He was charged with attempting to firebomb a liberal church in Chesterland, Ohio. According to court documents, Aimenn Penny was a member of White Lives Matter, Ohio — and the church was preparing to host a pair of drag events.
Even before his March arrest for tossing Molotov cocktails at the place of worship, Penny was known to local police for distributing WLM hate literature, allegedly telling local cops that he needed to spread the “word” that Black people were the “problem.” Aimenn told police that “he looks forward to the civil war coming between races” and “expressed his belief that the United States will not prosper until all the other races, or ‘weaknesses’ as he called them, are gone.”
White Lives Matter is a white power group, founded in 2021 and organized on the Telegram social media network. Rolling Stone has obtained a copy of the group’s White Lives Matter Activist’s Manual, the details of which are reported here for the first time. Part manifesto, part how-to guide, the manual lays bare the strategy and motivations of the group, as well as its extreme devotion to white nationalism.
The cover page reads, in part: “We are in this until the end. Victory or Death.”
As a racist slogan, “White Lives Matter” has been around since the early days of the Black Lives Matter movement late last decade. But the manual makes clear, “The WLM initiative of April 2021 has nothing in common with any prior ‘WLM’ groups, just a name similarity.” And where BLM demands equal treatment of Black Americans, WLM is devoted, unabashedly, to white supremacy..
The aim of White Lives Matter, the manual states, is to achieve “an absolute White majority population” in “all of the countries or continents that we have built.” It calls for citizenship to be granted only to “genetically White People” and for “White Nations” to establish a population made up “99.0 percent of White People, at all times, for all age groups.”
The group’s rhetoric around this call for ethnic cleansing is contradictory. The manual says the purge of nonwhites should be achieved in “a peaceful solution” — but also “by any means necessary.” It declares “we are Noble White People, not thugs or brawlers,” but also makes makes threats of bloodshed: “Nothing scares the anti-White rats more than our bold commitment to securing our children’s future even if we have to give our lives for it.”
America’s neo-fascist scene includes both regimented groups — like Patriot Front, whose white-supremacist members stage intimidating marches — as well as amorphous meme-centric movements like the armed, Hawaiian shirt-wearing revolutionaries who call themselves the Boogaloo Bois. White Lives Matter is a hybrid. It runs anonymously and calls itself a “pro-White initiative,” offering an umbrella slogan and imagery under which DIY white supremacists can rally. But it is also constituted as a series of local chapters, or “nests,” where white-power operatives can join together to get active — both online and in real life.
The manual underscores WLM’s aspirations for exponential growth. “The ideal is to have millions of small nests,” it reads, each composed of “5 to 14 people that operate totally decentralized and autonomous but who act as a unit and work towards the same goal.”
White Lives Matter seeks to soft-pedal its racism, anti-semitsm, and Holocaust denial in favor of what it calls “elegant White Racialism.” It denounces the “‘Ni**er’ shouting” of more-coarse racists for “driving our people away from pro-White ideas.” In short, WLM seeks to be a Big Tent for white supremacists, stating: “A pro-White Trump supporter is just as welcome as a hardcore nationalist.”
The manual seeks to create a new WLM brand: “We do not endorse the use of symbols such as swastikas, fasces, [or] Trump flags.” The WLM manual instead features a logo consisting of the faces of a Scandinavian-looking couple who are referred to as the “Noble Aryan Man and Woman.” The manual says: “We think that the current logo brings all the Whites together.”
But as the charging of Penny for firebombing makes clear, this accelerationist movement is acutely dangerous and not at all separate from neo-Nazi ideology. An FBI search of Penny’s residence turned up “a Nazi flag, Nazi memorabilia, a White Lives Matter of Ohio t-shirt, a gas mask, multiple rolls of blue painters tape, and gas cans.” Penny allegedly confessed to the FBI, stating that he only regretted that the firebombs didn’t burn the church to the ground.
“That’s the end result,” says Jon Lewis, a research fellow at the George Washington University Program on Extremism, pointing to Penny’s alleged hate crime. “That’s the intended end goal of the radicalization pipeline.”
The WLM manual offers many plug-and-play strategies for individual white-power actors. “To become a solo activist, you must simply spread our message, banners, flyers. That’s it,” it advises. The manual insists that these strategies are meant to “showcase [for] other disenfranchised White People that … we can only rely on each other, as the system is committed on extinguishing us.”
The manual details why posting WLM stickers is an effective means of going viral in the real world, and offers “best slogans for banners” including “Stop White Genocide,” “Honk if White Lives Matter,” “Defend White Children,” and “White Majority Now!” The manual cautions: “Get creative, stay legal, spread the positive pro-White message.”
The document contains numerous exhortations to not step outside the law because even “low level criminal activity” can “open the door to high profile criminal investigations” for hate crimes and civil rights violations. But the manual emphasizes, darkly, that “criminal activity and organized para-military militia activity are two distinctly different entities,” alleging that the latter is “constitutionally protected under the 2nd amendment.”
The WLM manual establishes two ground rules. The first is to maintain “opsec,” i.e. take steps to remain anonymous. The group prizes secrecy: It insists that members should be “action-focused yet anonymous — we act, we do not speak.” White power actors are advised to wear a balaclava and hide tattoos, as well as to use printers that can’t be traced. “You want to be like water,” the manual states, “and never give anti-Whites anything to work with at all.”
The other rule is that all WLM visuals should promote the address of the group’s Telegram hub, which has more than 18,000 followers. On this channel, would-be fascists are served up hate resources and encouragement to “Stop lurking, start acting!” This includes instructions for getting formally vetted to “do activism with other people as part of a local WLM effort.” Within the multi-person “nests,” the manual says, there are different activist roles, ranging from “marketing” to “vetting” to “security” to “health and physical education.”
The central hub maintains Telegram channels for dozens of such local hubs, including one for each of the 50 states, Canada, 37 European countries, as well as Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. “The vision,” the manual states, “is to have activists on every single street corner, in every single village, every single city and every single country.”
The WLM network bleeds into the world of Active Clubs — or white supremacist proto-militia groups devoted to combat sports training. “The White Lives Matter network offers decentralized, do-it-yourself, antisemitic white supremacy and LGBTQ terrorism,” says Lewis, the extremism researcher. “But there is still the appeal of those bigger brands, which Active Clubs certainly are.” Many small White Lives Matter groups, he says, “will engage with local Active Clubs. They’ll go to some of their fight events, or the trainings, and then try and just ingratiate themselves.”
The WLM credo is steady growth. “Antifa used to be 12 crackheads and pedos marching together with zero opsec,” it alleges. “Today they terrorize the society. How do they do that? Through consistency.”
The manual encourages WLM members to make themselves visible: “Our enemies, majority disgusting pedophiles, have no issues displaying their sickness. Why should we, who stand for natural law, ever be silenced?” And it calls on WLM followers to embrace the fears of their enemies.
“Anti-Whites are scared,” the manual concludes. “We are not just a nightmare — we are here in real life.”
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