Matthews has started a conversation about Varg Vikernes on Facebook. Vikernes is a musician intimately linked to National Socialist Black Metal (NSBM). NSBM is a sub-genre of black metal that is explicitly racist and fascist.
Vikernes, a Norwegian and founder of the Burzum group, set fire to three churches of historic importance in his country during the 1990s. He also murdered a guitarist from the black metal band Mayhem.
Since his prison, Vikernes has expressed views closely related to neo-Nazism, although he opposed this term. Anders Breivik, the Norwegian far-right terrorist who murdered 77 people, including children, during the 2011 rampage, sent his manifesto to Vikernes before his arrest. In a 2012 blog post, Vikernes challenged Breivik's methods and wrote that Breivik should kill himself, and explained that there were more constructive ways of dealing with "internationalists directing". [sic] by their Jewish masters. "
Matthews, the son of a sheriff's deputy from Louisiana, is at St. Landry parish jail. He is charged with three counts of arson in a religious building. The allegedly burned churches were St. Mary Baptist Church in Port Barre, the Greater Union Baptist Church in Opelousas and the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in Opelousas. The fires occurred on March 26, April 2 and April 4. It is not known if Matthews chose churches because of their connection to the black community.
The governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, told the media that Matthews' motive was unknown and described church fires as "evil deeds".
Metal music may have inspired Matthews, who rented the 2018 movie on Facebook Lords of chaos, fictitious account of Vikernes' crimes on the Norwegian black metal scene in the 90s. The director of the film is Jonas Åkerlund, a former drummer of the Swedish black metal band Bathory.
The film was inspired by the book Lords of chaos: The bloody rise of the satanic metal basement, which was co-written by Michael Moynihan. Moynihan edited together the writings of neo-Nazi James Mason for the book Seat in 1993.
Seat has become influential with more terrorist angles of the racist right in recent years, and the words "Read HEAD" are sometimes used as a rallying cry by extremists on social media.
Atomwaffen Division (AWD), a neo-Nazi group linked to five murders since the beginning of 2017, has members who are connected to the black metal scene. John Denton, nicknamed "Rape", has already been the leader of the group and has been spotted last April saluting Hitler at the Houston concert for Horna's black metal band. Denton was also photographed with a Burzum t-shirt, the Vikernes group.
Horna, who has connections to the NSBM scene, was forced to cancel or move shows during his US tour because of protests from anti-racist activists.
NSBM arson incidents
Although NSBM is far from the most visible branch of black metal (the genre also includes contemporary groups explicitly anti-racist and antifascist) – the specific subgenus has already been linked to racist crimes and arson.
Brian Moudry, an Illinois national linked to the NSBM scene, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2013 for setting on fire the homes of his black neighbors.
Maurice Thompson Michaely pleaded guilty the same year for attempting to burn a historically black church in Virginia. Michaely is a member of a neo-Völkisch group called the Vinland Wolves (WoV). Members of WoV, including one of its founders, have expressed their affinity for bands or have played in bands related or close to the hate metal scene, including NSBM.
A black metal drummer was accused on April 2 of burning two Mormon churches in New Zealand, a country still in shock from a terrorist attack that killed 50 Muslim worshipers last month. . The drummer, Jacob Lowenstein, played for the band Igni.
It is unclear whether he or his group has ideological motives other than music.
Trend of recent incidents affecting the black community
The southeastern US pocket has witnessed some incidents that have either targeted or affected the black community in recent weeks.
Nancy Rushton McCorkle, 50, and Ryan Francis Barnett, 31, were arrested on April 8 for vandalizing the Unsung Founders memorial at the University of North Carolina on March 31. with permanent marker and urine.
Hatewatch reported on April 2 about a symbol of white supremacy left at the scene of a fire. The fire destroyed the offices of the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee on March 29, according to neighbors. The Highlander Center is a civil rights institution that once housed Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. The symbol, which was popularized by figures of the "alt-right" movement, comes from a Romanian group of the 20th century called the Iron Guard who perpetrated mass massacres of Jews in the 1940s.
Police investigate the source of the fire.
Photo Credit AP Images / Gerald Herbert