Tuesday, September 6, 2011

2,000 Workers Smash Neo-Nazi Rally in Milwaukee

From: UMW Post

Self-identified neo-Nazis were in short supply at the In Defense of White America Rally held in West Allis on Saturday afternoon, drowned out by the approximately 2,000 counter-protesters in attendance.

Speakers from the Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope fought an ideological war of words with the several dozen members of the National Socialist Movement, who argued in defense of “White America.”

Although a heated discussion took place between a group of African-American youth chanting “peace” and neo-Nazi sympathizers, the argument was broken up peacefully by police, and no injuries were reported during the event.

Five were arrested, according to police, at least one for weapons possession and several for disorderly conduct.

Several UW-Milwaukee students attended the counter-protest, including members of Students for a Democratic Society, a left-leaning youth organization “working to build power in our schools and communities,” according to the group’s website.

SDS member Jacob Flom said that although SDS helped organize the peaceful rally, he would not hesitate to respond with violence if it was offered in kind by the NSM.

“We are here supporting the non-violent rally, but we stand in solidarity with anybody that wants to take any kind of action against Nazis,” Flom said.

Approximately 130 police officers from West Allis, the state and the surrounding communities stood watch over three blocks of West Greenfield Avenue as protesters began gathering before City Hall around noon.

NSM, a neo-Nazi organization based in Detroit, organized the rally in response to the violence that erupted at the Wisconsin State Fair earlier this summer.

Describing the incident, in which several dozen black youth attacked white fair-goers, as a “black flash mob” of violence, NSM Commander Jeff Schoep encouraged “all respectable White Nationalists, Local Citizens groups, and friends” to attend the event via the organization’s website.

The “Walk of Faith” counter-protest, organized by Mandela Barnes through MICAH, called upon all people “committed to the spirit of community” to join in drowning out the racially intolerant message of NSM.

Police Chief Michael Jungbluth sent a letter on August 24 urging businesses in the downtown area to close during the rallies activities, citing concerns of potential violence.

All the businesses located within the three block radius of City Hall followed suit. Papa John’s Pizza on W. Greenfield Ave. posted a sign that read, “We do not support hate.”

Communists, activists and members of various religious groups arrived carrying signs calling for racial unity and religious tolerance. One sign read, “Jesus wasn’t white (but he loves you anyways).”

Factory worker and activist Derek Thacker said he came from Detroit to counter the NSM rally and “drown out the racist message any way I can.” Thacker said the NSM has never rallied in Detroit as they were attempting to do in West Allis.

“They tried to hold a holocaust denial meeting a few months ago, but once they caught wind that we were going to counter-demonstrate, it was cancelled,” Thacker said.

Speakers from MICAH took to the makeshift stage in heavy rain around 1 p.m.

In announcing the speakers, Barnes said, “I am glad to see everyone here today, despite the rain, but I would rather see the streets filled with rain than the streets filled with hate.”

Pastor Joe Ellwanger said they came to counter-protest anything that breaks down the beloved community for which they had previously fought for in Birmingham, Alabama in the 1960s.

“We are here today to denounce everything that tears down that beloved community, but also to affirm everything that builds up that beloved community,” Ellwanger said.

Members of the NSM began arriving in groups around 2 p.m. and were separated from the counter-protestors by a wall of police dressed in riot gear.

Several NSM members chose not to enter the City Hall gates, they said, because they did not want to hand over their weapons.

One unidentified NSM member, when asked why he chose to attend the event, responded, “Don’t you watch the news?”

Schoep took the stage at 2:30 p.m. and castigated the counter-protesters for trying to drown him out with noise.

“If you actually listen, instead of judging before you hear what is going on, perhaps you’ll open your mind to some new types of thinking and hear what we actually have to say,” he said. “Notice of respect and decency is what we are asking for here.”

Schoep then spoke out against the individuals who participated in attacks during the State Fair, inviting the “black mob” to try to attack the neo-Nazis in attendance.

“No longer will white people be easy victims, as we heard from some of these moronic animals that were attacking white people at the State Fair this year,” he said.

As he spoke, Schoep’s supporters in the crowd shouted, “White power.”

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