Neo-Nazi text on Rotterdam Bridge tied to global extremist network, U.S. Capitol attack
White Lives Matter and it’s Dutch branch appear to be connected to a broader international network of extremist groups. Members of the Dutch group's Telegram channel took credit for projecting racist messages linked to U.S. white supremacist organizations on the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam during the New Year's celebration there. Earlier this week, prosecutors called it a criminal act that was under investigation.
The messages shown on the bridge used discriminatory language, some of which originated from an American white supremacist group, in addition to the "14 Words" quotation by David Lane, an American neo-Nazi who founded a white supremacist organization that was tied to the murder of a Jewish radio host. Lane died in prison in 2007.
The projection on the bridge, which police speculate was shown from a boat, included a link to a website that is an online directory connects nine extremist groups with racist and anti-Semitic text and videos that also promotes Nazi ideology, NL Times confirmed after reporting by ANP. One of the organizations in the network claims to be global, four are located in North America alone, two in Europe, and another claims to be based in Australia. White Lives Matter is located in both North America and Europe, including the Netherlands and Germany.
Groups listed on the network site include American neo-Nazi group NSC-131, whose members were present at the storming of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, according to WBUR. "NSC-131 members see themselves as soldiers at war with a hostile, Jewish-controlled system that is deliberately plotting the extinction of the white race," according to the Anti-Defamation League in the United States.
The group "seeks to form an underground network of white men who are willing to fight against their perceived enemies through localized direct actions." and they use racism and anti-Semitic messaging online, in graffiti, and in flyers distributed physically. The handing out of flyers is also a technique used by the group that organizers the white supremacist groups.
The neo-Nazi and totalitarian Nordic Resistance Movement is also on the list. In 2018, a member of NRM was arrested in Sweden on accusations that he was preparing to attack two journalists. The group, which is pro-violence, was banned in Finland in 2020, according to the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. "The organization’s goal is to overthrow democracy across the Nordic region and Scandinavia at large in favor of establishing a Third Reich-inspired Nazi dictatorship," the Institute wrote.
"The NRM has a long and bloody history of armed attacks on private citizens, minority groups and democratic institutions. It poses an ongoing and serious public security threat," the Anti-Defamation League wrote.
The Aryan Freedom Network, active in the United States, particularly in Texas, is also one of the groups included in the network. They were responsible for hurling slurs at member of the LGBTQI+ community, also recently at an all-ages drag show in Texas.
The Public Prosecution Service (OM) said projecting the messages on the bridge is criminally punishable. The use of discriminatory hate speech was evident, "based on the context in which the statements were made, and their coherence," the OM said.
Prosecutors also noted the importance of freedom of speech as a fundamental right in the Netherlands. "But there are limits to that freedom of expression. One of those limits is that expressions may never incite discrimination or offend another segment of the population."