Black Klan Leader Seeks Racial Reconciliation
By Dianne Anderson
Stranger things haven’t happened.
It’s not every day that a Black man takes over a neo-Nazi organization, along with the added bonus – a deed to 40 acres of land gifted from a deceased white supremacist.
Rev. James Stern of Moreno Valley is the official leader of the nation’s largest hate group, the National Socialist Movement, and he’s on a mission to make peace for the “one race, the human race.”
With Stern now at the helm, there are sure to be trials and challenges ahead.
The first may be that NSM is named along with about two dozen defendants in the Charlottesville litigation of the Unite the Right Rally. That 2017 Klan-led event ended with dozens injured, and the death of Heather Heyer after a racist driver crashed through a crowd of anti-racist protesters.
Brett Barrouquere with the Southern Poverty Law Center said that Stern has requested to represent the hate group in court, but was denied by the judge because Stern is not an attorney.
What happens from here with Stern in charge of the hate group remains a mystery.
“The case is set for trial in July. I figure it’ll be a wild ride until either Stern hires a lawyer to represent NSM, or the judge does something to force his hand,” said Brett Barrouquere, investigative reporter with SPLC.
Everything about the case is still riddled with questions, but the documentation and transfer of NSM appear legal.
Barrouquere said when he first saw the filing in the lawsuit, it took some time to figure out who exactly Stern was, but the Michigan Secretary of State’s Office confirms Stern as the legal president in the incorporation papers.
Jeff Schoep, the NSM “commander,” has told his lawyers that the transfer is legitimate.
Documentation from the lawyers states that Schoep has fired the undersigned counsel, and now everything is in possession of Stern.
“While his response was not crystal clear on each and every particular, it did seem to confirm that Mr. Stern was authorized to act on behalf of NSM. It was further explicit in firing Mr. Woodward and myself from this case,” that according to attorney Jim Kolenich of Cincinnati in reference to an email from Jeff Schoep, commander of NSM.
Elmer Woodward of Blairs, Virginia is the co-counsel.
Stern had been convicted of mail fraud, of which he maintains his innocence. He served time in a Mississippi prison in close proximity with Edgar Ray Killen, the former Imperial Wizard KKK leader charged with murdering three civil rights advocates in the “Mississippi Burning” trial of the 60s.
During the period of incarceration from August of 2010 to November of 2011, Stern is said to have acquired Power of Attorney, which on the website states he used in 2016 to dissolve the White Knights of the KKK.
Besides possession of long letters that Stern claims were written by Killen, he also said Killen admitted to killing 32 Black people. In their close quarters during that one year, eventually, Killen deeded him the land for “racial reconciliation” purposes, according to Stern’s website.
It is still unclear exactly how Stern, who heads the Racial Reconciliation Outreach Ministries, managed to get on the inside with the Nazis to rework their logo.
From Stern’s website, it appears the first connection was when Stern assisted with a Nazi logo for the NSM organization, leading them to use an alternative white nationalist Rune symbol instead of their traditional Swastika.
Through the process, somehow Stern managed to get Jeff Schoep to sign NSM over to him.
All the legal paperwork is on file. Schoep sent an email to his lawyers that the lawyers say don’t answer every question, but makes clear that the lawyer is fired, and Stern now runs NSM, Barrouquere said.
In the separate, but equally surprising turn, Stern claims to have obtained the deed of 40 acres of family land from Killen, whom, he said on his website, agreed toward the greater goal of using that land for racial reconciliation.
Killen, the Imperial Wizard, is dead. He died at age 92 in January 2018, and was with the Klan until he went to prison in 2005.
In that land deed case, family members reportedly denied the legitimacy of the property transfer, or that Killen would have shared any information with Stern. According to Stern’s website, he states that he has ample proof, signatures, and documents to support that the land deed is true.
While unusual on several fronts, the SPLC said that one likely outcome, or best outcome, would be a judgment against all the defendants involved in the Unite the Right case that ended in tragedy.
At this point, nothing seems to have changed on the NSM website, Barrouquere said, but there haven’t been any public events since the group changed hands.
Now, Stern is tasked with finding new lawyers, and figuring out how to navigate the civil suit before it goes to trial.
“Lawsuits in the past have put hate groups out of business. I don’t know if that’s going to happen here or not. But regardless of what happens, having to go through this litigation isn’t going to be fun for a lot of UTR participants,” Barrouquere said.
For more information, see https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2019/02/15/black-civil-rights-advocate-takes-control-neo-nazi-hate-group-national-socialist-movement