Washington Police Criticized in House for Stand on ‘rockwell Affair’
Menu JTA Search

Washington Police Criticized in House for Stand on ‘rockwell Affair’

Download PDF for this date

Rep. Samuel Friedel, Maryland Democrat, said today in a House speech that the U.S. Attorney General should consider prosecution under the Smith Act of George Lincoln Rockwell, fuhrer of the American Nazi party. He termed Rockwell “disruptive to the peace and security of our nation.” He criticized the handling of the Rockwell affair by the District of Columbia police.

Commenting on the arrest of Irving Berman, a local Jewish communal leader who protested against the distribution of Rockwell’s Nazi handbills, Rep. Friedel said “a more gruesome miscarriage of justice could not be imagined.” He said the police protected Rockwell’s Nazi agitators and “Americans are being deprived of the right to defend themselves and their families from the threat of an awful death.”

Rep. Friedel stressed that “within the shadows of the Capitol of the United States handbills are being distributed that call for the erection of gas ovens to exterminate the Jews.” He added: “Rockwell and his people have been distributing this material openly and without any hindrance on the part of the police officials of this city.”

Calling attention to District of Columbia laws that state it is forbidden to act “with intent to provoke a breach of the peace,” or to act “in such a manner as to annoy, disturb, interfere with, obstruct, or be offensive to others,” Rep. Friedel said that if this law “has any meaning whatsoever, it means that such highly provocative, insulting, and fighting words uttered in crowded places are outlawed.”

According to Rep. Friedel, “the right to free speech, which Rockwell claims, and in which the Washington police seem to concur, hardly goes so far as to protect acts of violence; it hardly goes so far as to protect an act designed to upset freedom of religion. He pointed out that Rockwell has been publicly soliciting funds to carry on Nazi activities. District law requires certain formalities from those soliciting donations. “The Charitable Contributions Act may be the very device which our police force here in Washington can use to suppress this menace,” he stated.

Founding Funders

The digitization of the JTA Archive would not have been possible without the generous support of the following donors:
  • The Gottesman Fund
  • Righteous Persons Foundation
  • Charles H. Revson Foundation
  • Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen
  • George S. Blumenthal
  • Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund