For the past two years, the Hundred Handers network have been garnering increasing levels of media attention for their stickering campaign, which has seen an anonymous network of far-right activists plastering lampposts, walls and even primary schools with racist and divisive stickers.
The group’s stickers have appeared across the UK, as well as in Germany, Spain, Australia, the Netherlands and multiple cities in the USA. In July 2019, the Governor of New York state Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the group after a small town there was bombarded with stickers. The group claims to have hundreds of activists worldwide.
Now HOPE not hate can reveal that the man behind this toxic group is Sam Melia, who we previously exposed for his Nazi activism when he stood as a candidate for the far-right For Britain party in the 2018 local elections. In November 2016, Melia marched with the neo-Nazi National Action group in Darlington. Later proscribed as a terrorist organisation and linked to numerous acts of violence, the National Action caused outrage in Darlington by delivering a hate-filled speeches about “driving out the parasite class” of “hook-nosed bankers” while black-clad group members threw up Nazi salutes.
Most recently Melia has been associated with Patriotic Alternative, the fascist group founded by ex-British National Party activist Mark Collett, organising the printing of banners for their day of action on Sunday 9th of August and suggesting that he might have joined them for their earlier ‘White Lives Matter’ banner drop in the Peak District.
First appearing in May 2018, the Hundred Handers is an anonymous network that attempts to provide an avenue for direct action by far-right activists who are too scared to operate in the open and face the social consequences of their views. Melia appears to believe that he has created a truly secure network, with material distributed by the group boasting that “we are completely anonymous and our structure and rules provide protection from infiltration”.
The slogans that Melia chooses for the stickers cover a wide variety of topics. Many are dog whistles deliberately calculated to spark heated discussions over the intended meaning, such as the “White Lives Matter” and “It’s Okay To Be White” stickers, whereas others are more explicitly racist. The group also managed to stir up some controversy through their use of fake Extinction Rebellion stickers intended to smear the movement, with slogans such as “Drive a car? You’re a Nazi!” and “Save the World. Sink the Boats”.
The tactic of producing provocative stickers with a degree of plausible deniability has been somewhat successful. When two men were arrested and charged with racially aggravated public order offences for putting up stickers in Sheffield that said ‘Open Border Virus Disorder’ and ‘Pubs Closed. Borders Open’, the men were defended on Twitter by Toby Young’s Free Speech Unionorganisation, who asked “Why isn’t it legally permitted to question the lockdown, when 15,000 are still flying into the UK from China, Italy and Spain every week?”
However, anyone who had looked into the group for more than five minutes would be aware of their true extremist ideology, which can be seen in the stickers that carry slogans such as ‘Blood and Soil’ (a translation of the Nazi slogan ‘Blut und Boden’) and others that directly call for ethnic cleansing, such as ‘Make America White Again’
Despite the group’s constant boasting about its supposedly impenetrable anonymity, Sam Melia insisted on giving interviews and posting photos that revealed a wealth of personal information about himself and his family members, despite complaining in those same interviews that he’d been “doxxed [exposed] before and it wasn’t fun, I lost my job”.
Melia’s interviews were also revealing in other aspects. Melia expressed his disappointment that the “cultural conditioning” of some of his fellow travellers on the far right made them focus solely on Islamophobia and prevented them from fully embracing his own Nazi-inspired antisemitic agenda. When the interviewer asks “what will make the Saxon hate? What makes the British angry?”, Melia responded:
“It seems to be the Islam thing […] if that’s what it takes to make the Saxon hate, then yeah let’s centre it all on Islam, and then once we’ve dealt with that let’s diversify into other areas that need cleaning up. At the moment that seems to be the only thing that gets people up and moving – everything else, the programming’s too deep […] they’ll tar every Muslim with the same brush, but as soon as you go “Maybe this big-nosed fellow over here has something going” they’re like “No, we couldn’t possibly! We love Israel!”
Earlier in the same conversation, he had described the process of inducting new members into his ‘nationalist’ hiking group, again mentioning the foul views he attempts to conceal from those outside his inner circle:
“We’d normally meet at a pub, and talk, and um, start it off tame, you know – not immediately go into “gas the kikes”, or anything like that. You’d just kind of talk news and see where they were, what they knew”
Melia also revealed the sordid lengths he would go to to spread his hateful views, including his attempts to spread them to schoolchildren. When asked by the interviewer where he liked to put the stickers himself, he told her:
There’s school routes – you find these kids who’re just getting indoctrinated every day, so maybe you just put a sticker there that sparks a thought in their head”
Melia’s journey through different types of activism, from marching with the Nazi group National Action to standing for election with For Britain and now running an anonymous propaganda network and working with Patriotic Alternative, reveals his willingness to try many different paths in pursuit of his goals, but these goals remain the same: promoting extreme racial hatred and spreading his propaganda to as many people as possible.
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