|Also known as||George Eric Hawthorne|
1970 (age 45–46)|
George Burdi, also known as George Eric Hawthorne (born 1970), is a Canadian musician who initially became known for his role in white nationalist organizations. He led the Canadian branch of the World Church of the Creator, which formed an allegiance with the now-defunct White nationalist organization Heritage Front. In addition, Burdi was involved directly in the white power music scene, performing with the band RaHoWa. Burdi was convicted of assault causing bodily harm, and was sentenced to one year in prison. Upon his release from prison, Burdi openly renounced racism. He now works with Life After Hate, a U.S.-based organization founded by reformed white power skinheads, "dealing with the triumph of love, peace, compassion and openness," which works to educate and inspire others to avoid the same mistakes. "The mission of Life After Hate is to demonstrate and reinforce the primal, basic goodness of humanity."
Born in 1970 to Armenian immigrants, Burdi came into contact with the White nationalist movement through the father of his then-girlfriend. He became an active White nationalist at the age of 18, and by the age of 21, was the leader of the Canadian branch of the World Church of the Creator, which at its peak had less than 20 members. During this period, he wrote a number of articles for the Church of the Creator newspaper, Racial Loyalty, using the name "Rev. Eric Hawthorne" (including the January 1992 cover story, "Enter the Racial Holy War"). He has been credited with helping to secure the survival of Creativity after the death, in 1993, of its founder Ben Klassen.
Using the pseudonym "Reverend George Eric Hawthorne", Burdi formed the racist skinhead band RaHoWa in 1989. The band's name was derived from the phrase Racial Holy War. RaHoWa was one of the largest hate-rock band throughout the 1990s.
Burdi was the founding president of Resistance Records, which was the distributor for his band, and other White nationalist bands. The company also operated a web site, and published a magazine, Resistance, which covered the white pride music scene. In 1997, much of Resistance Record's inventory and business paraphernalia were seized in an April raid by the Oakland County (Michigan) Sheriff's Department, the Michigan Department of the Treasury, and the Ontario Provincial Police. The same day this raid was carried out in Michigan, Burdi was arrested in Windsor, Ontario, for contravening the Canadian Criminal Code provisions against 'promoting hatred.' Convicted in Windsor, Burdi was able to avoid a jail sentence with the condition that he not be involved with the band or Resistance Records which he sold to Willis Carto who soon sold it to National Alliance head William Luther Pierce.
In Ottawa, on 29 May 1993, after a RaHoWa concert which was picketed by Anti-Racist Action protesters, Burdi and the leader of the White nationalist Heritage Front, Wolfgang Droege, led their supporters on a march to Parliament Hill. As the White nationalists marched, they chanted sieg heil, made racist remarks, and gave Roman Salutes. Burdi directed the group, and gave media interviews.
At Parliament Hill, Burdi and Droege addressed their followers with the express purpose of trying to raise the emotional pitch of the evening. Burdi then led the White nationalists to the Chateau Laurier. Once there, Burdi charged across the street to confront the protesters.
One of the victims of that charge was Alicia Reckzin, who was struck on the head while running from Burdi's supporters. When she fell, she was kicked several times on her right side; Reckzin later reported having seen Burdi kick her in the face.
In 1995, as a result of the violent confrontation, George Burdi was convicted of assault causing bodily harm, and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment. Burdi appealed both his conviction and the sentence, but on 14 February 1997, the Court of Appeal for Ontario upheld the lower court's 1995 decision (O.J. No. 554 No. C21788/C21820), and Burdi began his sentence.
Upon completion of his sentence, Burdi – who maintains to this day that he did not personally assault Reckzin – announced that he had seen the "error" of his ways, and then renounced racism, yet has made attempts as of late to get closer to the movement again, in an appeal to get people out of the Skinhead lifestyle.
Renunciation of racism
Burdi has publicly stated that he has renounced White nationalism, and was formerly a member of the multi-racial band Novacosm. In 2007, Novacosm recorded a new version of "Ode to a Dying People", which Burdi had previously recorded with RaHoWa and released on the band's 1995 album, Cult of the Holy War. In his MySpace.com/novacosm blog, Burdi explains the reason for his release of the 2007 acoustic version of Ode to a Dying People, with lyrics intact. In addition to the song having autobiographical meaning for him, explaining his reasons for leaving the movement, he also now sees universality in the lyrics. "This version is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, just think about how the collective modern rush off the cliff makes this song as relevant and universally applicable as ever." The song was only posted for sharing on MySpace, and not made commercially available.
Burdi is presently working with U.S.-based organization Life After Hate. "Founded by reformed white power skinheads, and the dear friends who helped inspire their turnaround, the mission of Life After Hate is to demonstrate and reinforce the primal, basic goodness of humanity. The first issue of LAH, released on the 2010 birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., features reflective essays by those who have returned from the depths of the white racist movement to share their stories with the world in hope of helping others to avoid making the same tragic and misguided mistakes."
- SPLCenter.org: Present at the Creation
- Michael, George (2010). "The Church of the Creator Part I: Ben Klassen and the Critique of Christianity". Religion Compass 4: 518. doi:10.1111/j.1749-8171.2010.00234.x.
- Atkins, Stephen (2011). Encyclopedia of Right-Wing Extremism in Modern American History. ABC-CLIO. p. 62. ISBN 978-1598843507.
- Deafening Hate: The Revival of Resistance Records
- http://www.stormfront.org/forum/t793414/ I, George Burdi, respectfully request the right to post on the Stormfront forum again
- Tony Norman (19 February 2002). "'Hatecore' uses music to lure angry white youth". Post-Gazette. Retrieved 27 January 2011.
- Disinfocast with Matt Staggs – 2012 Audio Interview.
- Life After Hate – U.S.-based organization.
- Ontario Court of Appeal
- Present at the Creation Interview with Burdi by the anti-racist Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Novacosm band website
- IFILM about George Burdi and Novacosm
- A racist no longer: Ex-white rights fan just wants to be a rock star 25 January 2001 article from Toronto's Now Magazine.
- I am not my DNA recent interview from Acid Logic.
- Interview With Burdi
- Leaving Racism Behind Video Interview. George Burdi talks about leaving hate behind.