Twenty educational, religious and community groups have organized a rally they hope will take the steam out of a neo-Nazi march through a north Toledo neighborhood.
The Erase the Hate event this weekend will counter a National Socialist Movement march scheduled for the same day. Members of the neo-Nazi group planned their march through a neighborhood they say has been beset by gang violence that threatens White residents.
“We believe the Nazi group does not represent anyone in this community,” neighborhood resident Tina Gott said. “We will stand against this Nazi rally, and we are asking people not to go to their event.”
The unity rally will give residents and community leaders a chance to change minds about the neighborhood, said Terry Glazer, head of Lagrange Development Corp., a group that promotes economic and ethnic diversity in the area.
The leader of the National Socialist Movement’s chapter in Roanoke, Va., said the rally won’t sway the movement’s support base.
“We stated repeatedly … that the local Blacks and their political leaders are a bunch of loudmouthed cowards, and that we expect that, when confronted with their criminal behavior by strong and organized White people, would run, hide, and whine. And it appears that is exactly what is happening,” Bill White said in a statement.
City officials have urged the neighborhood residents to ignore the march, which White said will last about an hour.
But the Rev. Mansour Bey of Toledo’s First Church of God said that would tell hate groups that their protests don’t bother the city.
“Sure, there will be police protection, but what about moral support?” he asked. “Toledo is not a magnet for these hate groups. Toledo is a place where we love and respect.”
Officials in Lincoln, Neb., countered a similar rally last year with a diversity rally.
About 50 members of the National Socialist Movement rallied on the Capitol steps while some 1,200 people celebrated at a park more than four miles away.
The senior center where the Toledo unity rally will be held is less than a mile from the planned march.
A White resident’s complaints to police about gang violence in the neighborhood got the movement interested in Toledo, White said.
The neighbor, Thomas Szych, has said he did not solicit the group’s support, and he doesn’t expect its march will alleviate the racial tensions.
— Associated Press
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