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Inside Southern Sons Active Club

Part I: In January, we began infiltrating the Southern Sons Active Club (SSAC), a racist group operating in the Carolinas and in Georgia that is part of the broader “Active Club” network. With this two-part report, we identify twelve SSAC members and two former members. We also discuss a Georgia participant in the “Revolutionary White Brotherhood” (formerly “Blood and Soil Crew”), a regional neo-Nazi youth group with close ties to SSAC. We document SSAC’s ties to a white supremacist now facing charges for his part in a bank robbery conspiracy. In another instance of the club attracting violence-prone neo-Nazis, we discuss an underground cell in North Carolina dedicated to “direct action” whose members were previously in SSAC. Finally, we detail the club’s ties to other far-right projects operating regionally. SSAC plans to send a contingent to an upcoming national event by Patriot Front, May 12-14 in the southern Mid-Atlantic region.

Introduction: The “Active Club” Model

Earlier this year, the white nationalist “Southern Sons Active Club” (SSAC) admitted a new member. Unknown to SSAC, this member was infiltrating on behalf of Atlanta Antifascists. Once inside the group, our mole continually archived SSAC’s electronic chats, met with members while recording both video and audio, and helped identify members in Georgia and the Carolinas.

“Southern Sons Active Club” is part of the larger “Active Club” network founded by fascist organizer Robert Rundo and his close associates. Rundo started making a name for himself in the white power movement after he co-founded the “Rise Above Movement” (RAM) street-fighting gang in late 2016 or early 2017. RAM was initially named “DIY Division.” Members of the group, which is modeled on European far-right soccer hooliganism and Identitarianism, quickly gained a reputation for their targeted violence up and down California, especially against leftists and anti-racist protesters. As well as brawling at rallies in California, RAM members traveled for 2017’s bloody Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, with three RAM members eventually receiving prison sentences for conspiracy to riot. (A fourth member pleaded guilty but avoided prison time.)

Another prosecution against RAM followed later in 2018, with the state alleging that RAM members violated and conspired to violate the federal rioting statute. This time, Rundo was among those targeted by the prosecution. Rundo fled the country but was arrested and extradited. The initial prosecution was dropped over First Amendment concerns, but three leaders, Rundo included, were re-indicted in January 2023 on similar charges. In the gap between the first prosecution being dropped and this year’s re-indictment, Rundo slipped away to Europe—researchers tracked him to locations such as Serbia and more recently Bulgaria. Rundo remained an active white nationalist organizer and figurehead from abroad, including his founding of the “Active Club” movement. He was arrested in Romania at the request of US authorities at the end of March 2023.

The Active Club (AC) network expands upon the model created by RAM. Rundo initiated the network in December 2020, and further pushed the concept by creating a podcast of the same name in January 2021. The AC network is purposefully decentralized, consisting of state-level and regional groups whose participants train and spread propaganda together. The decentralized nature of this network creates built-in plausible deniability for Rundo’s inner circle, since they know not to directly call for ACs to engage in violence. The various groups in the AC network nominally operate independently. Active Club leaders are nevertheless eager to please Rundo and Rundo’s closest associates. Before his recent arrest, a secret chat connected Rundo to Active Club leaders. Due to RAM’s reputation, Active Clubs attract white supremacists who are particularly drawn toward violence. We will later provide examples of this from Southern Sons Active Club.

Active Clubs served as a dedicated consumer base for Rundo. The “Will2Rise” shop operated by Rundo’s close associates sells t-shirts, stickers, and other merchandise—with some profits presumably funding Rundo’s pre-arrest traipsing around Europe. The Active Club network also generates free footage and images then used by an associated media project, “Media2Rise.” Will2Rise merchandise and stickers feature prominently on Active Club announcement channels. Propaganda, recruitment, and merchandising all blend together, with Rundo and his inner circle reaping the benefit. Now that Rundo is being extradited to the US, Active Clubs are at the center of a “Free Rundo” campaign.

Last year, Rundo’s propaganda inspired members of White Lives Matter (WLM) in South Carolina to form their own Active Club, “Southern Sons Active Club.” SSAC quickly became a higher priority for these organizers than WLM. Through churning out materials on Telegram, building a name, and networking with regional fascists, in less than half a year SSAC expanded to include members in Georgia and North Carolina. SSAC leaders claim that they are only interested in dedicated members, but they were so eager to build their ranks that our infiltration was easy.

Our Infiltration Begins

Our infiltration into Southern Sons ended up being more productive than we could have imagined, but it began by accident. We had been keeping tabs on SSAC for months, occasionally checking its Telegram channel. In mid-January, we began paying closer attention to the group for two reasons. First, after state troopers shot and killed eco-defender Manuel Esteban Páez Terán (“Tortuguita”), fascist channels such as SSAC often posted about the Defend the Atlanta Forest movement. It was important for us to monitor these communications to assess any threats. Second, comments in the SSAC channel indicated that some members were coming into Atlanta for a punk show on Saturday, 21 January 2023. We wished to know more about this visit, especially because the SSAC members claimed to be meeting up with someone from the racist American Defense Skinheads at the event. Also scheduled to attend the show was Justin Lamar Burger of Douglasville, Georgia, a racist who we exposed years ago and who is now the regional leader of the bonehead “Clockwork Crew.”

Instead of passively monitoring the situation, one of our members accidentally hit the “Join Channel” button for SSAC on Telegram and was added to the group’s discussion channel. We played this off as though our account was interested in joining the racist club and scheduled a voice interview.

The night before the Atlanta show, our infiltrator did a voice vetting with SSAC leader “Nate” from South Carolina. The Georgia leader for SSAC, “Chad Base,” was unavailable for some reason and was not present on the call. Having convinced “Nate” of his sincerity, our infiltrator expressed interest in meeting up the next day when members would be in Atlanta for the show. Messaging with “Nate,” our mole received instructions to meet at Maddox Park on the west side of Atlanta late on Saturday afternoon.

Two SSAC leaders from South Carolina, “Nate,” who led the voice interview the evening before, and “Oyster Crackers,” rolled in to Maddox Park slightly after the scheduled time. “Nate” is Trent Alexander Pugh (born 2004) of Darlington County, South Carolina. Previously active with the White Lives Matter network in South Carolina, Pugh co-founded SSAC with “Oyster” and has played a central role in the organization since then.

SSAC’s co-founder, “Oyster Crackers,” is David William Fair of Blythewood, South Carolina. David Fair was exposed last year as a member of Patriot Front, an ideologically racist and fascist organization. At that time, Fair was under eighteen. As we will discuss later, our group typically does not expose younger racists. While we do not have Fair’s exact date of birth, he is in his final year of high school. Since he has assumed leadership of a white nationalist organization that by its own explicit standards “accept[s] recruits from 18 […] years of age,” we are treating him as an adult. (The caption for an old newspaper photo also supports Fair now being eighteen.)

Fair used the alias “Aaron – SC” while he was a member of Patriot Front. According to a comment he later made to SSAC’s Telegram chat, Fair attended the 2022 Confederate Memorial Day rally at Stone Mountain Park outside Atlanta. Patriot Front tasked Fair with “getting Antifa [license] plates” at that event (comment made by SSAC admin “WO”/David Fair, January 11, 2023).

Fair left Patriot Front at some point last year and turned his attention to the white nationalist “White Lives Matter” project instead, becoming its leader for South Carolina. Along with WLM – South Carolina’s Trent Pugh, he formed Southern Sons Active Club. Fair is almost certainly responsible for the SSAC flyers distributed in his hometown of Blythewood last Halloween, which made local news.

Although he is young, Fair has built ties with older boneheads (racist pseudo-“skinheads”) around the South and on the East Coast. In their propaganda, Active Clubs typically avoid the boots-and-bomber-jacket look of earlier generations of white supremacists, viewing it as outdated and as a barrier to popularizing their message. However, Southern Sons does not distance itself from the bonehead scene, for example posting to its Telegram channel about its members attending an American Defense Skinheads show in Pennsylvania during September.

Meeting with “Nate” and “Oyster” at Maddox Park, our infiltrator learned that they were in Atlanta to attend a non-political music festival with punk and skinhead bands at a local skatepark. Our mole answered questions from the two leaders and learned more about SSAC. According to David Fair, SSAC had been growing recently even though:

“We’ve been kinda on the down-low for a little bit […] At least my crew’s been kinda on the down-low ‘cuz we had some shit come up […] and he [“Nate”/Trent Pugh] got caught shoplifting.”

We were later able to identify “Nate”/Trent Pugh through this shoplifting charge.

After this discussion at the park, our mole made excuses to be elsewhere, and the two white supremacists departed for the show, to meet up with Justin Burger of Clockwork Crew as well as their American Defense Skinheads friend. We passed on a warning to the venue. While probably unconnected to our heads-up, we later learned that the neo-Nazis were kicked out of the show, with Pugh complaining “they claimed our bud was buying minors drinks”. Amusingly, months later a member of our crew met an attendee of this festival who had confronted Fair and Pugh, immediately clocking them as potential boneheads. Showing just how proud they were of their ideology, Fair and Pugh denied being racists or fascists, claiming they were traditional (non-racist, “apolitical”) skins.

Following the voice interview and the Atlanta meet-up, our mole joined SSAC as an “associate” but not yet an official “prospect”—someone on the path to full membership. To become a “prospect,” the club required proof of activism, such as placing graffiti or distributing flyers. Fortunately, this was easy to fake, and our infiltrator soon became a prospect. Our mole joined SSAC’s internal “vetted” Telegram channel and placed in the Georgia state chat. Because our infiltrator had taken the unusual step of meeting out-of-state leaders before getting to know his own state group, the next step would be to become active in the Georgia club.

SSAC’s Structure

David Fair and Trent Pugh created SSAC’s structure on the fly. In South Carolina, the club was divided into three regional “crews”: Fair leading the Columbia-area crew, Pugh representing the Pee Dee region, and a member called “Founding Stock” responsible for the Charleston area. As SSAC’s creators, Fair and Pugh lead the club and have the final word within it. However, as of early April, Pugh has gone silent online. In mid-April, he was removed from SSAC vetted chats, leaving Fair as the club’s overall leader.

In Georgia and North Carolina, SSAC has a leader designated for each state. These state leaders answer to Fair and Pugh. If membership in these states were to expand, the state groups would presumably sub-divide into regional crews. During our infiltration, a regional crew was coming together south of Raleigh in North Carolina. However, things did not go as planned and its members broke or were purged from SSAC. We will discuss this split in a later section.

Georgia SSAC Chapter: Early Identifications

Soon after our infiltrator was admitted into SSAC communication channels, we were able to identify three members of Georgia’s SSAC chapter.

Robert Harry Knobel, II (born 1984) in Midway, Georgia is the state leader for SSAC. Knobel goes by the alias “Chad Base” on Telegram. Before he was “Chad Base,” Knobel used an account with the name “Cornpop Waffen.”

We identified Knobel soon after our infiltrator joined Southern Sons, as Knobel is particularly loose-lipped and enjoys sharing videos of himself and his Midway property to others in the club. Indeed, Knobel is so careless that a second anti-fascist crew, who we are not in regular contact with, was able to independently identify “Chad” after we identified him while we were drafting this article.

Knobel is a former Proud Boy who, prior to joining Southern Sons, operated an antisemitic and white nationalist group named “FL GA Border Waffen.” We mentioned the “FL GA Border Waffen” in an article earlier this year exposing White Lives Matter – Georgia leader Devin Brosnahan. A video from February 2022 shows Knobel, Brosnahan, and others placing flyers for the antisemitic Goyim Defense League into weighted plastic bags, before participants threw the propaganda onto lawns in coastal Georgia. The video, which also shows the group making Nazi salutes, was mostly filmed on Knobel’s property.

In late October 2022, Knobel joined members of “NatSoc Florida,” a neo-Nazi group, as they held antisemitic banners at an interstate overpass in Jacksonville, Florida, during traffic for the University of Florida v. University of Georgia football game. Not long after, SSAC began expanding into Georgia, announcing on its Telegram channel in early November: “We are now considering membership for those in Georgia, particularly eastern Georgia”. Knobel and his “Border Waffen” network became the basis for the Georgia SSAC chapter.

Particularly disturbing is Knobel’s indoctrination of his children, all of which he homeschools, into neo-Nazism. In the chats, Knobel posted images of his sons holding toy guns, wearing masks (one a skull mask), and throwing Nazi salutes, as well as audio of two of his children expressing racist and antisemitic views.

Knobel works as a millwright and is part of the Southern States Millwrights Regional Council, employed at an industrial site where members from that union are active. Over the course of our infiltration, Knobel encouraged other SSAC members to menace one of his coworkers from a previous job, and to search for information to pressure and manipulate another. Because he is an obvious threat to those around him, identifying Knobel’s current workplace is important. Please get in touch if you have any tips.

Jasper Daniel Alexander Collins (born 1999), currently living in or near Savannah, joined SSAC Georgia this January under the name “Gerard.” In 2019, our group exposed Collins as an antisemite who celebrated Hitler and promoted “white genocide” conspiracy theories. At that time, Collins worked as a firefighter. Collins later moved out-of-state.

Under the name “Gerard,” Collins was active with Patriot Front while living in Indiana. According to his comments in an SSAC Georgia voice chat, Collins helped vet other potential members for the organization. In typed comments to “SSAC Vetted” on Telegram, “Gerard”/Collins also admitted to targeting a church in Columbus, Indiana with Patriot Front stencil graffiti in early April 2021. Collins returned to Georgia later in 2021. He appears to have exited Patriot Front before the organization’s disastrous rally in Washington, DC that December. Since being admitted as a SSAC member, Collins has been targeting downtown Savannah with stickers promoting the group. In mid-March, Collins also became an administrator for SSAC’s general Telegram chat.

We also easily identified Richard Paul Péwé, III (born 1990) of Ludowicki, Georgia as part of the Georgia chapter. Péwé uses the alias “Hog Yerg” (and later “Bobby Yerg”) in the Telegram channel for SSAC Georgia. Like his close friend Robert Knobel, Péwé was active in the Proud Boy before embracing unambiguous antisemitism and white nationalism. Although we are writing about Péwé for the first time, our organization has been aware of him for years. Before his Telegram account as “Hog Yerg,” Péwé had an account under the name “Dickie Waffen,” which he used to brag about placing White Lives Matter stickers in late 2021.

Although he wore a skull face mask, Péwé is recognizable in the February 2022 video of a group preparing and distributing Goyim Defense League flyers that we mentioned earlier in this article. Péwé was also one of the two individuals who distributed homophobic/transphobic flyers at the Savannah Pride evening celebrations on October 28, 2022. The Telegram channel for White Lives Matter – Georgia later celebrated this flyer distribution.

Péwé lurked in SSAC Georgia’s chat since our infiltration began, and he later became an official member of the state group at Knobel’s urging. Péwé entered the Georgia chapter’s vetted chat on February 25th, 2023. We are currently seeking information on Péwé’s work—he was one of the incorporators of Southpaw Handyman Services in 2019, but the business was administratively dissolved the following year. He may now be working in a similar industry as Knobel.

It should be noted that Péwé’s father is the Chief Administrative Officer for Hillsdale College, a private conservative college in Michigan described as having a “complicated history on race”. Richard Paul Péwé, III is also a Hillsdale graduate.

Continued Monitoring: Georgia and South Carolina

At this point, our infiltrator was not yet a formal member of the Georgia group but had been invited into several SSAC communications channels.

On Monday, January 30th, SSAC Georgia leader Robert Knobel held a voice chat over Telegram to make club plans. Jasper Collins and two SSAC organizers from South Carolina also participated in the chat. Knobel aimed to hold a club gathering at his property on Saturday, February 11, with the two South Carolina organizers traveling to attend. When Knobel fell ill before that weekend, the group abandoned these plans.

One of the South Carolina participants in the voice chat was “Founding Stock,” a SSAC crew leader based in or near Charleston. At the time of writing, “Founding Stock” has not been identified.

The other South Carolina organizer, who participated in the voice chat and planned to travel to Georgia, was SSAC’s “patch maker,” who goes by the nickname “Killer.” Peter Lloyd Curry, Jr. (AKA “Killer”) is a Proud Boy who moved toward unambiguous white nationalism and eventually joined Southern Sons. Curry was previously exposed by local anti-fascists over his involvement with the Proud Boys. Curry lives in Dorchester County and works as a telecommunications engineer. In his spare time, he manufactures the patches which full members of SSAC receive as part of their uniform.

SSAC Relationship to “Blood and Soil Crew” / “Revolutionary White Brotherhood”

SSAC maintained close ties to “Blood and Soil Crew,” a small group of white supremacist teenagers in the South. “Blood and Soil” was also known as “2119,” since the second, first, and nineteenth letters of the alphabet are B, A, and S, respectively. Blood and Soil members could not formally be a part of SSAC, because SSAC involves members aged eighteen and older, while Blood and Soil was a group for neo-Nazi teens. However, Blood and Soil members participated in SSAC’s general chat on Telegram and could apply for SSAC membership at eighteen if they lived in a state where the Active Club operates.

In mid-March, “Blood and Soil Crew” removed its Telegram channel and rebranded as “Revolutionary White Brotherhood.” According to user “Duke Energy Company” in SSAC’s general chat, “Blood and soil had to rebrand because one of our guys went schizo and threatened to snitch on us” (comment from March 16, 2023).

Blood and Soil Crew/Revolutionary White Brotherhood’s leader in Georgia has used the aliases “Dancin Israelis” and “Duke Energy Company” on Telegram. The alias “Duke Energy Company” is a reference to attacks on power substations in North Carolina last year, which were celebrated by accelerationist neo-Nazis.

Atlanta Antifascists avoid publicly identifying white supremacists who are under the age of eighteen. We will however break this internal guideline if other factors outweigh it, for example if there is an imminent threat to human life. In this case, we are only referring to “Dancin Israelis”/“Duke” by his initials. A.A. of Nashville, Georgia is in his mid-teens and attends Berrien High School, where his father coaches a sports team. A.A. regularly shares pictures of white nationalist stickers and flyers which he has placed in his immediate surroundings. To coincide with the publication of this article, we are reaching out to A.A.’s parents and school in the hope of curtailing this white supremacist campaigning.

Ties to Failed Bank Robbery Plot

On February 1st in SSAC’s general Telegram chat, A.A./“Dancin Israelis” commented that “I dick ride ACE”. ACE is short for Aryan Compartmented Elements, a militant neo-Nazi group which claimed to have conducted an arson attack against a school administrator. Last year, two ACE leaders, Michael Brown (in Pennsylvania) and Luke Kenna (in New York) were arrested over a bank robbery plot. In January, a third person, Brian Tierney in Virginia, was arrested over his alleged role in the conspiracy. Tierney went by the handle “Manic” online.

A.A. (“Dancin Israelis”) disclosed to SSAC chat that “Manic is a personal friend of me [sic]” when discussing Tierney’s arrest. Later in the conversation, A.A. wrote: “I was one of the last people he [Tierney/’Manic’] DMed” before Tierney’s arrest. SSAC leaders also appear to have known Brian Tierney. Writing as SSAC chat administrator “WO,” David Fair claimed that: “I knew the guy [Tierney …] I didn’t even know his role [in the plot]”. Writing as administrator “NA,” Trent Pugh added that he had “Met him [Tierney] once”.

SSAC has another connection to the failed robbery plot. In the group’s February 1st conversation, David Fair stated that “I’m just happy wig got off and wasn’t arrested for associating with him [Tierney]”. Fair added: “My buddy was sleeping in his car during the raid [Tierney’s arrest]”. “Wig” appears to have been a onetime member or close associate of SSAC. David Fair reminisced that “The day after [a SSAC camping trip] wig swore to never drink ever again”.

These ties to the neo-Nazi bank robbery plot do not mean that SSAC knew or approved of the plan. Trent Pugh described the scheme as “re[****]ed” during SSAC chatter about the arrests. Rather, these ties suggest that the militant rhetoric of Active Clubs will inevitably attract members who favor armed action. Some members will have ties to or be directly involved with violent white supremacist cells. Later during our infiltration, we found another example.

In-Person Vetting, New Member “Panzer 9,” and Jeffersonville, Georgia Banner Drop

Our infiltrator had already met South Carolina leaders for SSAC while they were in Atlanta. However, to become a “vetted” member of the Georgia SSAC chapter, he had to meet with Georgia members for an in-person interview. After Georgia leader Robert Knobel’s plans for February 11th fell through, he arranged a meeting in Jeffersonville, Georgia for the following Saturday, February 18th. Knobel’s plan was to vet our infiltrator and another potential member, then to drop a banner promoting SSAC in the area. SSAC member “Gerard” (Jasper Collins) would help with vetting the two candidates, as well as with the banner drop.

Our infiltrator arrived at the Huddle House restaurant off GA-404 around noon. Knobel, Collins, and the other candidate for SSAC’s Georgia chapter, “Panzer 9,” were already there. “Panzer 9” is Anthony Wayne Harden, Jr. (born 1982) of McDonough, Georgia. Harden’s Volkswagen Jetta was extremely conspicuous in the Huddle House parking lot, as the car featured a sticker of SS-bolts (used by the Nazi SS) and Vegvisir (“Viking compass,” also used by non-racist heathens) on the front of its roof rack.

A month before the meeting, Harden told SSAC’s general chat that: “I was a FRM [Folkish Resistance Movement] member” (January 15, 2023 comment to SSAC general chat). Folkish Resistance Movement (previously known as “Folksfront”) was a small neo-Nazi group active in Canada and the United States heavily influenced by the Nordic Resistance Movement. In a Telegram discussion to plan for the SSAC meeting in Jeffersonville, Harden explained that FRM had gone quiet: “we are active everywhere but ceased activities for a members sake […] Legal nonsense” (February 15, 2023 comments, “IRL meeting” discussion).

Harden was almost certainly responsible for the FRM stickers placed in McDonough, and then publicized on FRM’s Telegram announcement channel in January 2021. One of the photographs posted by FRM showed a sticker on the back of a stop sign in the direct vicinity of Harden’s Peach Drive home. Another of the neo-Nazi propaganda stickers appeared just a block and a half away from this home.

Harden also supports the Aryan Freedom Network (AFN), another neo-Nazi organization. AFN is currently advertising an “Aryan Fest” white supremacist gathering to be held later this year. This event was initially scheduled for June 10 in Georgia, almost certainly on private land or at a private business. In early April, AFN announced that it was rescheduling this gathering for October 21. Before this date change, Harden told the SSAC Georgia chat that he was “working to get vetted with them [AFN] now” (February 14 post to Georgia chat). One reason Harden wished to be vetted with AFN was so that he could function as an intermediary between AFN and the Georgia SSAC group to make arrangements for “Aryan Fest,” for example, with SSAC members participating in “Aryan boxing” at the gathering. In subsequent comments to SSAC’s vetted chat, Harden suggested that he had followed through with this AFN vetting—which involves providing AFN leaders with proof of one’s identity—although he may not have officially joined the network (comment from March 2, 2023).

SSAC Georgia’s in-person vetting was lax, mostly just casual conversation at the Jeffersonville eatery. After Collins and Knobel were convinced that their two new friends were trustworthy, it was time for the banner drop. The neo-Nazis donned their face masks and posed for a photo behind the Huddle House with a sloppily painted SSAC banner prepared by Collins. The three Nazis and our infiltrator then moved their vehicles, parking nearer to the GA-404 overpass. With effort, they were able to hang the banner at the overpass, although it was poorly designed as well as improperly weighted and so blew in the wind, largely unreadable.

While our group—who naturally tailed the SSAC members and our infiltrator—had planned to remove the banner as soon as possible, the local Sheriff’s Office was on the scene within five minutes and were the ones who left with the banner. In Knobel’s mind, this banner drop was supposed to be a momentous occasion—SSAC’s first major action in Georgia beyond some stickers placed in various locations. In reality, it was a failure—an unreadable banner that was displayed for mere minutes before law enforcement seized it. Worse for the neo-Nazis, Georgia SSAC admitted an enemy infiltrator into its circle of trust.

For Part II, click here.

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