The clubs organize in small local groups, recruiting young white men eager for violence in such dark corners of the internet as the encrypted-chat app Telegram, promising them an outlet in “active clubs” where they can fight and train with weapons. But these are not just fight clubs: They are also fascist gangs who indoctrinate members into neo-Nazi ideology.
The “active clubs,” as Karim Zidan at Right Wing Watch and Tess Owens at Vice reported this week, are spreading both nationally and internationally and forming alliances with preexisting fascist groups such as Patriot Front, though in small numbers. They are the brainchild of Robert Rundo, the erstwhile leader of the far-right street-brawling gang Rise Above Movement, whose involvement in the 2017 Charlottesville protest violence led to federal indictments and his current status living abroad to avoid federal charges. And their spread provides a concise illustration of what happens when hardcore far-right ideologues evade the law: namely, they double down on their activities and become even more dangerous.
The clubs, which Rundo appears to be organizing from various countries where he is currently living abroad as a quasi-fugitive, are specifically geared toward recruiting angry young white men with a taste for violence and white nationalist slogans. The primary Telegram channels where they are organized are called Will2Rise and Active Club.
“As most institutions give little or no regard for white youth today, Active Clubs’ role will fill that gap,” Rundo wrote at Active Club. The clubs emphasize identity formation—one widely shared flyer urges participants to “Create a small group of comrades who share our values of identity”—and camaraderie, with the intent to “awaken racial bonds between kin.”
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