But the bond between working-class whites and working-class blacks deteriorated in the 1970s as a stalling economy began to introduce tensions into British society. An increase in immigration from former colonies such as Pakistan quickly racialized the plight of the falling white worker. Far-right groups, like the British Movement and the National Front (which had 20,000 members by 1974), began fueling skinheads with anti-immigrant rhetoric. "Paki-bashings" broadened to include violent attacks on all immigrant groups, including the very same Afro-Caribbeans who had provided the foundation of skinhead style.
The second half of the 20th century saw plenty of examples of American youth importing the styles of British youth culture, and the skinhead subculture was among them. By the early 1980s, racist skinheads had crossed the ocean as a part of the broader English punk-rock scene. At first, the shaven-headed youths were just a violent part of a growing punk music scene, using swastikas and "sieg heil!" salutes to provoke reaction. But their violent ideology soon moved beyond the clubs.
One early American group was the Chicago Area Skinheads (CASH). In the mid-1980s, CASH members were arrested for intimidation, vandalism and assault. Their crimes included an assault on six Latinas and vandalism at three synagogues and numerous Jewish-owned businesses. CASH founder Clark Martell was arrested for assaulting a young woman who was trying to leave the group, painting a swastika and "Race Traitor" on her wall with her own blood.
Groups similar to CASH, such as the Confederate Hammerskins in Dallas, began to appear in cities across the country. At first, they directed most of their violence at progressive members of their own music scene, like peace punks, feminists, "Mods" and anarchists. But soon their target list expanded to include minorities, gays and lesbians, antiwar activists and Jews. By 1988, racist skinhead attacks were so widespread they began to receive national media attention. As frequent guests on "trash TV" programs, the skinheads were both ridiculed and promoted. In November of that year, anti-racists on "The Geraldo Rivera Show" attacked racist skinheads, setting off a televised brawl that ended with the host's nose being broken. The day after the show aired, Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian graduate student, was murdered in Portland by a group of skinheads called East Side White Pride.
The case of East Side White Pride is reflective of the emergence of skinheads as more than just a youth fad. By the 1980s, the influence of traditional extreme-right groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party was on the wane. Skinheads infused these older ideologies with a new, hip, urban flavor. Where the Klan was rural, skinheads were on the front lines of urban racial conflict. Their macho image was appealing to young men with fewer traditional male role models. Adult racist groups began reaching out to young skinheads, seeing them as soldiers in their race war. Prior to Seraw's murder, members of East Side White Pride had been trained in the art of racial confrontation by a group from Fallbrook, Calif., called the White Aryan Resistance (WAR).
After three skinheads were convicted…