White nationalist Matthew Heimbach, an alumnus of Towson University, in 2016 made headlines for his organization's racial hostility and for shoving a protester at a Trump rally in 2016.
On Tuesday, it was his personal life that made the news after Heimbach was charged with assaulting his wife and his wife's stepfather, Matt Parrott, who is also the co-founder of Heimbach's Traditionalist Worker Party. The organization is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a new white nationalist group masking itself in "traditionalism."
About 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, Parrott, 36, called police from a Walmart in Paoli, Indiana, according to a police report obtained by the SPLC. Parrott told police he had fled to the Walmart with his stepdaughter after a confrontation with Heimbach, who had allegedly been involved in an affair with Parrott's wife. The stepdaughter told police that the affair had lasted three months but had recently ended.
But that night, according to the police report, Parrott caught Heimbach with his wife. He confronted Heimbach and told him to get off his property, but Heimbach wouldn't leave. Parrott poked his chest, then Heimbach allegedly grabbed Parrott's hand and twisted it down. Heimbach got behind Parrott and "choked him out" with his arm, according to the police report.
Parrott told police he briefly lost consciousness. When he woke up, he again told Heimbach to get off his property, and Heimbach again tried to choke him, according to the police report. Parrott again lost consciousness, and upon waking up heard his wife tell Heimbach to track down his stepdaughter's phone because it had a recording of Heimbach and Parrott's wife together, according to the police report. Parrott and the stepdaughter escaped to the Walmart.
After police met Parrott at the Walmart, they left to track down Heimbach, and found him in a verbal confrontation with his own wife. Heimbach's wife told police that her husband grabbed her face and "threw me with the hand on my face onto the bed."
All four people involved in the incident stated their occupations were "White Nationalists" in the police report.
Heimbach grew up in an affluent Maryland community before moving to rural Indiana, and acknowledged online that he pushed a young black woman at a Louisville Trump rally in 2016. In the video, Heimbach wears a black shirt and a red baseball cap with the words "Make America Great Again." He yells at the woman, shoves her once, and then again, shouting at her to leave. Others begin to push the woman as well.
The woman, identified as Kashiya Nwanguma, who at the time was a 21-year-old public health major at the University of Louisville, joined two others in suing Trump in Jefferson County Circuit Court for allegedly inciting a riot, according to The Washington Post's Joe Heim. The suit also alleges that Heimbach assaulted Nwanguma.
Heimbach pleaded guilty in July 2017 to disorderly conduct in Nwanguma's assault, according to the SPLC. His arrest Tuesday puts him at risk of serving jail time for assaulting Nwanguma, as a judge suspended his sentence so long as he wasn't charged with another offense within two years.
In his online post, Heimbach said Nwanguma was a member of the Black Lives Matter movement who had been disrupting the rally. "White Americans are getting fed up and they're learning that they must either push back or be pushed down," he wrote. Nwanguma later said in an interview that she is not involved in any organization and intended to peacefully protest Trump's policies.
Heimbach's supporters applauded him for standing up to protesters at the rally. But his actions worried others, like Ryan Lenz, the editor of the SPLC's Hatewatch blog, who said Heimbach should be taken "as seriously as David Duke." Duke is a former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard and among the country's most well-known white nationalists. According to Heim:
Heimbach doesn't hide his extremism. He has had his picture taken at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington holding a sign that said: "6 million? More like 271,301." In another photo, in front of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s grave site in Atlanta, he unfurled the first flag of the Confederacy. After terrorist attacks in Brussels last month, he tweeted, "Hey Brussels, how's that multiculturalism working out for you?"
His racial worldview has cost him jobs and led to his excommunication from his Orthodox Christian church. It has created a rift between him and his parents and confounded those who knew him in Maryland: his classmates at Poolesville High School and his teachers and many fellow students at Montgomery College and Towson University, from which he graduated with a history degree in 2013.
Heimbach, 26, posted $1,000 bond Tuesday for his most recent arrest and has been released. Parrott told the SPLC that he had resigned from he and Heimbach's white nationalist group. His resignation came hours after Heimbach's arrest and days after discovering Heimbach's alleged affair.
Heimbach's arrest came shortly after he and other members of his white nationalist group fought with protesters at Michigan State University, where white nationalist Richard Spencer planned to speak. Spencer announced Monday that he could no longer hold events publicized in advance because of the intense opposition.