A study on the banality of evil.

Peer into the private spaces of violent far-right actors.
A First Vigil project.

about

Racist, white supremacist, and far-right violence is on the rise. But while far-right actors often try to maintain a public image of normalcy, it is sometimes useful to look into their private spaces in an attempt to understand how their hate festers, evolves, and breeds when no one is looking. HowHateSleeps seeks to peek behind the curtain to look into these private sanctums. All images have been pulled from public court records except where otherwise indicated. This project is part of the First Vigil initiative.

The Terrorist

The Terrorist was a security guard with a history of abusing his disabled mother. An avowed neo-Nazi known by his former classmates and peers as a virulent racist, he crossed state lines to attend a political rally, where he decided to commit an act of premedidated domestic terror by driving his car into a group of counterprotesters, killing one. He is serving multiple life sentences for state and federal crimes for hate-crime murder and malicious assault.

Evidence photo taken from the front passenger side of a vehicle. Empty energy drink cans are visible.
Evidence photo of a trunk of the perpetrator's vehicle. A suitcase is visible next to some bundled-up clothes.

The Terrorist’s weapon of choice was his vehicle, which is otherwise mundane in its normalcy. USB chargers and an aux cord wind around crushed energy drink cans, a familiar sight to anyone who has driven the vast American countryside. In his trunk, a change of shorts and a suitcase containing a work uniform, a sign of every intention to return home from a hate rally and go back to work like usual.

A closeup of a nightstand. A portrait of Adolf Hitler leans against the wall and a copy of Mein Kampf is on the nightstand.

At home, The Terrorist’s first love was for Adolf Hitler. A copy of Mein Kampf lay on his bedside table, a large portrait of Adolf Hitler leaning against the wall.

A Nazi battle flag flies on the wall next to a nightstand, on which a picture of Adolf Hitler is visible.

The Terrorist’s affinity for Nazi Germany was on full display, with a Nazi battle flag adorning his wall. While some young men his age might have posters of cars or favorite musicians or attractive celebrities, The Terrorist had only obsession: the legacy of the short-lived but extremely genocidal empire of the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei.

The Officer

The Officer worked in Washington D.C. as an Acquisitions Officer for the U.S. Coast Guard. Investigators found documents on his computer that indicated he was plotting mass murder on an unprecedented scale. He worshipped Anders Brevik, made a list of targets which included politicians, media figures, and activists, and attempted to contact well-known white supremacists. Computer records show he once found a media personality’s former residence and spent 35 seconds zooming in and out on the house on an online mapping tool. According to the US Attorneys prosecuting the case, he intended to ‘murder innocent civilians on a scale rarely seen in this country.’

Several firearms and accessories are laid out for an evidence photo.

When investigators searched his residence, they found that The Officer had a cache of over a dozen firearms and over a thousand rounds of ammunition in his ‘cramped basement apartment’ in Maryland. Not all of his weapons have been recovered.

A suitcase full of glass vials of a clear liquid drug.

The Officer was also allegedly addicted to Tramadol. Investigators found over a hundred pills of the drug along with over thirty vials of HGH, allegedly illegally imported from Mexico over the internet. His charges include owning firearms while addicted to a controlled substance.

The Guardsman

The Guardsman was the founder of a violent neo-Nazi group and is skilled in making explosives. His goal was to start an exclusive and violent group of far-right activists who would eschew public rallies and images, instead focusing on individual violent acts intended to bring about the start of a race war. One of his roommates killed his other two roommates while he was away on reservist duties; upon returning, he gathered several weapons and headed toward a nuclear power plant with his best friend, another avowed neo-Nazi.

Image of a living space. An office chair is in front of a dining table, behind which a flag from a fascist organization hangs on the wall.
Image of a living space. The flag of North Korea hangs on the wall behind an upright vacuum cleaner.

The Guardsman lived in a rental flat noteworthy only for how incredibly typical it is in American life. A bag of charcoal bricks for grilling. An upright vacuum to clean the beige carpeting. One’s understanding shifts when one recognizes the only visible wall art are the flags of North Korea, and an obscure neo-Nazi group.

A photo of a bookshelf and a TV in a living room; the bookshelf contains racist and fascist literature.

A living room contained a bookshelf containing fascist and racist literature side-by-side with a video game collection and a vintage gas mask. A terrarium stands in contrast to the copies of Mein Kampf and The Turner Diaries on full display.

A bedroom wiht an unmade bed to the right. In the far corner is a dresser with a portrait on top.

The Guardsman’s bedroom is typical of an American 20-something bachelor, until one realizes that the portrait on the dresser is of the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh.

A built-in entertainment center and some bookshelves below it.
A close-up of a bookshelf containing books on science, philosophy, politics, and the military.

Built-in shelves beneath a clutter of wires and electronics hold copies of books on chemistry, atomic physics, philosophy, fascism, and terrorism. The biography of the British fascist Oswald Mosley stands out.

A mostly empty garage contains empty wrappers, a cooler, a trash can, and various items.

The garage was The Guardsman’s laboratory for crafting explosives. Barren except for some trash and camping equipment, the garage offered plenty of space for The Guardsman to make highly-unstable and potent explosive materials.

The Shooter’s Friend

The Shooter’s Friend lived in a state of squalor and filth, surrounding himself with a visual cacaphony of hateful effigies. With known ties to the alleged perpetrator of a synagogue mass murder, The Shooter’s Friend also lost his brother to suicide that same day; the brother was also found with a firearm and several loaded magazines. The Shooter’s Friend was turned into the authorities when his family members became concerned with his increasingly erratic and troublesome behavior. He has a plea hearing scheduled for a federal firearms possession violation.

An image showing a dark room with a lofted bedframe, from which nooses are hung. A stained sheet covers a window.

A disturbing scene, The Shooter’s Friend’s bedroom is filthy and dark. Nooses hang from below a lofted bed; one holds a small action figure. A waterstained sheet covers a window; beside it, an air conditioning unit is covered in dust and mildew.

Tactical vests, body armor, helmets, and gas masks are displayed on some furniture.

Body armor and tactical gear have pushed aside a Rock Band drum kit. Dirt and grime turn the white baseboard trim brown. A Confederate flag is crumped and tossed in among a collection of soldiers’ helmets and gas masks.

A messy bookshelf underneath a lofted bed contains clutter while a noose hangs from the bed.

Action figures lay on the bookshelf. A dirty plastic container holds a lone red Solo cup.

The Arsonist

The Arsonist was a young man who, together with his teenage wife, learned how to make chemical bombs and eventually vandalized a synagogue. The Arsonist’s wife was more radical than he; she has been linked to a series of vandalism incidents at houses of worship throughout her surrounding area. The arsonist had an affinity for Naziism and desperately wanted to belong; he and his wife were recruited to a white nationalist organization shortly after their synagogue attack. The Arsonist is spending three years in federal prison for his hate crime attack.

A cramped young man's bedroom is cluttered with electronics, stuffed animals, and other miscellaneous items.

The Arsonist’s youth might seem like a cover for his bigotry. His bedroom is full of child’s things: stuffed animals, a video game console. Nevertheless, his innocence is but a show. A modern Bundesrepubilk Deutschland flag hangs over his bed, perhaps a stand-in for the former Third Reich, or perhaps a deep misunderstanding of history.

A photo of Hitler's biography next to some black notebooks.

His love for Naziism, like so many others’, naturally involved a reading of Mein Kampf. The book is pictured alongside a notebook, perhaps as the inspiration for his uncertain philosophy of ‘national corporatism’ that he eagerly told his friends and minders in the white nationalist group.

A picture of a swastika pendant hanging on a wall.

The Arsonist’s bedroom retains its nursery-like qualities; a wallpaper borded with a tractor motif sits above a celtic swastika pendant that The Arsonist often wore.

A pot is full of a clear liquid with a white gelatinous substance in it. A wooden spoon rests nearby.

The Arsonist regularly experimented with explosives, creating makeshift concoctions in his kitchen. He and his wife managed to light a fire at the synagogue they attacked; to his dismay, his attempt at creating a ‘Drano bomb’ failed. Nevertheless, he kept the bomb-making materials in his car for weeks, key evidence that helped seal his indictment.