Heavily armed neo-Nazis are said to be patrolling the streets of Sanford, Florida to protect “white citizens in the area” in case of race riots.
According to a blog at the Miami New Times, the patrols were initiated by Jeff Schoep of the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement in response to the shooting of African-American teen Trayvon Martin by self-appointed neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman.
“We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody,” Schoep insists, “but we are prepared for it,. We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”
“Because nothing diffuses racial tension,” blogger Michael Miller comments wryly, “like gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge commnity.”
Schoep is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist hate groups, as “a neo-Nazi true believer since age 10 who has managed, largely by luck, to end up heading one of the largest explicitly Hitlerite groups in America. Schoep’s group is known for the crudeness of its propaganda, the violence it works hard to provoke, and the faux SS outfits that have caused many other neo-Nazis to deride NSM members as ‘Hollywood Nazis.’”
Schoep’s group is best known for the rally it staged against “black crime” in an inner-city neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio in 2005. NSM members had to be rescued from an angry crowd by the police, and the day ended with some local residents attacking police and 100 being arrested. The NSM considered this outcome a great success.
Schoep asserts that he and the Florida residents he has recruited are acting “totally within the law” and that their patrols “wouldn’t intimidate anybody” and are simply meant as a “show of solidarity with the white community down there.”
He says he decided to launch the Sanford patrols following an offer by the New Black Panther Party to pay a $10,000 bounty for a citizen’s arrest of Zimmerman, which he took as proof that “the possibility of further racial violence… is brimming over like a powder keg ready to explode into the streets.”
“We are a white civil rights organization,” Schoep said of the National Socialist Movement, describing himself as a while equivalent of Reverend Al Sharpton. He added that he wasn’t even taking sides on the shooting because Zimmerman is “half Hispanic or Cuban or something. He certainly doesn’t look white to me.”
Muriel Kane is an associate editor at Raw Story. She joined Raw Story as a researcher in 2005, with a particular focus on the Jack Abramoff affair and other Bush administration scandals. She worked extensively with former investigative news managing editor Larisa Alexandrovna, with whom she has co-written numerous articles in addition to her own work. Prior to her association with Raw Story, she spent many years as an independent researcher and writer with a particular focus on history, literature, and contemporary social and political attitudes. Follow her on Twitter at @Muriel_Kane
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