In the weeks leading up to the anti-G8 demos in Calgary last month, organizers and hate watchdogs quietly put the word out that an obscure group of activists predicting violence was linked to white supremacists. Turns out the Anti-Globalism Action Network (AGAN), formed just prior to the Kananaskis G8 meeting, has ties to the National Alliance, an extreme right-wing organization with chapters all over the U.S. and Canada.
Members of the anti-immigration National Alliance have appeared at anti-globalization demos in recent years -- apparently hoping to find common ground, despite their controversial racial views, in their opposition to multinational corporations and the international political bodies that support them.
Organizers first got wind of the curious link when people looking for information on the demos went to AGAN's Web site by mistake.
The Web coordinates for the site set up by the Alberta Activist Network, which spread the word about most of the protest events in Calgary and Ottawa, was g8.activist.ca. AGAN's Web address is g8activist.com.
"It took me about half a minute on their Web site to figure out they were white supremacists," says Grant Neufeld, webmaster of the Alberta Activist Network, who adds that AAN quietly told "key organizers to be aware" because "(AGAN) were just basically doing it to get attention for themselves, and so we didn't really want to play into that."
The Center for New Community, a Chicago-based hate-watch group, reported five days before the G8 protests in Calgary that AGAN's domain name was registered by "NA Canada" in Calgary.
They say that registration was subsequently changed, although AGAN now has a conspicuous link on its Web site home page to the National Alliance in Canada and a "press release" near the top of the home page to "defend cooperation with white nationalist organization."
The release states, "While confirming its independence from the National Alliance, AGAN has decided to link to the National Alliance and a selection of its materials as a public service."
"Our response thus far in talking with (anti-globalization activists) is first of concern in making sure that (AGAN) didn't have any role in participating in any of the coalitions," says New Community's Devin Burghart.
AGAN put out a press release prior to the Calgary demos predicting that "the violence surrounding past G8 meetings will erupt once again in Kananaskis."
The warning was picked up on June 19 by the Calgary Sun, which was not aware of the group's links to the National Alliance.
In e-mail correspondence with NOW, AGAN's Tony Phillips maintains that AGAN was not organized by the National Alliance and that he, and not the National Alliance, registered the Web page.
"Our hosting provider, Tripod.com, shut down g8activist.com on June 27 due to supposed terms-of-service violations," Phillips explains. "The National Alliance offered to temporarily host our Web site, we accepted, and it's still hosted on their server."
Phillips says he hooked up with the National Alliance after they "corresponded a bit and decided that there was enough common ground to work together."
Asked if AGAN risked being branded "white supremacist," Phillips maintains that "AGAN has already been branded "white supremacist' by those people in the anti-globalism movement who believe they have something to lose by a broadening of the movement."
Phillips says AGAN members attended the alternative G6B conference and "distributed literature."
"We traded ideas and brainstormed with several anti-globalist individuals and one other organization," says Phillips, who did not want to name the "other organization" because of the "press that we have received."
In a telephone interview from National Alliance headquarters in Hillsboro, West Virginia, deputy membership coordinator Billy Roper tells NOW AGAN is "completely independent."
"I guess there may be a member of the National Alliance who is involved with the Web site of the AGAN, but it's not an official project," he says.
Formed in 1974 by William Pierce, the National Alliance has long advocated a whites-only nation.
Roper says National Alliance members also voluntarily canvassed the anti-globalization demos in Seattle a few years back. Although the anti-globalization movement is clearly anti-racist and pro-immigrant, the National Alliance still views it as fertile ground for recruiting.
"Persons who are of the extreme left -- communists and anti-globalists who do not share our racial views -- are more likely, ironically, to make good prospective recruits to the National Alliance than persons who are not politically conscious at all," says Roper.
The extreme right's entry into the anti-globalization movement is something the Council of Canadians has been monitoring for some time.
"None of this would surprise me," says the Council's national chair, Maude Barlow. "In a big, loose movement like this it would be easy for the right wing to hide, and we're always really worried about that." email@example.com