Hammerskin Nation (a.k.a. Hammerskins)


Hammerskin Nation (a.k.a. Hammerskins) was reportedly the largest, most organized, and most violent neo-Nazi skinhead gang in the United States as of 2018.* The group launched in 1988 and has since spread internationally.* Hammerskins have been arrested on charges of murder, assault, arson, vandalism, harassment, and other hate crimes.

The Hammerskin movement grew out of the skinhead punk music scene in the 1980s. The first Hammerskin chapter launched in Dallas, Texas, in 1988 as the Confederate Hammerskins. In 1990, the group created its first international chapters in Northern Ireland and Switzerland. Australian and Canadian chapters emerged in 1993. In 1994, the various regional Hammerskin chapters united under the single banner of Hammerskin Nation. The Hammerskins reinstated their regional system in 1999 while maintaining the international umbrella.*

The Hammerskins’ website and its online forums reportedly shut down in 2001 under unclear circumstances. Shortly after, noted white supremacist Tom Metzger declared there was no longer an official Hammerskin Nation.* Nevertheless, a site declaring itself the official Hammerskin Nation site went online in 2002.* The site remained active as of October 2018, though its online forums were inoperable.* The site was inactive as of April 2020.* Despite the diminished online presence, the Hammerskins remain active. In his 2018 book Everything You Love Will Burn, journalist Vegas Tenold reported on Hammerskin activities in 2016 and the group’s relations with other white supremacist organizations.* The Hammerskins also continue to organize and promote the annual Hammerfest white power music concert. The group held Hammerfest in October 2018 in California* and in November 2019 in western Europe.* In October 2019, the Southern Cross Hammerskins and Blood & Honour Australia intended to hold the annual Hammered Music Festival in Melbourne, Australia, but reportedly canceled the plans at the last minute. Anti-hate groups had asked the government to stop the concert, but it was permitted on free-speech grounds. The reason for the cancelation is not known.*


The Hammerskins declare themselves to be a leaderless organization.*

Base of Operations

The first Hammerskins chapter emerged in Dallas, Texas, but the group has no centralized global base of operations. As of October 12, 2018, the Hammerskins’ website listed six U.S. chapters divided by region: West, Northwest, Midland, Confederate, Northern, and Eastern. Additionally, the group maintains chapters in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Luxembourg, and Switzerland.*


https://www.hammerskins.net/ (defunct), http://www.crew38.com/forum38/index.php (defunct)

Membership Size and Relevance

The Hammerskins’ includes six regional chapters in the United States and 12 international chapters.* There are no estimates of the group’s membership numbers, but it was reportedly the largest neo-Nazi skinhead gang in the United States as of 2018.*

Recruitment and Propaganda

Prospective Hammerskin members are vetted through multiple stages. First, they become what journalist Vegas Tenold called "hang-arounds," following members of a Hammerskin chapter but without any status in the group. If members approve of a hang-around’s behavior, he or she receives a probationary membership in Crew 38, a Hammerskin support network. After proving their loyalty, the prospective member is then offered membership in the Hammerskins. The process can last years before a member advances to the main group.*

White power music remains the Hammerskins’ primary recruitment method. The Hammerskins host the annual Hammerfest music festival to celebrate the genre of white power music.* The group held the first Hammerfest in 1999.* Bands that have performed at Hammerfest include Beer Hall Putsch and Definite Hate, which previously included Wade Michael Page, who attacked a Sikh temple in 2012.* Then-Traditionalist Worker Party leader Matthew Heimbach spoke at the 2016 Hammerfest, praising the Hammerskins as "an example for all Nationalists."* White supremacist record label Antipathy Records previously maintained a "Hammerskin Gear" section on its website.*

The Hammerskins promote the numeral 14 based on the 14-word white supremacist motto: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White Children."* The movement is also represented by the number 838, which corresponds to the letters H, C, H, an acronym of the Hammerskin motto, "Hail the Crossed Hammers." The motto is a reference to the Hammerskin flag, which portrays two crossed hammers. The symbol is a constant in Hammerskin propaganda and its various chapter logos.* It is derived from the symbol of a fictional neo-Nazi movement in the 1982 movie Pink Floyd: The Wall.* Hammerskin member Wade Michael Page, who killed six people at a Sikh temple in 2012, had 838 tattooed on his arm to signify membership in the Hammerskins.*

Violent Activities

The Hammerskins encourage members to enlist in military forces, such as the U.S. Army, in order to train for a pending race war. Military personnel told Reuters in 2012 that white nationalists are dedicated to the military training because they want to learn weaponry and combat skills.* Hammerskin Nation as an organization has not orchestrated violent activities. Nonetheless, Hammerskin members have been involved in numerous violent acts. Further, there have been multiple reports of Hammerskin members engaging each other in physical altercations during Hammerskin events.*


  • Hammerskin member Travis Miskam after attacking 23-year-old black man Randy Bowen with five other Hammerskin members, March 17, 1999: "We don’t like niggers here; I don’t like niggers."*
  • Online comment by imprisoned Hammerskin member Jimmy Matchette, undated: "Being a Hammerskin is the distinct feeling of being set apart from the entire planet. And of knowing we will conquer & overcome all obstacles to achieve our goals and accomplish our great work, knowing that if we fail, all is lost forever and the west will perish. Even though I am locked down in a maximum security federal penitentiary, I wouldn't [have] traded the opportunity for all the gold in the world. You my true comrades hold all the glory of victory at your fingertips. We really are the most notorious White power Skinhead group in the entire World!"*
  • Editorial in now-defunct Hammerskin Press, undated: "We've experienced death, prison, and numerous court battles. Through all this, we're still standing! No LAWS will ever break us!"*
  • Statement from now-defunct Hammerskin Press, undated: "The MOST NOTORIOUS band of Skinheads in the World have metastasized from the mean streets, and into your home [sic]. Where ever you go, our WEB of Racism will follow!"*

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