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There's a Neo-Nazi Rally Coming to Town on Saturday... what to do?

Last week I saw a news story mentioning a neo-Nazi rally scheduled for Saturday afternoon in downtown Midland:

Randy G. Gray II...will express his views on issues such as free speech, due process and the “illegal invasion” at a rally from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 31, on the steps of the Midland County Courthouse.

Gray made headlines in 2008 when he was elected a Republican precinct delegate but was barred from assuming the post after he appeared in Ku Klux Klan regalia, protesting the election of President Barack Obama, on the streets of Midland.

The rally is sponsored by a group informally known as Citizens Against Out of Control Government, Gray said.

Speakers from the Christian Identity movement ("white Western European people are the only true children of God") and the National Socialist Movement (“fighting for white civil rights") will also participate.

I'd like to think the rally would be a dud due to lack of interest, but it's being promoted on white supremacist web sites and Michigan has a long history of white supremacist activity.  In fact, the National Socialist Movement is based in Detroit and has been organizing rallies across the country (with a focus on illegal immigration).  You might have heard about the event they organized in downtown Los Angeles a few months back that turned violent:

There was a brief flare-up of violence when a man removed his shirt revealing tattoos that featured Nazi lightning bolts, which some in the crowd deemed offensive.

Counter-protestor James Lafferty, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, said he saw the tattooed man punched and kicked as a plainclothes officer dragged him behind police lines. Blood could be seen at the base of his neck, Lafferty said.

As the rally ended, counter-protestors hurled rocks, branches and other items over the police line toward the neo-Nazis.

Thinking about the event coming up Saturday, I realized that I don't know the best way to respond.  Ignore it and avoid downtown on Saturday?  An "in-your-face" counter-demonstration like L.A.?  Neither of those seems right to me.

What's the best way to respond?

Update 2010-07-27:

The consensus of the Facebook is to ignore them:

Unfortunately it is costing the tax payers of the City of Midland and Midland County alot in preparation for what hopefully will be a non event. Hopefully he will be ignored and those in the media and in opposition to his "beliefs" won't give him the satisfaction of attending.

Encourage your newspaper not to print a story about it every day like they did here in Howell about a nazi memoribilia auction in town. If the media had ignored the auction, it would have been a non-event. There will probably be less in attendance than you think, even though it's in Michigan where we have a "history" of white supremists.

The best thing to do is not to go. They are looking for a fight. The ADL should be contacted if they have not been already. The ADL will keep an monitor the people involved.

I think the best thing is not to go. The more attention they get, the more they think they are spreading their message and becoming relevant.

Update 2010-07-30:

There was a follow-up comment on FB that I forgot to add here. It's the kind of thing I was trying to think of...though I was thinking less about diversion and more about something harmless yet annoying to the rally attendees...a Yes-Men- or Improv-Everywhere-style prank or something...:

I have a new, improved idea. What we need to do is create a diversion. Not a counter-rally -- because that would draw more attention to them -- but a crazy, wild diversion that would draw lots of attention away. Something like a huge, naked Zoomba class outside by the Tridge........

Update 2010-07-31:

It sounds like the crowds were small. I haven't heard any reports of naked Zoomba.

White supremacist rally in Midland draws strong opinions, small crowds


These are all good points, and I do understand the argument for ignoring these hate-mongers instead of giving them any attention. However - while I don't expect that there is any hope of changing the minds of neo-Nazis and Klan members, etc. at a rally, I DO believe that a presence of dissenters is important. Consider the random white teenager walking around downtown Midland that day. I hope that this teenager sees that there are 10 racists and 100 protesters, and not the other way around. I have great respect for freedom of speech, and consequently believe that it is incumbent upon citizens to speak out AGAINST groups like this while they exercise their right to attempt to spread hatred. I'll be at the rally to stand and shout against them, but without engaging in any violence.

It's raining. :-)

though the forecast for this afternoon is only 10 % chance.

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