Friday, February 18, 2005

Nazis to rally at Yorktown in late June; will we Rally for Social Justice to counter?

Perhaps you've been reading Rally for Social Justice: A blog about social justice, diversity, and tolerance. If you haven't, it's time to start. As I posted there today...

Well, the news it out: the Neo-Nazis are coming to Yorktown. The Virginian Pilot brings us the latest:
Nazi group seeks to hold rally at park in Yorktown
By JOHN HOPKINS, The Virginian-Pilot

The National Socialist Movement , known as America’s Nazi Party, has asked to use the Yorktown Battlefield for a rally in June during the height of the tourist season.

The group, which espouses hatred of blacks and Jews, is planning a rally for 200 to 300 supporters from across the country, according to its application. The National Park Service is considering the request, said Mike Litterst, spokesman for the Yorktown Battlefield site.

“It’s a national park, belonging to all Americans,’’ Litterst said. “So the parks are available for all demonstrations. And again, it comes under everyone’s First Amendment rights.’’

Local tourism officials said Thursday that they didn’t know about the group’s planned rally.

The Yorktown Battlefield issues 100 permits a year for use of the park. The National Socialist Movement may – like any other group – have a constitutional right to rally at the park, Litterst said.

Litterst said the group’s request is the first he has seen that invokes the First Amendment rights to free speech and peaceable assembly when asking to conduct an event in the park.

The National Socialist Movement seeks to bring about “strong, free nation states for all white people,’’ according to its membership application.

Tamar Kipper, assistant director for the Washington, D.C., regional office of the Anti-Defamation League, said the Minnesota-based movement, founded in 1974, seeks to deny citizenship to Jews, non-whites and homosexuals.

“Their views are held by a small minority of the population,’’ said Kipper, noting that the group seeks to attract new members with such rallies. “They wear the Nazi uniforms and are very open about it.”

Phone calls to the group’s Minnesota office were not answered on Thursday. According to the movement’s Web site, the group has various branches, including a women’s group, farmers association, stormtroops, workers’ union and skinheads. It also has a self-titled “viking youth’’ group for children ages 13 to 18.

Its plan in Virginia this summer is to conduct a rally from 2 to 4 p.m. on June 25 at Surrender Field. The 4,000-acre park is scheduled to be open that day to the public.

Surrender Field is where, on Oct. 19, 1781 , British Gen. Lord Cornwallis’ troops laid down their arms, surrendering to George Washington and ending the Revolutionary War.

Litterst said the National Park Service has already started planning to deal with security issues for the rally this summer. Federal officers would be present, he said.

“Certainly, it’s going to bring out high emotions from both sides, and we will be prepared to deal with that,’’ Litterst said.

The Williamsburg Area Convention and Visitors Bureau was unaware of the planned rally, said Priscilla Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the bureau, which represents Virginia’s Historic Triangle of Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown.
The AP posted a story also.
Neo-Nazi Group Plans Historic Site Rally
By SUE LINDSEY Associated Press Writer

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- Citing the First Amendment right to free speech and peaceable assembly, the National Park Service granted a neo-Nazi group's request to hold a rally at a national monument to democracy.

The National Socialist Movement plans to hold a rally June 25 at the Yorktown Battlefield, Park Service spokesman Mike Litterst said Friday.

"Because this is a First Amendment issue, it cannot be turned down," Litterst said.

However, the group probably will not have the rally on its chosen site _ Surrender Field, which is where the British army surrendered to Gen. George Washington to end the Revolutionary War.

Litterst said no group has ever been permitted to use that field, which is a popular tourist attraction.

The National Socialist Movement, which claims to be the nation's largest Nazi party, did not respond to requests for interviews Friday, but the Minneapolis-based group said on its application that it chose the Yorktown Battlefield because of a desire to honor Washington. They say Washington held anti-Semitic views _ a position disputed by many scholars.

The group's application said up to 300 people will demonstrate at the southeastern Virginia park, but only about 100 showed up when it held a similar rally last September at Valley Forge National Historical Park. They were heckled by twice as many counter-demonstrators.

Litterst said the Park Service would have a substantial police presence at the Yorktown rally.
Guess it's time to step up to the plate and create a Rally for Social Justice on the grass in Yorktown.

So, folks, are we going to stand quietly by as the Brown Shirts take over hallowed ground, or are we going to to stand together and Rally for Social Justice?

Come on over to the Rally's blog. We did it once; we can do it again.

Stand firm. Rally for Social Justice.

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