Filed under: Action, Anti-fascist, Southeast
The following report from Atlanta Antifascists discusses Cameron Padgett, the young white nationalist behind the booking of various Richard Spencer events.
Cameron Padgett, who books speaking events for white nationalist leader Richard Spencer on US campuses, has cultivated a media persona as a clean-cut, law-abiding student who cares deeply about free speech and advocacy for white people. In reality, the campus events organized by Padgett for Spencer show military-style coordination with white nationalist groups and predictably lead to racist violence. Contrary to his friendly media face, Padgett is an active participant in the white supremacist movement. Padgett took part in a racist torchlit rally in Charlottesville, Virginia during October – eight weeks after the “Unite the Right” rampage there – and soon after livestreamed himself harassing a working class Latinx community in Atlanta. Padgett frequently rails against the “degeneracy” of the modern age, while being careful to conceal his own history of forgery and drug charges in Chatham County, Georgia. When Padgett received a ticket while driving to the October white power rally in Charlottesville, Padgett gave the address of Safety Net Recovery, a sober living program. Drug use and addiction do not deserve contempt. We condemn Padgett’s racism, his scapegoat politics, and his hypocrisy.
Over the last year, Georgia State University student Cameron Cory Padgett has booked three different speaking events for white nationalist leader Richard Spencer on US campuses. At the same time, Padgett has given media interviews and turned himself into a minor figure on far-Right Twitter, gradually building a following of over three thousand for his account. When he first appeared in media stories, Padgett’s persona was of a clean-cut student, who cared deeply about free speech and who considered himself an “Identitarian” rather than a racist or a part of the Alt-Right.
Padgett’s media-friendly mask has started to slip. From Alabama, to Florida, and then Michigan, the Richard Spencer speaking events booked by Padgett – made possible either by lawsuits or the threat of litigation – have all led to violence by white nationalists. In the evening after Spencer’s talk at Auburn University in Alabama, members of the Traditionalist Worker Party attempted a charge against students and anti-racist protesters. (The charge did not go well for the racists.) After the Spencer appearance in Gainesville, Florida, a white nationalist fired at an anti-racist. Finally, a Spencer supporter was arrested for pointing a gun at anti-racist protesters on the weekend before Spencer’s appearance at Michigan State University in March. (At the last minute, Padgett decided not to show up in Michigan for the event he had booked.)
Cameron Padgett’s antisemitism, racism, and close association with the white nationalist “Alt-Right” is now evident to any close follower of his Twitter account. Padgett has concealed his politics less in recent interviews. For example, Padgett is now on the record about his desire for racial segregation. Padgett now also admits that the onetime leader of the racist organization Identity Evropa, Nathan Damigo, was central in recruiting Padgett to white “Identitarian” activism.
Still, much of what Padgett presents to the public does not add up. An early media story on Padgett highlighted discrepancies about Padgett’s age and role at GSU, although Padgett claims this was all simple error by his then-attorney Kyle Bristow. Currently, Padgett’s Twitter account goes under the handle @CameronVPadgett, although Padgett’s middle initial is actually “C”.
This article discusses Cameron Padgett’s politics, his Alt-Right commitments, and his work with neo-Nazis – which all clash with Padgett’s initial media persona. We also discuss Cameron Padgett’s past. Padgett claims that as an “Identitarian,” he is part of a movement that stands for “‘not degeneracy’ basically.” However, Padgett’s past behavior would likely be labeled “degeneracy” by many Alt-Right adherents. Padgett has never been upfront about this personal history. Our article concludes with some notes about Padgett’s attendance at Georgia State University, as well as about the status of his lawsuits for Spencer.
White Power Politics
To the media, Padgett has stated that he does not consider himself to be part of the Alt-Right. Instead, Padgett claims to be an “Identitarian” who believes in “advocating for the interests of white people” but is not racist. Padgett has portrayed himself as a free speech advocate and a “libertarian.” On this account, Padgett’s view seems to be that Richard Spencer’s views should at least be part of the conversation on campus.
However, in a January 2018 video called “Alt Right or Alt Lite,” Padgett talked of “the Alt-Right or the Identitarian movement” as though the two terms were synonymous. Padgett continued by praising the Alt-Right. So much for being “Identitarian” but not “Alt-Right”, then.
Padgett’s Twitter account first used the @AwokenAmerica handle rather than the current @CameronVPadgett, with the account changing at approximately the same time Padgett began speaking with the media and became more of a public figure. An archive of the @AwokenAmerica account from January 2017 shows that the account focused on race, not libertarian themes. Padgett’s @AwokenAmerica bio at the time read: “Proud European American. The Anti-White Agenda pushed by the Media is real. #WakeUpWhitePeople.” @AwokenAmerica retweeted Alt-Right racist leaders such as Nathan Damigo, Bradley Dean Griffin, and of course Richard Spencer. (On the same month Padgett opened his Twitter account as @AwokenAmerica, Padgett also registered medialiesmatter.com and awokenamerica.com to a family address in Sandy Springs/Atlanta – presumably Padgett intended to use these domains for propaganda projects which never got off the ground.)
Padgett’s commitment to First Amendment freedoms is just as far-fetched as his “libertarian” self-description. In a November 2017 tweet, Padgett mocked concern for “muh Constitution.” Padgett included a picture of himself that suggests an earlier racist meme. The original meme alluded to by Padgett, promoted the idea that Constitutional freedoms have little worth if white dominance is lost.
Padgett mocks concern for “muh Constitution” in a Twitter post (top) and the original racist meme Padgett’s post alludes to (bottom).
Others on the Alt-Right view Padgett’s alleged love of the Constitution as a joke. On Episode Three of “Taking A Stand,” an activism-related podcast from AltRight.com, the comment that “Cameron [Padgett] just really likes the Constitution” is met with snickering from others on the broadcast.
Padgett is a clear organizational part of the racist Alt-Right. He is one of the eight signatories who announced the formation of “Operation Homeland” – a “professional activist movement for the Alt-Right” – in December 2017.Operation Homeland functions as a street/activist version of the AltRight.com project, whereas AltRight.com itself is a broadcasting and publishing platform. (The division of labor between Operation Homeland and AltRight.com is like the one that used to exist between Identity Evropa and the National Policy Institute.)
Three lawyers who have represented Padgett – Kyle Bristow, James E. Kolenich, and Atlanta attorney Sam Dickson – also have clear links to the Alt-Right and white nationalism. (Bristow recently tried to distance himself from his long racist resume, and no longer represents Padgett.)
Relations with Neo-Nazis
As is common on the Alt-Right, Padgett works with neo-Nazis.
On October 19, 2017, Richard Spencer gave a speech at University of Florida (UF) in Gainesville, which was protested both inside and outside. Padgett made the initial booking, threatened UF with a lawsuit if the event was denied, and talked before Spencer at the event. The planning document put together by Spencer’s team for Gainesville is clear that members of the Patriot Front – a white nationalist and neo-Nazi organization – were central to the Alt-Right “task force” for the event. (The racists of Identity Evropa as well as the Alt-Right “Florida Gators” also had organized group presences.) “Individual members” of the Stormer Book Clubs – affiliated with the neo-Nazi TheDailyStormer website – were also part of the Spencer mobilization. Given Padgett’s role in the Gainesville event and his position in Spencer’s circle, it is highly likely that Padgett knew of and approved the plan to work with neo-Nazis for Spencer’s appearance.
Padgett is certainly fine with associating with neo-Nazis in other settings. In February 2018, Padgett posted a picture to Twitter of himself posing with Georgia racist Michael Carothers (AKA “Michael Weaver”). Michael Carothers won the 2008 “activist of the year” award within the National Alliance, which was once the preeminent neo-Nazi organization in the US. Carothers has served prison time for a December 2010 pepper spray assault against a Black man in Columbus, Georgia. More recently, Carothers attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he was visible in white nationalist Bradley Dean Griffin’s livestream.
Padgett does not merely associate with violent neo-Nazis. He takes part in harassment himself.
On October 7, 2017, Padgett participated in the “Charlottesville 3.0” flash rally in Virginia. There, 40-50 white nationalists gathered in the city still reeling from the violence of “Unite the Right” eight weeks before. It is hard to read “Charlottesville 3.0” as anything but an attempt to intimidate. Not only do Alt-Right torchlit rallies like the one of October 7 recall Klan rituals, but “Charlottesville 3.0” more directly alluded to the night before “Unite the Right,” where a torch-wielding crowd surrounded and beat anti-racists, students and community members. By reproducing the aesthetics of August 11, albeit on a smaller scale, “Charlottesville 3.0” participants were highlighting that their movement remained a threat to people of color, sexual minorities, leftists, and whoever else may get in their way.
In Atlanta, Padgett made a harassing expedition on October 26, 2017 to apartments on the outskirts of the city. Padgett arrived at a working class Latinx community near the Highland Circle Apartments to livestream what he saw, broadcasting images of people there to his white power audience. In advance of the livestream, Padgett claimed that the residents he would film were “95 percent, maybe 100 percent… all illegal aliens.” Padgett described the aim of his livestream as drawing attention to the “ridiculous amounts of illegals that are just roaming our streets.”
When someone asked Padgett what he was doing recording people without their consent, Padgett replied: “It’s for a school project […] Georgia State […] I’ll show you my ID.” We do not believe that Padgett’s harassment had anything to do with Georgia State requirements.
Footage: Cameron Padgett tries to harass working class Latinx community in Atlanta, October 26, 2017.
Skeletons in the Closet
Parts of Padgett’s life story are inconvenient if Padgett wishes to cultivate a reputation for honesty, or to cast himself as a clean-cut man at odds with “degeneracy” in society.
In Chatham County, Georgia (county seat: Savannah) where Padgett used to live, Padgett entered plea deals in 2012 for three counts of Forgery in the First Degree plus one count of Possession of a Controlled Substance. The charges stemmed from incidents in 2011. For the three Forgery counts, Padgett took a First Offender’s Act plea deal and went to Recovery Place for three months, then having probation for another four years and nine months. For the drug charge, Padgett got two years’ probation, served concurrently with the Forgery probation. At the completion of Padgett’s probation in 2017, Padgett was exonerated of the charges and was not considered to have a criminal conviction. Documents from Padgett’s original Chatham County charges and his plea deal are included at the end of this article.
The Chatham County drug charge claimed that Cameron Padgett along with relative Barry Hunter Padgett, “did possess and attempt to possess” Roxycontin, an opiate-based narcotic. Our problem is not with Padgett having drug issues (or at least a legal issue from drug possession.) What we oppose is Padgett’s hypocrisy. Padgett has written of the “drug epidemic” as a key problem of the modern society, alongside “degenerate media/Hollywood […] and riots in street.” In another Twitter message, Padgett positively contrasts Confederate States Army commander Robert E. Lee to “rappers […] who push drugs, sex and violence”. In the context of such a Tweet, it is easy to view “rappers” as a dog-whistle for Black people or Black culture. It is distasteful for Padgett to promote the politics of scapegoating around drugs, without acknowledging his own past.
Cameron Padgett Twitter messages about drugs and the opioid crisis.
Padgett’s multiple Forgery charges stemmed from checks made “with intent to defraud” on the account of System Garage Doors, Inc., from October to December 2011. System Garage Doors is the Padgett family business. Amateur psychologists may be interested that “fraud” is currently one of Padgett’s favorite insults for political rivals.
In October 2017, Cameron Padgett was ticketed for failure to obey a highway sign on his way to “Charlottesville 3.0”. Padgett provided an address in Smyrna, Georgia which corresponds to the business offices of Safety Net Recovery, a sober living/recovery program. It is unknown whether Padgett has any relationship to Safety Net beyond using the address — especially since Padgett posts Twitter photos of himself at bars, uses an old friend and current drinking buddy to vouch that Padgett is “not racist” to the media, and has even recorded a white nationalist video while seemingly intoxicated.
Padgett at Georgia State University
Cameron Padgett’s present status at Georgia State University is unclear. Padgett has blocked GSU from releasing information about his presence there, beyond the fact of his enrollment. In a September 2017 interview, Padgett stated that he was in his last semester earning a graduate degree as a Finance major. While the J. Mack Robinson College of Business at GSU offers a PhD in Finance, it seems more likely that Padgett was enrolled in the Master of Science program for Finance, offered at GSU’s Buckhead Center location. In January 2018, Padgett still claimed to be a Finance student at Georgia State, although what was supposed to be his last semester in Finance had passed. In October 2017, Padgett mentioned in an interview that he was considering switching to study law, with Padgett wishing to eventually become an attorney for his movement. It is possible Padgett is now doing preliminary study toward this end, although with Padgett it is difficult to know what to believe. During the Spring 2018 semester, Padgett posted images to his Twitter account from Georgia State’s main downtown location. Students at GSU downtown should therefore be aware of the white nationalist potentially studying there.
Status of Padgett’s Lawsuits
Since Richard Spencer’s event at Michigan State University (MSU) in March – which was met with strong anti-racist opposition and clashes outside – Spencer has declared that campus events are no longer “fun” and that he is thinking of pausing campus events while he figures out a way forward. Kyle Bristow, Cameron Padgett’s lawyer whose legal threats made the MSU event possible, left the Alt-Right movement mere days before the MSU speech and accompanying “Alt-Right” conference (which was also a disaster). James E. Kolenich, who replaced Bristow as a lawyer for Padgett in two suits, has now dropped Padgett’s legal action against Ohio State University for Spencer to speak. Cameron Padgett’s legal action against the University of Cincinnati in Ohio has been modified since Kolenich took over from Bristow, but it is currently scheduled for a jury trial in 2019, by which time Spencer may wish to have campus events again. Nothing has been filed since October in Padgett’s lawsuit against Penn State, but it is conceivable that things could move in the case again. (For the Pennsylvania suit, Padgett has a different lawyer than Kolenich.)
We do not think that Padgett will vanish from the racist scene with the pause in Richard Spencer’s speaking schedule. It is likely that if Padgett has extra time, he will move to other white nationalist endeavors, such as more work with “Operation Homeland.” We hope that with this article, we have exposed Padgett as an ideological racist who works with neo-Nazis and harasses communities. Padgett portrays himself quite differently to his Alt-Right associates than he does to the media. By contrasting Padgett’s rhetoric to his personal history, we have provided reason not to trust his declarations.
Documentation: Cameron C Padgett’s Chatham County court cases. Click here to download .pdf
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