Neo-Confederates Arm To Fight The South’s ‘Leftist Menace’

An anti-government group of secessionists are forming a "Southern Defense Force" to protect southerners from left-wing activists

League of the South members displaying the Confederate flag during a Martin Luther King Da — AP
Feb 09, 2017 at 4:05 PM ET

A group of neo-Confederates whose goal is to achieve “a free and independent Southern republic” is militarizing in anticipation of a “leftist menace” that the group claims has been growing in response to the presidency of Donald Trump.

The League of the South, an anti-government group of Southern secessionists, announced last week that it plans to form a “Southern Defense Force” to protect southerners from left-wing activists who have been wreaking havoc across the U.S. since Donald Trump’s election in November.

“As a League member, you will have opportunities to increase your proficiency with hand-to-hand defense skills, firearms training (both pistols and long weapons), and other related skills,” the organization’s leader, Michael Hill, wrote in an announcement posted last Thursday on the group’s website. “Also, you will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with other Southern warriors in an organization dedicated to the survival, well-being, and independence of the Southern people.”

Hill did not respond to an interview request.

The League of the South has been around since the early 1990s and has been labeled a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks racist and extremist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the New Black Panther Party. The organization made headlines in 2015 when the mass-murder of nine black people by white supremacist Dylann Roof at a church in South Carolina ignited a debate over whether state governments should fly the Confederate battle flag at government buildings. The League of the South, obviously, wanted the flag — which they view as a symbol of southern heritage, but others see as a remnant of the south’s racist history — to stay.

The “leftist menaces” specifically named in the League of the South’s call to arms are members of the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-fascist groups (Antifa) like those who rioted in Washington D.C. the day Trump was inaugurated. The organization claims that groups like these “are on the march — rioting, burning, and physically assaulting those with whom they disagree.” They go on to say that “it’s only a matter of time until they move from major urban areas and college/university campuses into smaller cities and towns, the suburbs, and ever [sic] some rural areas. We dare not wait to organize our defenses until they appear on our doorstep here in Dixie.”

The organization has attempted to militarize itself before. As the SPLC points out, the League of the South created a paramilitary unit in 2014 called the “Indomitables” in an effort to create another secession movement. That effort, the SPLC said, “fizzled quickly.”

“Promising increased LOS militancy has cost the group and led to faltering membership,” the SPLC said. It’s also seen a drop-off since the massacre in Charleston, when the League of the South defended a leader of another secessionist group, the Council of Conservative Citizens’ Kyle Rogers, who detractors blamed for turning Roof into a violent white nationalist in the months leading up to the June 2015 shooting. Roof never met members either group, but cited the CCC in the “manifesto” he posted online prior to the shooting — in Roof’s rant he claims he carried out the shooting to bring attention the amount of black-on-white crime that goes unreported by the mainstream media. He wrote that he first learned about it by reading articles posted on the website of the CCC.

“From our point of view, all Mr. Rogers has done is diligently catalog the facts about the epidemic of black-on-white violent crime in America,” Hill wrote in a message posted on the League’s website shortly after the shootings. “We see this as a service that the mainstream U.S. media refuses to provide to the public, thereby endangering the lives of many innocent people.”