Neo-Nazi group plans national music festival near Boise

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by Jamie Grey

NWCN.com

Posted on September 25, 2012 at 11:08 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 6 at 3:19 AM

BOISE -- A neo-Nazi, white supremacist group has announced plans to hold a music festival near Boise on October 6th.

"This is a very high priority. The mayor's office has received numerous complaints about this," Boise Police Department Gang Intelligence Unit Sergeant Jeff Basterrechea said.

Posters have popped up on Facebook and other places around the web, announcing Hammerfest 2012, a music festival put on by the white power group Hammerskin Nation.

Boise Police consider group a gang

Police are say they consider the group a gang, known for using violence to convey a message of white superiority.

"The Hammerskins are a hate group," Basterrechea said. "They do differ a little bit from most gangs in terms of most gangs commit their crimes for profits, where hate groups commit their crimes based upon a political or philsophical belief."
   
Ever since the poster surfaced, Boise Police have been on alert and gathering information about Hammerfest and what might happen at the event.

"What they do is they bring in well known skinhead bands to play music at certain venues in order to recruit young adult white males into their organizations," Basterrechea said.   

Former Hammerskins recruiter says group can be dangerous
   
T.J. Leyden is now a very public activist against hate and intolerance, but for 15 years of his life, he was involved with the Hammerskins. He worked out of Hailey, Idaho recruiting new members with events like Hammerfest.

"This will be a recruiting activity," Leyden said. "They're going to say hey, come to this show. These kids are going to see it, they're going to get all pumped up, they're going to think it's fantastic."
   
In reality, Leyden says the group has violent tendencies and advises people to stay away from the event.
   
"The group is extremely violent. The Hammerfests that they throw in different parts of the country are designed for a couple things. One it's designed for unity, but it's also designed to get people's anxiety up," Leyden said.  "My best suggestion is let law enforcement handle these guys. Don't go out and counter-protest. This is what they want. They want counter-protesters yelling, screaming and hollering out there to make them feel like they're big, tough men."

Police: Hosting white power event is legal; violence is not

Police plan to be around, watching for any sign of problems with Hammerskins or protestors. Leyden and police advise people not to gather around the event, and police emphasize simply hosting a music event is not illegal, no matter who the group is.

"Mainly what we try to do is monitor it, make sure that if they do hold their concert that it's held in safe manner for both the members and for the community as a whole," Basterrechea said. "What we try to do is respect everybody's First Amendment rights, but in the same sense, we have to make sure these groups [Hammerskins and potential protestors] don't comingle because a lot of times what happens is you have these events turn very violent."
   
Police and Leyden both want parents to be aware of what's going on and discuss the group's views and beliefs with children.

"People have been stabbed after these events. People have been murdered and killed after these events. So it's not one of those things you want to play with. You need to talk to your kids and you need to tell your kids about it," Leyden said.

Exact location remains unknown

The event is scheduled for October 6, but the location is undisclosed. The flier just indicates it will be "near Boise." Police say they are working with local venues to make them aware of the group.

 It remains unclear why the Treasure Valley is the chosen location for this event. KTVB's attempts to contact the group's local chapters and record label have gone unanswered.
 

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