On Sunday, January 21st, 150 to 200 people rallied at Noon by the Texaco gas station on the Eastside of Olympia, Washington near where the National Socialist Movement, an openly Nazi organization was supposed to rally. When they didn’t appear, we left at 12:45 to head to Sylvester Park where an anti-racist, anti-Nazi rally had been planned.
On the march downtown, we heard that the Nazis were rallying outside the Olympian, the main newspaper in Olympia. We headed to the Olympian and arrived there at the same time as the eight members of the National Socialist Movement. There were seven men and one women, they were wearing swastikas, had Nazi flags and most of them were dressed in storm trooper uniforms. They were lead by one of their national leaders, Justin Boyer.
The Olympia police stationed themselves between the eight Nazis and our protest. We outnumbered them by many times. The small numbers of the Nazis and their inability to go beyond slogans of racist hate showed their weakness. We did not attempt to charge and attack this small group of Nazis, rather we drowned out their racist hate. The Nazis called for white power, for six million more Jews to be killed; they constantly did “Sig Heilâ€™sâ€. A woman who spoke to the Nazi leader at the protest said that their main focus was a vicious anti-immigrant call against immigrants and their claim the borders were being overrun, somewhat similar to the Minuteman.
We yelled backed at the Nazis, “one race, the human race”; “Nazis, Nazis, you can’t hide, we charge you with genocide”, “Nazis, out of Olympia, out of the world”, We are all Jews, We are all Blacks”, “Immigrant Rights, Yes; Nazis, No”!, and many other anti-racist and inclusive chants.
By 2:00 P.M., the police asked us to open a path so that the Nazis could leave Olympia. We did not try to block the departure of these eight Nazis, although we made it clear they were not welcome in Olympia or anywhere. Because of our large and strong presence, the Nazis cancelled their planned march and they quickly left Olympia. The Nazis announced they were returning to Olympia, to the Capital this July 22nd. Let us be there in larger numbers if they show up.
Our aim today was not to dialogue with the Nazis but rather to make it clear and visible by our action that racism and racial, homophobic, anti-Semitic and anti-immigrant hatred will not be permitted. It was a very powerful protest that came together on very short notice and I want to thank everyone who worked on this, who stood up to the Nazis, and made our actions a statement against fascism and white supremacy.
Ignoring the Nazis and other violent white supremacist groups like a few peace activists suggested does not make these groups disappear. Coming out today in opposition to the National Socialist Movement while powerful and positive is not enough. Our work does end here. We need to do more than protest the Nazis when they come out of hiding. We need to challenge in our words and daily actions and organizing all forms of racism, not just the Nazis, but also policies and people who perpetuate poverty, oppose affirmative action and oppose immigrant rights, e.g., those in power in the U.S. today.
The Nazis and other white supremacist groups are appealing to disaffected white people, most of whom are facing declining wages, rising tuition for college, lack of affordable heath care and housing. These are real and important concerns but let us address them by working for an inclusive and just country and social movements that work for economic, racial and social justice, and peace; that do not scapegoat and blame those with the least power. This is what the Nazis did in Germany, let us not let them do it here.
To those who say we are violating the Nazis first amendment rights, my response is that I think of the first amendment as meaning that the government should not violate individuals and organizations rights to speak up, protest, associate, etc. It does not mean
we, as people, should not strongly challenge hate groups. This is our responsibility.
The National Socialist Movement is a group openly dedicated to eliminating from the United Statesâ€”Black people, Jewish people, Gays and Lesbians, non-European immigrants, Asian-Americans, Latinos and Native Americans and to creating a white supremacist Nazi
dictatorship–see their web-site www.NSM88.com. In Germany, pro Nazi groups are not allowed, given their history there. Given the history of slavery and genocidal attacks on Native Americans and continued racism here in the U.S., I question whether openly white supremacist hate groups should be permitted here. In any case, we need to be openly opposed to them, while we continue our ongoing work against the war in Iraq, against all forms of racism and sexism, and for human rights, social justice and for a society based on human need not on profit.
In addition to the protest that directly confronted the Nazis, near the Olympian, more than 100 other people rallied at Sylvester Park at Noon to rally and take a stand against racism and hate. Olympia, Washington stood up today for racial justice.