|Members of the white supremacist National Alliance flash the Nazi salute during the Aug. 24 protest in Washington, D.C.
Posted: August 26, 2002
Neo-Nazis gathered in Washington, DC, on August 24 for one of the largest white supremacist rallies in the United States in recent years. Organized by the National Alliance (NA), who misleadingly called themselves "Tax Payers Against Terrorism" for this event, their march on the U.S. Capitol was the neo-Nazi group's fourth anti-Israel event in Washington, D.C., since September 11.
The NA joined with other white supremacist groups, including the World Church of the Creator, Aryan Nations, and racist skinheads, to protest the U.S. government's support of Israel and the Israeli government's alleged mistreatment of Palestinians. Since September 11, the NA has repeatedly attempted to co-opt the Palestinian cause, to blame Israel and Jews for the September 11 attacks against the U.S., and to fuel anti-Israel sentiments. Despite displaying slogans in support of Palestinian independence, the group made their real agenda known by also protesting non-white immigration to the United States and shouting racial and anti-Semitic epithets.
In an effort to lure more people to this rally, the NA announced it would hold a white power rock concert, "Rock Against Israel," after the event-but only those who attended the rally would be admitted to the concert. This relatively new strategy on the part of the NA has allowed the group to attract increasingly larger numbers to its events. This event, which was partially re-billed as a tribute to former NA leader William Pierce following his death in July, attracted about 475 supporters. The tribute to Pierce, author of The Turner Diaries and one of the country's most prominent anti-Semites and racists, was another reason for the increased attendance. The last combined rally/white power concert, held in May, drew about 250 white supremacists.
Counter protestors, including left-wing anti-racist and anarchist groups, confronted the NA in a nearby rally of their own, which attracted about 500 supporters. In several previous confrontations between white supremacists and anti-racist and anarchist groups at racist rallies, violence broke out when the factions were able to break through police lines and meet head-on. This time, Metro DC and U.S. Capitol police created a solid wall between the two groups that prevented violent incidents during the events. However, according to media reports, a group of white supremacists were attacked earlier in the day in Baltimore on their way to the rally by anti-racist activists wielding tire irons, baseball bats, and hockey sticks. Police who arrived on the scene arrested about 30 of the attackers. At least three white supremacists were treated at a local hospital.
Although police kept white supremacists and anti-racist activists apart during the rallies, each faction tried to outshout the other and to break through police lines. The neo-Nazis carried Nazi flags and yelled "Sieg Heil" and anti-Semitic slogans, while anti-racists shouted "Death to the Nazis." Some anti-racist activists also carried signs that exhorted people to fight back against "killer cops." The demonstration ended without major incident; police arrested one man who tried to throw a rock at the neo-Nazis.
The rally was important to the NA, not only because it generated considerable publicity, but also because the event attracted about twice as many supporters as the previous one, a fact the NA could use to demonstrate to white supremacists that Pierce's death did not mean the end of the group he founded. A disappointing turnout at the rally would have spelled trouble for Erich Gliebe, the white power music promoter appointed to take Pierce's place. Now, unfortunately, the group may be emboldened to launch more demonstrations in the future.