Factsheet: Fourteen Words
IMPACT: Created and popularized by white supremacist David Lane during his prison sentence in the 1990s, the “Fourteen Words” is a slogan that has served as a rallying cry for white supremacists and neo-Nazis around the world. Invoked in numerous mass shootings and targeted attacks on minority groups including African Americans, Sikhs, Jews, and Muslims, the “Fourteen Words” communicate the belief that the growth of minority communities poses an imminent threat to the existence of the white race.
The author of the Fourteen Words was David Lane, a white supremacist and separatist whose writings have had profound influence in white supremacist ideology. Lane wrote and popularized his most notorious works while serving a 190-year prison sentence for conspiracy, racketeering, and for violating the civil rights of radio host Alan Berg.
The Fourteen Words is a white supremacist slogan that first appeared in David Lane’s 88 Precepts, a manifesto that argues for white superiority and separation between races, men’s superiority over women, and the criminalization of homosexuality, all of which are characterized by Lane as “Laws of Nature.”
Lane published the manifesto in the 1990s while he was serving a 190-year jail sentence for his crimes as a member of the militant white supremacist group The Order (also known as Silent Brotherhood or Bruders Schweigen). The Order is most notorious for its murder of Jewish radio host Alan Berg, which led to the indictment of four of its nine members (of whom two–David Lane and Bruce Pierce–were convicted).
The Fourteen Words slogan reads, “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” A less commonly used 14-word slogan appears directly after the Fourteen Words in the 88 Precepts: “Because the beauty of the White Aryan woman must not perish from the earth.”
The hate symbol “1488” (alternatively written as “14/88” or “8814”) is a combined tribute to the Fourteen Words and an endorsement of Adolf Hitler (“88” stands for “HH,” or “Heil Hitler,” because H is the eighth letter of the alphabet). “1488” is regarded as an endorsement of white supremacist beliefs.
Lane’s 88 Precepts and the Fourteen Words have served as inspiration for white supremacists throughout the United States and globally. The Aryan Brotherhood of Texas (ABT), a white supremacist group and Texas prison gang founded in the 1980s, has adopted the Fourteen Words slogan as its motto. In 2001, ABT member Mark Strohman murdered two clerks, Vasudev Patel and Waqar Hasan, and injured 37-year-old Rais Bhuiyan at a Texas gas station. Strohman perceived the victims to be “Middle Eastern,” and claimed the attack was in retaliation for the 9/11 attacks.
Members of the 1488s (also known as Crew 1488 or Organization 1488), a white supremacist prison gang based primarily in Alaska, use the Fourteen Words as a symbol to identify members. The 1488s received media attention in March 2019 when several of its members were charged for their roles in a racketeering enterprise involving firearms distribution and acts of violence including murder, kidnapping, and assault.
In October 2008, two white men, Paul Schlesselman and Daniel Cowart, were arrested in Tennessee for plotting the murder of 88 African American children and the assassination of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. Schlesselman and Cowart planned to shoot 88 black people and behead 14 of them in a mass murder culminating in the assassination of Barack Obama. The plot never “moved to an advanced stage,” but the men acquired weapons and drew swastikas and the number 88 onto their car to prepare for their attack. Cowart and Schlesselman were charged with conspiracy, threatening the life of a presidential candidate, and firearm possession, and sentenced to 14 and 10 years in prison, respectively.
Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist perpetrator of the 2013 Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting in which six Sikh individuals were murdered during worship, had a tattoo of the number “14” on his left arm to display his connection to American Neo-Nazism.
Prior to the June 2015 Charleston mass shooting in which nine African American individuals were murdered during a prayer service, white perpetrator Dylann Roof published a manifesto and set of photos that featured repeated references to the number “1488.”
Shortly after the June 2015 Charleston shooting, authorities in Charleston, South Carolina received a letter threatening a “sequel” to the massacre alongside a “mosque-like” drawing and the number 1488. In 2017, the Islamic Center of Peoria in Illinois was vandalized by unknown white supremacists who graffitied “1488” on the mosque’s sign.
Robert Bowers, the suspect in the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting that killed 11 Jewish individuals during worship on October 27, 2018, used the number “1488” to signal his white supremacist, anti-Semitic views to his online followers. Bowers’ account on the social media platform Gab featured a profile banner with the number 1488 and a bio that read, “Jews are the children of Satan.”
In 2019, Canadian right-wing commentator Faith Goldy recited the Fourteen Words during a Youtube interview with Scottish alt-right blogger Colin Robertson known as Millenial Woes. In May 2018, Goldy was banned from the crowdfunding site Patreon due to her recitation of the slogan, an action which she defended by stating, “This is a simple statement of survival.” On April 8, 2019, Facebook banned Goldy from its platform as part of an effort to ban white nationalist content.
Most recently, in March 2019, the Fourteen Words were invoked by Brenton Tarrant, the white Australian perpetrator of the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand. The Fourteen Words are referenced in the perpetrator’s 72-page manifesto, and the rifle used in the Christchurch attacks had “14 words” written across its side.
Last updated: July 2, 2019