The new leader of one of the most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States is a black activist who wants to dismantle the group from the inside, reports Associated Press.
James Hart Stern is the new leader of the National Socialist Movement [NSM], a neo-Nazi group sued for involvement in violence at the "Unite the Right" nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017.
According to court documents obtained Thursday by the Associated Press, Stern seeks to use his position as the group's president to possibly undermine his defense in the lawsuit. Stern is also said to have asked the federal court in charge of the Charlottesville case to rule against NSM.
Stern became the new president in January, replacing former CEO Jeff Schoep, who, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, ran the group from 1994.
Neither Stern nor Schoep responded to a request for comment from the Associated Press. According to the report, we do not see how Stern, who lives in California, became president of the group based in Detroit, Michigan.
Stern also did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill.
Matthew Heimbach, a former member of NSM and a prominent white nationalist, told The Associated Press that the change in leadership was occurring amidst untimely struggles over the group's future. He added that the recent changes mark the end of the group, recognized for decades. He also noted that there were only 40 active members and contributors last year, although rallies and events usually attract larger crowds who identify with the group.
"I think it's a bit sad for one of the oldest white nationalist organizations," Heimbach told the AP.
Stern was apparently working to change the band for two years. In 2017, he planned to meet Schoep on his website to sign a proclamation denouncing the NSM as a group of white supremacists.
Updated at 9:55 pm