The UPF were founded by the self-styled Great Aussie Patriot Shermon Burgess, who later quit to make way for a man who has previously spent 19 months in jail for arson, Blair Cottrell. This is a man who also wants a portrait of Hitler hung in every Australian classroom.
Despite their talent for making headlines, the UPF have real trouble maintaining cohesion. This is an issue we've examined before, and it's the reason a former member named Indie Norris wanted to talk.
Until December Indie handled the UPF's finances, which is when she became disillusioned and quit. We're not backing her decision to join in the first place, but Indie's insights (and leaked screengrabs) paint a fairly illuminating picture of Australia's far-right.
VICE: Hi Indie, how did you get involved with the United Patriots Front?
Indie Norris: I started following The Great Aussie Patriot group run by Shermon Burgess on Facebook not long after the Lindt Cafe Siege. We began communicating on a daily basis and UPF was born. He asked me to design him a UPF logo and it went from there.
Are you a racist?
A lot of people thought I was, especially right at the beginning. I chose anti-Islam and those who were pro-Islam held me accountable and I was harassed by the left. This harassment pushed me deeper into the UPF, further into the right wing.
So you're saying you're not a racist. What then was the initial attraction to groups like Great Aussie Patriot and the UPF?
Because I was led to believe that these guys were there to defend our country and our people. I thought they were going to unite all concerned Australians from all origins and backgrounds, including the Australian Muslims who wanted to speak out against Islamic extremism. I thought they were going to protect and defend the women within the movement. Never in my wildest dreams did I think they were actually a Nazi Cult in disguise who had no respect for women, no emotions, no ability to feel any empathy or compassion towards other Australian people.
What would you say to people the UPF hurt while you were a member?
I would offer my sincerest apologies. I would explain how I had been brainwashed and only exposed to one side of a very complex issue. I wish I had opened my mind and done my own research rather than believe and follow the UPF so blindly. I would also encourage anyone who has attached themselves to a cult to do the same.
What do you believe truly motivates the leaders of UPF?
Ego and power. They want to be bigger and better and influence people regardless of the cause, or the cause people think they're fighting for.
Do you think that describes all of them or are there some members still working towards their stated goal?
No, most of the people don't know a lot about politics, or really give a shit. Blair has openly said to me before that he knows nothing about Islam and it's not his interest. These people are in fear and they're vulnerable, that puts them in the right-wing barrel.
What was your role with the UPF?
My role was the manager of finances, I handled all of their bookings: transport, flights, accommodation, and I managed their merch store. My other unofficial job was defending the reputations of these leaders to the patriot women, assuring these women that the UPF are not the rapists, arsonists, woman bashers they seem to be.
What was the moment you decided to leave?
When I discovered via Blair that they report to and rely on Jim Saleam for mentoring. Also after many hours on the phone with Blair I gained a great insight into how he actually views women, none of which I felt comfortable with. He has zero emotion. He doesn't have a heart.
So you left.
Yes, I started testing the waters a little before Christmas. Blair had made it clear that I would be punished brutally for leaving. So I began to build myself an external support base made up of people who I knew would understand. At this point I was still close to one of the guys I'll call Tom from the UPF. I told him what I was doing.
Tom wanted to test the same waters but was very openly fearful about how Blair would react if he was to find out. So Tom did what any good cult leader's wingman would do. Over Facebook, he told me he wanted to leave, then took a screenshot of the list of members in the chat and removed himself. He then passed the screenshot on to Ralph and Blair, and my life became a complete and utter shit-storm from there.
What did they do?
It started with threats, and then slanderous videos, articles, and Facebook posts which continue to this day. I have been relocated to a safe house. I spoke to the Australian Federal Police and I had to take out three protection orders. Before me, no one had left the UPF. They're destroying my credibility so no one will want to follow in my footsteps.
That sounds completely insane.
The whole experience was fucked. When I was still in the group, Ralph Cerminara once asked me for nude photos. Linden Watson threatened my life. Tom made a picture of my five-year-old daughter as a penis and said that he would "scrape the leftover jizz off my chin and feed it to my children for dinner."
That's messed up. How do you think the UPF will end?
I was once told by Ralph Cerminara that "someone has to die" for the movement and that it would be him. I believe that Ralph will end up killing someone or himself and framing a Muslim or Antifa person. This isn't just a vibe, he told me this and it's scary stuff.
Why are you going public with this sort of stuff?
Because this is all factual information and it's important people know. They have such a large following and they're dangerous.
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