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Reports from the struggle

August 30, 2002 | Pages 10 and 11

Beat back the Nazis

By Brian Conway

WASHINGTON--A multiracial crowd of 400 faced off against white supremacists and neo-Nazis on Capitol Hill last week. The antiracist mobilization was prompted by an anti-Semitic white power rally called by the National Alliance (NA)--the NA's sixth appearance in D.C. in the last year.

About 300 or 400 Nazis and white power skinheads responded to the NA call--the largest white power rally in decades in D.C. D.C. residents and other activists confronted their march, determined to send the message, "No Nazis in D.C."

The NA rally on the grounds of the Capitol building--which they advertised as a "taxpayers protest against the war on terrorism"--lasted only an hour and was challenged by constant chanting by antiracists.

Since September 11, the NA has posed as supporters of the Palestinian cause to spread their racism and anti-Semitism. But the NA "isn't opposed to the oppression of Palestinians," a protester told Socialist Worker. "In fact, they're organizing for racist hate here, against Blacks, Jews, gays and immigrants."

The day's event stands as a warning for everyone concerned with fighting racism and defending the rights of ordinary people. The NA is building bridges between suit-and-tie neo-Nazis and hardcore white supremacists in skinhead gangs.

Leading up to the rally, the NA appeared in communities around D.C. passing out literature and painting swastikas on synagogues and other community buildings. They hope to expand their membership in the next few years as the economy generates more anger at the system--anger that can be diverted onto scapegoats like immigrants and minorities.

Our side needs to build an effective, coordinated and united front to disorganize the Nazis, demoralize them and keep them off our streets. They are organizing for racist violence and terror. We have to organize solidarity and confront them every time they appear.

Rally for reparations

By Alana Smith

WASHINGTON--About 2,000 people from many states attended the Rally for Reparations here on August 17.

While there was a wide variety of political backgrounds represented at the rally, the overall message was clear. African Americans demand recognition of the suffering they have endured since their ancestors were enslaved, racism is still a problem today--and the damage done must be repaired.

"In the aftermath of September 11, money has been pushed towards fighting terrorism--but African Americans experienced terrorism in Africa, and they've been experiencing terrorism since they were brought to America," said a member of the Atlanta August 17 Coalition. "We've experienced terrorism by racist police, race riots and bombings. Reparation is not just a paycheck. The repair needs to be multi-generational and multifaceted. It could include checks for individuals, if need be, but money should also go to education and health care [for African American communities]."

Many people attending the rally pointed out that reparations were paid to the Japanese who were interned during the Second World War and to survivors of the Holocaust. One 14-year-old said, "Other people have received reparations and it seems like we're the only ones who haven't." A woman from Pennsylvania said, "[The government] owes us something besides an apology."

Some organizers put forth the idea of a "Buy Black Day," where supporters should buy only from businesses owned and controlled by African Americans. Most demonstrators made it clear that the strength of those fighting for reparations is in their numbers.

As one woman, originally from the South, but who traveled to D.C. from her home in Brooklyn, put it, "My concern is unity." The rally showed that there is a truly deep need right now for a new movement against racism.

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