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Wisconsin shooter member of skinhead group with ties nationwide

Wade Michael Page

The man who opened fire on worshippers at a Wisconsin Sikh temple on Aug. 5 was a member of a neo-Nazi skinhead organization with regional affiliates across the nation, according to experts who monitor hate organizations.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, said the man, Wade Michael Page, had long been involved in the hard-core, neo-Nazi music scene and had ties to the loosely-organized, violent racist “Hammerskin” organization. Page was ultimately killed by a police officer who was responding to the flood of emergency calls from the temple in suburban Milwaukee during the attack.

Page killed six people and wounded another four, including a police officer who was shot at point blank range.

The SPLC identified Page in the hours after the murders as the leader of the white power band End Apathy.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said on Aug. 6 it had also been tracking Page, who referred to himself as “Jack Boot,” since 2010 as he performed in racist music venues, with some performances as recently as October, 2011.

Aug. 6 news reports quoted unidentified federal authorities as having “looked” at Page as a possible source of funding for domestic terror groups, but they said they didn’t have enough evidence to open an investigation. Skinhead bands have been known to raise money for extremist organizations in the U.S. have told the media that they have been tracking Page

Page, according to the SPLC, was a member of two racist skinhead bands –– End Apathy and Definite Hate. Definite Hate, it said, had released an album titled “Violent Victory” that featured a drawing of a disembodied white arm punching a black man in the face. In the drawing, said the group, the fist is tattooed with the letters “HFFH,” the acronym for the phrase “Hammerskins Forever, Forever Hammerskins.”

The Hammerskins, said SPLC, is a nationwide skinhead organization with regional factions and chapters that once dominated the racist skinhead movement in the U.S. ADL's Center on Extremism, called the Hammerskins “a longstanding hardcore racist skinhead group with a history of violence and hate crimes.”

According to the SPLC and ADL, both of Page’s bands played with a revolving lineup of musicians at numerous racial-extremist music festivals around the U.S. Their music was at one time featured on the Hammerskin Nation record label, said the SPLC. In 2010, Page and his band mates –– including Brent Rackley, a member of a Confederate Hammerskins chapter in North Carolina –– played at a racist music festival called Independent Artist Uprise in Baltimore. Other bands featured at the show were Blue Eyed Devils and Max Resist, both influential mainstays on the hate music scene, it said.

In a post on its Web site on Aug. 6, the SPLC said the “Label56, record label distributed albums by Page’s band. The label tried to distance itself from the murders with a statement on Aug. 6. “Do not take what Wade did as honorable or respectable and please do not think we are all like that,” said the statement. “We have worked hard over the years to promote a positive image and have posted many articles encouraging people to take a positive path in life,” it said. “[W]e have never sought attention by using ‘shock value’/ symbols and ideology that are generally labeled as such. With that being said, all images and products related to End Apathy have been removed from our site.”