Neo-Nazi group appoints new leader, a black activist hoping to dismantle the entire org: report

The new leader of one of the most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the U.S. is a black activist who wants to dismantle the group from the inside, The Associated Press reports

James Hart Stern is the new leader of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi group being sued for its involvement in violence during the white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va.,in 2017.

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According to court documents obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, Stern is seeking to use his position as the president of the group to possibly undermine their defense in the lawsuit. In the filing, Stern also reportedly asks the federal court overseeing the Charlottesville case to rule against the NSM.  

Stern became the new president in January, replacing former leader Jeff Schoep who, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, ran the group starting in 1994. 

Neither Stern nor Schoep responded to a request for comment from The Associated Press. According to the report, it's unclear how Stern, who lives in California, became president of the Detroit-based group.

Stern also did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill. 

A former NSM member and prominent white nationalist figure, Matthew Heimbach, told The Associated Press that the leadership shift comes amid infighting over the future of the group. He added that the recent changes signal the end of the group as it's been recognized for decades. He also noted there were only about 40 active, dues-paying members last year, though rallies and events tend to draw larger crowds who identify with the group.

"I think it's kind of a sad obit for one of the longest-running white nationalist organizations," Heimbach told AP.

Stern has reportedly been working to change the group for two years and posted to his website in 2017 that he was planning to meet with Schoep to get a proclamation signed denouncing the NSM as a white supremacist group. 

Updated at 9:55 p.m.