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Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Permit likely for neo-Nazis Gettysburg Rally (USA)

Aryan Nations plans to hold June rally at Gettysburg battlefield
A permit will likely be granted for the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations to hold a rally at the Gettysburg National Military Park, according to park spokeswoman Katie Lawhon.

Aryan Nations - which identifies itself as a white-supremacist organization - applied for the permit last week and park officials are expected to approve the request, Lawhon said. The rally would take place on the park's lawn west of the Cyclorama Center, she added.

"Because the land is publicly owned, we're obligated to make it publicly available for exercising First Amendment rights," she said.

Although the approval is likely, Lawhon says the park doesn't support the views of Aryan Nations, which has been called a "continuing terrorist threat" by the FBI.
According to a statement from Lawhon, "The Park Service's mission in preserving and protecting the historic resources at Gettysburg includes making them available to all Americans, even those whose views are contrary to the majority of the public."

In response, the YWCA plans to hold a "celebration of diversity" on June 19, the expected date of the Aryan Nations rally, said YWCA Missions Director Ashley Andyshak Hayes.

"There are some people who feel it's better to ignore (Aryan Nations), but people around here aren't going to tolerate this and it's important for us to speak out and send a positive, proactive message," Hayes said.

A meeting will be held May 17 at 5:30 p.m. at the YWCA to discuss exactly what will take place at the "celebration of diversity."

In 2006, the YWCA held a similar event called "Community Unity Day," which was organized to counter a battlefield rally held by the World Knights of the Ku Klux Klan.

Michael McQueeney, who leads the Wisconsin chapter of Aryan Nations, said Gettysburg is a popular location for white-supremacy groups because of the prevalence of sympathizers in the region.

"We're going to all the old Civil War battlefields to bring in recruits because there are a lot of white patriots in this area," he added.
But McQueeney attended the 2006 Ku Klux Klan rally and was a bit disappointed with the turnout, he said. The 2 1/2 hour rally was attended by about 30 Klan members, seven re-enactor counter-protesters and more than 100 spectators.

For Hayes and the YWCA, low turnout means mission accomplished.

"That's good to hear," she said, "because I know a lot of people came to (Community Unity Day) so it's definitely encouraging that more people came to our event."
If approved, the Aryan Nations rally will last two to three hours and will include speeches and discussions on current events, according to McQueeney.

"You're going to see 50 to 100 of us show up and there will be speakers talking about how our children and children's children should grow up white and not mixed race," he said. "We're protesting illegal immigration and President Barack Obama's birth certificate and the Jews who are running the banks and making all the white man's money.

"I have my speech all ready," he said, adding, "There will be no skinheads coming because they're the ones that cause the problems."
Following the rally, there will be either a burning of "Jewish" books, a cross lighting or bonfire, according to McQueeney.
"Afterward, everybody gets together and we have a barbecue and it's just a fun meet-and-greet type thing," he added.
But any events taking place after the rally will be held at a private site just outside of Gettysburg, according to McQueeney.

The Evening Sun