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Anti-racist youths try to stop Nazi march

3. September 2002

By Sharon Black, Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of anti-racist and anti-capitalist youths gathered in Washington, D.C., Aug. 24 to protest a march by several hundred neo-Nazis at the U.S. Capitol. D.C. police armed with pepper spray and garbed in riot gear escorted the National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group, from Union Station to the Capitol. Police outnumbered both groups.
Protesters, angered by the neo-Nazis` white supremacist and anti-Semitic messages, surged into the street to stop their march. They were pushed back by riot police. Bricks and bottles flew through the air.
The protesters were Black, Latin, Asian and white, and also Arab. Many young supporters of the Palestinian cause came out to show that their opposition to Israeli occupation has nothing in common with the neo-Nazi`s anti-Jewish venom.
Police attempted to wade through the crowd, tackling and throwing people to the ground, and arresting individual anti-racist protesters. But they met with resistance. Surrounding protesters came to the aid of those being brutalized by the cops, allowing them to break free.
The standoff between police and protesters continued for some time. Youths ran through the city`s streets while police maneuvered to keep up until both groups had reached the Capitol.
Leon Swain, a member of AFSCME Local 1072 who participated in the anti-racist protest, proclaimed: “You can see clearly which side the police are on. Their backs are toward the Nazis and they are facing the people who are opposed to racism with their nightsticks and guns.”
Chuck Kaufman, a representative of the Nicaragua Solidarity Network and ANSWER–the Act Now to Stop War and End Racism coalition–stated: “Bush and the Pentagon have created an atmosphere of war, racism and hate which has given a green light to these fascists.
“We must organize to stop the National Alliance and Bush`s war on Iraq.”

Nazi bus demolished in Baltimore

Earlier that morning, neo-Nazi organizers had planned to board four buses to Washington at the Baltimore Travel Plaza. But anti-racist protesters thwarted their plans. There was a battle and one bus was demolished. Windows were broken and gas grenades exploded inside the bus.
Press accounts claimed that one National Alliance member was hospitalized and several others injured. Baltimore City Police were called. Twenty-eight protesters were arrested, including their attorney, Larry Hildes.
One 16-year-old woman was charged with 23 counts of assault. Other protesters have been charged with serious felonies, including aggravated assault and possession of a deadly weapon.
Not one neo-Nazi was arrested or detained!
Repression continued into the evening. Without warrants, Baltimore City Police raided a local youth hangout. They later arrived at the Progressive Action Center, a meeting space for anti-globalization activities. Activists at the center refused to allow police to enter and called the news media.
The police–who had drawn their guns in an obvious attempt to intimidate people–left the area, but continued to follow individual cars.

APC provides refuge

Activists then took refuge at the All People`s Congress (APC) Hall.
Renee Washington, a volunteer organizer for the APC, was providing security as six police cars sat outside. She said: “We are not intimidated by the police. The best antidote for this kind of repression is to organize the people.”
Washington`s fiancà©e was the victim of a police killing several years ago. She has remained an activist in the fight against police brutality and for justice.
Youths and community supporters maintained a vigil in front of Central Booking, where the anti-racist prisoners remained in jail over the weekend. Local anti-racist and community activists are planning a defense campaign to support them.
All of the protesters were released on bail by Aug. 26.
In his book “The Klan and the Government: Foes or Allies?” Sam Marcy, the founder of Workers World Party, pointed out: “The two most formidable and preponderant elements in the capitalist establishment–Big Oil, that untrammeled octopus which pervades every nook and corner of social existence in the country, and the unbridled military–are the most prone to promote lawlessness and extra-legal, extra-parliamentary, and paramilitary force to gain their ends.
“They, together with the military-industrial complex, are the very infrastructure of contemporary capitalist society.
“It is they who finance the growth of a thousand-and-one single-issue, reactionary organizations and who cannot but look benignly upon and covertly finance KKK and neo-Nazi thugs. To them it is just one more covert operation which for public purposes is out-of-bounds of the legal framework of the capitalist government.”
Marcy`s book, written in the Reagan era, is equally relevant today, with a U.S. war against Iraq looming and the economic crisis of U.S. workers intensifying.
War, racism and repression by the capitalist state are fertile breeding grounds for fascist goons. Only the mobilization of the workers and oppressed can stop them.