeley on February 1st to do the same thing until he saw the anarchist black bloc, which made him physically remove himself.
Milo Yiannopoulos and MILO Inc.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 24, 2017
BCR has attempted to bring Milo Yiannopoulos to UC Berkeley twice in 2017, first on February 1st and again in September for “Free Speech Week.” Both of these events were disastrous failures due to the group’s own organizational contradictions and disorganization compounded by resistance from antifascists.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 24, 2017
BCR continues to support Yiannopoulos despite the fact that he is known to have made comments supporting pedophilia and leaked emails show that he worked directly with white supremacists to popularize the Alt-Right while working at Breitbart.
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) September 24, 2017
Milo also attacked BCR and their front group, the Berkeley Patriot, claiming it was their fault that Free Speech Week fell apart. During Free Speech Week, a wide variety of neo-Nazis, white nationalists, Alt-Lite, and Alt-Right trolls hit the streets, and BCR and Troy Worden blanketed the Berkeley campus with homophobic and racist messages, posters, and slogans. The atmosphere of fear was compounded by Alt-Right attacks and harassment against left-wing bookstores, homeless encampments, and the beating of a man of color on Telegraph Ave.
“The grassroots arm of the Republican Party” – College Republican National Committee
As we have just shown, BCR maintains several connections to the Alt-Right and white supremacists, both locally and elsewhere. Some of these connections are directly responsible for violence done in the name of those white supremacist ideologies to which they adhere. This indicates the obvious fact that BCR holds a place in the Alt-Right ecosystem, especially as they connect a neo-fascist street movement to the club’s credibility and connections through the mainstream conservative apparatus, which in turn means the ability to organize events and access to vast amounts of taxpayer money. Guess big government doesn’t suck!
This puts BCR in the position to normalize Alt-Right politics on campus and within the broader conservative constituency, facilitating the process of the fascist creep. Below we point out the institutions backing BCR even as they cater to the Alt-Right and violent fascists behind the scenes.
American Freedom Alliance and Geert Wilders
On May 21, BCR members were guests at the American Freedom Alliance’s “2017 Heroes of Conscience Dinner” event. The Southern Poverty Law Center has reported on the American Freedom Alliance’s 2016 and 2017 conferences and their promotion of extreme anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views. Indeed, the keynote speaker at the 2017 dinner was Geert Wilders, pictured with BCR executives Troy Worden and Matt Ronnau. Founder and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom, Wilders gave a speech in which he advocated for an end to immigration from Islamic countries and a ban on mosques. Wilders then ended his speech by saying that if Muslims in the Netherlands “start acting like Sharia law,” they will be “sent packing.” BCR members can be seen clapping throughout in a video of the speech on YouTube.
Young America’s Foundation (YAF)
The Young America’s Foundation (YAF) is behind BCR’s Ann Coulter, David Horowitz, and Ben Shapiro events in 2017, though only one of those actually happened as planned. YAF is funded in part by the affiliated organization the Leadership Institute (LI), and both organizations together receive millions from entities such as the DeVos Foundation, the Charles Koch Foundation, and the F.M. Kirby Foundation. Seems these ‘enemies of globalism,’ are funded by billionaires and have deep ties to the Trump administration and GOP.
In 2015, YAF spent over $8 million to sponsor conservative speaking events on college campuses. However, YAF and LI don’t limit their political engagement solely to paying for college speaking appearances. These organizations have trained conservative activists for decades. Young Republicans that have come from this training have gone on to become prominent GOP politicians, including Vice President Mike Pence, Mitch McConnell, and Karl Rove. In short, despite advancing theories that the left is backed by people like Soros, the reality is that groups like BCR are much more in bed with billionaires and segments of the status quo than anyone.
LI also funds Campus Reform, a conservative meets Alt-Lite publication which members of BCR have worked for. Aside from working with the Alt-Right friendly BCR, YAF itself has had its own internal connections to the white nationalist movement. Current YAF board member James B. Taylor also served as the Vice President of the National Policy Institute (NPI) as late as 2007. NPI is a white nationalist think tank currently headed by infamous neo-nazi Richard Spencer. When Taylor was VP, NPI published “The State of White America 2007,” which called Brown v. Board of Education “arguably the worst decision in the Court’s 216-year history,” as noted by Political Research Associates.
In 2004, Taylor and YAF President Rob Robinson donated $5000 to the Charles Martel Society, another white nationalist organization. Kyle Bristow, a lawyer associated with Richard Spencer and NPI, also runs the Foundation for the Marketplace of Ideas, which exists as the legal arm for the Alt-Right. Bristow unsurprisingly got his start with the YAF, where his open embrace of white nationalism drove out mainstream conservatives, while bringing him into contact with others of like mind like James Van Dyke, who would go on to become a lawyer for the Proud Boys.
College Republican National Committee and the Republican Party
As part of the College Republican National Committee (CRNC), BCR functions as part of “the grassroots arm of the Republican Party.” The CRNC trains young Republican students to prepare them to become the future leaders of the conservative movement and sees the activism it offers to members as being a gateway into the Republican party. The CRNC’s website features a resume bank section where members can apply for jobs including working for politicians and think tanks.
Former BCR member Claire Chiara was one of the youngest members of the California delegation at the 2016 Republican National Convention where she supported Trump and she also ran for California State Assembly that same year. At the 2017 California GOP Convention, a far-Right group of College Republicans called Rebuild CCR, led by “Milo Yiannopoulos ally” Ariana Rowlands, won control of the California College Republicans. Troy Worden from UC Berkeley is a part of this group, and now serves as Administrative Vice Chair. In other words, the alt-right hasn’t infiltrated the party, the alt-right is becoming the party.
UC Berkeley and the City of Berkeley
Both UC Berkeley and the city of Berkeley have spent millions of dollars to protect BCR and their Alt-Right friends as they engage in their political activism and organizing. UC Berkeley has responded to antifascist resistance on their campus by bending over backwards to accommodate BCR in the name of a crisis of free speech.
UC Berkeley chancellor Carol Christ has declared this “the year of free speech” on campus and has waived thousands of dollars in venue fees so BCR could host Ben Shapiro in Zellerbach Hall in September. While the far-Right has cried “free speech” in order to force their hateful views into the national conversation, UC Berkeley has obliged them, citing the campus as the home of the free speech movement. Despite their so-called defense of free speech, the university cancelled a student-led class about Palestine in late 2016 and cancelled a talk by Dr. Anna Tsing on September 25th, organized by the university’s anthropology department, so they could lock down the campus to accommodate BCR’s “Free Speech Week,” despite the fact that the anthropology event was scheduled far in advance of the BCR event.
At the same time, Carol Christ and Berkeley mayor Jesse Arreguin continue to urge people to stay home and not protest against the far right when they come to antagonize and attack the local community.
On November 9th, BCR voted to replace Troy Worden with Bradley Devlin taking over as president of the club. Among a number of divisive issues in the club that brought on the change are some of the members’ extreme views. BCR member Jonathan Chow claims that Worden’s supporters in the club call themselves national socialists, or neo-Nazis. A new conservative group was also recently founded at UC Berkeley that appears to have more moderate views, breaking away from BCR.
But despite a new club president, Troy Worden is still a member of BCR and no other leadership changes have been made. Nor has BCR or its members created distance from the Alt-Right or denounced any of the far-Right and white supremacists discussed above. However, it is clear that internal contradictions and outside pressure are having an effect. This should continue.
Additionally, this problem is not unique to UC Berkeley. President of the Washington State University College Republicans, James Allsup, resigned after being identified as a tiki-torch carrying participant in the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. Despite this, Allsup continues to be a major player within Alt-Right, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi circles, where he has been arguing against some factions of the Alt-Right, that the movement needs abandone street demonstrations and enter into the world of electoral politics and begin to run candidates. On November 30, Allsup was re-elected as president of WSU’s College Republicans, however others within the group claim that this was dismissed on the grounds that Allsup isn’t a student. Regardless, Allsup, like the members of BCR, shows the incredible space and room that the Republican Party will give to openly neo-Nazi, Alt-Right, and white nationalist ideas.
Moreover, white supremacist groups like Identity Evropa will continue to try and recruit on college campuses, while also making inroads into college Republican groups. As the fallout from Unite the Right continues and as the 2018 election race draws closer, a larger segment of the movement will go back towards attempting to engage in entryism, either by following Bannon or trying to pass undetected in the Republican party. Antifascists should continue to research local fascists and their connections, and take strategic action to stop the fascist creep on their college campuses and in their community.