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Neo-Nazis with Weapons, Shields Assail Motor City Pride

by Kilian Melloy
Monday Jun 10, 2019

They evidently didn't have a permit, but neo-Nazis carrying weapons and shields did enjoy a police escort when they intruded on a Pride celebration in Detroit on June 8, multiple news sources said.

And even though the Nazis reportedly assaulted Pridegoers, were photographed engaging in wanton property destruction, and allegedly urinated on an Israeli flag, no arrests of neo-Nazis for violence or indecent exposure were reported to have taken resulted.

Early reports on the invasion of Detroit's Pride celebration by Swastika-waving Nazis surfaced at Gritpost in an article that detailed how a leader of NSM — "National Socialist Movement," a Nazi group — posted an open invitation to like-minded people to crash the celebration. Gritpost recounted that Nazis from around the United States descended on Detroit in order to impose themselves on the Pride event.

Posting at a Russian social network called VKontakte, NSM leader Burt Colucci wrote, "NSM, lets put some boots on the ground!! I don't really give a damn about op-sec or Antifa in this situation. We go in with Swastikas blazing and if people don't like it, tough shit..."

American Nazis resorted to using the Russian social media platform after Facebook kicked them off.

But social media works both ways. One Pride celebrant took to Facebook to share a cell phone video of how a small group of Nazis — escorted by Detroit police officers — threw themselves into the festivities, blaring hate rhetoric through a megaphone and waving Nazi flags.

"How come they get protected and we're not," an outraged cry could be heard in the video, Gritpost reported. "Our police should be protecting us."

The impression that police were providing a protective escort to violent interlopers was widespread, with Slate alleging the chaos was "made possible by police who escorted the small group of Neo-Nazis while they disrupted the celebrations and insulted those in attendance."

One Twitter user posted video and stated the Detroit police "bruised those that tried to intervene," before going on to lay responsibility for the fracas at the feet of Detroit police, saying that the department "allowed this to happen."

Another Motor City Pride participant posted, "Thanks Detroit Police Department. While you were clearing a path for Nazis to march in downtown Detroit, you got your disgusting fingerprints all over me."

A photo showing marks on the person's arm was included.

The post went on to claim, "the police always, ALWAYS protect the Nazis and endanger the antifascists. You probably won't believe it till you've seen it."

Newsweek confirmed the presence of Detroit police giving the group of Nazis protection as they threw Nazi salutes, screamed anti-LGBTQ epithets, and shouted "Sieg Heil!"

Pride celebrants took to social media to aim sharp critiques at the local constabulary. Tweeted one witness to the invasion, "Where was Detroit Police when armed Nazis were marching with their NAZI FLAG shouting Homophobic slurs, anti-black racism, and white nationalism you ask?"

The Twitter used answered his own question: "Serving and Protecting THE NAZIS."

Parade organizers urged celebrants of the official event not to take matters into their own hands by confronting the interlopers, reported UK newspaper The Independent.

"Literally f****** Nazis are at Motor City Pride right now, please be safe out there y'all," one tweet read. "Even if they deserve it, do not engage. Our safety at our Pride is the most important thing."

The Independent reported that Nazis knocked at least one Pride-goer to the ground. Photos attributed to Reuters show a phalanx of Nazis carrying shields marching up to a standing woman and then, in what appears to be a subsequent photo, marching past where she has seemingly fallen to the tarmac.

In addition to reportedly urinating on an Israeli flag, the Nazis destroyed Pride flags, said Fox News.

Local newspaper The Detroit News reported that the Motor City Pride parade has been expected to draw a crowd of 25,000 supporters. One attendee told the newspaper that she had seen warnings on Facebook about a contingent of Nazis attacking the event.

The Detroit News said that the police were focused on preventing violence between the Nazis and Pride celebrants. No reports explained how the Nazis were permitted to march without, evidently, having obtained a permit to do so.

In response to the Nazi threat, Detroit residents harbored Pride celebrants, Gritpost reported.

White nationalists and neo-Nazis have taken to the streets with renewed energy in the wake of the 2016 elections, generating chaos and fear. In August of 2017, white nationalists carrying torches and chanting Nazis slogans descended on Charlottesville, Virginia; the following day, street fighting broke out as local police looked on and did nothing to intervene. One counter-protester died when a white nationalist plowed his car into a group of peacefully marching people.

Two members of the right-wing Rise Above organization pleaded guilty last month on charges of conspiracy to riot.

President Donald Trump prompted criticism when he refused to condemn the white nationalists and neo-Nazis who had taken to Charlottesville's streets, saying that "very fine people" had been on "both sides" of the riot.

A recent study demonstrated that hate crimes skyrocketed by more than 200% in places where Trump appeared at campaign rallies during the 2016 elections.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


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