People already are arriving in Boise to attend Hammerfest 2012, said Jeff Basterrechea, head of the Boise police gang intelligence unit. Those people are waiting to receive details from members of the Hammerskin nation, the white power group hosting the event.
Besides that, cops in Boise and around the Treasure Valley know next to nothing about it. They dont know where it will be, and they dont know how many people will be there.
The city of Boise has fielded a half-dozen calls from residents concerned about what could happen if a white supremacist event takes place near them. The city has received no requests for a special-event permit or any other form of official notice, spokesman Adam Park said.
Online promotions for Hammerfest list only Boise or near Boise for the location.
The people who could clear all this up Hammerskins pitching the concert as their 25th anniversary celebration wont talk. Treasure Valley residents rumored to be involved with putting on the event told the Statesman they knew nothing about it. Statesman email requests for information on the event and the Hammerskins have received no response.
Antipathy Records, whose website proclaims it is an official label of the Hammerskin Nation, declined a request for an interview.
None of this is uncommon, Basterrechea said. Groups like the Hammerskin Nation typically dont publicize venues for their gatherings because they believe other groups will sabotage them, Basterrechea said.
Theyre so controversial, theyll wait until the last moment to advertise where the concert will be, he said.
Announcements will come through social networking websites and word-of-mouth, Basterrechea said.
The Hammerskin Nation was founded in 1987 in Dallas. The groups first chapter, the Confederate Hammerskins, intended to set the standard for skinheads in the U.S., according to the groups website.
Today, Hammerskins claim six multi-chapter divisions in geographic regions across the country, as well as chapters in 11 foreign countries, including Canada, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, New Zealand and Sweden.
The organizations website proclaims it a leaderless group of men and women who have adopted the White Power Skinhead lifestyle. We are blue-collar workers, white-collar professionals, college students, entrepreneurs, fathers and mothers.
Steeped in symbolism, the Hammerskin movement is characterized by clothing, memorabilia and tattoos adorned with the marching hammers crossed red and black hammers that are a symbol of strength, pride and solidarity and the numbers 14 and 88.
The number 14 is a reference to a 14-word statement by white power pioneer David Lane: We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children. The number 88 stands for double use of the eighth letter of the alphabet, or HH, an abbreviation for Heil Hitler.
Alabamas Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups throughout the country, considers the Hammerskins one of the oldest, most violent and most dominant skinhead groups in the United States.
Hammerfest is their annual signature event, said Mark Potok, senior fellow at the center. They generally hold their concerts in places where theyre very strong or getting very strong, Potok said. So it does suggest they are growing in influence in the Northwest.
Its hard to say how many people are likely to show up for Hammerfest. Potok and Basterrechea said it could be in the hundreds. On the other hand, hate groups events often dont match the hype, said Dan Prinzing, executive director of the Idaho Human Rights Education Center in Boise. Sometimes they dont materialize at all, he said.
Unlike many white supremacist groups, Potok said, Hammerskins avoid media attention. They dont give a damn about the so-called Jewish press, he said.
The Hammerskins also differ from other white power groups in that their activities, while sometimes violent and illegal, are driven by ideology, not profits, Basterrechea said. While other groups may share that ideology, he said, they routinely do business with minorities.
Hammerskins keep their associations pure. They dont want to deal with minorities, period, Basterrechea said.
On social networking sites where Hammerskin topics are discussed, sympathizers reject the racist label. The introduction to the groups online forum uses the term racialist and says the website is intended for racially aware, racially proud White people.
But Antipathy Records Facebook page shows a disdain of minorities that is much harsher than separatism. Posts include a picture of a black child whose face has flies on it and a caption that reads, How do you kill 100 flies? Smack an African kid in the face. Nine people had liked the post as of Friday afternoon.
Another picture depicts a noose hanging from a tree against the background of a Confederate flag. The caption reads Definite Hate. Welcome to the South.
The Hammerskins are promoting this years Hammerfest as a memorial to Joe Rowan, a member who was murdered in 1994 at the age of 22. The group blames a black teen for his death, but official details of the case are unclear.
No matter how sinister the group and the event sounds, authorities cant stop it unless theres evidence of illegal activity. Its not against the law to have unpopular, even unsavory, beliefs.
We dont investigate groups. What we investigate is activity. So groups can gather and they do and they have every right to do that, FBI spokeswoman Debbie Bertram said.
For people who disagree with the Hammerskins, the best policy is to simply ignore Hammerfest, Prinzing said. Protesters would allow the gathering to define them and give the Hammerskins credibility, he said.
Basterrechea said his main worry is that violence might erupt at the event.
Potok said he should be. Antagonistic groups such as anti-racist skinheads have clashed with the Hammerskins and other white power groups in recent years, he said, and the results can be grim.
God help us if they really do meet them, Potok said. The Hammerskins are very serious people, and I would hate to see it come to guns and knives.
Sven Berg: 377-6275