This past Saturday, on what would have been Adolf Hitler's 124th birthday, members of the National Socialist Movement, considered the largest Neo-Nazi group in the country, held a rally in front of the Georgia State Capitol.
A predominantly male crowd of about 40 NSM members - some of whom were dressed in solid black with their heads shaved and others dressed in what appeared to be Ku Klux Klan type garb - stood in front of the Gold Dome holding large KKK flags, confederate emblems, and large swastikas.
"The US Constitution," said speaker Ron Olson," was written by white men for white men."
Every few minutes during speeches, they would stop and yell "White Power!" and give the Nazi salute. The Detroit-based group's 25 points of American Socialism include a call for the exclusion of all people from the American nation who are not of "pure White blood."
About 150 protesters, according to an estimate by Capitol Police, organized across the street. The protesters answered speeches with loud chants of their own, screams of protest, drumbeats, and many middle fingers. One protester was arrested by police and dragged away from the crowd while spitting intensely in the direction of the NSM memebers.
Although the NSM protest was permitted to run till 5 p.m. organizers chose to end the event around 3:45 p.m. saying "We are going to have ourselves a big old party, alright guys pack it in we have beer to drink, it's Miller Time."
The group's rally follows an event in Memphis on March 30 in which they protested the renaming of three Memphis public parks which were previously named after Confederate troops. The issue is similar to an effort in Georgia to pass legislation to remove the statue of white supremacist Thomas Watson from the front of the state capitol and rename the Eugene Talmadge bridge close to Savannah. (Disclosure: I participated in the effort to remove the Watson statue.)
At the end of the rally, the NSM members departed the Capitol grounds and, escorted by police, headed down Martin Luther King Drive toward a parking deck where they parked their vehicles. Protesters followed them on the other side of the street, screaming in their direction.
NSM members yelled back at times but largely appeared to be retreating from the crowd. Once they arrived at the parking deck, protesters gathered on the street where they continued to yell and scream. NSM members overlooked the crowd while smoking cigarettes and performing Nazi salutes. As more police arrived, NSM members got into their cars and pulled out of the parking lot. Protesters screamed at the cars filled with people dressed in KKK outfits as they sped into the bright afternoon.
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