...can generally be recognized by their shaven
heads and the Nazi symbols they wear on their clothing and have tattooed on their skin.
Their threatening style of dress is just one way in which they express their violent
hatred of Blacks, Jews, gays, and other minority groups. In recent years, Skinheads have
become a dangerous force in cities across the United States and Europe. In the U.S.,
neo-Nazi Skinheads have been responsible for up to 45 murders during the last two decades.
Some even dream of starting a race war in this country.
The Skinhead movement began in the early 1970s in England, where gangs of
menacing-looking, tattooed teenagers in combat boots started to hang out in the streets.
Their original style of dress and behavior was meant to symbolize tough, patriotic,
anti-immigrant, working-class attitudes. But slowly racist and neo-Nazi beliefs also
started to become popular among many of these Skinhead groups. (Some Skinheads did not
become racist, however, just as some are not today; in fact, some actively oppose racism.)
In the years that followed, the Skinhead movement began
to spread from England to the rest of Europe and the United States. Today, racist
Skinheads are active in 33 countries on 6 continents. The movement is especially strong in
countries with high rates of immigration and unemployment. Its members almost always range
in age from 13 to 25.
The Skinhead look is easily recognizable: a shaved head or
very short hair; jeans; thin suspenders; combat boots or Doc Martens; a bomber jacket,
sometimes with Nazi symbols sewn on; and tattoos of Nazi-like emblems. The average
neo-Nazi gang ranges in size from fewer than ten to several dozen members. While their
look is important to them, being a Skinhead is not just a way to dress - it is an entire
way of life. The Skinheads glorify Adolf Hitler and dedicate themselves to fulfilling his
dream of a world run by Aryan, or white, people.
The Skinheads' neo-Nazi ideology and gang lifestyle give
them a sense of power, belonging, and superiority over others, often in troubled
environments and at an age when they are trying to find their place in their world. It
also creates an atmosphere in which violence is the norm. In the United States, Skinheads
have demonstrated their willingness to attack or even kill for their cause: they are
responsible for as many as 45 murders of racial minorities, homosexuals and even other
skinheads. Wherever their gangs have surfaced, hateful crimes have followed. The new young
faces and raw energy of the Skinheads provide a boost to the organized hate movement in