April 21 is a day remembered for a number of momentous events— the anniversaries of the founding of Rome, the premier of “Walker, Texas Ranger” and the death of Prince — but thankfully the pathetic neo-Nazi rally in Newnan, Georgia will have no place in our collective consciousness.
Last Saturday, a smattering of neo-Nazis descended upon Newnan with the intention of spreading a message of hate. They were met with police, protesters and love.
Some 700 law enforcement officers from 42 different agencies were summoned to the suburb south of Atlanta where helicopters and drones hovered above the Greenville Street park; an airplane towing a banner reading “Newnan believes in love for all” cruised the sky in the background.
Hundreds of protesters, including Newnan residents and anti-racist activists from around the state and country, came out in protest. The sidewalks and surfaces inside the park were covered with unicorns, rainbows and messages of love drawn in brightly colored chalk: “Love will save us,” “Bear hugs,” Have you cared today?”
The assembled racists — members of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) and the neo-Confederate League of the South (LOS) — once again revealed a movement in shambles when it comes to translating online activism into boots on the ground.
Although the “vanguard of the white race” traveled to Newnan from around the around the South, Illinois and the Pacific Northwest, their numbers barely topped 30. They marched into the caged-off park, where they posed for media. As is typical, were nearly an hour-and-a-half late for their own event.
The assembled racists spent a good deal of time setting up and testing their brand-new PA system, two large Alto speakers that go for around $300 each. This is a lesson learned from Shelbyville — maybe the only lesson they bothered to learn — where their tinny PA system was simply overpowered by protesters.
At 4:20, a female NSM member grabbed the mic and opened the rally by saying “The Nationalist Movement [sic] party is here and ready to please y’all with some wonderful speeches!”
Glancing at notes, NSM commander Jeff Schoep approached the microphone and began barking his speech, holding forth through feedback and other technical difficulties.
“If our forefathers, if the American founding fathers, were alive today they would be standing with us. Once again, we are the true patriots,” he proclaimed.
“I want to talk about Antifa and the forces arraigned against the people of our nation,” Schoep continued, trying to muster the air of a seasoned statesman. He referenced Charlottesville, though his recollection clashed a bit with reality. “Those of us that were there know who was throwing urine, who was throwing feces, who was throwing pepper spray and throwing rocks and bricks, and we had a university professor by the name of Duane Dixon who was standing on the top of a car with a rifle telling people on the left to jump in front of cars!”
Schoep’s speech continued to jump around, even touching on health issues. “One big lie that is continuously perpetuated is the lie that we are a hate group,” he said with indignation. “Hate burns you up inside and is not good for your health.”
Neither are opiates, Schoep pointed out, nor skinny jeans.
“We are running out of time as a people!” he insisted in his closing remarks.
Schoep then stepped off the stage and reporters swooped in like vultures on roadkill. With a couple of exceptions, the only one really paying attention to the stage and remaining speeches was a blonde NSM member charged with filming the event.
While Schoep courted the spotlight, on stage was a pathetic demonstration of what “unity” on the racist right looks like.
Any potential for true coalition building has been shattered since Charlottesville due to competing egos and other more recent events, including the arrest of neo-Nazi Traditional Worker Party leader Matthew Heimbach for assault after he was caught cheating on his wife with her stepmother. The Newnan rally was a chance for other hate groups to stand with NSM and address their common enemies. It didn’t happen.
Despite calls for a “good League showing” on social media, Schoep’s jack-booted Nazis were joined by five members of the LOS, all the League could muster.
Although the small League contingent represented the largest block of southerners present for NSM’s rally, the League’s most recent Georgia state chairman, Tommy Davis, was a no show, as was League president Michael Hill, PR chief Brad Griffin and chief of staff, Michael Tubbs.
Looming large on stage, however, was the League’s “Commander of the Kentucky Southern Defense Force,” Robert Isaacs, who has been operating under the pseudonym “Ike Baker” at League events and on social media.
Serenaded by a chorus of “boos” and other choice words from the protesters outside the park, Isaacs addressed the crowd in Hill’s stead, wearing a patch on his uniform commemorating his presence in Charlottesville. Isaacs told the crowd that LOS shares many goals and objectives with the Nazis. “If we’re not going to name the enemy, then we’re never going to defeat the enemy. And I’m going to give you right now, the enemy is the very children of Satan, international Jewry! Look at what they’ve done to you.”
Closing out the scant 40 minutes of racist speeches was NSM’s security director, Mike Schloar. Proud to announce that he had financed the purchase of the new sound system, Schloar began taunting the crowd through the 1100-watt speakers. “Antifa, your PA system sucks!” “Remember Shelbyville!” “How do you like me now?” And then a dumbfounded Schloar found himself shouting into a dead mic. The permit had expired, the plug had been pulled by the City of Newnan, and all the racists could do was slink out of the park and back from whence they came.