“Yes, I’m a Nazi.”
Things you don’t expect to hear at a show in Chicago. But on Saturday evening, as I was leaving the Foundation Tavern and Grill, I witnessed a hate crime.
Call the police? They were already there, performing.
The show was Sinister Deed, a black metal cover band whose lead singer, Jose J. Garcia Jr., was seen wearing an Iron Cross patch on stage. The Iron Cross, a symbol worn by Nazis, is categorized by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a hate symbol, but with a note of caution.
“…An Iron Cross in isolation…without accompanying hate symbols…cannot be determined to be a hate symbol.”
I uncovered multiple photos of Jose Garcia wearing a Confederate Flag patch, including a since-removed profile photo on Facebook.
His LinkedIn job description says he is a “garbage man,” a questionable euphemism for a law-enforcement officer.
But a Nazi? Not so fast, says Scott Davidson, owner of Rebel Radio, who booked the band for the Foundation Tavern show.
“He’s Mexican,” Davidson insists, implying that Garcia couldn’t be racist. Something said in the black metal scene before, that’s been proven, unfortunately, incorrect.
When I ask Scott about the Iron Cross he claims ignorance.
“I thought the cross was a Christian thing. I don’t support Nazis at all, I’m totally against communism.”
The Nazis were Socialists, not communists, and they actually fought communists in a pretty famous war. I ask him about the Confederate Flag and he claims not to be familiar with it.
“You’re not familiar with the Confederate Flag?”
“I stay out of politics.”
I follow up later, admitting it’s hard for me to believe he hasn’t heard of the Confederate Flag.
“I know it’s down South or something.” He says, before asking me what it is. I explain it represented the Confederacy in the war and is still used by white supremacists today.
“What war was that?”
“The Civil War.”
“When was that? What year was that?”
“The Civil War?”
Trolling? You can judge.*
When I tell him about the person who shouted white power! he insists, “There was no hate crime. No one got hit, no one got hurt.”
But the story gets weirder.
Jose Garcia, lead singer of Chicago black metal band Sinister Deed, is a decorated cop.
Decorated with more complaints and allegations than 63% of his colleagues.
Using publicly available information, I was able to confirm his officer number. He is listed on the Citizens Police Data Project, and among 11 complaints are four use-of-force allegations against him, including one accusation of excessive force with a gun while off-duty.
But really, a Confederate-Flag-Wearing cop lead singer in a metal cover band? Whatever happened to anti-establishment?
Not the strangest thing in the world, says Dave Hornyak, managing partner of Livewire Lounge, another venue and bar just a few minutes from the Foundation Tavern.
“A lot of the time when these bands are playing, you can’t understand what they’re saying,” he explains, “Back in the ‘80s, it was kind of like the punk head scene. Those were the Nazis of the ‘80s. Nowadays, it’s like some of that ideology has kind of crept into the metal scene.”
When I ask the drummer of Sinister Deed, Aram Antablian, if he’s seen any of the symbols his bandmate Jose Garcia wears, he becomes terse.
“No comment on anything that my bandmates wear. Whatever they want to wear, that’s their decision.”
The clothing in question appears to have been purchased from rocknrollgangstar.com, a site run by Daryl Boyd. Some of Boyd’s pieces combine Iron Crosses with Confederate and Gadsden Flags, steering perilously close to what the ADL might consider “accompanying hate symbols.”
Others evoke images that could be compared with Nazi eagles.
Nazi? I wasn’t too sure, as my friends and I scurried away from the Foundation Tavern on Saturday. I was half-joking when I turned to the person photographing Sinister Deed with a professional camera and asked, “Are you a Nazi, too?”
“Yes, I’m a Nazi.” She shrugged.
“What did he say?” a man nearby asked.
“He asked if I was a Nazi.”
“Oh. White Power!” He shouted at me.
Jose Garcia was unable to be reached for comment.
*In a follow-up call, Scott Davidson said that he was distracted “just trying to do [his] job,” as I had called him while he was at work.