Local ‘skinheads’ clear up Nazi misconceptions

By Joelle McGinnis

The presentation of an Oprah Winfrey show featuring Aryan Youth Movement skinheads provided an opportunity for a group of NIU students to clear their names and inform students that there are no Nazi skinheads on NIU’s campus.

About 100 students attended last week’s John Lennon Society meeting which featured the videotape presentation and a discussion on white supremacy and racism with representatives of the national John Brown Anti-Klan Committee.

NIU student Brian Dworak said he and his friends, who consider themselves to be skinheads, debated attending the meeting.

“We decided to go to clear our names and clear up the misconceptions people on campus have about us. We are not Nazi skinheads,” he said.

NIU student Roman Rokiciak said, “People got the wrong impression from a flier that was poorly made. It sensationalized the issue by playing up the Nazi skinhead idea,” he said.

In addition to objecting to the fliers printed by the JLS to publicize the event, the students also felt offended by the editorial which was printed in that day’s issue of The Northern Star.

NIU student Jim Anderson said “the editorial ended up attacking a lot of people personally and pinning views on them. It made it look like all skinheads are Nazis,” he said.

“How can something in the paper be that biased? How can someone who doesn’t know the situation make those claims?” Anderson said.

Dworak said, “A real skinhead is not a Nazi.”

The skinheads are a group which has been around for more than 20 years, he said. They began in England around 1967 and “had nothing to do with white power and all that crap,” Dworak said.

He said it wasn’t until “nationalists and racists started infiltrating the groups and poisoning their minds” that skinheads began to be associated with white supremacists and Nazis.

Nazi skinheads “say they speak for all white people. That’s ludicrous. They would still be Nazis even if they had hair,” Dworak said.

“People see us and get all scared. If they’d take the time to get to know us they’d find we aren’t Nazis,” he said.

NIU student Kevin Cahill said, “We just want to be recognized as students.”

Rokiciak said, “People up here are blowing the whole thing out of proportion.”

The reason for this reaction might be because not all students who come to this campus have had the same exposure to different types of people, he said.

“When you live in the city you meet everyone—gays, skin heads, blacks, Jews—so you have to learn to deal with all kinds of people,” Rokiciak said.

Though most of the group is from Chicago, none knew each other before they met this year at NIU.

“We’re not a gang. Frat dudes hang out together, does that mean they’re a gang?” Rokiciak said.

Dworak said, “We go to concerts and you go to concerts. We drink beer and thrash, and you drink beer and bop.”

He said, “I’ve heard rumors about us. I’m open-minded about people, but I say if people are too closed-minded to get to know me, then I don’t want to deal with them.”