Racist Convicted of Setting Fire to Black Churches Wants to Start White Nationalist Group at College Campus
A University of Wisconsin-Madison student who served prison time for intentionally setting fires at two predominately African-American churches is recruiting students on campus to join his local pro-white nationalist party chapter.
Daniel Dropik, 33, expressed frustration at the presence of Black Lives Matter on campus and cited university courses analyzing white and male privilege as his reasons for founding his own local chapter of the American Freedom Party, according to the Associated Press.
The organization has strong ties to the alt-right/white supremacist movement and has been identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a known hate group.
“It’s become unacceptable,” Dropik told the Associated Press of the university’s numerous courses promoting both racial and cultural diversity. “If white people have problems, they need to be able to organize.”
Dropik’s recruitment efforts come at a time when UW-Madison students are pushing school leaders to offer them better protections after a string of racially charged incidents targeting African-American and Jewish students on campus. In one case, a Black student was spat on and called racial slurs, while a swastika was spray-painted on the door of a Jewish student’s dorm room, the Associated Press reported.
Students are planning to push back against Dropik, who’s a second-year computer science major at the university, by holding a march January 31 to protest his white nationalist efforts. By Thursday evening, Jan. 26, nearly 600 students had expressed interest in participating in the march, according to the organizer’s event page on Facebook.
“This thinly veiled white nationalism and blatant racism has [sic] no place on the diverse UW-Madison campus or in the city as a whole,” the event’s description read.
In 2005, Dropik was criminally convicted of racially motivated arsons at two predominantly Black churches in Milwaukee and Lansing, Michigan, the wire service reported. He told case investigators he thought an African-American had stolen his book bag at a bus terminal and said a group of Black guys had beaten him up at a party near the UW-Madison campus. He ultimately served five years in prison for his crimes.
Dane Skaar, a senior at UW-Madison, said he was in “disbelief” when Dropik approached him as he left his environmental studies lecture one day and handed him a slip of paper that read “Fight Anti-White Racism on Campus! Join Our Student Club #UWAltright.” Skaar said when Dropik initially described what the group was about, he figured he had misunderstood him — but then things quickly became clear.
“When [we] start having conversations about racism, usually most of these efforts are to educate people and bring people together, whereas this type of approach is divisive,” Skaar later wrote in a Facebook post. “The intention seemed to be more bad, it seemed to change the climate to one of white nationalism.”
UW-Madison student newspaper The Badger Herald reported that Dropik went on to post a recruitment video for his group online, charging that the existence of anti-white racism on campus and elsewhere negatively impacts the quality of education for students of European descent. He explained that although it’s easy to demonize white students who spout racist rhetoric, the “legitimate” racial grievances behind it can be an opportunity for political and intellectual dialogue.
“Explicit white racial and political advocacy will significantly reduce the amount of hate crimes perpetrated by whites against nonwhites,” Dropik stated in the video.
University Chancellor Rebecca Blank said school leaders were continuing to monitor the situation and assured that there were currently no threats to student safety.
“We continue to track this situation closely, given the student’s history,” Blank said. “We will not tolerate discrimination against any student. We will also not tolerate harassment, threats, hate crimes or violence against any student.”
Dropik’s American Freedom Party chapter hasn’t become an official student organization yet.