Black activist says he took over neo-Nazi group to kill it

U.S. & World
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MORENO VALLEY, Calif. (AP) — A black activist said he has taken the helm of what has been billed as one of the nation’s largest neo-Nazi groups to put it out of business.

Corporate records show James Stern of Moreno Valley, California, is now president of the National Socialist Movement. He replaces previous longtime leader Jeff Schoep.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Friday, Stern said he established a yearslong dialogue with Schoep and convinced the former leader to transfer the organization to him when Schoep said he planned to disband it.

In a phone interview, Schoep said Stern essentially tricked him into transferring leadership. He said Stern suggested that the plaintiffs would no longer pursue the lawsuit against Schoep and the NSM if Schoep handed over the reins. Schoep said he was preparing to leave the party leadership anyway, and agreed to Stern’s proposal as a way to try to reduce the party’s legal liability.

“He has that piece of paper, but he is absolutely not recognized as the leader of the National Socialist Movement,” Schoep, a Detroit resident, said of Stern.

Stern, though, says he can speak for the NSM, and filed his own motion in that case Thursday, saying the group now admits its liability in the lawsuit.

“Justice must be served and the truth must be told,” Stern wrote in the motion. “Consequences must be excepted (sic).”

It is unclear whether the judge will accept Stern’s status to speak for the organization.

Stern’s actions invited comparisons to the recent Spike Lee movie “BlacKkKlansman” in which a black police officer infiltrates a branch of the Ku Klux Klan.

The lawsuit against Schoep, the National Socialist Movement and other white nationalist groups describes NSM as one of the nation’s largest neo-Nazi groups, but a former officer in the group recently told the AP that it had only about 40 active, dues-paying members last year.

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