Black civil rights activist takes over neo-Nazi group

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A black activist has managed to become president of a US neo-Nazi group, vowing to dismantle it from within.

The Associated Press reports James Hart Stern is the new leader of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a hate group facing legal action over its role in the 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, during which an anti-racism protester was run over and killed.

Stern took over the NSM in January, according to documents seen by the Associated Press, but it's not clear how he did it.

Neither Stern nor previous leader Jeff Schoep, a longtime white nationalist who reportedly wanted to dial back the group's racist rhetoric, could be reached for comment. 

Former NSM member Matthew Heimbach told the Associated Press Mr Schoep wanted to change its direction so it wouldn't remain "a politically impotent white supremacist gang".

"I think it's kind of a sad obit for one of the longest-running white nationalist organisations."

Mr Stern, 54, has a history of working to defuse racial tensions, particularly in street gangs in Los Angeles in the 1980s and 1990s. 

His plan is apparently to have the group plead guilty to all the charges it faces in regards to Charlottesville.


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