Racists Overshadowed by Protestors in Kalamazoo

Saturday’s white supremacist rally organized by Internet radio talk show host Hal Turner was overshadowed by the two-hundred protestors that showed up to tell Turner and his racist friends that they were not welcome in Kalamazoo. The racists turned out about 25 people, all of whom appeared to be connected to the organized racist movement.

hate speech = terrorism banner photo

Racist Internet radio show host Hal Turner’s Kalamazoo, Michigan “Rally Against Black Gang Terrorism” on Saturday was overshadowed by protestors, with Turner’s small rally of out-of-town racists and a small group of supporters–numbering around 25–easily outnumbered by the approximately 200 protestors who (un)welcomed them to Kalamazoo. During the rally, Turner and other speakers spoke to each other and a handful of supporters while facing an empty parking lot in 90 degree heat. Reflecting the fact that they have no base in Kalamazoo and were largely ignored by the media, Hal Turner failed to turn out any supporters outside of the racist movement and his calls to “Take Back Kalamazoo” went unanswered as he and his racist friends spoke behind lines of police and multiple layers of fencing.

Protestors began the day meeting at Bronson Park in downtown Kalamazoo at noon. The group waited to gauge the energy of the crowd before deciding to move to the rally site several blocks away at the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety building on Crosstown Parkway. The protestors held a spirited march on the sidewalk down Burdick Street, loudly chanting, making noise, and handing out flyers exposing the racists behind the rally. The energy was high and the reaction from community members was overwhelmingly positive.

When the protestors arrived at the rally site, they encountered Bill White and Michigan resident Neal Joitke, both of whom are affiliated with the American National Socialist Workers Party. The two men argued with protestors outside of the security zone while wearing their ill-fitting Nazi uniforms until they were essentially forced behind police lines by protestors. Apparently, this was the much hyped (by Bill White) “independent action” that he promised to organize in Kalamazoo. During this confrontation, several members of the Michigan chapter of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) including Dan Hill and Dan Carlson excited the “supporter” area of the rally and attempted to instigate a fight with the anti-racist protestors. At first it appeared that the police were willing to let this happen as they seemed to be looking for reasons to make arrests throughout the day, but they eventually moved in and forcibly separated the two groups using horses.

The protestors maintained a presence outside of the security perimeter for the duration of the racists’ rally, attempting to drown out the speeches with noise and chants. The crowd remained energetic throughout, waving signs that read “K-Zoo Not K-K-K-Zoo” and “Racists Go Home” along with banners reading “Hate Speech = Terrorism,” “No Nazis, No KKK, No Racist USA,” and “Racists Here w/Gov’t. Help.” The crowd banged on bucket drums, used air horns, and chanted while making it clear that the racists were not welcome in Kalamazoo.

After the rally concluded, protestors attempted to confront the white supremacists, but the racists were quickly led by police onto Kalamazoo city buses and escorted out of the area. Realizing that they were not going to be able to confront the racists, the protestors staged an unpermited march back to Bronson Park. The march was initially led by chants of “Whose Streets? Our Streets” and “Nazi Crew Out of K-Zoo,” although “Cops and Klan Go Hand in Hand” became a prominent chant when police began to force the march onto the sidewalk by pushing protestors with horses. Police repeatedly told protestors that “your protest is over” and appeared to be looking to make arrests, although none were made during the march despite a tense stand-off when the group of 75 protestors was split in two in front of the Kalamazoo Gazette building at 401 S. Burdick. Following this stand-off, the march continued from the Gazette building to Bronson Park on the sidewalk. Upon arriving at the park, the police arrested two people who went on the amphitheater stage, an area that was for some reason determined to be “off limits” by the police.

Much touted plans by Hal Turner and company to stage a post-rally event in Detroit appear to have been cancelled, as the information has been pulled from Turner’s website and there have been no reports coming out of Detroit.

The protest was organized by Michigan Against White Supremacy.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org