Harold Covington, the leader of the national socialist Northwest Front, died in his apartment in Bremerton, Washington on July 21. Covington’s death leaves in question the direction that the organization will now take. In a eulogy for Covington, heir apparent Andreas Donner of Seattle announced that the group will move forward, but that communications will be slow for several months. Donner claims to have learned of Covington’s death after a Bremerton-based “comrade” had checked on the mini-fuehrer when a series of emails went unanswered. Donner also appears to have lost contact with former supporters in Portland.
Donner urged those listening to disregard the negative things that would be said about Covington, a prickly racist who over the years spent considerable ink disparaging other white nationalists – a tack which earned him allegations of being a federal agent.
Covington was a longtime fixture among advocates of a violent, vanguardist strategy for white nationalists. A onetime leader of the National Socialist White People’s Party, Covington had travelled to Rhodesia and South Africa to advance the racist cause. In the 1990s, Covington’s North Carolina-based P.O. Box had served as the U.S. contact for the British-based Combat 18, a racist terror group that copied the methods of Hitler’s brownshirts.
In 1979, as head of the National Socialist Party of America, Covington helped form an alliance with several North Carolina Klan groups under the name United Racist Front. When the Communist Workers Party and other leftist groups organized a “Death to the Klan” rally in Greensboro, a group of racists “calmly got out of their cars, took weapons out of their trunks, and began shooting point-blank,” as Leonard Zeskind described in Blood and Politics. Five anti-fascists were murdered. Two of the 16 arrested – all of whom were acquitted despite the capture of the murders on video – were members of Covington’s group. Prior to the murders, Covington had written, “We nearly killed some of your people at China grove – we had it all worked out with the cops, that if you were dumb enough…we’d waste a couple of you and none of them would see anything.”
Through the Northwest Front, Covington sought to assume the mantle of the “Northwest Imperative,” or the “Butler Plan,” named for deceased Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler. The vision called for the creation of a whites-only ethnostate in the Pacific Northwest. With a slogan based on the infamous “14 Words” of racist murderer David Lane, the Northwest Front’s version called for white people with steady employment to move to the region; the formation of the Northwest Front as a “fighting revolutionary Party” and its insertion into actual politics; and then, “The seizure of state power through the creation of the Northwest American Republic in the power vacuum created by the collapse of the United States.”
As of July Covington had 1726 followers and 1394 “likes” on his Twitter feed. Andreas Donner presently has 340 friends on his Facebook page, 812 followers on Twitter and 209 followers on GAB.
In late 2017 Covington appeared to grow impatient with the plan’s slow development. On his weekly podcast Covington issued a series of shows dubbed “The Brandenburg Lectures.” The name refers to the 1969 Supreme Court ruling in Brandenburg v. Ohio. Ku Klux Klan leader Clarence Brandenburg had been convicted under Ohio’s Criminal Syndicalism Act that punishes individuals who “advocate or teach the duty, necessity, or propriety” of violence “as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform.” The law had been passed in 1919 amidst an anti-communist Red Scare.
Brandenburg had been charged after a speech at an armed Klan rally in which he declared, “We’re not a revengent organization, but if our President, our Congress, our Supreme Court, continues to suppress the white, Caucasian race, it’s possible that there might have to be some revengeance taken.” Brandenburg also declared “This is what we are going to do to the n——…Send the Jews back to Israel…Bury the n——.”
The Court found the Ohio law unconstitutional, ruling that “constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
In his own “Brandenburg lectures,” Covington has pressed a vanguardist strategy by appearing to push the boundaries of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Covington’s impatience appeared driven in part by his family’s rejection of him due to racist activism, noting that,
“the longer I live the less the dictatorship’s ability to punish me for being different and for speaking out loud that which the beast doesn’t want us white boys speaking or even thinking about. Furthermore I have no family. My wives are dead and my children were taken away from me thirty years ago. And they’ve been taught to hate me from birth, and so there’s noone that the power structure can use against me and threaten in order to make me behave.”
Covington also made clear that his endgame was the overthrow of the United States government:
“from now on I’m going to include regular segments on Radio Free Northwest dealing with the subject of direct action to bring about change in American society, up to and including what I term the ‘nonconsensual replacement’ of the existing government in the Pacific Northwest with a sovereign and independent white homeland. Yeah – the time has finally come to talk about, that. I will designate the segments of the show when they are on here as ‘Brandenburg lectures’ after the land mark Supreme Court ruling which makes them possible. Brandenburg versus Ohio.”
As Covington characterized the case,
“an old time Klansman, Clarence Brandenberg, got a bit impassioned at a cow pasture rally and made some rather strong and pointed remarks with regard to what needs to be done to federal government officials who plot to destroy the white race and western civilization, and who do harm to white children through race-mixing, school integration and other forms of genocide. Something about how such people deserve to die, which of course they do…[Brandenburg] basically affirmed that theoretical and philosophical discussion of the pros and cons of direct action in order to bring about change in American society, i.e., shooting the thieving motherf—— who rule us in the head; wiring bombs to their cars and blowing their scaly asses to pieces; hanging them by their wretched necks and watching them kick and piss and crap in their pants while they die. That kind of thing. Anyway, theoretical discussions about all those ‘consummations devoutly to be wished,’ as Shakespeare put it, is legal and Constitutionally-protected free speech under the First Amendment. Of course it is.”
The Northwest Front is likely to continue preaching Covington’s vanguardism. IREHR reported last week that while Covington had praised Unite the Right organizer Jason Kessler for continuing to pursue lawsuits against the City of Charlottesville, he had previously criticized Kessler’s overall strategy. In general, he advocated against these kind of public confrontations with anti-fascists:
Covington also continued to warn followers of imprudent acts, tweeting in late June that, “Threatening anybody at all is stupid. If you mean it, you’re just alerting your target. If you don’t, you make us all look like cowards and fools. Learn to think, not feel.” In a similar vein, he had Tweeted that,
Despite these admonitions, Covington had repeatedly hinted at and promoted violence through his Twitter account:
In addition to calls to violence, Covington stressed the need for “party professionalization,” which appeared to include the need for a physical address for the party:
Andreas Donner, however, faces an uphill struggle in this regard because of the paucity of material and other support for the Northwest Front, something Covington addressed in April and June:
IREHR will have more to say about developments in the Northwest Front in the coming weeks.