As the drumbeat of white supremacists grew louder in America, three men quietly formed a new extremist group, planting their flag in Palm Beach County.
The Sovereign American Project, based in West Palm Beach, began recruiting in August. It envisions an America separated, as in the days of segregation. The group, which was flagged to the FBI in recent days, demands “the end of forced integration” between races, according to their website.
Its goals, according to materials on its website: dismantling affirmative action programs and other policies “that are detrimental to Whites”; undoing “the fallacy of feminism” and gay rights movements; and reversing multiculturalism, which the group’s website calls “a pressure cooker” ... “not a melting pot.”
Hate group monitors and experts said the group stands out because of its international network, with allies in the Ukraine and Portugal; an online sophistication in covering its tracks; and its brazen incorporation as a “social welfare” nonprofit with an address on Clematis Street, the main street of West Palm Beach.
Described by one supporter as “political nerds,” their rhetoric is cerebral, like a treatise on sociology. But the dark undertone is clear: They hope to undo racial integration and allow white, conservative people to live apart. They hope this can be done peacefully, but they say it’s unlikely the “parasitical class” would agree. Therefore, the website says ominously, “action will be necessary.”
Whites, the group’s website says, are genetically superior in “civilization building” and “should always have the majority of power and influence in the nations founded and built by our European ancestors.”
“Any privilege Whites have has been earned and passed down through generations,” the website says, urging white people not to “become a minority in the land our ancestors fought and died for.”
An “events” page shows a table covered in assault rifles.
In an email exchange with the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Sovereign American Project President Matt Lawlor said the group is not white supremacist. Lawlor said it “advocates for a peaceful separation of the left and the right in America. We do not call for violence or illegal activity of any kind.”
Everett Stern, 36, a Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania who leads a private intelligence agency called Tactical Rabbit, said he has a team of former FBI and CIA agents who were alarmed by what they uncovered after digging into Sovereign American. Stern said he turned his findings over to the FBI’s Miami office last week, eager to red-flag the group prior to Wednesday’s presidential inauguration. He said the group was sophisticated and global, “highly trained, highly organized.”
“This group can cause significant damage. That’s why we looked at them,” Stern said. “They’re not just some people in a trailer coming up with Aryan nation stuff.”
One international ally whose ideas are closely paralleled by Sovereign American Project said the FBI visited him last week. At the time, he said, he didn’t know the group had been formed, and the FBI focused on his own online writings. An FBI spokesman in Miami said the agency does not confirm or deny investigations and could not comment on Sovereign American Project.
Racially motivated domestic extremists “very likely pose the greatest domestic terrorism threats in 2021,” according to a bulletin issued by the U.S. government’s justice and homeland security departments.
The threat from white supremacist groups has increased exponentially since a mix of President Trump’s supporters, white supremacists, conspiracy-minded individuals and others stormed the U.S. Capitol on the Jan. 6, the bulletin says.
Lawlor, the Sovereign American Project’s president, said his group believes the election was fraudulent and won’t attend Wednesday’s ceremony. The group isn’t violent and members who went to D.C. on Jan. 6 were not “part of the melee or ... inside the Capitol Building, he said.
The project’s Twitter feed, though, suggests violence is likely.
On Jan. 2, Sovereign American tweeted this: “Here are the right’s options. 1. Separate from the left — a few different ways that could play out. Make blue cities into city-states, make new states, etc. Could be done peacefully. 2. Let the left conquer us 3. Scorched earth, with all its glory and all its horror.”
“We’re being occupied by a hostile and illegitimate government,” the account tweeted two days later, responding to the video of the swearing in of Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat and speaker of the House.
The account asserted that leftists and anti-Trumpers “will make Pinochet or Hitler 2.0 necessary.”
Augusto Pinochet is a deceased Chilean dictator who has become a darling of the American extreme right in recent years. He ruled Chile with an iron fist from 1973 to 1990, and his regime was marked by the detention, torture and summary execution of thousands of dissidents.
“Very few people are ready for what is necessary to fix the massive damage the left has done to our country,” the account tweeted. “Steel yourselves for 2021. It’s going to be a wild ride.”
In a Sept. 27 video uploaded to the group’s Twitter feed, an unidentified man urges people to join the cause, saying, “We are raising a political movement and an army of men who are going and willing to fight.”
The group’s website says its vision could be achieved “via a series of amendments and repeals,” but it deems that “extremely unlikely.”
“Therefore, action will be necessary to stop this cycle of political, economic, and cultural abuse,” the website says.
Who are they?
The Sovereign American Project emerged in late summer, birthed by three white men: Lawlor, 44, of West Palm Beach, owner of a business called Force Distribution LLC; Noah Revoy, a “life, love and relationship” coach based in Portugal who has an extensive online presence; and Nathaniel Major, 31, of Columbus, Ohio, who moderates a YouTube channel titled “Western Revival.”
According to the IRS, social welfare nonprofits like Sovereign American must “operate primarily to further the common good and general welfare of the people of the community” and can engage in political activity.
Sovereign America’s home in Palm Beach County has long been one of South Florida’s Democratic strongholds, with a large liberal Jewish population. Barack Obama won the county in 2012, Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Joe Biden in 2020. The Kennedy family famously had an oceanfront estate on the island of Palm Beach.
But, in recent years, the county has attracted stars of the far right, including its most famous resident, Donald J. Trump, radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh and conservative pundit Ann Coulter. Laura Loomer, a far-right activist with a South Palm Beach address, ran unsuccessfully for Congress last year. The conservative website Newsmax is based in West Palm Beach.
At the extreme end of the spectrum, the Proud Boys and Stormfront, both hate groups, have active Palm Beach County chapters.
In a YouTube recording of a radio interview, Revoy explained why the trio created the Sovereign American Project. He said America “cannot continue to maintain a European level of quality in the country … if we do not have a predominantly European descended population. It’s not possible.’'
“You’re going to get called a racist,” the host on the Restoration Radio program told him, asking him to respond.
“Well, right now we have mobs burning entire cities over racial animosity,” Revoy said during the Sept. 19 interview. “How are we going to make this worse? … We’re literally trying a last-ditch effort.”
Revoy did not respond to requests by the Sun Sentinel for comment.
On Dec. 17, Revoy tweeted that “the end of democracy is here.”
“Rioting (organised violence) has proven to be more powerful than anyones vote,” he wrote. “Just wait until that lesson sinks into the nations heavily armed and well trained half. … Don’t fear them,” he said of the left, “fear us.”
Lawlor told the Sun Sentinel the group was formed because “we are motivated by our love for Western civilization and the people who created it, and we established this organization to preserve the legacy that we gratefully have inherited.”
The Anti-Defamation League lists a range of criteria in defining white supremacist organizations. Among them are beliefs that whites should live by themselves in a whites-only society; white people have their own “culture” that is superior to other cultures; and the white race is in danger of extinction due to a rising “flood” of non-whites.
Major, who lives in an Ohio county that is 95% white, described the aims of The Sovereign American Project on his YouTube channel: “an organization that can be an effective voice, an effective outlet for the people on the right, who have specific concerns about demographic change.”
In one video, he said he believes a civil war in America is inevitable unless “we redraw some borders and figure out the things we can agree on.”
Speaking with a thin voice while seated on a computer-gaming chair, Major told his digital audience that the group was founded as a vehicle to address “widespread” attacks against the white race, which the “Republican establishment has been unable to address.”
Interested participants could join the group for $25.
“Awesome,” wrote one YouTube user named American Refugee in the video’s comments. “Just joined.”
Major did not respond to multiple requests for comment via phone or email.
Hate goes mainstream
Florida is teeming with hate groups, according to a 2019 assessment by the Southern Poverty Law Group.
In 2019, 67 hate groups called Florida home. They include Stormfront, a white nationalist group in West Palm Beach that is considered the first major hate site on the Internet.
But no single white nationalist group is the leader of the movement or more dangerous than another, Southern Poverty Law Center reporter and spokesman Michael Edison Hayden said in a Jan. 15 news conference.
He said that rather than seeing any particular group rising in influence, the center sees the traditional barriers to such ideas disintegrating. White supremacists are entering the mainstream.
“There are almost no safeguards anymore, after Jan. 6, between extremist groups and the sort of broader GOP grassroots supporter you might find at a rally,” Hayden said. “This gradual unwillingness to disavow extremist groups is more what we’re seeing.”
Federal agencies in the security bulletin described the general extremist movement as “a loosely organized, sustained and significant domestic violent extremist population mobilizing to violence based on social media calls to target government infrastructure or officials.”
Stern, the private intelligence director, told the FBI in his report that the Sovereign American Project would be ripe for foreign manipulation.
He pointed the FBI to co-founder Revoy’s link to a man in the Ukraine named Curt Doolittle, who founded the far-right Propertarian Institute, dedicated to the superiority of “Western People.” Doolittle is based in Kiev and co-produces videos with Revoy where they discuss their shared philosophies. Revoy’s life coaching is advertised on Doolittle’s website. Doolittle told the Sun Sentinel that though he was unaware Revoy had formed The Sovereign American Project, it “looks like a very clear and deliberate application of my work, in an attempt to make it publicly digestible and politically actionable.”
Doolittle said the FBI visited him several days ago.
“The FBI visited me because they always visit me to get info because I’m an influencer,” Doolittle told the Sun Sentinel in a Twitter direct message.
Lawlor said Doolittle is “one of the more important intellectuals of our time” but is not part of Sovereign American.
Stern said the group’s computer tactics also are concerning.
“We’ve never seen this before in a group like this,” Stern said, alleging members and their affiliates communicate over the dark web and regularly change computer IP addresses so they cannot be tracked.
When informed of Sovereign American Project’s composition and tactics, Jason Blazakis, director of the Center on Terrorism, Extremism, and Counterterrorism at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said it was a cause for concern. He said he’d not seen such a group incorporate officially and theorized it could be done in order to raise money legally.
“Creating and carving a nonprofit as a white supremacist organization is fairly novel in my research,” he said.
Blazakis said the Ukraine is a “locus of far-right activity.”
The Sovereign American Project first came to the attention of the nonprofit Clarion Project in its research to expose hate groups. Clarion national security analyst Ryan Mauro said he found it “terribly concerning” and passed the tip to Tactical Rabbit to investigate.
“They appear to be posing a very significant threat, an uncommonly significant threat among white supremacists, which is why they got our attention, because of the international connections, the education they have, the skill set, the businesses,” he said.
Mauro balked at the idea that The Sovereign American Project is peaceful.
“If you believe America needs to be turned into a white ethno-state,” he said, “that can only be accomplished by violence.”
“In our own backyard”
U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat who at one time was mayor of West Palm Beach, said her city “celebrates its racial and ethnic diversity.” And, she added, “White supremacist, misogynist, and anti-Semitic groups are the antithesis of our city’s culture.”
She was among several members of Congress from South Florida who denounced Sovereign American’s ideas when informed of the group’s existence by the Sun Sentinel.
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston, said it was important to expose such groups and speak out against their white nationalist ideology.
“The rise of the violent far right in America over the last four years is taking seed everywhere, possibly in our own backyard,” she said in a written statement. “ ... Any group that echoes similar racist propaganda must have its arguments and activities vigorously refuted and observed in the public square. If they cross the line from speech to illegal action, then prosecution should be swift.”
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, said there is “absolutely no place in our community for white supremacists who peddle in every form of hateful bigotry. We know that what starts as hateful rhetoric can quickly radicalize and incite people to inflict physical violence. Law enforcement must confront these radical groups before it is too late.”
All three congressional members are Jewish. The Sovereign American Project disparages Jewish people, saying on its website that Jews have “been at the forefront and driving force of communist and radical-Left movements in the Western world” and that “diaspora Jews” were not among the “posterity” that the U.S. Constitution was meant for.
The group’s website lists “Black Lives Matter” under the category “Our Adversaries,” calling the movement an “explicit mission ... to undermine Western civilization.”
The Sovereign American website has been taken down, but the internet archive Wayback Machine retained copies. Lawlor said the website was removed “as part of Big Tech’s purge of the Right” but will be back permanently in days.
“Save our inheritance,” the site declares. “Help us reverse the cultural, demographic and economic decline of America.”
Brittany Wallman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4541. Follow her on Twitter @BrittanyWallman. Megan O’Matz can be reached at email@example.com or 954-356-4518. Mario Ariza can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @inaminorkey.