'National Socialist Movement' Leader Arrested After Allegedly Threatening to Kill Black People

Burt Colucci, the leader of the National Socialist Movement, once America's largest neo-Nazi group, was arrested in Arizona on Monday after he allegedly pointed his gun at a group of Black men who he believed to have littered.

The organization was in Arizona for its annual marking of former Nazi leader Adolf Hitler's birthday, which is on Tuesday. Still in the state after the rally, an argument allegedly ensued between a group of white men, including Colucci, and a group of Black men, who were reportedly throwing garbage out their car window.

Colucci told the responding officer he picked up the trash, placed it on the car and told them to clean up the mess, according to court records reported by Nick Martin, writer and editor of The Informant, a publication covering hate and extremism. Colucci alleged both sides used racial slurs and they threatened to shoot him.

He admitted to drawing a firearm of his own in "a low ready position," but denied ever pointing it at the Black men. The victim later called the police and offered a different narrative that said Colucci, "threatened to kill him and the group he was with."

burt colucci arrest neo nazi black people
Burt Colucci, the leader of the National Socialist Movement, was arrested on Monday after allegedly threatening to kill a group of Black men he saw littering. Above, members of the neo-Nazi group take part in a Ku Klux Klan demonstration at the state house building on July 18, 2015, in Columbia, South Carolina. John Moore/Getty Images

Officers didn't initially arrest Colucci because when they responded to the scene they only had one side of the story. However, after receiving the call from the victim and confirmation from an independent third-party witness, who said she saw Colucci point the handgun at the victim, they arrested him for aggravated assault.

A Maricopa County, Arizona, judge ordered he be released on a $7,500 bond, which Martin posted on Twitter shouldn't be difficult for Colucci to arrange.

The American Defamation League (ADL) categorizes the National Socialist Movement as a neo-Nazi group that Colucci has led since 2019. His predecessor, Jeff Schoep, who once called the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, a "glorious day for white solidarity in America," stepped down and denounced the organization.

Schoep attempted to rebrand the organization and appeal to younger generations by getting rid of overt displays of white supremacy, such as the swastika, but ADL reported Colucci reinstated the symbols. Once among the largest and most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States, its membership has continued to fall over the years, the ADL noted, and the rally in Arizona was underwhelming.

About a dozen people gathered at the Arizona Capitol on Saturday, according to the Arizona Republic, and were met with nearly double the number of counter-protesters. A similar event in 2020 was also sparsely attended.

Arizona Representative Alma Hernandez posted on Twitter that the gathering was a reminder that anti-Semitism is "alive and well," despite the low attendance.

"Just to be clear, it is NOT about how many people showed up to that stupid rally. I could care less, but the fact that anyone showed up and that this demonstration happened that's what we should all be concerned about. Period," Hernandez wrote.