Riots break out at Neo-Nazi rally in Toledo, Ohio

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Calm has been restored after a Saturday rally held by members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) in Toledo, Ohio. led to a state of emergency being declared when riots ensued. Fifty highway patrol officers were called in to support city police and to help control the crowd. The unrest prompted the implementation of a city-wide 8 P.M. curfew.

The police force, which gave permission and protection to the neo-nazi group to hold the planned rally, claimed they were caught by surprise in the counter-protest that ensued. Police resorted to tear gas to disperse the crowd of nearly 500. Over 60 demonstrators were arrested.

Opposition to the rally was mounted by concerned citizens and a coalition of political groups organized as an Anti-Racist Action group. The actions of the counter-demontrators effectively ended the march just as it was getting started. During the riot, several vehicles had their windows broken and one was set on fire at a gas station; a local pub was looted and burned.

Toledo Mayor Jack Ford suggested that it was the NSM's objective to incite violence, "Based on the intelligence we received, that's exactly what they do — they come into town and get people riled up." Mayor Ford, an African-American, was puzzled as to why the NSM chose Toledo, and said of the rally location, "It is not a neighborhood where you have a lot of friction in the first place."

About 20 members of the International Socialists Organization and the One People's Project were present in opposition to the NSM rally. The NSM has alleged these groups handed eggs to some African-American counter demonstrators.

The NSM bills itself as America's Nazi Party and claims it was there to protest black gangs which, according to NSM spokesman Bill White, have been harassing white residents. White also claimed that the NSM received support from community activists and citizens.

In a statement on the NSM's website, White stated, "Well, what happened is that little groups of our supporters started to gather at the police barricades, as they tried to figure out how to get in. The communists spotted one of those groups, and started running at them. That was the spark that lit the riot."

In response to the NSM statements, the One People's Project co-founder Daryle Lamont Jenkins said, "Bill White has done this to us before. In the past, he has written on his website that I and this organization orchestrated a rape, that I joined controversial communist organizations after being fired from a police force in New Jersey (I never worked for a police force in New Jersey) and even that I was soliciting nude photos of him!"

Jenkins continued, "In regards to what happened in Toledo on Saturday, we feel we should make our position clear. While white supremacists and other questionable groups have the right to speak, we have that right as well, and when these groups come out we will use that right to respond. In fact, we feel that we are obligated to do so given the fact that these groups are using these rights to advocate taking them and others from the rest of us."