The American Front (AF) was a white power skinhead organization started in the mid 1980s in San Francisco, California by Bob Heick. It began as a loose organization modeled after the British National Front, which attempted to merge the skinhead subculture with white nationalism. Heick began working with Tom Metzger's White Aryan Resistance (WAR) in 1988 after gaining notice for holding the Third Positionist "White Workers Day Parade" on May 1, 1988. Heick and artist Boyd Rice posed in American Front uniforms for an article on neo-Nazism in Sassy magazine. Rice claims he was never a member of the American Front, but that he liked Heick's dynamic character.
In 1985, after years of associating with peers of all races, Bob Heick began writing and distributing leaflets, mostly from a nationalist anti-communist stance, in response to the increasing leftist influence in the local punk subculture. After a window-breaking incident at Bound Together Books, the anarchist collective that ran the store used the American Front flyer as part of a press release listing several alleged skinhead crimes committed in the Haight-Ashbury district. The press release triggered a week-long flurry of media attention on white power skinheads.
Originally intended as an umbrella organization for all American skinheads, regardless of local group, AF had no formal structure or membership. Some skinheads from Southern California began using the name in a gang context. That faction was completely independent of Heick after 1985, and spread to other cities, partly due to members who were in the Military of the United States. In San Francisco, Heick lost favor with the mostly apolitical skinheads. The media attention and constant vandalism brought increased attention from the local police. In addition, Heick's progression from patriotism to Nazism lost him many friends, and some people accused him of trying to take over the local skinhead scene. Heick changed direction, associating with heavy metal music fans and rednecks. He formed the short-lived group United White Brethren in the North and South Bay Areas.
Transformation into political group
Upon his return to San Francisco in 1987, Heick found the newer generation of local skinheads to be more receptive to Nazi ideology, and that Nazism had become fashionable in some circles. The American Front transformed into a political organization, and its membership was no longer exclusively skinheads. On May 1, 1988, AF held its first White Workers Day march on Haight Street in San Francisco, in which 65 participants marched unopposed. This was heralded by Tom Metzger of White Aryan Resistance on his telephone hotline, in the WAR newspaper, and on TV; due to the Third Positionist agenda that was favored by both the AF and WAR. The AF tabloid Aryan Warrior was published soon after. Metzger began presenting Heick to the media as a spokesman for white power skinheads, even over members of his own group.
Heick appeared on the news magazine show The Reporters, which focused mainly on Heick and included news footage of the Mayday march. AF was featured in articles in publications such as Rolling Stone, Hustler, and Sassy. Of all media appearances, none gained as much attention as the "Young Hate Mongers" episode of Geraldo, in which Geraldo Rivera had his nose broken.
By 1989, there were AF units in 14 American states. Mayday 1989 saw an AF march at San Francisco City Hall. To avoid facing a strong counter-protest, the AF only alerted the media about the event at the last minute. This ploy backfired, giving the AF zero media coverage for the demonstration.
Heick tried to organize a concert of white power bands in a small town in Northern California. The venue canceled when they found out it was being sponsored by the American Front. Soon after, a local supporter informed Heick that he knew of a doctor who owned numerous acres of land. Heick began the initial planning of the event, but was pushed aside by Tom Metzger, and the concert became a White Aryan Resistance event instead of an AF event. Heick and Metzger disagreed on almost every facet of the planning of the festival, including the name, Aryan Woodstock. Heick disagreed with Metzger's promotion of the event on his Aryan Update phone hotline, because the hotline was monitored by anti-racist activists, and would give them time to organize against the event. A WAR activist with a legal background undertook the task of securing the required permits. After speaking with three different bureaucrats, he was told that no permit would be required to play live music at a private event on private land, as long as sanitation was provided for.
During the two weeks leading up to Aryan Woodstock, the event was a leading local news story. Both Heick and Metzger were seen attending city council meetings filled with community groups and protestors. The county sought an injunction to block the gathering, and Heick appeared before Judge William Snowden to defend AF and WAR's right to assemble. Judge Snowden ruled that the gathering may take place, but there could be no music. Roughly 300 people from across the United States made it onto the property before the landowner, Howard Londsale, caved to police pressure and allowed the authorities to close off the entrance. This stranded many would-be attendees, some who had traveled great distances to be there. Several hundred protesters were positioned outside the property.
Tension between AF and WAR increased soon after, when it was revealed that a longtime WAR financial contributor felt neglected by the Metzger organization, and switched his support to AF. The undercurrent of hostility toward Heick then extended to his girlfriend, who soon ended their relationship and her ties to the white power movement. Heick spent the next year visiting various AF units in California and across the United States before getting married and settling down in Portland Oregon.
While still in the Bay Area in 1990, Heick openly announced on the AF telephone hotline that the group would appear in San Francisco's Union Square on the first Saturday in May. The message ran for a month prior to the event, with the correct date time and place. Opponents of the AF held a Mayday demonstration three days prior, on May 1. On the day of the AF event, Heick arrived with 10 men and three women, and marched directly into 300 missile-throwing protesters. Police descended upon the AF contingent and confiscated their wooden shields. Police were hit from both sides and made no attempt to separate the two groups. After 20 minutes, injuries included a broken arm, a minor head injury, and in the case of Heick, a broken nose.
In October 1990, Tom Metzger was found liable in a Portland, Oregon civil court case involving the death of Mulegata Seraw, an Ethiopian who died during an altercation with local white power skinheads. During the same week of the court ruling, Heick relocated to that city. The Coalition for Human Dignity published fliers featuring Heick's home address, and distributed press releases announcing his arrival. Local TV news crews arrived at Heick's apartment just a few days after he moved in.
Heick still received regular invitations to appear on national television, but many of the new offers were to appear on trash TV shows. Heick refused those offers, restricting his interviews to genuine news programs. Press interest in Heick and the AF was waning, and Heick focused on local activism.
The American Front's 1991 May Day demonstration was held at Portland City Hall. There was a large counterprotest, but no violence. In 1992, Heick and AF associates were the first out-of-state activists to arrive at the Randy Weaver stand-off at Ruby Ridge. Heick was featured in a videotape of the event, blockading a fuel truck and lambasting the local contractor driving the truck for supporting the government.
Around this time, AF focused on demonstrations and literature distribution. The group's telephone hotline was revived in Portland and remained active until Heick left the group in 1995. In the 1990s, the Washington and California AF sections published The Voice of Revolution magazine, which had strong ties to the newly-formed Combat 18 in England. In New York, Jim Porazzo published Greystorm. In Portland, Heick published Revolutionary Nationalist
Much of the focus of AF activity was in protest of hate crime laws, which they claimed only targeted whites. AF was also known for harassing Portland city commissioner Mike Lindberg, who called the group "Gay Bashing Skinheads" in the press. The Albany, Oregon area unit of the AF held regular demonstrations at the state capital and other government offices in central Oregon.
AF briefly resurfaced under the leadership of James Porazzo, who moved the group to Harrison, Arkansas and began to push a Third Position philosophy. Porazzo targeted Jews as the major players in the capitalist system, and blamed Zionism for global turmoil.
In the 2000s, the American Front was no longer active, except for a few activists who functioned only on the Internet. All of the group's websites and contact addresses have since disappeared. David Lynch became the new leader in 2002, and the group dropped its third position rhetoric, returning to its earlier racist politics.
Since David Lynch became the leader of American Front in 2002, his greatest strength has been his connections, which stretch across the country and even into Canada. Lynch solidified relations with the prominent Pacific Northwest neo-Nazi group Volksfront; its leader, Randall Krager even donated money to an “Aryan POW” defense fund sponsored by Lynch in January 2007. But Lynch has also been supportive of the Vinlanders Social Club, a rival racist skinhead group, and its umbrella organization Blood and Honour Council 28. Lynch has ties to a number of racist skinhead groups, including the Hammerskins, Volksfront, TCB Hate Crew, PENI Skins (a branch of the PENI prison gang), CRW Skins, and UOAS (Universal Order of Aryan Skinheads).
See also: Neo-Nazis
See also: Neo-Nazis