After their private chats leaked, some members of a white nationalist group were so paranoid about their job prospects that some considered changing their legal names.
A new trove of leaked messages from the white nationalist group American Identity Movement reveals members of the far-right group scrambling to repair their images after their names were made public. The group’s name is a publicity maneuver in itself; the group was formerly known as Identity Evropa, but rebranded earlier this year after leftist media collective Unicorn Riot published the group’s racist chat logs.
The newest set of leaked messages, also published by Unicorn Riot, finds AmIM members contemplating everything from name changes to career changes, without considering the change that might solve their problems for good: not being racist.
“I was just thinking about if I had to change my name, what I would change it to, and how I would sign my new name,” one AmIM member wrote in the group’s specialized chat channel for members whose identities had been revealed. He opted against the name change after trying to practice his new signature.
AmIM members called the chat group “dox support,” a reference to “doxxing,” the act of revealing someone’s personal information online. The tactic is popular with anti-fascists. Since their identities were revealed earlier this year, multiple AmIM members have been fired from jobs including school police officers and teachers. In March and April, the Huffington Post identified 11 service members who belonged to the group, some of whom were subsequently dismissed.
Active from April until at least mid-May 2019, the channel discussed damage-control strategies for members whose identities had been revealed after their previous messages leaked. (The first set of leaks came from the group’s discussion channel on the chat app Discord, which banned many members after their messages became public. The group then moved onto the coworking platform Slack, which also banned them. The current leaks come from AmIM’s discussions on the chat program “MatterMost.”)
Many of the group’s posts centered on finding a job once their name was connected to AmIM. A college student who’d been identified as an AmIM member said he had a job lead, but was worried about accepting it before going through a legal name change process to hide his affiliations.
“Okay so I got a response about an internship with a guy I know personally from networking events. Great stuff. Here is the thing. Its before the name change,” he wrote. “What would a good excuse be for getting in front of this name change thing? If you recommend that. Given that my doxx is the first thing that comes up with my real name. I was thinking I say its a ‘family issue’ maybe something to do with religion. Like switching from Protestant to Catholic and my super Scandinavian Protestant family flipping out.”
The tactic might not separate him from his Google search results, another member cautioned.
“Ya, I’m not so sure changing your name will bring you the peace of mind you’re looking for,” he wrote. “I’ve yet to see a member or former member whose undertaken a name change, and Antifa [anti-fascists] not finding it.”
At least one member said he’d deleted his social media and started using another name informally. Nevertheless, anti-fascists soon found his new persona, he said.
Another member suggested using tricks to manipulate search engine results, like writing blog-positive posts that featured their name prominently. The person added that he worked in the human resources field and that there was nothing illegal about applying to jobs under another name.
“Everyone here presumably is just trying to avoid a few blog posts being brought up in the hiring process,” he wrote. “It’s not like you’re lying about who you are.”
But at least one member, who Unicorn Riot reported had lost his teaching job after being revealed as an AmIM member, asked whether any other professions might be less likely to fire him.
“Anyone think that learning a trade would be a good route after being doxxed?” he asked.
Membership in AmIM could be a bad look on a job application. The group’s founder, Nathan Damigo, once robbed an Arab cab driver at gunpoint and blamed the man for “looking Iraqi.” Damigo was later convicted for his participation in 2017’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The group’s next leader, Elliot Kline, publicly bragged about killing Muslims as a soldier before the New York Times revealed that he had fabricated his military record. The group’s current leader, Patrick Casey, has attempted to give the group a more media-friendly image, although its supporters have since been convicted of crimes like vandalizing a synagogue and hijacking an Amtrak locomotive “to save the train from black people.”
In the leaked chats, members referenced the group’s attempt to distance itself from better-known racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
“People have such a hard time reconciling you with the archetype of the ‘racist,’” one member advised another. “They think of a racist as someone who wears hoods, arm bands or lives in a trailer park.”
Part of AmIM’s publicity strategy is a policy against overtly racist comments in the chat, which could be used to tar the group’s reputation. Nevertheless, the group’s white nationalist stances frequently color their comments. One member, who bemoaned that anti-fascists were coming after people “that have done nothing wrong” affectionately called other members of the group “goys” (slang for a non-Jewish person).
Another member suggested that there was no reason to fear identification because “we are right, they are wrong. Next time you see some leftist degeneracy go up and tell them that you think they are disgusting.” He added that he had recently confronted his sister’s transgender colleague in public, and referenced the transgender man in the chat as “it” and another slur. “My sister was a little upset with me but it was worth it,” he added.
Not everyone’s family was so forgiving after AmIM members had their identities revealed. One repeatedly sought advice on how to handle a cousin who was dating a black woman.
“At a family crawfish boil right now,” he wrote. “They've all seen my dox but no one has said anything about it yet. My uncle, who's son is dating a black girl, hasnt made eye contact and he turns his back to me every time we're in the same room. Kinda wish they would just ask me about it so I could explain. No one really wants to talk to me at all. This kinda sucks guys.”
Rather than apologize, he said he’d try to point out the family’s hypocrisy, since some had allegedly used racist slurs while drunk.
Sympathy for the doxxed only went so far in the chat. The group discussed pressing lawsuits against a popular anti-fascist Twitter account-holder, whom the far right had also attempted to identify. One member also solicited advice on taking legal action against Unicorn Riot, the outlet that has repeatedly leaked AmIM messages.
By May 2019, AmIM leadership was worried about the Dox Support channel resulting in more doxxes.
“I’m concerned about the amount of personal info in here,” Casey wrote, suggesting they should purge the month of messages “Is anyone else?”
“Well it is a relatively secure channel yeah?” another member asked.
It was not.