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Fallbrook Neo-Nazi Leaves A Chilling Legacy

An undated photo of Fallbrook neo-Nazi Tom Metzger preaching hate in the 1980s.
Chuck Leek
An undated photo of Fallbrook neo-Nazi Tom Metzger preaching hate in the 1980s.

After the death of one of Southern California's most notorious white supremacists earlier this month, one of his former disciples talks about Tom Metzger’s legacy of hate.

Metzger was the face of white supremacy in Southern California, beginning in the late 1970s. First, with the Ku Klux Klan, then as a leader of his Fallbrook-based White Arayan Resistance.

Fallbrook Neo-Nazi Leaves A Chilling Legacy
Listen to this story by Steve Walsh.

Chuck Leek met him when Leek was a young skinhead in the 1980s in San Diego.

“He never repented,” Leek said. “He never changed his stance one bit. He was a force for just evil in the world.”

Leek associated with him when Metzger went on shows like Oprah. Metzger had a way of using people, especially young people, to get publicity for himself, Leek said. One member of Metzger’s group famously broke Geraldo Rivera’s nose when he threw a chair at the daytime talk show host. Leek broke out of the moment in the year 2000.

“It took me really another 10 years to dispel the ideology, change my heart and actively start working against white supremacy,” he said.

Leek now works with Life After Hate, which seeks to guide people out of the white supremacist movement.

For Metzger, things came crashing down in 1990 when the Southern Poverty Law Center sued him in the death of an Ethiopian graduate student murdered in Portland, Oregon by white supremacists. He was forced to pay a multi-million-dollar judgment.

“It basically bankrupted him,” Leek said. “He had to give up the house in Fallbrook that he owned and he had to make payments to them to his dying day. It basically dismantled his operation.”

Metzger eventually moved back to Indiana and then back to Southern California near the end of his life. In recent years, Metzger would confront Leek on Twitter.

“I don’t think he was happy near the end of his days, judging from the things I saw on Twitter. He was kind of a miserable old man,” Leek said.

With the FBI citing white supremacy as the No. 1 domestic terror threat in 2020, Leek says Metzger influenced the recent wave of violent hate groups like Atomwaffen Division and the Base, even though Metzger himself was mostly out of the spotlight.

“He played a large part in the way they are operating right now. Recruiting on college campuses. He was actively telling us if you don’t have felonies, don’t get felonies. Grow your hair out. Stop getting tattoos. Become lawyers, get in the military and get rank. Become police and get rank. He was telling us to do these things and they’re being done now,” Leek said.

Metzger died Nov. 4, in Hemet.