On August 4, ACT for America sponsored a pro-law enforcement rally in Philadelphia that drew local activists in the area. ACT works primarily to manufacture fear and hate of Muslims in America. This year, however, the group launched a new initiative called “Back the Blue” aimed at showing support for local law enforcement.
The campaign appears to be a public relations move on ACT’s part after the negative press it received last summer following its national “March Against Sharia” rallies. ACT’s events last year, which took place in more than two dozen cities across the country, attracted all sorts of figures from the radical right including white nationalists, neo-Nazis and antigovernment militias.
About a dozen individuals attended the “Back the Blue” rally earlier this month, as evidenced by photos posted by Scott Presler, ACT’s lead activism strategist. One People’s Project identified Deborah Nemeth, who has been spotted cozying up to the racist “alt-right,” among those pictured in attendance.
Nemeth traveled from Philadelphia to Charlottesville, Virginia, last summer to attend the deadly “Unite the Right” event, and openly marched with white nationalists there. Nemeth was interviewed the day after the event and claimed that James Alex Fields, the alleged driver of the car that plowed into counter-protesters killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring others, was acting in self-defense. “I know that people were being chased,” she told Public Radio International. “And I have an idea that, you know, whoever that person was [in the car], they were probably being chased.”
Another attendee at ACT’s “Back the Blue” rally was Zach Rehl, a local right-wing organizer who runs the group “Sports, Beer and Politics.” Rehl is known for organizing rallies in support of President Donald Trump that have attracted alt-right figures, including a June 2017 “March for Trump” event where activists sported alt-right imagery such as Kekistan flags.
Nemeth seems to enjoy a cozy relationship with the Philadelphia chapter of the hate group Fraternal Order of Alt-Knights (FOAK), described as the “tactical defense arm” of the Proud Boys and known for engaging in street violence. Rehl has also been photographed hanging out with Philly FOAK members.
ACT played a prominent role last year in what the alt-right dubbed the “summer of hate.” Many of the groups and individuals that attended its “March Against Sharia” went on to attend the violent “Unite the Right” event.
ACT’s Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, event on June 10, 2017, attracted the alt-right group Vanguard America, which is the same group that Fields marched with in Charlottesville. Notorious neo-Nazi Billy Roper was originally scheduled to host one of the events in Arkansas until Hatewatch reported on it, prompting ACT to drop him as an official organizer.
Following the violence in Charlottesville, ACT for America claimed it would enforce a “zero-tolerance policy for hate and intolerance” at its events. Clearly, the group does not appear to be enforcing that rule very well.