Kristofer Goldsmith, founder and CEO of Task Force Butler, speaks Monday to Waterville-area residents, clergy and others at the First Congregational United Church of Christ at 21 College Ave. in Waterville. Goldsmith’s organization includes veterans and other volunteers who help gather information so legal action is taken against fascist groups targeting religious, ethnic and other minorities in the United States. Amy Calder/Morning Sentinel

WATERVILLE — A community does not have to stand by, helpless, when hate groups target religious, racial and other minorities.

Partnerships can be formed with neighbors and a community response can be developed that uses lawful means to hold them accountable and disincentivize such behavior.

That was the message Kristofer Goldsmith delivered Monday to about 40 Waterville-area residents, clergy members and others who gathered at the First Congregational United Church of Christ at 21 College Ave. in Waterville.

Goldsmith, an Iraq War veteran and former sergeant in the U.S. Army, is founder and CEO of Task Force Butler, a nonprofit group of volunteer veterans and others that works with state and federal law enforcement, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Anti-Defamation League and others to fight fascism and help prevent violence by street gangs.

Ultimately, they help gather information and intelligence that leads to convictions and seeks to impose legal, social and economic costs on such groups.

“We are a coalition of veterans and civilians working together to maintain our democracy,” Goldsmith said. “The people that we serve are not just the people who are being targeted, but it’s the bystanders as well — the rest of us.”


Goldsmith of New York said his organization was formed after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection, when some of the first people arrested were veterans.

His group collects videos and photographs of people who take part in violent activities, as well as propaganda they leave behind, and gathers information and research patterns. While it might take years, his group is able to identify those behind the masks.

“Once we have the identification,” Goldsmith said, “we can connect them to a history of criminality.”

In the past 18 months, his group has helped convict nine neo-Nazis and helped launch three federal lawsuits against neo-Nazi organizations, according to Goldsmith.

“Our mission is to counter the rising tide in the United States to empower veterans and those who share their passion to stand against hate,” he said.

Goldsmith said neo-Nazis and white supremacists engage in activity, such as showing up at LGBTQ and other events, to hurt people and destroy property because they are afraid. They believe conspiracy theories and myths that they are being replaced and need to fight, according to Goldsmith.


“This replacement idea is what fuels action,” he said.

Such groups come to Maine because it is about 94% white, Goldsmith said, and neo-Nazis believe the state a good place to begin their defense.

Maine has a neo-Nazi problem in that some groups are active, including one in Springfield that is building a training camp in the woods, Goldsmith said. The group holds pagan-inspired blood rituals in which they camp, cut themselves with a spear and put their blood onto the spear’s handle, he said.

“Every minute of every day of their lives is driven by this hateful ideology,” Goldsmith said, “and they’re building a community around it.”

He recommended people use Butler Task Force’s community response guide — available at — as a way to help combat fascism and hate groups. The guide details the importance of prioritizing one’s safety, organizing, documenting, sharing evidence, advocating and sharing the guide with others.

Goldsmith also suggested speaking with legislators, the Office of the Maine Attorney General and other members of law enforcement.


Goldsmith said veterans are respected and have privilege, and members of hate groups are trying to corrupt that privilege.

The Rev. Maureen Ausbrook, who co-directs Starfish Village, the congregational church’s program that helps homeless and destitute people, invited Goldsmith to speak Monday. She said she studied fascism, has visited concentration camps and grew up with children whose parents had been tattooed at such camps, so she is passionate about combatting it.

“Fascism scares the hell out of me,” Ausbrook said. “I never thought that, at age 72, I’d see it growing in such fertile fields as America.”

State Rep. Bruce White, D-Waterville, said he and his wife, Doreen, are concerned with the rise of neo-Nazi groups in the state.

“As a legislator, I am here because I wanted to learn more about what I can do to make it difficult for these groups to operate in Maine,” White said. “I’ll be certainly watching for specific legislation that comes up in the upcoming session.”

State Rep. Colleen Madigan, D-Waterville, said constituents have expressed concerns to her about hate directed at specific groups, and Goldsmith’s information can serve as a resource for them.

“I think this was helpful information about what some groups are doing about that,” Madigan said, “and how people can help.”

Task Force Butler was named for Smedley Butler, a retired Marine Corps general and veterans rights advocate who in the 1930s revealed a fascist plot to overthrow President Franklin Roosevelt’s administration.

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