The American Front Leadership has been in a state of flux since the death of its long-time leader, David Lynch, in March 2011. Police found his body in his home in Citrus Heights, California, with gunshot wounds to his head and torso. Lynch’s live-in girlfriend, pregnant at the time, was shot in the leg but survived. The murder is still under investigation. Lynch had led American Front since 2002; no clear leader has emerged in American Front since his death.
Lynch definitely moved the group in a different direction from its founder, Robert Heick, who created the American Front in 1987, in San Francisco. The group’s name is derived from the “National Front,” a British right-wing extremist group. Heick was also influenced by Tom Metzger, a well-known white supremacist and critic of capitalism then based in southern California. American Front and Metzger developed a close relationship that would last for years. Heick moved to Portland, Oregon, in the early 1990s and directed American Front activity from there, aided by Thomas Johnson of Albany, Oregon. Soon after, however, Heick dropped out of the group.
James Porazzo, an American Front member who took over leadership of the group from Heick in 1993, moved the group’s headquarters to Harrison, Arkansas. Porazzo was an enthusiastic proponent of the Front’s Third Positionist ideology, but he was less effective as a leader. He alienated people in the group who had supported Heick and Johnson, referring to their “so-called leadership” as hypocritical. Infighting plagued the group. Moreover, Arkansas in the mid-1990s was hardly the place from which to attract racist skinheads, who were strongest on the West Coast and in certain urban areas elsewhere in the country. By the early 2000s, Porazzo had largely run the group into the ground and it was mostly inactive, although members did show up at white power music concerts from time to time.
Lynch later claimed that Porazzo “disappeared without a trace in 2002” and leadership of the group, such as it was, was turned over to its Florida unit. Lynch himself then emerged as the new de facto leader of the American Front. On a new (but short-lived) Web page, the American Front boasted that “after twenty years, American Front is now entering its third era of service to our Race.”
Although energetic as an event organizer, Lynch was much less active as a group organizer. “Most of us here on the west coast,” he explained on a white supremacist Internet forum in late 2006 to someone who asked about his group, “have made the decision to focus on working with the local crews in our area and helping to organize global events with other racialists.” Because of this, there are few organized chapters of the American Front. Due to Lynch’s influence, most people who identify as American Front members are based in California (primarily northern California) and Florida (including Brevard and Orange Counties). However, there are scatterings of American Front members in other states ranging from Utah to Michigan to Massachusetts. Total membership of the group is probably less than 50. Women in the group often refer to themselves as the American Front Valkyrie Corps.