Nancy Nodler says countering the neo-Nazis during Saturday’s rally was a way for her to take a stand against injustice.
“If no one is here to demonstrate against them, they would have the whole stage, and they don’t deserve that,” Nodler said on Capital Avenue Saturday afternoon.
“I have two black grandchildren, I have gay children – I think rights are for everybody – even them, unfortunately,” she said, pointing to the Capitol steps where about 40 members of the National Socialist Movement and White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan rallied for white civil rights.
Nodler says she’s lived in Frankfort for 30 years, and when she heard about the rally “it just got my old 70’s spirit going again.”
About 150 people gathered near the Capital Avenue roundabout to protest the neo-Nazi rally.
The NSM, a Detroit-based political party and the largest neo-Nazi group in the U.S., joined with the KKK to speak about illegal immigration, white civil rights, economic recession, homosexuals and crime.
David Horvath drove from Louisville with a 10-vehicle carpool to join in the counter protest of the NSM platform.
“I believe this kind of presence needs to be addressed with our presence,” Horvath said, though he didn’t yell in opposition like many of the counter protestors.
“I feel no need to show a hateful side because we’ve seen enough of that already today,” he said.
NSM members wore uniforms – some in Nazi garb – while the KKK members dressed in white and black robes with pointed hoods.
“I’ve never seen an actual Klansman in an outfit, and it is horrifying,” Nodler said.
“I’m shaking from the inside out, and I’m glad to see so many of my fellow Kentuckians know the right thing to do.”
Like Nodler, Horvath was not expecting to see the KKK present.
“It really made it abundantly clear how the two are connected – how the National Socialist Movement is intrinsically connected with the racist policy just like the Klan stands for,” Horvath said.
The counter protesters on the east side of Capital Avenue held signs saying, “White person against racism,” “No hate here,” and “Mexican-American and proud.”
About 10 people stood to the south of the counter protest under a black “White Power” flag and occasionally cheered or held their fists in the air in support of the speakers.
Dozens of city, county and state police manned the area and formed a line in full riot gear between the counter protestors and the “white pride” supporters. Police escorted the supporters from the rally before the speakers finished.
No incidents were reported, according to police.
Jeff Schoep, who wore a black suit with silver pinstripes and is considered the commander of NSM, spoke over the PA system.
“A white man can’t feed his family while these corrupt businesses are hiring immigrants for peanuts, and then you have the American people that are living on the streets – that isn’t right no matter the country you are from,” Schoep said.
The NSM goals are “defending the rights of white people everywhere” and “the promotion of white separation.” It also demands that “all non-whites currently residing in America be required to leave the nation forthwith and return to their land of origin: peacefully or by force,” according to its website.
“Those who stand in opposition are traitors to the American way of life; you people that stand against us and what we stand for – you are the traitors, you are the scum and degenerates that want to bring this country down,” Schoep said.
The NSM members waved their flags, which displayed a spliced American flag with a swastika in the center, while raising their fists in support of the speakers.
Schoep and other “unit leaders” – from Arizona and Wisconsin among other states – spoke about taking a stand against illegal immigration and minorities – even legal Americans.
“What I’m saying is had our founding fathers been alive today, they may have started a revolution with gunshots – we’re starting it with words,” Schoep said.
“That’s white pride.”
Nodler laughed when she thought about the NSM’s use of American rights in its platform.
“It’s ironic that they are using the basic liberties of every American to deny other Americans the very same civil liberties,” Nodler said.
Malcolm Higgins, a junior at Kentucky State University from Detroit, has seen the NSM office in his hometown, but has never seen the group at a rally.
“I didn’t expect the KKK to be here,” he said. “They are separate organizations, and just to see them in full garb is incredible.”
“Clearly there’s a lot of tension,” Higgins said about the crowds.
“I’m surprised there’s so much opposition, because even in Frankfort there’s some racial tension and discrimination, but there are a lot of people out here from the city that are telling them that they don’t want this here.”