Skinheads in Cedar City

April 6, 2002
By Rick Ross

Cedar City, Utah -- During February of 2001 a racist skinhead group opened a national headquarters for a "nonviolent" fight against drugs.

Christopher Davis, a self-proclaimed racist skinhead, said he wanted to confront illegal drugs peacefully through protests at drug houses and offer youth involved alternatives. Davis claimed, "We're not here to start a problem. We're not here on the pretenses of being anti-law enforcement or anti-government. We want to be a visible deterrent to the drug problem."

With his swastika necklace hanging around his neck, Davis, 23, says he wanted to pressure drug dealers to leave. "We don't want to start a war here. We just want them out," Davis said.

Davis' group, called the "American United National Socialist Workers Front" supposedly had ten members. Davis, its self-appointed commander, said chapters in other states he started were defunct. But he wanted to revive his organization, beginning with Cedar City.

Davis sent letters to area law enforcement telling them about his new group and offering them help to fight drugs. He held an open forum within his apartment for the community. Thirty people showed up for his talk. Some left in disgust, while others argued.

Davis was later charged with aggravated assault. He confronted two men with a baseball bat in his apartment. Davis said the men made threats and would not leave, but the police said Davis actually was the one making threats. He was arrested and then later released on bail for $2,068.

Davis was then evicted from his apartment. Davis claimed that his group is one of an estimated 600 Skinhead groups in the United States, which includes the Aryan Nations, a white supremacist group based in northern Idaho.

Many people in the neighborhood were concerned. Kelly Mandel, a Jewish mother of two who lived across the street said Davis should "Rent out a building or go to a park," for his rallies. She added, "I have no problem with that, just don't do it across the street from me." Mandel also said, "We can do something [ourselves] about drugs." Craig Matheson another resident said, "I don't like what they stand for. They stand for everything I'm against. I hope they get run out [of town]."

Cedar City Mayor Harold Shirley said he was concerned too. "We're not really wild about any group that hates another group," Shirley said.

Iron County Sheriff David "Dude" Benson said he was watching the group. Benson then stated, "That's exactly what we don't need right now is more hate."

Southern Utah has had other problems with white supremacists before. John Winston "Johnny" Bangerter moved from Las Vegas in 1992 and created a whites-only compound in Zion National Park. He named his group the "Army of Israel." Bangerter put a tattered Confederate flag on his roof and once said he would "seek to kill" Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. He later retracted that threat. This was before his 1998 sentencing for failure to stop for police. Police discovered a loaded weapon in his truck and was driving with a suspended license. At sentencing, Bangerter, whose head was not shaved for his court appearance, made an emotional apology and said he had ended his contact with members of the Aryan Nations.

Note: The source for this article was Skinhead Leader Sets Up Shop in Cedar City Home Salt Lake Tribune/February 19, 2001, By Thomas Burr

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