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Profile: Skinhead Army of Milwaukee (SHAM)

a.k.a. Northern Hammerskins

Skinhead Army of Milwaukee (SHAM) was a participant or observer in the following events:

Ben Klassen, the 74-year-old founder and leader of the Church of the Creator (COTC—see 1973 and 1982-1983), cancels the ascension to power of his one-time successor as “Pontifex Maximus” (supreme leader) of the church. Klassen announces that Rudy “Butch” Stanko (see February 1990) will no longer lead the COTC. Instead, Klassen names Baltimore pizza delivery man Charles Altvater to lead the church. Altvater is only known to the COTC membership through a single letter to the editor published in COTC’s monthly newsletter “Racial Loyalty.” Klassen soon changes his mind and names a Milwaukee “skinhead,” Mark Wilson, as his successor; Altvater will soon be arrested in Baltimore on multiple charges, including possession of explosive devices and attempted murder of a police officer. Wilson is the Milwaukee chief of COTC and a member of the “Skinhead Army of Milwaukee” (SHAM), also called the “Northern Hammerskins.” He is introduced as Klassen’s successor under the name “Brandon O’Rourke” (COTC members often use false names to avoid identification by law enforcement officials). Wilson actually assumes a leadership position for a few months before Klassen, wary of SHAM’s propensity for reckless violence, fires him and names yet another successor, Richard “Rick” McCarty (see January 1993 and After). Wilson does not go quietly, and tries unsuccessfully to mount a violent “coup” against McCarty during a meeting at a Milwaukee hotel. (The coup effort fails when three of Wilson’s cohorts are arrested on concealed weapons charges in the hotel parking lot.) [Anti-Defamation League, 7/6/1999; Southern Poverty Law Center, 9/1999]

Entity Tags: Skinhead Army of Milwaukee, Benhardt (“Ben”) Klassen, Charles Altvater, Richard (“Rick”) McCarty, Mark Wilson, World Church of the Creator, Rudy (“Butch”) Stanko

Timeline Tags: US Domestic Terrorism

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