The Army National Guard kicked out two men after investigating claims that they had ties to an extremist white supremacy group. The investigation was launched after online activists published a report linking the two men to a religious sect identified as a hate group.
Earlier this year, the Atlanta Antifacists posted a report accusing Dalton Woodward and Trent East of leading the Norse pagan group Ravensblood Kindred which is part of the Asatru Folk Assembly, a sect that allegedly endorses white supremacy. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, neo-Völkisch adherents base their spirituality on the survival of those descended from white Europeans and the preservation of what they claim are dead or dying cultures.
Woodward was serving with the Georgia National Guard in Afghanistan when the report was published. His unit returned from deployment in June, and the investigation into Woodward’s connections to white supremacy groups concluded in October.
The Georgia National Guard has confirmed that Woodward is no longer a member but refuses to disclose the details of his case.
East reportedly received a separation notice from the Alabama National Guard on December 14. He was also forced to resign as a jailer for the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office.
“The whole race thing started with me finding Asatru or Odinism or whatever you want to call it and seeing that as a better option than Christianity as a spirituality,” East told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’ve just never been a fan of Christianity, and so seeing a faith that was about my ethnic roots was something I could get into a little more.”
Referring to East’s attempts to downplay his role, a spokesperson for Atlanta Antifascists told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “He’s a confirmed white supremacist just shopping around in the marketplace, picking and choosing by aesthetics. I’m surprised he is not backtracking more.”
In 2017, East and Woodward attended a speech by white nationalist Richard Spencer at Auburn University. East carried a sign that read, “The existence of our people is not negotiable.”
Woodward’s sign read, “We have a right to exist.”
The slogans have been criticized for bearing a resemblance to the “14 words,” a reference to a popular white supremacist motto: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”
With cells located throughout the U.S., the Asatru Folk Assembly also has a Facebook page that specifically targets members of the military for recruitment.