The American Front, founded in San Francisco by Robert Heick in 1987, was one of the early racist skinhead groups to emerge in the United States at that time. The group’s name was derived from the “National Front,” a British right-wing extremist group. It did not take long for Heick to gain notoriety for himself and his group; in 1988 he appeared on an infamous episode of the television show “Geraldo,” in which violence broke out among the guests and Geraldo Rivera himself suffered a broken nose. He also appeared in publications ranging from Rolling Stone to Hustler.
Heick, adopted so-called “Third Positionist” beliefs. Third Positionism is a peculiar blend of right-wing extremism that rejects both capitalism and communism in favor of an ill-defined “third way.” Third Positionism was always more prominent in Europe than in the United States; the American Front was one of few right-wing groups in the U.S. to adopt that position.
As the group’s public presence grew, so too did its membership, which eventually stretched beyond the confines of the Bay Area to include members as far away as the East Coast.
In 1992, Heick was one of a number of racist skinheads who traveled to Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 to protest against a standoff between a white supremacist and federal officials. American Front also joined Operation Rescue anti-abortion protests at reproductive clinics in Oregon. However, Heick dropped out of the group shortly thereafter.
James Porazzo, an American Front member who took over leadership of the group from Heick in 1993 and moved it to Harrison, Arkansas, vocally supported Third Positionism and liked to claim that the American Front had more in common with groups like the Nation of Islam or the New Black Panther Party than with “reactionaries like the Hollywood-style Nazis or the Klan.” He claimed to have worked with the Nation of Islam, as well as left-wing groups like Earth First! and Animal Liberation Front, though there is no evidence to suggest this ever actually occurred. The visible associations of the American Front have always tended to be with other white supremacist and anti-Semitic groups, from racist skinheads to neo-Nazis to Holocaust deniers.
Porazzo also claimed that the American Front had international ties. He explained in an interview, “We work in complete unity with our National Revolutionary comrades internationally. American Front has recently joined the Liaison Committee for Revolutionary Nationalism, the extra-Europe section of the European Liberation Front [a Fascist group that emerged in the 1950s, seeking to bring about a pan-European Fascist regime]…Our enemies operate on an international scale. It’s only fitting that we do as well.”
When David Lynch took over the American Front in 2002, the group dropped the Third Positionist rhetoric and became a more typical racist skinhead group.
The American Front’s symbol consists of the letters “AF” integrated into a Celtic Cross, which has been used by different whist supremacist groups to represent international white pride.