23 March 2008

Does this happen anywhere else?

Sun, March 23, 2008

Faces of hate unashamedly spew message
UPDATED: 2008-03-23 04:38:22 MST

Neo-Nazis protected by police during march, in spite of brazen public intimidation tactics


Whether we like it or not, the white supremacist movement in the city is growing and scoring points in its quest to spread a message of hate across Calgary.

On Good Friday, during the United Nations' International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, more than two dozen flag-waving neo-Nazis took over the city's core, publicly and loudly denying the Holocaust, referring to non-whites as an infection and touting the Aryan lineage as the builder of civilizations.

When white supremacists first started congregating publicly in Calgary, it was they who hid their faces behind masks.

But since they started posting pictures of themselves on the Internet with guns and baseball bats -- and after two recent Molotov cocktail attacks in the city were tied to possible white supremacist activity -- it's the counter-protesters who have to hide their faces. One person who knows the danger of standing up against the neo-Nazis is Bonnie Collins.

She, her four children -- aged three to nine -- and her husband, Jason, were all home when their house was fire bombed on Feb. 12.

That moment was painfully relived Friday, when Bonnie -- as part of a counter-demonstration -- confronted the neo-Nazis, who asked her, "How's your house, Bonnie?" while standing behind a cordon of police officers on the front steps of city hall.

"Is it nice and toasty in there? How's Jason and the kids?"

Apart from gaining ground in their intimidation campaign, the neo-Nazis showed they have absolute freedom of movement in Calgary.

They marched, under police escort, from one end of downtown to the other, and although Calgary Police Service members faced the counter-demonstrators the entire time, the white supremacists made it clear to their opponents police were there to protect them, not the neo-Nazis.

In a surreal twist, the Aryan Guard intended to start its march to city hall from Mewata Armoury.

The Department of National Defence installation is home to the King's Own Calgary Regiment and the Calgary Highlanders, two regiments which lost thousands of men fighting the very ideology the neo-Nazis wanted to flaunt at the regiments' front door.

More than 60 years after the fact, many veterans still suffer the memories of the wrath they felt at the receiving end of the Nazi war machine and the sacrifices they had to make to destroy it.

Ironically, it was a group of self-proclaimed anarchists, known as the flag bearers of the counter-culture, who were the most physically active in disrupting the white supremacist rally.

They also paid the highest price, as at least two were detained by cops and many others were forced to give their particulars to police.

"Every time they show up, we have to show up in force," said one of the anarchists.

"But they're growing ... the last time we confronted them, there were only eight of them."

And that's yet another small victory for the Aryan Guard, whose slogans, flags, mocking and hate towards all who are different from them also struck pain in the hearts of many that day.

Two young girls -- one blond, the other Asian -- walked slowly from the street up the steps of city hall to get a closer look at the Aryan rally.

Both pale and leaning on each other, the teens held each other tight as they took hesitant steps.

Another blond girl held tightly onto her boyfriend of Middle East descent as she watched through tears while the neo-Nazis cheered and were escorted by police onto a bus at the end of their rally.

The fact everyone has a right to think, believe and worship as they see fit is what makes Canada the best country in the world -- bar none.

Members of the Aryan Guard also have rights.

But the fact they can intimidate, threaten, recruit and feel comfortable enough to do as they please in full public view is something Calgarians cannot ignore.

What the hell is going on in this crazy world, this fucked-up city? Police escort for Neo-nazis? The city must've had some trouble approving this one, but really. Really? Has Canada become so constitutionally indefensible that we can't even stand up to bullshit like this anymore? This is very troubling and frustrating.

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