When you think Neo-Nazis or white supremacist groups the first place that comes to mind is some remote location with large groups of people burning crosses in the wood. Well as time passes and society advances, so do the supremacist groups that are in it, which is why Detroit is home to the largest NeoNazi group in America.
The National Socialist Movement is run by 40-year-old Jeff Schoep, who lives in Eastpointe. It’s the largest hate group in America with 55 separate chapters across 32 states. Their rallies have the typical symbolism of white supremacist groups like swastikas, however their leader says the purpose of the group isn’t to oppress other races.
Shoep says his group isn’t about racism or hate, and believes that they have the right to promote the white race just as others races promote themselves. “I believe in the national self-determination of all peoples. That all people have the right to exist and the right to their own homelands and things of that nature,” he said.
Even though he says he says he’s not racist and that everyone has a right to exist, he still doesn’t believe in the intermixing of races. When asked if he agreed with it he said “Absolutely not,” then added “Race mixing in my mind is the destruction of all cultures.”
Michigan is actually home to about 25 different white supremacist groups and back in the 1920’s actually had over 60,000 members of the KKK living there, and there’s another group based out of the state called the American Nazi Party, which is run by Rocky Suhayda. They claim to be a “political education association,” and share beliefs similar to Shoep’s group but don’t have anywhere near the membership. The group’s leader was unavailable for comment.
Shoep explained why they’re based out of Detroit. He was asked why there of all places since the stereotype is that of backwoods people who try to separate themselves from the rest of society. “Detroit is just the city I chose to live in…. A person shouldn’t have to run and live out in the middle of the woods in nowhere to be amongst their own,” said Schoep.
Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Heidi Budaj dislikes these groups being in the area, and said that “It is wrong on every level. First of all, America is based on immigrants. This is a country of immigrants.”
She believes that “They (Neo-Nazi groups) would like other races to go away… Many of them believe that American citizenship should only be afforded to white people — white people excluding homosexuals and non-Christians,” and that such ideology can lead to violent acts really easily. She said that beliefs like Shoep’s can actually lead to genocide if people aren’t careful and that giving the groups attention isn’t exactly a good thing.
“While we don’t want to give undue attention to the groups that espouse these ideologies, we do want to make citizens aware that this exists in our community,” said Budaj.