On Thursday evening, a group of anti-racist and anti-fascist activists leafleted the neighborhood of a National Socialist Movement (NSM) leader in Michigan, Ken Mathews, who is the head of the Grand Rapids chapter and is in command of the entire Southwest Michigan section of the NSM.
The activists leafleted the northeast side neighborhood where Ken Matthews lives–a diverse working-class neighborhood that was entirely unaware that their neighbor was a neo-nazi leader. The group went door-to-door for several blocks near Matthews’ house handing out a leaflet that warned neighbors about the fact that Matthews was a neo-nazi as well as the fact that Mathews has welcomed over 100 neo-nazis to come to Grand Rapids to stay at a local motel for both a national private meeting of the NSM on Friday and to use Grand Rapids as staging point for their national rally in Lansing on Saturday. Neighbors reacted with a mix of shock and concern when activists explained who Matthews was and that they have a neo-nazi leader living in their neighborhood. The activists explained to people that this weekend, beginning Thursday with the birthday of Adolf Hitler, historically sees an increase in white supremacist activity with the Oklahoma City bombings, the Ruby Ridge standoff, and the Columbine high school shootings. Additionally, the leaflet contained information about where the neo-Nazis were staying and encouraged residents to contact the motel where the neo-nazis are staying and demand that they drop the reservations. Throughout the time that the activists were leafleting, all three local television news stations covered the action and did interviews with a press contact, resulting in further pressure on the NSM both locally and as a whole.
After leafleting the surrounding streets, the group started leafleting on Mathews’ street and continued to receive a favorable response from the multi-racial block. As the activists moved towards Ken Mathews’ house (41 Grove St NE) for a demonstration, one of the group spotted Bill White, national spokesman for the NSM, walking from his car into the house while wearing an NSM t-shirt. The group unfurled a “Nazis not Welcome” banner as one of the group knocked on the door and called for Ken and Bill to come out. They ignore repeated calls from the group, many of whom taunt them about what they are going to write about the event on their website and how White always says that he is ready for a debate but is turning down a good opportunity. The group voted to continue to stand outside the house while other members started taking photographs of Bill White’s car (Virginia license plate number JXB-5595) and the contents that he left visibly in the vehicle, including a copy of the injunction that the NSM filed in court yesterday as well as a Nora Roberts romance novel. Shortly thereafter three police cars responded after they were called by someone inside of Mathews’ house. The police preceded to talk to Bill White on the screen porch while activists continued to yell for him to come out using taunts such as “but you love the media Bill” (at that time all three media outlets were still there). The police did detain one person temporarily for not providing identification and claimed that we needed a permit, but given that the action had accomplished its goals, the group decided to disperse.
People are encouraged to contact the Motel 6 on Alpine where the neo-Nazis are staying to encourage the hotel to drop their reservations:
Neo-Nazis have placed reservations (#176180 – rooms blocked off under Ken Mathews) for this Friday and Saturday night at the Motel 6 at 777 3 Mile Rd at the corner of Alpine Ave (616-784-9375).
If you object to having dozens of Neo-Nazis gathering in your community, we encourage you to contact the Accor reservation center at 800-221-4542 and the Motel 6 reservation center at 800-466- 8356 and let them know your concerns. Contact Ken Mathews directly to let him know that his issues are not popularly welcomed in this community at 616-451-9194.
Shortly after the protestors left, Bill White posted an account of the protest to his website on which he claimed that anti-racists “attacked” the home of a member of the NSM and were dispersed by police before the confrontation could escalate. Also in the account, White confirms both that members at the home were armed and that the additional members of the NSM are staying in Grand Rapids.
Additionally, the Nazis are leaving the aformentioned Motel 6 around 4:30pm today for their “national private meeting” that will be held an undisclosed location and are expected to leave Saturday around 11:00am or 12:00pm for their rally in Lansing.