Skinheads Founder Has Regrets California Man Denounces Movement He Began When a Teen-Ager

Article excerpt

Greg Withrow never met any of the eight white supremacists arrested recently for plotting to kill Rodney King and other well-known blacks. But when he heard the news, he shuddered with guilt.

"I guess I'm kind of responsible," said the man widely acknowledged as founder of the "skinhead" movement. That was when Withrow was a teen-ager in the late '70s. Now 31, Withrow has since renounced white supremacist organizations. "It became apparent that I held the youth movement in the palm of my hand . . . I am sorry for what I have done."

In keeping with skinheads' anarchistic attitude, groups around the country are only loosely confederated. "I called it the `100 Hitlers policy' to set up cells across the country," he said. "The police can crush one cell, two cells, but the movement continues."

Leaders of the cells tend to meet each other only through more traditional organizations, such as neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and White Aryan Resistance, which use skinheads as foot soldiers.

"In the past," Withrow said, "you had older people recruiting young people. What is happening now is peer pressure - you have young people recruiting young people. You have people who feel disenfranchised. They are offered a way to vent."

These young white supremacists, law enforcement officials and other experts agree, are the most violent part of what authorities call the "hate movement."

According to a recent report by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, approximately 3,500 skinheads are active in 40 states around the country, more than double the number reported in 1988. …