A Texas Marine veteran is using his military expertise to train and empower a burgeoning group of white extremists, an exclusive report by The Daily Beast has revealed.
Leaked messages obtained by reporter James LaPorta outed veteran Erick Sailors, a former U.S. Marine, as the head of the Texas chapter of white supremacist group Patriot Front. The organization was formed after the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va. last summer, during which a counter-protester was killed.
” … Sailors gives ‘hip-pocket classes’ (short, informal military class) to white nationalists, from the ‘gear list’ of what members should bring to protests (Marine Corps-issued combat boots and decontaminate wipes) to lessons in mixed martial arts and hand-to-hand combat techniques, the leaked messages reveal,” LaPorta wrote.
Sailors’ role within the white nationalist movement became clear after thousands of chat messages from Discord, an online platform commonly used by the alt-right and Neo-Nazis, were leaked to nonprofit media collective Unicorn Riot, Daily Beast reported. In the emails, the group’s leader stressed the importance of physical fitness in “future missions” planned by Patriot Riot and bragged about “hazing” new members of the group via tough workouts. He even argued that being physically fit would attract more women to the white nationalist cause.
“We should look good and be attractive to attract women to the movement, but shouldn’t be specifically targeting them,” said Sailors, who enlisted in the Marines in 2011.
Sailors’ veteran status was first reported by Texas State University student newspaper, The University Star, according to Daily Beast. Marine Corps. officials have denounced the former serviceman’s newfound position among white nationalists, however.
“There is no place for racial hatred or extremism in the Marine Corps,” Marine spokesman Maj. Brian Block said in a statement. “Our strength is derived from the individual excellence of every Marine regardless of background.”
Patriot Front, which has had physical clashes with protesters and anti-fascist groups across the state, was once hired as personal security to alt-right leader Richard Spencer during a speaking engagement at the University of Florida. Their propaganda has also been spotted on college campuses in California, New Jersey and South Carolina.
Sailors is just the latest Marine to be identified with ties to the white nationalist movement. According to the Daily Beast, Sgt. Michael Chesny was booted form the Corps. In April after he was arrested during a “Confederate Memorial Day” celebration in South Carolina. He and fellow Marine Staff Sgt. Joseph Manning, 32, hung signs and slogans associated with white nationalism from a downtown building.