Menu JTA Search

Chicago Area Jews Outline Plans for Counter-demonstration in Skokie

SIGN UP FOR THE JTA DAILY BRIEFING

A Jewish umbrella agency, which is coordinating plans for a massive counter-demonstration to the uncertain Nazi march in Skokie June 25, announced detailed plans for its demonstration at a press conference here today.

It was made clear throughout the statements at the conference and in questions and answers that the detailed plans being put into place were based on the expectation that the Nazis would march in Skokie, home of 7000 Holocaust survivors. Statements of plans for the contingency counterdemonstration were made by Raymond Epstein, chairman of the Public Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Jewish United Fund of Chicago, which is coordinating Chicago Jewry’s response to the proposed Nazi march; and by Sol Goldstein of Chicago, a Holocaust survivor and chairman of the PAC committee on individual liberty and Jewish security.

The press conference on plans for the counteraction came a day after the Illinois House rejected by overwhelming margins two Senate approved bills which would have blocked the Nazi march in Skokie. One bill would have created a new crime, criminal group defamation, and empowered local officials to ban derogatory demonstrations and distribution of hate material. The other would have banned parades by quasi-military hate groups such as the Nazis. Strong doubts about the constitutionality of the two bills were expressed during the legislative action on them.

It was stressed during the PAC press conference that the extensive planning is based on the probability, but not the certainty, that the Nazis will march. But it was also pointed out that the scope of planning was extensive and had to be underway well before the June 25 date.

NAZIS MAY NOT MARCH

A source here said there was an unconfirmed report that there was considerable dissension within the tiny National Socialist Party of Chicago about whether to go through with the June 25 march. Another report which could not be confirmed is that the Nazis have applied for a permit to demonstrate on June 24 in front of the federal building in Chicago.

Goldstein reiterated plans to provide facilities for 50,000 demonstrators in Skokie, with prominent national political figures attending. The counter-demonstration will be held in the athletic field of Niles Township East which reporters said was too small to hold 50,000 demonstrators. Goldstein said the PAC had accepted the smaller field at the request of Skokie village officials, who said larger fields in the area were needed for such security elements as police helicopters.

Meanwhile in New York today, Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, national interreligious affairs director of the American Jewish Committee, announced that Evangelicals for Social Justice, an organization of young Evangelical Christian leaders, had discussed with him this week plans to organize groups of Evangelical Christians from various parts of the United States who will fly to Skokie as a demonstration that Evangelical Americans strongly oppose everything the Nazis stand for and to let American Jews know that they do not stand alone in this assault on Jewish dignity.

NEXT STORY