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News ::
Information on Boston-area Nazi Organizer
03 Apr 2002
Modified: 05 Apr 2002
Nazi boneheads are not known for their intelligence, but National Alliance organizer Robert Freeman defines new levels of stupidity as he identifies himself, lists his pseudonyms, and even leaks out where he used to work and currently goes to college!
Neo-Nazis roil debate on speech


By Jenn Abelson, Globe Staff Correspondent, 4/3/2002

If Robert Freeman isn't tending to his organic garden or doing yoga, he can often be found entertaining fellow neo-Nazis in his Everett living room.


Freeman is a white separatist and proud member of the National Alliance, the largest neo-Nazi group in America. ''You can call me Nazi, you can call me racist,'' Freeman said. ''I don't care.''

Until recently, Freeman kept his opinions to himself. But in December, after reading about Framingham's ''No Place for Hate'' forum, he showed up and caused a stir with his views. He also attended three follow-up forums, raising his profile.

Last week, Freeman and other alliance members began targeting Hamilton. The town's selectmen are under fire for refusing to endorse the ''No Place for Hate'' campaign pushed by the Anti-Defamation League and 50 communities statewide. Freeman, 32, said he wanted to support the selectmen.

Now, he finds himself drawing the interest of the FBI and causing town meeting members to revisit the debate over when free speech ends and hate begins.

Freeman's stepped-up presence coincides with an increase in activity by National Alliance supporters. Over the last six months, thousands of the alliance's anti-Semitic leaflets have been dropped in Weston, Wayland, Franklin, Concord, Arlington, and South Boston, among other communities. Although he describes himself as the ''most active and most fearless'' alliance member in Massachusetts, Freeman said he does not know who is responsible for the leafleting. ''The policy is not to tell me about this distribution stuff,'' he said.

Freeman insists he is a peaceful activist who is motivated only by his desire to improve the future for his 4-year-old daughter. But violence has shadowed Freeman since he went public with his views.

On Sunday, Reed F. Korach, 18, of Salem, allegedly swung and missed hitting Freeman with a baseball bat at an alliance demonstration in Hamilton. Freeman and several other members were handing out literature and holding signs protesting Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Hamilton Police Chief Walter D. Cullen said he arrested Korach and charged him with assault with a dangerous weapon.

''I just want to give an alternative view,'' Freeman said.

He began his campaign in Framingham, a diverse town of 65,000, by distributing alliance literature. In February, he challenged a speaker in a synagogue during an event on racism and anti-Semitism. Angry audience members later swarmed around Freeman, according to Rabbi Gary Greene of Temple Beth Sholom.

''We did our best to separate them before an outright fight could break out,'' Greene said. At a Framingham forum last month, Freeman and a dozen National Alliance adherents clashed with a group of people who called themselves ''antiracists.'' They chanted ''Nazi! Nazi!'' as a National Alliance member attempted to speak.

''It's getting a little bit scary and could become dangerous,'' said Karen Angel, who hatched the idea to hold the hate-crime prevention forums in Framingham.

The FBI contacted Framingham's police chief in February about a possible threat from the National Alliance and another white supremacy group at a town event. Both agencies declined to comment on the nature of the threat.

Angel said she's shocked that neo-Nazis keep stirring town events. Freeman ''is exactly what we are trying to fight. We are about working together. He is about leading people to hate,'' she said.

Since his debut in Framingham, Freeman has introduced himself at public forums as George. Even within neo-Nazi circles, he often uses a Russian pseudonym, Andrei Kievsky.

Freeman said in an interview that attempts to cloak his identity do not reflect a lack of commitment to the cause. Instead, he said he's concerned about potential reprisals against his daughter, who attends a private school where some of the students are Jewish.

Although Freeman said he doesn't mind his daughter learning alongside Jews or minorities, outside the classroom his tolerance fades. He said he steers her ''away from black kids in the playground.'' And she only socializes with children of Freeman's friends, other neo-Nazis.

''Nobody wants his garbage,'' Greene said. But town officials and residents have struggled to balance free speech rights with their commitment to battle intolerance. Framingham's basic strategy at the events, which are sponsored by the town's Human Relations Commission, has been one of restrictions rather than censorship.

Since Freeman's arrival, the town forums have become larded with rules. An individual must be recognized before speaking. No one is allowed more than two minutes to talk. Police stand guard outside the doors. Audience members are not allowed to gather in the building once the event is over.

Freeman ''is offensive to everyone,'' said Edwina Weston-Dyer, a member of the commission. ''I don't think you can get any more on the fringe than the National Alliance.''

Freeman said he discovered the group while surfing the Internet in 2000. His first act as an alliance member was leafleting his parent's upstate New York neighborhood. These days, he hosts weekly meetings for fellow neo-Nazis.

He has become more active in the group since January 2001, when he lost his job as a computer technician at Authentica, an information security firm in Waltham.

In many ways, Freeman fits the profile of a typical National Alliance member - well-dressed and well-educated - according to Mark Potok, a spokesman for the Alabama-based Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks white supremacy groups, including the alliance. Potok estimated its national membership at 1,500.

Freeman is currently taking courses at the Bay State School of Technology in Canton. He hopes to earn a living building ecologically friendly appliances. But his studies, Freeman said, are second to the mission of advocating white separatism and anti-Semitism.

In Framingham, Freeman and other alliance members have been careful not to break any laws. Still, Police Chief Steven Carl said he's worried about the group's growing confidence and track record of violence in other areas of the country.

For example, in April 1996, Larry Wayne Shoemake killed one African-American, injured seven others, and ultimately took his own life in Mississippi. A police search of his home turned up literature from the National Alliance, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

''My concern is who [Freeman] may attract and what tactics they may employ to get the white supremacist message across,'' Carl said, adding that he's worried about a violent backlash to the alliance.

Freeman said he will attend as many meetings in as many towns as he can, to spread his message. But Ralph Woodward, chairman of the Human Relations Commission, said the town would not be cowed.

''It demonstrates this thinking is everywhere,'' he said. ''But it only confirms the importance of what we are doing.''
See also:
http://www.boston.com/dailyglobe2/093/metro/Neo_Nazis_roil_debate_on_speech+.shtml
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Comments

blah
04 Apr 2002
do the national alliance call themselves nazi's? they seem to try to stear clear of that title, but i remember an organization in York PA not too long ago that they were a part of, where the demonstrators display swastika flags
National Alliance nazis... holy shit!
05 Apr 2002
bob come on they are obviously nazis. what are you thick?

for fucks sake what makes one a nazi an ss uniform or the ideas that they should be superior because of their "whiteness"?