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The nation's largest neo-Nazi group plans to rally in Chattanooga

Jeff Schoep and the National Socialist Movement
Jeff Schoep and the National Socialist MovementPhotos courtesy of the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Chattanooga Times Free Press. Photos used by permission and merged by Willie Carlisle

The National Socialist Movement (NSM) under the leadership of Jeff Schoep have gotten approval and purchased the permit to hold their 40th anniversary celebration rally on the steps of the Hamilton County Courthouse. The rally is scheduled to take place on Saturday April 26, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. following a private meeting just outside the city limits. The group has meetings planned at several spots throughout the city beginning on Friday April 25.

Chattanooga has had many racially motivated riots in the past but currently are experiencing tremendous growth and doesn't need a white supremacist group coming to town to stir up trouble. Schoep stated that he chose Chattanooga for the 40th anniversary rally due to the tremendous support he has in the city.

Schoep shuns the label "White Supremacist," and would prefer to be labeled a White Civil Rights Group. He likened his organization to the example set by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. This analogy baffles those who were alive and followed the Civil Rights Movement and see no similarities between the two.

Citizens of Chattanooga are cautiously concerned due the the violent and hateful rhetoric of this Detroit based hate group. I am concluding that Schoep will be amenable to being called a hate group due to the races and religions he has openly espoused hatred towards. His beliefs are that all non-white people in America should get on a plane and go back to the nation they came from.

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke who is Jewish, is very concerned about the condition his city will be in after the expected 50 to 100 supporters have had their say and departed the city. Berke is asking all citizens to not go anywhere near the rally during the time it is in progress. Berke was quoted by a local reporter as saying:

"It's awful. I can't stand having them in our city," said Berke, who is Jewish. "I don't believe that it is productive or helpful to anyone, in the least. They have a constitutional right to assemble. We will make sure it occurs in a peaceful manner. And then I hope they leave town as quickly as humanly possible. The last thing in the world we want to see is this group in our city."

James R. Mapp who serves as the president of the Chattanooga Chapter of the NAACP had planned a counter rally at a downtown park but has had second thought about doing so. He released a statement on today in regards to that planned counter rally:

"In response to this public declaration, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP consulted with federal law enforcement agencies as well as respected national organizations that monitor such groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center. In fact, the SPLC has labeled this group as 'provocateurs' because negative actions are often 'provoked' because of their presence. In addition, the NAACP has participated in an intensive public outreach campaign which includes conversations with many like-minded civic groups in the African- American, Latino and Jewish communities.

"We also dully understand that there is conversation throughout the Greater Chattanooga community in holding counter protests, rallies, and prayer vigils that are meant to serve as a response to this and other community concerns. While we respect the spirit of each individual person's and each group's convictions, the SPLC specifically referenced instances such as the Toledo riot of 2005 as an example of how well-intentioned objectives can take a terrible turn for the worse and often results in arrests, harm and injures to well-meaning individuals. After consulting with all of these aforementioned groups and organizations, one theme is readily clear and has been repeatedly affirmed, during their duration in the Chattanooga area, the best recourse the public can make at this time is to simply stay away and refrain from contact with the NSM or like-minded groups and individuals. We especially want that message to be conveyed to our 'young people.'

"The sole objective we all must undertake at this time is to ensure the general safety and welfare of the public at-large, and to see that the presence of these groups in our region occurs, 'without incident.' We have been assured by various sectors of law enforcement that a public safety plan is in place, and if the unfortunate circumstance arises that members of the community do cross paths with this or like-minded groups, we urge you to immediately contact an appropriate member of law enforcement so that it may be documented at once. Likewise, the Chattanooga-Hamilton County NAACP does see the need to address and highlight issues of concern in our community, and in the future looks forward to working with all groups in all communities who want to see a more vibrant, productive and sustainable community."