Chicago Police Shield Nazis from Angry Counter-demonstrators

Shielded from an angry crowd of several thousand counter-demonstrators by some 900 Chicago police, Nazi leader Frank Collin, late yesterday afternoon, led a group of about 20 Nazis in a “victory rally” in front of the Kluczynski Federal Building in the heart of downtown Chicago.

Wearing Storm Trooper uniforms and holding wooden shields, the Nazis stood expressionless while onlookers shouting “kill the Nazis,” pelted them with rocks, eggs, bottles and other debris. Their words inaudible over the chants of the crowd, the Nazis, after ten minutes, clicked their heels, raised their arms in the Hitler salute, shouted “sieg heil” and marched back into the building.

The Nazis dubbed their appearance a “victory rally” because of a ruling last week by Federal Judge George Leighton dismissing a requirement of the Chicago Park District for posting a bond by the Nazis for permission to march in Marquette Park. The Nazis cancelled their march in the heavily-Jewish populated suburb of Skokie scheduled for today and said they would march in the racially volatile Marquette Park district July 9.

Their rally here was scheduled for 4:30 p.m. local time but was delayed for 40 minutes while Chicago Police Superintendent James O’Grady tried to convince the Nazis to call it off because he could not guarantee their physical safety. The Nazis refused and at about 6 p.m. they were escorted from the building by a heavy cordon of police. Earlier, the men in storm trooper garb were secretly brought to the federal building in a U.S. mail truck which was seen by the counter-demonstrators but did not arouse their suspicions. Asked if it was appropriate to use a government vehicle for that purpose, a police officer admitted the action was “questionable” out, he added, “it worked.”

Security around the building was very tight. Close to 1000 police, three rows deep, stood behind wooden barricades set up to insulate the Nazis from the thousands of spectators who appeared to be of all races and colors and from all over the country. A police spokesman explained that the security precautions had to be taken to prevent threatened violent action by the counter-demonstrators. Chicago Mayor Michael Bilandic observed the scene from a building adjacent to the rally site. Several arrests were made in isolated incidents before and after the Nazis appeared, including two members of the Jewish Defense League.

The counter-demonstration, which was largely unorganized, included members of the Committee Against Fascism, the Black and White Defense Committee, several leftwing groups and about 200 JDL members. The crowd waved signs reading “Bar the Nazis,” “Chicago Is Not Munich” and “We Won’t Let It Happen Here.” Many of the counter-demonstrators wore armbands with the words “Stop It Now.”

CANCELS ANNIVERSARY PLANS

Mr. and Mrs. Sydney Becker, a middle-aged couple from Los Angeles, said they had cancelled their anniversary plans in order to drive here to demonstrate against the Nazis. “They should drop dead, “Mr. Becker said, adding that his father’s entire family was killed in the Holocaust. Mrs. Becker said she felt compelled to come here because the Nazis “stand against everything this country is built on.” JDL leader Bonnie Pechter claimed that the JDL presence “put the Nazis on notice” that “there will never be a Skokie.”

The next major confrontation with the Nazis is expected to take place at Marquette Park July 9. Official counter-demonstrations planned for Skokie today were cancelled.

PAC STATEMENT

The Public Affairs Committee of Chicago’s Jewish United Fund, an umbrella agency for 34 Chicago area Jewish organizations, which had been organizing a “massive but peaceful” counter-demonstration called it off Thursday night shortly after the Nazis announced they would not march in Skokie. David Smerling, president of the JUF and the Jewish Federation of Chicago, said “If the Nazis are not going to bring their despised symbols to Skokie, we do not want to encourage large numbers of people to come to the community.”

Snarling noted that while “Skokie’s thousands” of Holocaust survivors were “deeply relieved” that the Nazis would not march in their suburban town, “we abhor the message of Nazism directed not only against Jews but against any other people.”

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