Report from Northern California Anti-Racist Action that shows connections between the far-Right ‘not racist’ MAGA scene and outright neo-Nazis who took part in violent stabbings at the Sacramento Capitol in June of 2016.
It’s been almost two and a half years since the Nazi rally by the Golden State Skinheads under the banner of the Traditionalist Worker Party on June 26th, 2016 at the Sacramento state capital was defeated by anti-racists and anti-fascists. Despite the Nazis receiving full support and police protection from the State, anti-fascists successfully prevented the rally from taking place through a large mobilization that took over the capital grounds. This victory however came at a heavy price as GSS members attacked and seriously injured the crowd with knives, shields, and other weapons during clashes with a relatively smaller number of anti-fascists that had run up to confront them. While the fighting lasted only a short time, GSS Nazis managed to stab 6 anti-fascists, and had their retreat protected by the police as they ran away holding the bloody knives used in the potentially lethal attacks in their hands. The retreating Nazis still suffered heavy beatings and damage to their cars culminating in a Nazi brandishing a pistol as they fled with another handgun being found on the ground next to the epicenter of the fighting.
In the time since, anti-fascists from all over Northern California have worked to identify and expose the Nazi individuals responsible for these attacks. Earlier reports by Antifa Sacramento, It’s Going Down, NoCARA, and others have detailed and mapped out large parts of the GSS network, and their affiliations to other neo-Nazi formations such as Rise Above Movement, the Hammerskin Nation, and the now defunct Traditionalist Worker Party. While GSS and their connections in the neo-Nazi white nationalist political world was elaborated on to a degree, less is known about the direct connections and affiliations of GSS to the broader northern California far-right activists that includes a confluence of Trump supporters, Proud Boys, militia members, conspiracy media consumers, and other authoritarians and racists.
One of the these far-right factions is the loose network in northern California that has gathered around charismatic individuals such as the now rapidly fading meme Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman and other Proud Boy leaders such as Gabriel Silva (currently in conflict with Chapman), individuals such as Amber Gwen Cummings, Lindsay Grathwohl, and many others. This network consists of a large number of activists and supporters who have been one of the main driving forces behind the far-right rallies targeting Bay Area cities, especially Berkeley in the past two years. These rallies have not only allowed a large number of often violent far-right individuals to gather in perceived liberal cities, but to also create a space where fascists and neo-Nazis can also maintain a presence and target their opposition with violence. To this day, regardless of the mountains of evidence showing the great overlap between MAGA activists and open neo-Nazis, members of this MAGA activist network have unrelentingly denied any connection to white nationalism and neo-Nazi ideology.
It’s in this context that we will not only be exposing some of the crimes of the Golden State Skinheads, but also how this violent gang of neo-Nazis have worked directly with MAGA activists to further their political movement. By mapping these networks, we hope to bring into sharp focus the reality of how intricately connected some of the most violent Nazis in the country are to self-proclaimed non-racist Trump supporting conservatives often portraying themselves as victims of the Left. The June 2016 rally could have easily been an event on par with – or exceeded the deadly violence carried out by Nazis in Charlottesville, yet the organization responsible for such violence is directly tied to MAGA activists who claim to hate Nazis in the face of all evidence to the contrary.
Despite the large number of people opposing the Nazis being stabbed, to date no Nazis have faced any charges for carrying out these potentially deadly knife attacks. One of the perpetrators, Derik Ryan Punneo was widely documented in photographs holding a bloody knife and in video footage coming into physical contact and making stabbing motions at some of those those who suffered stab wounds. Punneo had an extensive history of racism, violence and sexual assault prior to the events of the rally. Not long after the failed Nazi rally, Punneo did a stint in jail for domestic violence against his partner at the time, but never suffered any legal consequences for the stabbings the he carried out.
Close examination of images and footage from the day of the rally and further investigations into the membership of GSS has revealed the identity of another stabber from the rally. Sean Michael Wurzburg (DOB 12/13/1987) is a current patched in member of the group from Marin County that was not only present at the rally, but carried out at least one of the stabbing attacks. One can match the brown hiking boots, black stocks, and shorts worn by Wurzburg in the group photos taken by GSS immediately prior to the rally, with those worn by the masked individual seen in an image of the rally with their arm thrust into the abdomen of one of those who were stabbed.
This wasn’t the first time Wurzburg had stabbed someone. According to court documents, in 2006, Wurzburg attacked his friends and stabbed one of them during a drunken argument:
“Defendant was arrested after witnesses reported a stabbing. A witness told police defendant had attended a barbeque together with the victims, Murff and Abbott. The witness later heard screaming coming from Abbotts apartment, and heard defendant threaten Abbott. The witness told Murff to go and calm defendant down. Murff returned about 10 minutes later seeking help with a stab wound. Murff reported he had been on the telephone when defendant, for no reason, suddenly attacked him. Murff saw blood gushing from his arm. Defendant said, Want me to stab you again? Abbott claimed he had sustained a large cut over his eyebrow and a black eye. Defendant admitted he had fought with Abbott and had stabbed Murff. He told probation he had been with Abbott and Murff, drinking heavily. They went to Abbotts residence, where at some point defendant and Abbot got into a fight. Defendant left with Murff. Defendant later was on the phone when Murff began provoking him by throwing pennies at him, kicking him and slapping him in the face.”
Wurzburg would go on to spend about a year in jail for the stabbing and another misdemeanor conviction. Since the rally, Wurzburg continued to be seen spending time with other core members of GSS, traveling with them, and posing for group photos.
Welcome to Ragnarok
At the time of this publication, William Scott Planer is the only member of GSS to face charges for their actions at the June 26th, 2016 rally, and his trial is set to begin in the coming weeks. Planer’s brutal stick attack on a downed anti-fascist was captured in widely seen footage and played a large part in him being the one Nazi the state chose to prosecute for their role in the rally. The imagery of Planer smashing a stick on the head of the anti-fascist who was on their knees made it clear that Planer and GSS’s intent was to inflict maximum injury on those who had showed up to shut down their rally.
For over a year, Planer and other members of GSS celebrated this with a commemorative patch that they proudly wore on their bomber jackets. A few members even posted images of their small children wearing the jackets. Planer shared the images of the patch on his social media much to his partner, Justina Thatcher’s delight, and even used a still frame of the attack as the profile image for a Facebook account named Scott Stuka, a play on his name Scott and the word swastika. Until his arrest, Planer was heavily bragging about and leveraging this attack for credibility and social capital in the white nationalist scene.
While Planer awaits his trial, another one of his GSS comrades and participants of the June 26th rally, Nathan William Lowry sits in federal prison in Herlong, California. Lowry was also a violent participant in the rally, and was even referred to as the person to contact for participating in the rally by Matthew Heimbach of the TWP. Lowry had an extensive criminal history involving violent assaults, strangulation, domestic violence, possessing firearms as a person convicted of a felony and dealing firearms without a license.
As a younger member of the network, Lowry who lived in the East Bay after the June 2016 rally, worked to bridge the gap between the increasingly irrelevant and fading neo-Nazi skinhead subculture and at the time, the growing internet-heavy alt-right movement and its various factions. Along these lines, Lowry was excited about trying to connect with the Bay Area Proud Boys and regularly posted in their private Facebook groups to likes and positive comments from other Proud Boys.
Lowry also worked to promote a rally in Sacramento organized by Alicia Peterson, an organizer closely connected to northern California Proud Boys, MAGA activists, III%ers militia, and Patriot Prayer in the Pacific northwest. Joseph Simons, another GSS member, would go so far as to post on Peterson’s rally event page on Facebook, and demand that anyone who had a problem with the June 2016 rally contact him directly. This post was liked by Peterson and other MAGA activists attending the rally. Peterson has since moved from Sacramento to Idaho City and remains very active in the far-right militia movement while still maintaining connections to GSS members.
In early July 2017, Lowry was arrested in the Bay Area for charges stemming from a December 2015 shooting trip to the desert outside of Las Vegas. Making the charges worse, Lowry had transported an AK-47 rifle and Glock 17 pistol across state lines. Charges were brought against Lowry apparently after a self-snitching photograph he had posted to Facebook showing him wearing a mask and holding an AK-47 rifle caught the attention of investigators looking into the rally. In the end, he pleaded guilty to one of the charges, and was sentenced to serve his time in federal prison with his release date set for November 2020.
Similarly, in April 2016, Planer posted an image of an AK variant rifle featuring a magazine with the sentence “welcome to Ragnarok” and rune symbols etched into it. In norse mythology, Ragnarok is a cataclysmic future event that includes a bloody battle. The comments on the image make it clear that the rifle belongs to Planer. Given Lowry’s conviction, it’s peculiar that Planer hasn’t experienced similar repercussions for his own apparent possession of firearms as someone with convictions legally barring them from doing so.
William Planer’s case has been one of the few cases to garner support from a wide range of individuals and factions in the white nationalist and neo-Nazi political scene. While more prominent figures such as Chris “Crying Nazi” Cantwell and the now disgraced Matthew Heimbach have worked to support Planer and draw attention to his case nationally, the most significant support effort for Planer in California is organized by his GSS comrades in the Bay Area.
The Freedom for Will Planer campaign includes the sale of a t-shirt, a PayPal account (Paypal.me/freedomforwill), and a PO box located in Castro Valley for collecting donations. The t-shirt design features a Black Sun symbol currently most associated with Nazis overlaid with blood splatters, and a visual cacophony of grunge-style text. The primary person behind the campaign is Jonathan Scott Court (DOB 2/15/1985) of Fremont. Court has been a member of GSS going back at least to 2016, and once protested outside of the Hayward NAACP office with his white power flag.
Recently, PayPal closed the accounts of a number of anti-fascist groups while removing a number of accounts associated with the Proud Boys. This included the account of Antifa Sacramento along with other antifa groups under the Centrist guise of saying both Nazis and those that are against Nazis are equally bad. PayPal did not however close Planer’s support account which continues to collect money while his fellow GSS members and perpetrators of the June 2016 rally’s violence freely work to support him.
The core of the current Bay Area GSS are Michael Adam Sessumes (DOB 12/21/1981), James Fly, Jonathan Court, Neil Joseph Zajic, and Sean Wurzburg. Sessumes, Fly, and Court live in Alameda county while Zajic lives in Sonoma county and Wurzburg resides in Marin county. Sessumes acts as the group’s leader and spokesperson, and is one of the members with the longest history in the group. His partner, Kendyl Henaghan (DOB 5/4/1988), with whom Sessumes has a child, was one of the getaway drivers at the June 2016 rally.
Another less active member of GSS who was present and fought during the June 2016 rally is Daniel Paul Ridenour. In the time since the June 2016 rally, Ridenour has been spotted multiple times on BART wearing neo-Nazi clothing with anti-antifa and TWP imagery. Like other members of GSS, Ridenour is an adherent of Heathenry and is associated with the Asatru Folk Assembly. The AFA is headquartered in Brownsville, and is frequently embroiled in controversies due to the thinly veiled white supremacy that underpins many of their beliefs. GSS member Joseph Simons is also closely connected with the AFA, and has done volunteer work repairing and painting the AFA building.
The GSS network covers a wide geographic area that goes as far south as Ventura and Huntington Beach, up to the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, and further up north to Sonora, and even includes members in Colorado. Due to many of the members being geographically dispersed, they often gather in groups with members traveling long distances to socialize and drink.
During one of these gatherings in June which included the group’s leader Michael Sessumes, Sean Wurzburg, Steven Edward Vail (DOB 9/17/1976), and Billy Ward, members of the group got into a fight according to their own social media postings. On these posts, Billy Ward claims to have “fucked up” a man, and Vail comments that Sessumes acted as the getaway driver afterwards. GSS’s potential for violence as individuals and when they convene in groups is clear.
Spawn of a Snitch
As we’ve shown before with MAGA activist individuals such as Kyle Chapman, Alicia Peterson, Amber Gwen Cummings, and others, many direct connections exist between self-proclaimed “non-racist” conservatives and neo-Nazis. As recent court documents have shown, free speech rallies such as the one on April 15th, 2017 in Berkeley, were organized with the direct involvement of neo-Nazi groups such as Rise Above Movement. Not only were members of RAM in contact with organizer Richard Black, but they were also reimbursed for their transportation costs from southern California to Berkeley. Cole White, a RAM member who recently accepted a plea deal and snitched on fellow RAM members, was frequently photographed with other Bay Area MAGA activists, including Jourdan Davis and Susan Walsh. White was also photographed with David Tomes (now deceased), a Proud Boy and close confidant of Kyle Chapman and other Bay Area MAGA activists.
Alicia Peterson’s Sacramento rally not only included the enthusiastic support for an unabashed Nazi like Joseph Simons, it also included the participation and arrest of Jason Judd as well as other GSS members. Given this, it comes as no shock that another MAGA activist and friend of Alicia Peterson is also directly connected to GSS: Lindsay Grathwohl.
Lindsay Grathwohl, a prominent figure in Northern California’s far-Right network, has close associations with the Golden State Skins through at least one member of the gang, James Fly. On September 4th, Lindsay Grathwohl streamed a live video on her personal Facebook profile in which she alerted her friends and followers to James Fly and his business Fly Decal. Grathwohl claimed Fly as a friend, saying:
“I put a link in the title of this video. That is my friend James. He makes decals.”
Grathwohl admitted that James Fly has been supplying the local network of Trump activists with decals and stickers featuring slogans and support for far-right political movements through his business. In her video, Grathwohl lists off some of Fly’s work that her followers might already be familiar with, citing specific designs for decals, stickers, and t-shirts. She went on to state:
“If you want one and you want one like mine, get in touch with James. James is a good friend of mine. Tell him Lindsay sent you. He’ll know who I am, obviously.”
“He also made a bunch of decals that say ‘These are Kate’s streets’ when we went down to Arizona. I still have a ton of those.”
“Just let him know that I sent you over and he’ll hook you up with whatever you want.”
Lindsay Grathwohl has been a key influencer in Northern California’s far-right patriot and Trump movement. Aside from GSS member James Fly, Grathwohl is very closely associated with Kyle “Based Stickman” Chapman and Amber Cummings. She has organized a number of events with Joey Gibson/Patriot Prayer in addition to working with and supporting the Proud Boys. The bulk of her activism has been organizing local rallies as well as traveling the west coast to network with other right-wing personalities.
In an Instagram post, Lindsay Grathwohl wrote:
“You all need to understand I was never ‘red pilled.’ I grew up and my parents had worked in the FBI – I was born red pilled so to speak.”
Being that many ‘conservatives’ now view the FBI as a tool of the pro-DNC globalist Deep State, for many this may seem like an odd statement. However, Lindsay is the daughter of Larry David Grathwohl, a US Army veteran and undercover FBI informant that infiltrated the Weather Underground. Larry Grathwohl is known in right wing circles through his book and media appearances on platforms such as Fox News and Alex Jones’ Info Wars.
Larry’s hard conservative politics and conspiracy theories appear to have caught on with his daughter. Lindsay, motivated to act by her dead father’s reputation, quickly got involved when alt-right rallies began popping up in the Bay Area and capitalized on her name to carve out a position for herself, eventually peaking with her own appearances on Info Wars with Alex Jones.
Lindsay Grathwohl was involved in putting together something she and other right wing organizers called “Liberty Weekend” in August 2017. In concert with Joey Gibson and Amber Cummings, Grathwohl was calling for alt-right rallies in San Francisco on August 26 and Berkeley on August 27. This came just two weeks after the violent Unite the Right neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, which included the murder of Heather Heyer by white supremacist James Alex Fields, Jr. In December 2017, Grathwohl organized an anti-immigrant rally in the name of Kate Steinle, who was tragically killed in an accidental shooting in 2015. While Jose Ines Garcia Zarate was found not guilty and Steinle’s family explicitly called for Kate’s death not to be politicized, Grathwohl brought together Proud Boys, militia members, and neo-Nazis in San Francisco to generate and amplify outrage against immigrants in the United States. This continues online in Grathwohl’s social media posts about asylum-seekers in caravans approaching the southern border of the United States.
Later in July 2018, Grathwohl and her friend Amber Cummings co-organized a rally in support of British fascist Tommy Robinson, again in San Francisco. Grathwohl brought t-shirts that featured Robinson’s face and text reading “free Tommy.” These shirts were produced by James Fly and given out to the tiny group of racists that had gathered outside the British Consulate. On August 5, the pair invited more far-right and neo-Nazi activists as well as a crew from InfoWars to Berkeley for another terribly attended rally “Against Marxism.”
Grathwohl’s organizing continues despite her recent commitment to homeschool her son in San Lorenzo. She recently organized a rally in Sacramento with white nationalist Proud Boy Jeffrey Perrine and Antioch-based Chris Ross, a member of the III% militia group. This militia was a staple at alt-right rallies throughout 2017 and included members that bombed a mosque in Minnesota. In November, Grathwohl traveled to Arizona to speak at an event organized by her friends in Patriot Movement AZ. Last March, two women who are affiliated with Patriot Movement AZ brought a gun to a mosque to harass people and take their literature. They were arrested on felony charges with a possible hate crimes enhancement.
Lindsay Grathwohl has the potential to be just as violent as her neo-Nazi gang and militia member friends. During a live video on Facebook on November 11, Grathwohl stated, “I’ve hit phones, I’ve moved people, pushed people. I have. I’m going to be honest,” which was later followed by comments about her being associated with fascists and racists. “I’m kind of numb to being called a Nazi. It doesn’t even phase me anymore.” Grathwohl has repeatedly displayed firearms in social media posts. Because of Lindsay’s admission to her use of violence at past political events, she should be considered potentially dangerous.