Na­tional Guard gives pair the boot

Ac­tivists re­port re­li­gious group’s su­prem­a­cist ties

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - NATION & WORLD -

ATLANTA — Two men have been kicked out of the Army Na­tional Guard af­ter lib­eral ac­tivists un­cov­ered their mem­ber­ship in a re­li­gious group with white su­prem­a­cist ties.

Bran­don Trent East told The Atlanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion that the Alabama Na­tional Guard sent him a sep­a­ra­tion no­tice Dec. 14.

A spokes­woman for the Ge­or­gia Na­tional Guard said Dalton Woodward is no longer a mem­ber. She de­clined to com­ment on Woodward’s sep­a­ra­tion.

Woodward didn’t re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment left with his friend East.

Ear­lier in 2019, the Atlanta An­tifacists group pub­lished a re­port say­ing East and Woodward were lead­ers of the Norse pa­gan group Ravens­blood Kin­dred. The group is part of the Asatru Folk Assem­bly, which re­searchers say en­dorses white supremacy.

Har­al­son County Sher­iff Ed­die Mixon ear­lier forced East to re­sign as a jailer.

When the re­port was pub­lished, Woodward was on ac­tive duty in Afghanista­n.

Woodward’s unit re­turned from de­ploy­ment in June and an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into his con­nec­tions with white supremacy con­cluded in Oc­to­ber.

The mil­i­tary has strug­gled in re­cent years to root out mem­bers of white su­prem­a­cist or­ga­ni­za­tions or sym­pa­thiz­ers with white power causes.

A spokesman for the

Alabama Na­tional Guard said East has 45 days to con­test the find­ings. East said the Army rec­om­mends a gen­eral dis­charge.

That’s a step down from a tra­di­tional hon­or­able dis­charge, in­di­cat­ing un­ac­cept­able con­duct not in ac­cord with mil­i­tary stan­dards.

East con­tends he is not a racist, and is just in­ter­ested in wor­ship­ping the way his an­ces­tors did cen­turies ago.

“The whole race thing started with me find­ing Asatru or Odin­ism or what­ever you want to call it and see­ing that as a bet­ter op­tion than Chris­tian­ity as a spir­i­tu­al­ity,” he said.

East and Woodward at­tended a 2017 speech by white na­tion­al­ist Richard Spencer at Auburn Univer­sity.

Pho­tos show the men car­ry­ing signs.

“The ex­is­tence of our peo­ple is not ne­go­tiable,” East’s sign read. Woodward’s sign read, “We have a right to ex­ist.”

Both echo the so-called 14 words motto pop­u­lar among white su­prem­a­cists who say non­white groups are dis­plac­ing whites.

“I just went there be­cause at the time I heard he was talk­ing about the re­cent re­moval of Con­fed­er­ate mon­u­ments. That’s some­thing I wanted to hear,“East said.

“And it turned into a some­thing a lit­tle worse ob­vi­ously.”

Along with his jailer job, East said the at­ten­tion has cost him other jobs, as well as friends and fam­ily mem­bers.

He min­i­mized his con­tact on so­cial me­dia with neo-Nazis and white su­prem­a­cists. He said he stays away from those that are “Hitler wor­shippy.”

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