SKINHEADS IN AMERICA

No one can predict when the next hate crime will occur, but being informed can help law enforcement extinguish the terror in victims and communities throughout the nation


     Browning says that for skinheads, every day is a hate-filled battle. "They wake up in the morning hating people and go to bed at night hating people," he says.

     He says the skinheads' aggression and rage builds up every day until they eventually snap. He compares it to the pent-up frustration of an active shooter.

     "I've seen different crimes where this kind of thing happens. You get a guy who is frustrated more and more and he goes on a shooting spree," he says, noting it's similar with the skinheads' hatred and anger toward anyone who is non-white. "They just lose it."

     As for law enforcement, being vigilant and educated about the behaviors, patterns and migration of hate groups is imperative.

     Roy says the SPLC offers training free of charge to members of law enforcement.

     "We train law enforcement about these organizations, and teach Internet tracking with conferences and seminars all over the country," Roy says. There are varying levels of training, including a general 3- to 4-hour lecture series with an overview of the national groups. Small, computer-based classes are also offered.

     The biggest challenge for law enforcement investigating hate crimes is identifying hate groups, where they are invading communities and how they are victimizing the innocent.

     We may never know why skinheads choose to terrorize with hatred and violence, but knowing what to expect and how to possibly prevent a hate crime from occurring may be the strongest weapon yet.

     "They're not going to go away, they're here to stay, Browning says. "It's just a matter of staying on top of them now."

Racist Skinhead glossary
     Skinheads use terms like the ones listed below to communicate within their social circles. Knowing these terms can be important for law enforcement to understand when investigating potential hate crimes.

14/88: Common white supremacist code. 14 stands for the "14 words" slogan coined by David Lane, who is serving a 190-year sentence for his part in the assassination of a Jewish talk show host. 88 means "Heil Hitler" as H is the eighth letter of the alphabet.

28: Shorthand for Blood and Honour, a skinhead group.

38: Confederate Hammerskins, the southern faction of Hammerskin Nation. Boot party: Beating a victim to the ground then stomping and kicking him with steel-toed boots.

Braces: Suspenders.

Crew: Skinhead gang or faction.

Colors: Marks identifying affiliation - can be tattoos, patches on jackets, etc.

Curbing, curb job: Breaking a victim's jaw or neck by forcing his face against a street curb and kicking the back of the victim's head.

Dr. Martens (Doc Martens): Brand of durable boots popular with skinheads as well as young people in all walks of life, though skins lace the boots differently ("straight-laced") and wear either red or white laces.

Homey sock: Pool ball in a sock wrapped in tape so it doesn't split open when used as a weapon.

Featherwood: Female skinhead.

Five words: "I have nothing to say." Skinheads are exhorted to give this standard response to any and all media and law enforcement inquiries.

Fresh cut: A newly indoctrinated skinhead whose head has recently been shaved for the first time.

Hammerskins: A nationwide skinhead syndicate, also known as Hammerskin Nation, with regional factions and chapters that once dominated skin subculture nationwide.

HSN: Hammerskin Nation

HHFH: "Hammerskin Forever Forever Hammerskin."

Hang-around: A young person who associates with skinheads but is not yet a probate, akin to a gang "wannabe."

Probate: A "member in waiting" who is on probation for a set amount of time before he becomes a full-fledged member of a skinhead crew.

RAHOWA: Short for "Racial Holy War," a slogan that originally came out of the neo-Nazi Church of the Creator; also the name of a defunct band.

Red laces: Bootlace color indicating the wearer has shed blood for the skinhead movement. Racist skinheads will often randomly attack non-whites to "earn" their red laces.

Spider web tattoo: Racist skinhead "badge of honor," often worn on the elbow, indicating wearer has committed murder for the skinhead movement.

  • Enhance your experience.

    Thank you for your regular readership of and visits to Officer.com. To continue viewing content on this site, please take a few moments to fill out the form below and register on this website.

    Registration is required to help ensure your access to featured content, and to maintain control of access to content that may be sensitive in nature to law enforcement.