Let me say why this is disturbing, beyond the obvious false equivalency being made as if Neo-Nazi's are the same as those people who are offended by Nazi's, and those people who are organizing for immigration reform.
First, "one police officer"...unidentified, no attribution. "police officer" unattributed is a code here for "the law", and since most media only identify an officer as black or latino if it is pertinent to their slant on a story, the lack of an ethnic tag seems to indicate that this anonymous officer is "white". The LAPD over the years has not been a bastion of support for the protection of blacks, latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, members of the GLBTQ community...and in fact has a long history of abuses. However, that has been changing in recent years, and the ethnic makeup of the force has changed too.
According to the US Department of Justice, the LAPD was 82% male in 2000. 46% of the department was white, 33% of the department was Hispanic/Latino, 14% was African American, and 7% was Asian.
The LA Times coverage, interestingly enough did not have this quote,
though their headline implies (falsely) that the majority of counter-demonstrators were not peaceful:
"White supremacist rally at L.A. City Hall draws violent counter-protest:
Two men are beaten by mobs of counter-protesters, and five are arrested for throwing objects at the neo-Nazis and their police escorts."
In the body of the coverage, there is an interesting quote, also unattributed:
The neo-Nazi group had obtained a permit for its demonstration earlier in the week, and police prepared the rally area by taping off a section of City Hall's shaded south lawn. About 12:30 p.m., members began delivering anti-immigrant tirades and shouts of "Sieg Heil" that echoed down the street.
"We are tired of you clogging up our streets," shouted one white supremacist.
Another group member repeatedly denounced illegal immigrants, saying, "If the city supports illegal aliens and criminals, that is treason."
A counter-protester shouted back with a bullhorn.
"You're being protected by black and Latino cops, you cowards!" she said.
I wonder where the quote attributed to an LAPD officer came from. Doubtful it was from one of the black or latino officers, but we won't know who made it, or if it was made at all.
This story has been picked up by news agencies around the world, but not reported from the same perspective. China's XINHUANNEWS, chose to feature a photo of the Neo-Nazi's with this caption underneath
Members of a white supremacist group so-called National Socialist Movement attend a rally in front of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles, the United States, April 17, 2010. Five people were arrested by police after a bloody scuffle brought a white supremacist rally to an abrupt end in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. Hundreds of people from the counter-protesting groups, consisting of black, Latino and Asian ethnic descents, threw rocks and bottles at around 40 members of the so-called National Socialist Movement who had antagonized them by calling for the removal of all nonwhites from America's southwest. (Xinhua/Qi Heng)
Right wing blogs, and comments made to the news stories here at home are of course predictable, won't bother to link to them, or quote the filth.
The National Council of La Raza, is being portrayed as racist, simply because of the name of the organization which essentially translates as "The People". We saw this used against Sonia Sotomayor during the fight against her confirmation to the Supreme Court.
The extreme right wing opens the door for Neo-Nazis to become the heroes of those who are already gearing up for immigration reform battles.
In the past, my own little area of Kingston NY has been visited by Neo-Nazi's and white supremicist rallies. Local community organizations were prepared in advance, to insure that there would be no hostile attacks made against the Nazi's and Hal Turner. They got to excercize their right to demonstrate, but were unsuccessful in drawing us out in counter attack. The shift in focus by the nazi-right, no longer simply attacks against jews and blacks, has filtered into the rhetoric of not only Tea-Partiers, but mainstream Republicans.
Immigration reform is the next big battle we face. Though opponents target brown people with Spanish surnames, there are other groups of immigrants from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa who are also going to become targets.
The question I raise this morning, is twofold. How do we counter the memes that will be floated in the media, and how do we combat the inevitable portrayal of any incidents that take place in demonstrations as "the violent left-wing"?
What do we do as organizers and activists to ensure that our counter-protests remain non-aggressive, while forcefully exercising our right to show disgust for Nazi's, the Klan or any other group that essentially speaks to the repression, and oppression of an entire segment of the American populace?
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