West Allis, WI - On Sept. 3, protesters converged on a planned rally put together by the Nazi ‘National Socialist Movement.’ The rally was planned in response to violence at the Wisconsin State Fair the previous month.
While the Nazi-led rally's attendance measured in the dozens, many traveling from outside of Wisconsin, several thousand people came out in opposition. In spite of a chilling rain, chants against Nazi hate drowned out the amplified sound of their planned rally.
Speaking with regard to the day's events, Jhoselinn Perez, of the Coalition for Racial Justice and Unity, said, "It was good to see a large community response, especially from such a diverse spectrum of our city. It hurt to see the police more interested in pushing peaceful nonviolent protesters away, while the message of hatred was being presented. It was good to see a vibrant community respond against the evils of racism."
Well over a hundred police were called out to maintain order throughout the day. Mounted police, as well as officers on foot in full riot gear, were repeatedly used to distance the masses of counter-protesters from the pockets of Nazi supporters. Several people were arrested.
The counter-protest was put together by a coalition of over 30 different community organizations, including Milwaukee Intercity Congregations Allied for Hope, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Peace Action-Wisconsin, the L.U.V. Brigade, Bail out the People Movement, and Freedom Road Socialist Organization.
Chance Zombor, representing Freedom Road Socialist Organization, delivered the following speech:
"First, let me say that Nazism is not, and should not be thought of as an equally legitimate but different opinion from ours; it’s a death threat. Nazis are not socialists. Neo-Nazis are terrorists, Nazis are fascists, and fascism is synonymous with death camps and genocide. That’s why it should be boldly confronted and combated head on, in any and all of its manifestations, wherever it rears its ugly head, from extreme right-wing politicians like Scott Walker to racist gangs like the ones assembled in West Allis today. So I’m glad to be here with all of you, on behalf of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, to stop Nazi hate. And I want to thank Students for a Democratic Society for making these signs.
“Today, the Nazis are attempting to exploit an incident - an incident that has been interpreted and misinterpreted, distorted and spun a thousand different ways, by a thousand different organizations and media outlets in the past few weeks. They would like to spin that incident in such a way as to allow themselves to play the victims. But anyone with a casual familiarity with the history of this country knows that the Ku Klux Klan, Nazis and other racists, are not, and have never been the victims here. They are oppressors. And, by spreading their divisive poison, they’re serving the interests of the banks, corporations and politicians whose drive for ever greater profits and power and total disregard for humanity, has affected so many of us in recent times.
“These Nazis may not be from Milwaukee, but Milwaukee is the most segregated city in America, with statistics comparable to many Third World countries. In infant mortality, unemployment, and in the gap between rich and poor, Milwaukee is comparable to a Third World country! And Milwaukee incarcerates a higher percentage of its young Black men than it graduates from its high schools. Milwaukee is a city in a state of apartheid. And these problems did not arise spontaneously, so they will not disappear without struggle.
“That’s why, while I think it’s important that we’ve come out here today to let these Nazis know that their bigotry is unwelcome in our community, what is more important is what we do after today - whether or not we will build on what we’ve accomplished today to make the changes necessary for the betterment of all of our lives. Tomorrow, these skin-heads will go home, but Wisconsin will still be in the middle of an epic battle for the future of our state - against Scott Walker and his extreme right-wing agenda. Let’s continue to struggle after this demonstration is over with the same spirit of solidarity. Let’s run the right right out of town."