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Toledo: protesters counter Nazi rally in Black community
Dozens arrested in cop riot; mayor declares curfew
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A socialist newsweekly published in the interests of working people
Vol. 69/No. 42October 31, 2005


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(lead article)
Toledo: protesters counter Nazi
rally in Black community
Dozens arrested in cop riot; mayor declares curfew
Toledo blade/Allan Detrich
Toledo Journal/Jeffrey Willis
Residents of northeast Toledo (top) turn out October 15 to protest attempt by cops to escort Nazis on a march through Black community. Placard carried by America’s Nazi Party member (bottom) reads: “White Race— Stand Up and Take Back YOUR Neighborhood.” Cops used tear gas later on antifascist protesters.

TOLEDO, Ohio—Hundreds of people came out October 15 to protest an attempt by a neo-Nazi group to march through a largely Black residential section of north Toledo. A leader of the racist outfit, the National Socialist Movement, said the purpose of the march—which had been announced publicly nine days earlier—was to prevent the “victimization of whites by blacks.”

The mobilization by Blacks and other residents forced the cops to revoke the permit for the racist march. Police then attacked anti-Nazi protesters, causing a riot. Mayor Jack Ford declared a curfew that night.

On the day of the planned rally, a couple dozen Nazis gathered in a nearby park under heavy police protection, planning to march through the neighborhood. Several wore T-shirts with the image of a white-hooded Ku Klux Klanner and a burning cross and held signs reading, “White People Unite! Find Your Spine!” and “White Race—Stand Up and Take Back Your Neighborhood.”

“We read about the Nazis planning to march in the newspaper,” said Aaron Curry, 25, a mechanic in a glass factory. “They were trying to get people not to protest, but we weren’t going to let them [the Nazis] march in our place.”

Curry was referring to “Erase the Hate,” an event organized at a nearby senior center. Drawing about 200 people, it included speeches by Mayor Ford, a Democrat, other politicians, and religious and community figures who were urging residents to ignore the racists and allow them to march through the community.

But that was not to be.

As word of the rally spread, a counterdemonstration that had been called days before the rightist action swelled to what press reports said was at least 600 people. “When it started there were a few of us and when word got around it just grew,” Curry said. “The streets were full of people and the police panicked.”

Judging that the relationship of forces was against them, the police cancelled the Nazis’ permit to march and forced them to leave. The cops then attacked the protesters, residents say.

“The police made this happen,” said Prentice Bishop. “If the police had just simply left, none of this would have taken place.”

Art Perez, 20, agreed. “Yeah, we were still on the block after they said the racist group was gone,” he stated. “People were still angry and expressing themselves but there wasn't any violence.”

“Nothing happened until the police started using tear gas and firing pellets at us,” said Curry. He described how the cops rode into the crowd with horses. “The police got out of hand. A woman got maced. They even beat up a postman,” he said.

According to press reports, 114 people were arrested. City officials are seeking to use the police riot to restrict the right of organizations they deem “hate groups” to assemble in residential areas. Bishop, Curry, and Perez were among some 40 residents who confronted mayoral candidate Carleton Finkbeiner, also a Democrat, at a press conference outside the remains of Jim and Lou’s Bar October 18. The bar, a past haunt of powerful politicians, among them former president James Carter, was looted and burned. Finkbeiner blamed gang members for the violence.

“This wasn’t about the gangs,” said Antwoine Wilson, 21. “The cops just took advantage of our presence. We live here, this is a Bloods neighborhood,” he said. “But all the gangs were here, Bloods, Crips, Stickney Street, and nothing happened between us because we were together in stopping the racists from marching here.”

“This was about all we have gone through,” said Joe Toyer, 20. Toyer, like most residents interviewed, did not think the bar should have been burned down. “It became a focus of circumstances,” Toyer said. “It’s hard to find a job. When you do they don’t pay nothing and it’s usually temporary. The politicians keep saying they are getting all this money in here to rebuild the city but none of it has come our way.”

“The police are always pulling us over for nothing and asking for IDs,” said Bishop, who delivers pizzas. “They act like they don’t know me but they are always in the pizza place eating.”

“There is a gang problem here but it is exaggerated,” said Stan Sherwood, 81, who is white. Sherwood said he thought the root of the problem is poor education and lack of good jobs.

“This is a mixed neighborhood and everybody got along until the Nazis came,” Sherwood said. “I have neighbors who are Black, white, and we are getting some Spanish moving in. There haven’t been any problems here before and I have been here over 50 years.”

The fascist outfit had announced plans for the march October 6 after an article appeared in the Toledo Free Press in which local resident Thomas Szych complained about Black gangs in his neighborhood. Szych’s neighbor, Amelia Gray, told the Militant that he has filed police complaints against every Black family on the block.

“What I read in the paper about racial conflict doesn’t tell the whole story,” said Frank Shultz, 54, an auto mechanic who is white and has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years. “The neighborhood is changing and some people may not like that but they are just a handful.”
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