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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Photos from Ohio 

Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'. We're finally on our own. This summer I hear the drummin' . . . This was running through my head as I searched for these photos from Saturday's events in Toledo. I also posted the commentary on the photos from the Yahoo slideshow. I found this commentary sort of interesting because it obviously was written from the viewpoint of the police rather than of the protestors.


Police are seen in a stand off with an unruly group of prosestors, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2005, in Toledo, Ohio, where violence erupted between police and local protestors. A crowd that gathered to protest a planned march Saturday by a white supremacist group turned violent, throwing baseball-sized rocks at police and vandalizing vehicles and stores, including setting a bar on fire. (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley)


Members of the National Socialist Movement gesture to protesters from the grounds of Woodward High School . . . REUTERS/The Blade/Allan Detrich


Residents protest on Stickney Avenue . . . Members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement had been scheduled to march under police protection through north Toledo, with anti-Nazi groups set to counter-protest. But police canceled the event and told the neo-Nazi group to leave as tensions rose and violence erupted nearby, the Toledo Blade reported. REUTERS/The Blade/Allan Detrich


Police use tear gas against a group of protestors . . . A crowd that gathered to protest a planned march Saturday by a white supremacist group turned violent, throwing baseball-sized rocks at police and vandalizing vehicles and stores, including setting a bar on fire. At least two dozen members of the National Socialist Movement, which calls itself 'America's Nazi Party,' gathered at a city park just before noon and were to march under police protection. Organizers of the march said they were demonstrating against black gangs that they said were harassing white residents in the neighborhood. (AP Photo/J.D. Pooley)

The news story indicates the crowd was angry at what they perceived as implicit city support of the march. "When the rioting began, [Toledo Mayor] Ford tried to negotiate with those involved, but "they weren't interested in that." He said people in the crowd swore at him and wanted to know why he was protecting the Nazis. They were mostly "gang members who had real or imagined grievances and took it as an opportunity to speak in their own way," Ford said. "I was chagrined that there were obvious mothers and children in the crowd with them," he said."
In the stories coming out of New Orleans, it seemed that some of the black families waiting at the Convention Centre viewed the young men with guns as their protectors - and these young men saw themselves that way, too -- while the police and soldiers saw them as gangsters. Perhaps they were both protectors AND gangsters. I wonder if the same dynamic is at play here in Toledo as well. Are poor black Americans so alienated from police that they experience greater protection and fairer treatment from the black gangs in their midst rather than from the police who, as they perceive it, arrest them too easily, arbitrarily and for no reason?
If so, this is a serious problem and it is up to police forces to solve it. They can solve it only by recruiting many more black officers -- just as, in Canada, police forces and the RCMP had to learn a long and painful lesson about how they could not properly police their various communities if people from those communities had not been hired by the force. For us, this meant many more Aboriginal officers in Western Canada, more East Indian and Asian officers in Vancouver, and so forth. Still far from perfect here, but I think we are getting better.
UPDATE: Ah-ha -- as I suspected, this news story confirms that the Nazis deliberately chose to hold their protest in a black neighbourhood -- they wanted to provoke violence and get black people blamed for it, a longstanding fascist technique.

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