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Nazi protest { August 25 2002 }

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Separatists Rebuke U.S. On Israel, Immigration
1 Person Arrested In Counter-Protest

By Justin Blum
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 25, 2002; Page C10

Hundreds of neo-Nazis and white separatists marched on the U.S. Capitol yesterday to protest American support of Israel, chanting, "What do we want? Jews out! When do we want it? Now!" and trading hostile words with an equal number of counter-demonstrators.

A variety of white supremacist groups -- including skinheads from Pennsylvania and separatists from West Virginia -- carried giant Nazi flags and frequently pumped their arms in the air yelling, "Sieg Heil!" as they marched in hazy, humid weather from Union Station to the West Lawn of the Capitol. They complained about non-European immigration to the United States, shredded an Israeli flag and chanted slogans in support of Palestinian independence.

The counter-demonstrators included students who said they had come to preach peace; militants chanting, "Death, death, death to the Nazis!"; and anarchists dressed in black. They were joined by a variety of others, including Palestinians who said they had come to reject the white separatists' support for Palestinian independence.

As many as 1,000 people demonstrated on each side, said Chief Terrance W. Gainer of the U.S. Capitol Police. No injuries were reported.

Police said their tactic was to prevent the two groups from getting close enough to harm each other. They were separated by about 1,000 police officers, metal barriers and plastic fencing. Some officers marched in riot gear with batons drawn while others were on horseback and motorcycles. Police helicopters buzzed overhead.

Authorities said one man was arrested after he pried loose a large cobblestone from the sidewalk at Union Station and hurled it toward the white supremacists. The rock hit the pavement, missing the demonstrators. Felipe B. Findley, 23, of Chicago was charged with disorderly conduct/missile throwing and was released after paying a $50 fine, said Lt. Phil Beck of the U.S. Park Police.

The supremacists' chants were peppered with ethnic and racial slurs. Both sides shouted obscenities and at times tried to charge police lines to get closer to one another.

As hundreds of white supremacists marched by, Jeff Skinner, 32, of Arlington thrust his middle finger into the air and chanted, "Nazis out! Nazis out!"

"These [expletive] fascists! . . . I don't want that in Washington," he said.

The march from Union Station to the Capitol was led by Billy Roper, deputy membership coordinator of the National Alliance, which calls itself a "pro-white group." Roper, who had an American flag in the pocket of his black sport coat and carried a bullhorn, said he was protesting "the U.S. government's one-sided support for the terrorist government of Israel."

He added: "The Israelis think they have the right to their own state. White Americans should have the same right."

In May, Roper and other white supremacists rallied outside the Israeli Embassy in a similar protest of U.S. support of Israel. He described yesterday's rally as the largest gathering of "white nationalists" in Washington since World War II.

Hundreds of people followed Roper, many with tattoos, banners and T-shirts echoing their chants.

Paul Gellar, 42, of Lambertville, N.J., said he joined the protest because of concern about "the destiny of European Americans in the United States."

"I feel we're being displaced by a non-white immigration policy," he said. "And our allegiance with Israel is a little too strong."

Counter-demonstrators said they were disgusted by seeing the groups march to the Capitol.

Preston Toombs, 50, of Little Rock was in Washington yesterday for his job as a software engineer. When he heard about the demonstration, he stood in front of Union Station to show his opposition to the supremacists.

"I'm very angry and disappointed in these people," he said, motioning to the other side of a police line, where demonstrators filed past carrying a banner reading "White Power."

Lisa Gomez, 25, of Gaithersburg said she was saddened to hear both sides calling for violence against one another. She said she wanted to promote tolerance and oppose the neo-Nazis.

"As a person of color, I get pretty frightened," she said as the separatists rallied nearby. "For some reason, those people don't like me because of the way I was born."

2002 The Washington Post Company

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