WASHINGTON (Jul. 4)
The United States Government today forbade George Lincoln Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party, to hold any more rallies on the Mall–an area that attracted many thousands of tourists here today to celebrate Independence Day.
The order was issued by Elmo Bennett, administrative assistant to Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton. It followed a bloody melee on the Mall yesterday, when Rockwell and 12 of his cohorts were arrested, some were beaten, while five anti-Nazi hecklers were also taken into police custody. All those arrested, including Rockwell, were released in moderate bail for hearings Wednesday on charges of disorderly conduct.
Mr. Bennett told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that the order against using the Mall for speeches without a permit is directed against anyone attempting to hold a meeting there. Asked whether Rockwell would be granted such a permit, if he applied, Mr. Bennett stated flatly that permission would be denied to Rockwell because the type of preachments he utters in public are always likely to incite to riot.
Promptly at his accustomed hour of 2 p. m. , today, Rockwell and a dozen of his followers in uniform, featuring swastika armbands, showed up at his usual rallying point on the Mall. He started by announcing that he would exercise his “constitutional right of free speech. ” A police officer then served him with the order from the Department of the Interior which has jurisdiction over this area–a square flanked by the historic Archives Building, the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art. Many of the tourists in the square at the time were lined up to view the original Declaration of Independence exhibited in the Archives Building.
Rockwell was told that he could use one of two other location in this city to exercise “free speech.” He chose the nearest site. Judiciary Square, a relatively isolated area seven blocks away from the Mall.
ANTI-NAZIS OUTSHOUT SPEAKER; POLICE PREVENT FIGHTING
By the time Rockwell reached Judiciary Square with his group now numbering 20 men, including some in civilian dress, about 25 anti-Nazis, had gathered there. Police, outnumbering the combined number of Nazis and anti-Nazis, interposed themselves between the two sides. Rockwell, mounting a red-painted tin bucket, started to speak. His platform, banners and other public-rally paraphernalia had been destroyed in yesterday’s fighting.
As Rockwell started shouting “Ladies and Gentlemen–and Jews, ” the anti-Nazis began hissing, booing, and yelling anti-Nazi slogans. He tried for an hour and a half to speak, but never uttered more than two or three words without being out shouted by the anti-Nazis. The police allowed the latter to reply to every one of Rockwell’s attempted insults and Jibes. Finally, Rockwell gave up. He and his group departed. Unlike yesterday, there had been no fighting.
RIOT REMINISCENT OF BERLIN STREET BRAWLS IN EARLY NAZI DAYS
A number of brownshirted Nazis were severely beaten at Rockwell’s rally yesterday. Rockwell himself hid under the speakers platform at the first sign of violence, but his “Deputy Commander. ” Kenneth J. V. Morgan, was injured. Police were compelled to set up riot control conditions and to separate the estimated 50 persons who were exchanging blows.
Rockwell’s Nazis evidently got the worst of the fight, and some required medical attention. The Chief of the Washington Park Police and the Chief Prosecutor for the District of Columbia were present. A number of Israeli tourists in Washington and local Jews became involved in the brawl. Witnesses described the brawl as reminiscent of the street fighting in Berlin, in the early 1930’s, between anti-Nazis and the adherents of Hitler.
Before the fighting started, two Jews were arrested for heckling Rockwell. One “storm-trooper” was arrested by Armed Forces police for purposes of an identification check on his duty status. He was released, having established that he has been discharged from the service.
In the course of the fighting, the Nazi banner was trampled. An SS pennant, with skull and crossbones insignia of the SS troops of Hitler Germany, was ripped from its standard.
The Jew-baiting reached such a point that veteran police officers said it was “absurd to consider such hateful threats and abuse” of the public to be legitimate “free speech. ” There was also resentment on the part of police to Nazi attempts to arrogate to themselves police power in a para-military formation guarding Rockwell and restricting the public in part of the park.
The police, however, sought to behave objectively against all infractions considered breaches of the peace.