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The racist skinheads’ trademark style — shaved head, combat boots, bomber jacket, neo-Nazi and white power tattoos — has become a fixture in American culture.
The scowling skinhead has joined the hooded Klansman as an immediately recognizable icon of hate.
Depending on the country, racist skinheads may have shadowy ties to radical parties participating in electoral politics. The first skinheads emerged in the late 1960s as just one of the many distinct youth cultures that flowered in postwar Britain.
Taking elements of English “mod” and Jamaican immigrant fashion, these working-class London youths crafted an identity in self-conscious opposition to the middle-class “longhairs.” At various points in their early development, English skinheads positioned themselves as tough working-class counterpoints to foppish mods, long-haired hippies, mohawked punks and made-up goths.
The latter, founded by longtime neo-Nazi Colin Jordan in 1968, did the most to stamp a swastika on the racist sector of the skinhead movement. In 1975, the British Movement gained a charismatic leader in the form of Michael Mc Laughlin, who reached out to the racist skinheads and appealed to their sensibilities and skills by emphasizing violence and street-level hate.
The neo-Nazi skinhead phenomenon spread quickly to the United States.
Unlike the Klan, racist skinhead culture is not native to the United States.
And unlike the Klan, it is a truly global phenomenon, with skinhead gangs haunting major cities and towns in just about every white-majority country on earth.
Since the first skinhead gangs surfaced in Texas and the Midwest in the early 1980s, this racist and violent subculture has established itself in dozens of states from coast to coast and has authored some of the country’s most vicious hate crimes in memory, from arson to assault to murder.It was then that skinhead gangs like the Dallas Hammerskins made a splash with violent racist attacks on immigrants and blacks.The most important skinhead gang in raising the American movement’s early profile was Chicago’s CASH (Chicago Area Skin Heads), which made national headlines with a brutal 1987 crime spree that involved assaults on six Hispanic women, swastikas painted on three synagogues, and numerous incidents of vandalism to Jewish-owned businesses.They experienced a revival in 1976, when a new generation of skinheads started earning a fresh reputation for violence through attacks on punks, LGBT people, and immigrants.Fueling these attacks and cementing the new racist skinhead identity was increasing association with two neofascist political parties, the National Front and the British Movement. general elections who espoused neo-Nazi ideas and wore swastikas while handing out party literature featuring the image and words of Adolf Hitler.