WASHINGTON (Aug. 30)
George Lincoln Rockwell, head of the so-called American Nazi party, was convicted today on two counts of disorderly conduct arising from anti-Semitic rallies here and ordered by Municipal Court Judge Mildred E. Reeves to pay $100 fine or serve 30 days in jail. The conviction came after three days of hearing.
Seven of Rockwell’s “stormtroopers” were also convicted of disorderly conduct and fined individually $10 or $20 depending on prior convictions.
The conviction of Rockwell represented the first legal finding against the neo-Nazi leader. He was held in confinement immediately after the trial. He sought to raise a $500 appeal bond and served notice that he would appeal. His men paid their fines immediately. Rockwell paid his fine shortly afterwards and was released.
Both Judge Reeves and Clark King, chief prosecutor, expressed views similar to the stand of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, charging that Rockwell sought to abuse and exploit “free speech” guarantees, The Judge and Mr. King said no legitimate free speech issue was involved.
Judge Reeves said that when “free speech” becomes “personal abuse” and incitement to riot it is no longer the legitimate discussion of an idea. She said Rockwell’s abuse caused the riot and that the police did a good job. She added that the audience had a right to boo and heckle without being abused.
Judge Reeves made clear that she considered Rockwell’s disorderly conduct responsible for the trouble that occurred at the rallies. She lectured Rockwell when pronouncing sentence, stating that his language had been proven abusive and that there had been no violations committed by anyone until he used such language.
Mr. King said hecklers “were perfectly justified” in trying to drown Rockwell out “when he made defamatory remarks about Jews. He commended, in effect, Washington Jewish citizens for their degree of patience and tolerance of Rockwell’s Nazi provocations. He said Rockwell’s tirades were not only offensive to Jews but to the general public.