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Hundreds turn out for unity rally to protest neo-Nazi demonstration

Saturday, November 8, 2008 | 6:44 p.m. CST; updated 11:32 a.m. CST, Monday, November 10, 2008
A larger crowd than the neo-Nazi march itself gathered Saturday afternoon in the Indoor Pavilion at McClung Park to counteract the event with words of kindness and understanding at the Community Rally for Unity.

JEFFERSON CITY — About 250 people attended a unity rally Saturday in response to a National Socialist Movement parade and demonstration originally planned for downtown Columbia.

"Thank you for coming to the real event today," Jefferson City Police Capt. Doug Shoemaker said to the unity rally’s attendees. "This is how we celebrate who we are. While they (the National Socialist Movement) try to divide us because of our diversity, we celebrate that diversity."

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The National Socialist Movement rally brought about 50 demonstrators, including women and children — one of whom was being pushed in a stroller — to the steps of the state Capitol for a two-hour demonstration. Shoemaker estimated about 90 people, most of whom were journalists, attended the group’s rally.

"The crowd was nonexistent," Shoemaker told the cheering participants at the unity rally at McClung Park.

At the National Socialist Movement rally, police arrested two people on suspicion of assault and resisting arrest. Both were counter-demonstrators who assaulted National Socialist Movement members and a police officer, Shoemaker said.

Across town at the unity rally, the environment was much warmer and more organized, said Brian Bennett, 26, a Columbia resident who attended both rallies.

"I’m proud of Jefferson City for holding this," he said. "Everybody’s talking about peace, unity and togetherness."

The unity rally featured speeches from Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder as well as representatives from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League, Lincoln University and several religious groups.

The National Socialist Movement applied in August to hold a rally and parade in Columbia, but police denied the request, saying they did not have the resources to manage both the rally and a home MU football game against Kansas State University on the same day.

The group marched and held a rally in Columbia on March 10, 2007. The march lasted about 45 minutes and cost the city almost $40,000 in security and supplies. About 500 spectators and counter-protesters attended the 2007 demonstration, according to Missourian archives. As mild disturbances broke out along the parade route, seven people were arrested, and police used pepper spray.

About 3,000 Columbia residents responded to the 2007 parade by attending an alternative event in Douglass Park called "Spark in the Park." The NAACP also held a demonstration outside the Boone County Courthouse.


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Comments

Ray Shapiro November 8, 2008 | 11:35 p.m.

Great photo, if it's meant to enrage and help carry their message of hate. A large photo of the 250 unity attendees, mentioned in your lead sentence, would have kept consistency and not been in such bad taste. There's something about seeing these guys getting their photos in the paper that disturbs me, especially in a country which just elected Obama as our President.

(Report Comment)
Joe Bednarsky November 8, 2008 | 11:42 p.m.

Ex-Klan Leader Speaks Out Against Neo-Nazi Group

Neo-Nazi group reminds us of our duty to educate our children.

Thanks Jeff Schoep of the The National Socialist Movement.

Every so often you show yourself somewhere in America to remind us that we should sit our children down to discuss the twisted ideals of people who share your white supremacist philosophies.

We tell them to beware of those who spew messages of hate, as you did today by shouting white power and recruiting for the devil.

Oh, sure we tell them that a democratic society champions freedom of speech even if the message is outrageous or distasteful.

But you've reminded us that it's time once again to tell them about the blossoming effect love and caring have on a society, and the destructive and backward impact that hate and hostility have on our communities.

We will tell them that Americans have given their lives to protect others from hate-fueled monsters who act out their insanity such as Hitler and Heinrich Himmler, who were responsible for the Holocaust.

And we tell them of admirable Americans who stood up for good, not evil, and equality, not racism.

We speak of people such at Harriet Tubman who ran the Underground Railroad to protect escaped slaves or Sojourner Truth who worked for black educational opportunities in the 1800's.

We also speak of modern-day people of color who have a positive impact on us - from Desert Storm military leader Colin Powell or poet Maya Angelou to Pastor DT Jakes.

Racist views are repugnant and deserve condemnation from our Communities.

Thanks again for the Reminder Mr. Schoep, we needed that!

For God's Glory, Joseph V. Bednarsky Jr.

Where there is grace, there is NO race...

www.joebednarsky.com

(Report Comment)
Lindsay Toler November 9, 2008 | 12:37 a.m.

Ray-
I agree, it is inconsistent. There is a picture of the unity rally in the sidebar to the left, though.

(Report Comment)
Mike Bradley November 9, 2008 | 8:31 a.m.

People who don't agree with the National Socialist Movement should contact their leader, Jeff Schoep, and arrange a public debate of the issues. The NSM contacted a local rabbi who is a strong critic of the NSM and offered to publicly debate him but the rabbi turned down the offer. This makes him and his ideas look weak. A free exchange of ideas is vital to progress.

(Report Comment)
Electra Knowles February 26, 2009 | 11:01 p.m.

A rabbi not wanting to debate on/with/or against radical ideas does not make him look weak. It makes him look very smart. I do believe our country is so great, that we allow people or groups like the NSM voice their beliefs... even if they cause controversy. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. However, when the act or voicing of the beliefs leads to violence, we should address it. I think that the NSM should step back and take a long, hard look at society. It is changing around them, and they should try to open their eyes or hearts a little. I don't really think that racism has a place anymore, and they haven't gotten the memo.

(Report Comment)

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