Two years ago, ThinkProgress named the Traditionalist Worker Party head Matthew Heimbach the “most important white supremacist of 2016.”
Where Heimbach may once have been a force, however, he’s now rapidly approaching farce. The previously ascendant leader was arrested Tuesday, following a scuffle relating to an affair with his landlord — who also happened to be his mother-in-law.
The arrest on charges of battery, including domestic battery in the presence of a minor, presents a bizarre close to what had been Heimbach’s and the Traditionalist Worker Party’s decline in relevance over the past year. Where Heimbach once stood at the vanguard of rising white supremacy, especially among younger Americans, the circumstances of his arrest are as outlandish as any white supremacists have faced over the past few years.
The details in the police report relating to Heimbach’s arrest present a contorted, convoluted web of relations between Heimbach, his wife, and his in-laws. For years, Heimbach had worked closely with Matthew Parrott, his father-in-law, in building the Traditionalist Worker Party into an organization that could tour the country, calling for the fracture of the U.S. in pursuit of a whites-only ethno-state.
Recently, though, Heimbach apparently developed affections for his mother-in-law, Jessica Parrott — such that the two of them, according to the police report, had a months-long affair. The affair eventually ended, with Jessica confiding in Heimbach’s wife the details of the relationship.
From there, things got even more ridiculous — at least until Heimbach, as witnesses say, decided to assault both his wife and Matthew Parrott alike.
As the police officer on the scene wrote, Jessica Parrott and Heimbach’s wife “made a plan to ‘set up’ [Heimbach] to see if [he] would in fact attempt to sleep with Jessica after they had stated that they had ended things.” Matthew Parrott “watch[ed] the encounter on a box through a window. While doing this the box broke and [he] ran around the trailer to confront [Heimbach].”
When Heimbach, who had recently been living in a trailer, didn’t leave the property, Parrott “poked [him] in the chest. From this [Matthew Parrott] stated that [Heimbach] grabbed his hand and twisted down then got behind him and ‘choked him out’ with his arm.” Parrott even said he briefly lost consciousness. Not long after, Parrott “threw a chair at [Heimbach] to make him leave and [Heimbach] proceeded to then choke him again in the same manner as before. [Matthew Parrott] went unconscious again.” Heimbach’s wife also told police that Heimbach grabbed her by the cheeks, making her bleed.
For good measure, all four members listed their occupations on police forms as some form of “White Nationalist.”
Heimbach did not respond to ThinkProgress’ request for comment, but his troubles appear to have only just begun. In 2017, Heimbach pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct for shoving an anti-Donald Trump protester at a rally. While Heimbach escaped significant jail time, he was also placed on two years of probation — a period that would cover yesterday’s arrest.
Likewise, with the arrest — and the affair — it appears the Traditionalist Worker Party may have collapsed entirely. Matthew Parrott told the Southern Poverty Law Center that he’s “done. I’m out. SPLC has won. Matt Parrott is out of the game. Y’all have a nice life.”
Not long after Heimbach’s arrest, the website for the Traditionalist Worker Party — which had already seen members struggling to raise funds — was no more.
The arrest is an asinine, madcap end to a series of events that have deflated young white supremacists’ momentum over the past few weeks. Between the collapse of the so-called “sword and shield” of young white supremacists, to the non-attendance greeting Richard Spencer’s recent college tour, to the decimation of white supremacists’ main funding mechanism, the fall from grace for this cohort has been as swift as it’s been complete.