Olympia, WA–On Monday, July 3rd 2006 in Olympia, more than 600 concerned community members from Olympia and the surrounding Puget Sound region rallied to oppose the presence of a neo-Nazi group called the National Socialist Movement (NSM).
Our rally began at 1:30 p.m. at the Washington State Capital, campus, near the steps of the Legislative Building and concluded a little before 4:00 p.m., when the NSM left. The NSM had only 13 members for their rally although they invited their members and other white supremacists from California and the Northwest to join them. Their main speaker was Sean Stuart, a member of the NSM, running for the Montana State Legislature as a Republican. A waste of taxpayers money and unnecessary were the 150 state police who guarded them and the fence the police put up to separate the NSM from our peaceful rally. This is the fourth time these neo-Nazis have targeted Olympia and their small turnout shows their utter failure to recruit new members and to mobilize other racists. Hopefully, this is the last time they come here.
We turned our backs on them and turned their rally of hate for Blacks, Jews and immigrants into one for justice, diversity and equality. Anti-racist clowns attended, making fun of the neo-Nazis. The Olympia Movement for Justice and Peace, a long-time justice and anti-war group, played a central role in spearheading the organizing necessary for our rally. Other organizations and individuals joined us in seizing this opportunity to demonstrate, with a fundamental goal of building a sustainable and ongoing movement working for racial, economic, and social justice. We challenged and will continue to challenge the Nazis and all forms of racism and inequality, whether it comes from inside our community, from the corporations or from the White House.
A broad cross-section of communities, including members of diverse ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, and political persuasions confronted this hate group peaceably. We ignored the neo-Nazis, turning our backs on them shouted, “One Race, The Human Race”. We sang, played music and had a community speak out with an open mike. Our counter-rally was one of numerous activities that many organizations in Olympia have participated in, including a festival celebrating diversity, the previous day, educational workshops, outreach, and community organizing.
The National Socialist Movement (NSM), one of the more active white supremacist groups, been trying to reach out to disaffected white youth on the basis of scapegoating immigrants, Black people, Jews, gays and lesbians, and disabled people. While recognizing and committing ourselves to challenging and changing this unequal economic system, where poverty inequality and economic insecurity are growing, our foundation must be solidarity among all oppressed people. By working for single payer health care, immigrant rights, a living wage, full employment, free quality education for all, a progressive tax system, reproductive rights, and against the war we further the interests of all working people including whites. United, we want to take power from the corporate and government elites who are the cause of the Iraq war and the many economic problems facing us today.
Our demonstration affirmed and celebrated diversity. We used this unfortunate occurrence, the rallying of a neo-Nazi hate group in our town, to create a celebratory, powerful and participatory afternoon of community solidarity, drowning out the negative message promoted by the NSM. It is a step on the path of forming an environment of unity and compassion, of turning their rally of hate into one for racial, economic and social equality.
Many people in Olympia have argued we should just ignore the neo-Nazis; it gives them publicity, which is what they are seeking. However, directly challenging these white supremacists when they appeared yesterday, energized and brought people together to stand up for human rights and against bigotry. The challenge is to continue past July 3rd, 2006.