By Alex Distefano
At a time when rhetoric from politicians and anti-immigrant activists is at an all-time high across the country, the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a Neo-Nazi group will hold a march and rally against illegal immigration in the city of Claremont on March 19.
The march and rally will take place noon to 1 p.m. Saturday on Foothill Boulevard, and according to several local news outlets is expected to draw an estimated crowd of 40 to 50 Neo Nazis.
To counteract this event, members of the community of Claremont have formed a group known as Claremont for Peace, and plan to hold their own demonstration on the same day.
According to the San Bernardino Sun, the Nazis and anti-Nazi groups do not require a permit for their demonstrations, since there were no plans for a parade, and sidewalks were not going to be blocked.
Police have been notified and will step up presence near the events, to avoid any potential violence, or confrontations between the Neo-Nazi protestors and those who oppose the NSM’s political platform, which according to their Website is to defend “the rights of white people everywhere, preservation of our European culture and heritage, strengthening family values, economic self-sufficiency, and reform of illegal immigration policies; immediate withdrawal of our national military from an illegal Middle Eastern occupation and promotion of white separation.”
Though the First Amendment’s guaranteed Freedom of Speech a core portion of our nation’s values (and the U.S. Constitution), members of Claremont for Peace insist they are not in favor of silencing the Nazis, only counteracting the racism with a more positive message. According to a press release sent out by the group, the Claremont for Peace rally will be “in celebration of Claremont’s dedication to social justice, love, respect, and intercultural understanding in response to the announcement from the NSM’s rally and march in Claremont.”
The press release stated, “As students and residents of Claremont and the surrounding areas, we recognize the First Amendment rights of the NSM to freedoms of speech and assembly. In addition, we recognize and embrace the rights of all peoples to join together with their communities in celebration of the ideals they believe in.”
The group is adamant that they do not intend to be confrontational, and will keep their event peaceful, pointing out that the Nazis have in the past caused these types of problems to arise. During past rallies, “The NSM has targeted the LGBTQ community, people of color, people of Jewish faith and those who do not align with their racially and culturally divisive ideals. More specifically, the NSM has used these rallies to harass and intimidate the large population of immigrants that reside in the Inland Empire,” as stated in the press release.
But police in Claremont say that they will be there in full force, just in case any disturbances occur, to ensure the safety and protect the First Amendment rights of everyone involved, on both sides.
Claremont for Peace’s rally will begin at 10 a.m. at Memorial Park, which is located at the corner of Indian Hill and 8th Street. For more information on the Claremont for Peace rally, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. (Alex Distefano)