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Home / Articles / News / Cover Story /  Johnny's Rotten Page 1
Cover Story

Johnny's Rotten Page 1

Johnny Bangerter wants to move forward as an activist but just can't shake his racist punk past

By Jesse Fruhwirth
Posted // April 10,2013 -

Johnny Bangerter was the man with the plan to take over and occupy Zion Canyon as a whites-only homeland—at least, that was the tagline attached to Bangerter’s name whenever the media described him in the early ’90s.

With family and friends in tow, the Cedar City-born skinhead agitator—second cousin to former Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter—had moved back to Utah in 1991 after fleeing race riots in Las Vegas. When he announced his arrival in Utah, he claimed he would form a militia that would one day take over Zion National Park. It was an incendiary and effective way to get media attention—the rhetorical equivalent of a Molotov cocktail. His celebrity in Utah news lasted for most of the ’90s, and the bit about Zion Canyon was almost always mentioned.

But, though it was his claim to fame, he never so much as overstayed his camping permit in Zion National Park.

That wasn’t the only mostly fabricated news story repeated ad nauseam that built up his notoriety. In Las Vegas, as a leader of a group that called itself the Christian Identity Skinheads, Bangerter was asked by a reporter if his organization had names of Jewish individuals it wanted to kill. Seeing the opportunity for attention, he said his group had a hit list 500 names long. When the reporter asked to see the list—which didn’t actually exist yet—Bangerter stalled and got about 15 people from his crew to chop apart pages of the Las Vegas Israelite magazine.

“In the center of the newspaper were five or six pages of Jewish people, names, events, bar mitzvahs,” Bangerter says today. “We were cutting out all the pictures and pasting them in these binders because we needed 500 photographs, so we even used the same [photo] 10 times. We didn’t care. We just wanted it to look like a hit list.”

When the news crew arrived to do an on-camera interview about the list, Bangerter sat clad in military fatigues in front of three flags: Old Glory, Confederate and Nazi.

“[The reporter] asks about ‘Thou shalt not kill.’ I said, ‘That’s a mistranslation of the Bible. It’s against God’s law to murder; it is your duty to kill his enemies.’ I saw the cameraman: It looked like a giggle, and he smiled as soon as I said that.”

That snicker describes much of Bangerter’s presence in the media, including Geraldo, The Montel Williams Show and 48 Hours. Bangerter, playing the racist anti-government insurgent, was a reality-television star before reality television was a thing.

Today, Bangerter says he has reformed; life kind of forced it upon him. He has a gay son. He has a niece who is black and another who is Hispanic, and a Hispanic grandson. Bangerter admits now what he never admitted during his white-supremacy days: He himself is part Jewish on his father’s side and part Cherokee on his mother’s.

Bangerter says he never made a very good racist, anyway. What made him into a racist, he says, was that he hated the government, and it seemed the only people who hated the government as much as he did were racists on the far right. They also shared Bangerter’s fantasies for what should be done about governmental overreach.

“They wanted to kill federal judges, blow up the Capitol building, blow up the IRS building. … I wanted to be part of a real guerrilla war,” Bangerter says. “It was not just because I wanted to belong, not because I was a youth just looking for a cause. No, man, I fucking hated the government—I still do.”

Today, he wants to protest against the government, but without the racist aspects. But, more than a decade after living in the limelight, Bangerter’s neo-Nazi past follows him. On Facebook, people have begun warning each other privately that “Johnny Bangs”—his name on Facebook—is the famous racist John Bangerter.

The whispering makes him to want to go public about his reformation—but that also comes with risks.

“I know by coming out [as anti-racist and part Jewish], I’m probably going to have to change my address because I fear old people in the old skinhead scene who are still around,” he says. “It was one thing when I denounced Aryan Nations. It was another thing that it came out that I used drugs. It’s a whole other thing for me to be engaged with leftist organizations again.”

Birth of a Rebel
Bangerter recalls a mostly peaceful and happy childhood, with his family enjoying big Christmases and taking family vacations in a station wagon, just like in The Brady Bunch. But it didn’t last.

Bangerter’s older half-brother partied and played Elton John and ELO for his little brother in his basement bedroom. Bangerter, then not even 10, recalls drinking beer and smoking weed with him, incurring the wrath of Bangerter’s Mormon father, merely a stepfather to his brother. His brother moved out in 1977. But that conflict was miniscule compared to what else happened that year.

“About that time, my [36-year-old] mom started having an affair with my brother’s best friend,” Bangerter says. “He was 18 and still in high school. He was a basketball star,” Bangerter says. After word got out about the affair, Bangerter’s mother was rejected by the Relief Society, while the student lost his job at a radio station and was kicked off the basketball team. The pair married in Las Vegas soon afterward.

Initially, after their mother’s departure, Bangerter and his two older half-sisters, younger brother and younger sister lived with their father in Cedar City, suffering the taunts and torments of their classmates—and worse. The family dog disappeared mysteriously and was found hanged.

A two-week planned visit to Las Vegas for the youngest three kids turned into a permanent relocation. Soon after, Bangerter started his punk band Fuck, Shit, Piss, and his new stepdad joined it. The entire clan partied—a lot.

“Vegas was cool, I liked it,” Bangerter says. “Parents were on crack, moms are strippers, dads are cabbies or blackjack dealers. Nowhere in the U.S. is anywhere like this, where nightlife is normal, and across the street from schools, there are newspaper racks with naked women in them … basically pornography on the street.”

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But Bangerter’s time in Las Vegas public schools was also racially charged and exceedingly violent. He was bussed to the black side of town and recalls extreme racial animosity.

“To me, as a kid ... it looked to me like a lot of people with Afros, and they were just yelling at us, and about a quarter mile from the school, they would start chucking garbage at us,” he says.

All the same, Bangerter says it wasn’t the racial violence that made him quit school in seventh grade, nor did it inspire his later infamous racism. He claims, with a bit of macho bravado, it was punk that motivated him to quit school; it was punk that launched his claim to fame as a neo-Nazi.

Nazi Punks
“It was when I finally heard the Dead Kennedys and read the lyrics sheet—‘Government Flu,’ ‘I Am the Owl,’ these songs. I dropped out of school in the seventh grade, and I’m Dead Kennedys educated,” Bangerter says.

Dead Kennedys, one of the seminal groups of hardcore punk in the early 1980s, represented a bombastic anti-establishment philosophy delivered with wry, biting humor. The punk movement itself marked a cultural turn—especially among working-class youth culture—away from flowery, hippie, optimistic disobedience and toward direct insurrection and immediate taking of freedom and independence.

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Bangerter dropped out of school and got a job in construction. “I wanted to stay home, be able to go to punk rock gigs and stay out late, smoke pot and do drugs, and do what I wanted. You couldn’t do that with school,” Bangerter says.

His life was punk and partying—and to Bangerter, the two are very different things. The partying—and doing drugs with older kids—may have drawn Bangerter in, but the politics became increasingly important to him. He wrote a terrorizing threat to the IRS at 12 years old when he first started paying income taxes.

“To me, punk rock was a civil-liberties cause, not a fad,” he says. “To wear a mohawk or to dress a certain way was a statement against this Leave It to Beaver suck-ass fucking society. It was a political statement. … There was an activist core in our youth scene called Positive Force. We became active in the anti-nuclear stuff, definitely on the left, feeding the homeless, that kind of stuff. Like what Food Not Bombs is today.”

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // November 1,2013 at 17:59

johnny bangerter, please contact your alaskan supporters. here's their number: 907-441-6284. let's talk busine

 

Posted // February 17,2014 at 23:42 - Call me 435 229 3670

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // July 29,2013 at 23:43

ASIA FOR THE ASIANS, AFRICA FOR THE AFRICANS, WHITE COUNTRIES FOR EVERYBODY!

Everybody says there is this RACE problem. Everybody says this RACE problem will be solved when the third world pours into EVERY white country and ONLY into white countries.

The Netherlands and Belgium are just as crowded as Japan or Taiwan, but nobody says Japan or Taiwan will solve this RACE problem by bringing in millions of third worlders and quote assimilating unquote with them.

Everybody says the final solution to this RACE problem is for EVERY white country and ONLY white countries to “assimilate,” i. e. , intermarry, with all those non-whites.

What if I said there was this RACE problem and this RACE problem would be solved only if hundreds of millions of non-blacks were brought into EVERY black country and ONLY into black countries?

How long would it take anyone to realize I’m not talking about a RACE problem. I am talking about the final solution to the BLACK problem?

And how long would it take any sane black man to notice this and what kind of psycho black man wouldn’t object to this?

But if I tell that obvious truth about the ongoing program of genocide against my race, the white race, Liberals and respectable conservatives agree that I am a naziwhowantstokillsixmillionjews.

They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-white.

Anti-racist is a code word for anti-white.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // April 14,2013 at 20:22

Please don't lump Nazi idiots in with Punk Rock. They're always hanging out on the edge of the scene, but there's nothing Punk Rock about being a racist.  

 

Posted // May 2,2013 at 20:55 - https://fbcdn-sphotos-c-a. akamaihd. net/hphotos-ak-frc1/388466_168373429984269_1656975465_n. jpg

 

Posted // May 1,2013 at 22:20 - There's a party at the desert tonight , at the nuclear testing site . Painted cowards ignite the fuse . Nuclear leukemia front page news --------- The government does not accept a finger of blame , for the nuclear leukemia rain , but what about the Japanese , they're still sick from it down in Nagasaki . --------- If your patriotic then you wont complain , about the nuclear leukemia rain . Your an example of what they can do . Your a government guinea pig to . . . Fuck Shit Piss, Lyrics 1984 FUCK SHIT PISS Lyrics ( Newsman ) 1984 I'm a newsman , you can see me every day at five . All I know is how to read , and what to emphasize . I look right into the camera , I smile and say my name . Read the stories , twist the facts , I'm paid to play a game . I don't think I just read . I'm a newsman . See me tonight on the television . Selling an old brand of journalism . Reading a package of propaganda . How long can this crooked media survive . Read the stories every night , they're hardly ever true . Lied about Cambodia , lied about Afghanistan to . Lied about El Salvador , I lied about Sudan . Lied about the people who were murdered in Iran . I don't think I just read . I'm a newsman . See me tonight on the television . Selling an old brand of journalism . Reading a package of propaganda . How long can this crooked media survive . Fist of greed , lyrics F. S. P. 1984 The dirty world keeps changing , but the dirt remains the same. History has run the course and lapped itself again. We are at the mercy of the Gods of Government. The word is out and we have been misled . Make a contribution to the cause, it takes a lot of thought to get the point across . Fill the government with honest men , sure as hell we'll find they'll fool us every time . America the beautiful stands like a battered child, beaten by the fist of greed and self indulgent pride . They will get what they deserve , they've lied out loud to long . The wrath of justice will not be denied. A judgment on their fake humanity , will prove them guilty of the rape of liberty. The politics of freedom mystify, our own democracy has no integrity. Fuck Shit Piss 1984 Fuck shit piss Lyrics ( Kings and Queens ) 1984 We are the pawns , they are the Kings and Queens , in a government of secrecy and devious means . All tied to an alter with our values long gone . They are the Kings and we are the pawns . Hard to admit , but so easy to see . We are the pawns they are the Kings and Queens . The six o'clock news a pretty package of lies . The station makes a fortune selling alibis . Trading real issues for stories of sex . The network always knows what the people want next . The media is quick with a clandestine scheme . We are the pawns they are the Kings and Queens . Security is social for the I. R. S. , so the middle income man pays off the national debt . To hell with draft evaders send the young men to war . Murder is a virtue on a foreign shore . They are the ones in charge of the bombs , they are the Kings and we are the pawns . . . Lyrics ( Dead Mans Stares ) FUCK SHIT PISS L. V. H. C. 1984 Sometimes there's hope in this big town , but it's not all it seems . Sometimes the streets are rotten with societies disease . At night the city comes alive as neon fills the air . The people hear all look the same , they've all got dead man stares . They walk around in groups of five , an sometimes single file . Expressionless they never blink , to scared to laugh or smile . Some of them have gone to hell , some don't even care . Some will lie and shade their eyes , to hide the dead mans stare . Just like any other town the rich feed off the poor . Some are forced to play the game , some just know the score . Like lambs led to the slaughter , the poor don't have a prayer . They hang their heads and pay their dues , and wear their dead man stares . . . Fuck Shit Piss lyrics 1984 ( I want a war ) . . . I am getting drafted, and I'm going to war . I want to kill a thousand foreigners. I just want to murder for America, and do my part for the nuclear cause . Iwant a war ,I want a war , I want a war. I want to be a fucking veteran ,just like the ones that went to Vietnam . I want to kill and do some LSD . I want to fry and die so we can be free . I want a war , I want a war , I want a war , Married to my weapon I'm a murdering man . Killing for a living for my Uncle Sam . Got some ammunition and a bucket of blood . Patriotic murder I'm a killer from above . I want a war, I want a war, I want a war . . .

 

Posted // May 1,2013 at 22:04 - I know it is easy to judge people over their actions, however my life was not so simple for most people to understand. Again it has been hard for me to remain silent on this article written by Jesse Furhwirth. I am very glad he took the time to ask me about my life , it helped me move along past the image I had made for myself after becoming involved in the radical Right. I must first clear some of your prejudiced toward me. Lets go back to 1981. That was the year I stopped going to school because it was in the way of my free loving living life. I was working construction in the 120 degree Las Vegas heat, going to bars and drinking, along with drugs, it was a way of life that when I tell my children, they think I am telling them some sort of story from days over a few hundred years ago when laws were written words that that were not worth the shitty paper the were written on. Yes it was a much different place and time. Racialism was part of society back then. A white kid growing up in Vegas learned right away where he stood with his African American or Hispanic friends when those of their race came together as a large group. It was hard to to take as they suddenly acted as if they never knew you, and even sometimes turned on you with violence because of being white. Being called a Honkey, Cracker,and a white boy never did anger me. I knew that it was out of their control, so I never took it personal even as a child, only I knew very well it was unjust that it was permitted by monitors of the Clark County Nevada school district who would do absolutely nothing to protect children from daily racial derogatory insults, and sometimes near death beatings because the skin of those unfortunate children just so happened to be pink or white. I never used racial insults to hurt anyone , not ever, though I did see those Honkey children get sever punishment for lashing back and doing just what had been done to them every single day. Every single living person on this earth who lived in those times in that city will tell you it was not right. So lets get to those punk days, alright, on the edges ? Lived on the edge of life all my life, and don't regret anything I have ever done right or wrong, I can say I know the lessons very well. So it was 1981 On hot Las Vegas nights I would go to the punk gigs, not just weekends, you must understand this was Vegas, and punk shows and parties were 7 days a week in that lawless place. I worked from dark until dark every single day unless it was Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, Fourth of July,raining or snowing, and it never snows that often in Sin City. Then after work I was to tired to shower, chopped up some lines of Cocaine, grabbed some liquor, a fat sack of grass and went to the gig. It was always an event to remember for a lifetime , every gig, Wasted Youth , Minute Men, 7 Seconds,Shattered Faith, Social Distortion, Dead Kennedys, T. S. O. L, Black Flag, White Flag, DRI, JFA, Mad Parade,Toxic Reasons, Joneses, Fontenells,Agent Orange,Adolescents,Fang, Pig Children, Dead Milkmen, MDC, Descendants, Bad Religion, Reagan Youth, hell Vegas was the fucking place, so many of those people in those bands stayed at my home every time they were in town. How could I forget NoFx, Eric and Fat Mike, they were real comedians, some of the nicest guys to tour with, . It was fun hanging out with those guys. I will never forget our times with them in SF, and hiking in Zion National Park dropping LSD , always will love them. You see, there were many people with differing politics in the punk movement, I was a young kid handing out Communist literature from the Revolutionary Communist Workers Party. Involved myself with the Weather Unbderground as well. It's a long story, and Jesse Fruhwirth already wrote down as much as he could fit in to the SL Weekly without taking 97 full pages up. Never touched on Redd Foxx and the IRS, Threatening to dust off Orin Hatch because he sucks ass. Ruby Ridge was not as simple as most think, still am bothered very badly over it. I just don't like you calling me an idiot when you never met me. I would love to brag way more about my wild life, and I don't care either, I love to talk about my life because it was very different than most others. So hope to meet you some day , and perhaps will if you are active in causes for justice. Sincerely Johnny Bangs, Fuck Shit Piss.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // April 10,2013 at 10:26

"To me, punk rock was a civil-liberties cause, not a fad,. . There was an activist core in our youth scene called Positive Force. We became active in the anti-nuclear stuff, definitely on the left, feeding the homeless, that kind of stuff. Like what Food Not Bombs is today. ”

People ight want to know that Food Not Bombs was involved in bringing Punk to the United States and helped organize punk shows as early as 1980 with the idea that punk would be another way to reach younng people with our ideas of building a post capitalist future free from violence and poverty. The Dead Kennedys, MDC, Bad Brains, Avail are just some of the many bands that worked with Food Not Bombs and helped make our movement world wide.


 

Posted // April 10,2013 at 18:16 - I got into the punk scene ( Movement ) in 1981 while living in Las Vegas, Yes Food Not Bombs was very instrumental in those days, and still doing the good work today.

 

 
 
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