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|Leader of the National Socialist Liberation Front|
March 2, 1974 – August 15, 1975
|Preceded by||position established|
|Succeeded by||David Rust|
|Born||April 15, 1951|
|Died||August 15, 1975 (aged 24)|
El Monte, California
|Political party||American Nazi Party|
|Part of the Politics and elections and Politics series on|
Joseph Charles Tommasi (1951 – August 15, 1975) was an American Neo-Nazi, who founded the National Socialist Liberation Front (NSLF) in 1974. Breaking with the conservative image of American Nazism and its "mass strategy", he advocated an armed guerrilla struggle against the "System". Tommasi advocated a radical form of leadership, and after founding the NSLF on March 2, 1974, began publication of a periodical titled Siege. Tommasi was derisively nicknamed "Tomato Joe" behind his back by rival neo-Nazis because of his Italian heritage and somewhat swarthy features.
Politics and lifestyle
Tommasi first rose to prominence as a young leader within the National Socialist White People's Party (NSWPP) in Arlington, Virginia. The NSWPP began to splinter following George Lincoln Rockwell's murder in 1967, and Tommasi frequently found himself at odds with Rockwell's successor, Commander Matt Koehl. Koehl, a strait-laced Hitlerist, objected to Tommasi's radical viewpoints, as well as his personal habits, which included smoking marijuana, wearing long hair, listening to rock 'n' roll and inviting a girlfriend for sexual activity at NSWPP headquarters whenever he was the overnight duty officer. Tommasi remained with the NSWPP until he moved to California and founded the NSLF. The new group attracted many of the younger and more radical members of the NSWPP, and, as a result, the NSLF's membership grew rapidly while the NSWPP's influence went into steep decline. This only served to deepen the dislike Koehl and his more loyal followers felt toward Tommasi. Tommasi also sought membership among white college students who felt alienated by both the radical leftist movement as well as the mainstream conservative right. NSLF recruiting posters frequently depicted images of guns, and warned that America was facing an impending race war. Today, many neo-Nazi groups continue to espouse this belief.
Death and conspiracy theory
On August 15, 1975 Tommasi was killed while driving past NSWPP headquarters in El Monte, California. As was his custom whenever passing by, Tommasi gave the NSWPP guard stationed on the front lawn "the bird". On this occasion, the guard responded to the insult by pulling a pistol and firing, hitting Tommasi in the head. Tommasi was buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California beneath a bronze plaque depicting a mountain landscape and a Christian cross. The NSWPP guard was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to five years probation plus 120 days time already served, a light sentence that sparked a conspiracy theory stating that Tommasi's death was an assassination planned by the FBI, which was using the NSWPP as a front organization to infiltrate and disrupt the white nationalist movement as a whole. In truth, the building Joe was driving by had been purchased by him, while still in the NSWPP; Koehl convinced him (as he did many others) to put the building in the name of the NSWPP. He then kicked Joe out. This was standard operating procedure for Koehl's "real-estate building portfolio." Joe was not driving past when he was shot; he attacked the guard in a rage, since his headquarters had been stolen from him. The guard shot and killed him. The next issue of the NSWPP newspaper, "White Power," reported the incident as "valiant guard stops deranged madman" without ever mentioning the identity of the man killed, or the reason why.
Tommasi's life inspired fellow neo-Nazi James Mason to revive the NSLF in the early 1980s as a leaderless "philosophical concept or a state of mind" called Universal Order and to print a newsletter based on Tommasi's "Siege" periodical. A woman claiming to be Tommasi's sister made several posts on the Stormfront website forum in 2005 expressing her desire that Tommasi not be forgotten by white nationalists and stating her belief that Tommasi's death was a premeditated conspiracy and not just a spur-of-the-moment murder. Beyond the efforts of Mason and the sister, Joe Tommasi has remained largely forgotten by the neo-Nazi movement and very few photographs of him can be found in general circulation.
- Building the revolutionary party Chillicothe, Ohio : National Socialist Liberation Front,
- Goodrick-Clark, Nicholas (2002). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism, and the Politics of Identity. New York and London: New York University Press.
- Goodrick-Clarke, Nicholas (2001). Black Sun: Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity. New York University Press. ISBN 0-8147-3155-4.
- Kaplan, Jeffrey (2000). Encyclopedia of White Power: A Sourcebook on the Radical Racist Right. Rowman & Littlefield Pub Inc. ISBN 0-7425-0340-2.
- Mason, James (2003). Siege : The Collected Writings of James Mason. Black Sun Publications. ISBN 0-9724408-0-1.