2011-04-16 "Neo-Nazis March in NJ"
TRENTON — A sea of blue kept a lid on the combustible atmosphere at a neo-Nazi rally and counterprotest in Trenton today, where the police presence dwarfed the number of people who attended on either side.
About 50 members of the National Socialist Movement rallied on the statehouse steps while a larger group, including members of the Trenton chapter of the Black Panthers, gathered nearby, shouting through bullhorns, to protest their presence.
Jason Heicke, NSM's chief of staff, said the rally was held to protest high property taxes, illegal immigration and the outsourcing of American jobs overseas. However, a racially charged atmosphere prevailed.
“We’re sick and tired of this government and it not working for the people,” said Heicke, a lifelong New Jersey resident. “The problems out here locally are crime and high taxes and bus
Shouts of “white power” and “sieg heils” emanated from NSM members while about 150 counter-protesters shouted back, “Hey hey, ho ho, these Nazi scum have got to go.”
Under rainy skies, the two rallies were framed by walls of police officers in riot gear, hundreds strong, who separated and surrounded both groups keeping them at least 100 yards apart at all times.
One counter-protestor, Trenton’s Bryant Williams, carried a sign reading “God don’t like Nazis so he made it rain.”
Williams said he was befuddled by the neo-Nazis’ presence in the state capital.
“It’s 2011. We’ve got way more crazy things going on the world right now. We should be past this. It’s doesn’t make any sense. We’ve got a black president now. We should be past this.”
State Police spokesman, Sgt. Stephen Jones, said officers from local, state and federal agencies were deployed for the event after NSM members and groups such as the Black Panthers and the Jewish Defense Organization, who decried the rally, traded barbs in the weeks leading up to the rally, raising fears of violence.
Security was extremely tight around the statehouse and ralliers had to pass through metal detectors surrounded by police officers and police dogs to gain entry to a cordoned-off protest area.
No violence came to pass at the event, and with a steady rain falling, the NSM members filed onto Department of Corrections buses 90 minutes after their rally began and received a police escort to a nearby hotel, where they had held a two-day conference.
After the rally ended, police made three arrests when counter-protesters attempted to reach NSM members.
On Friday night, counter-protesters clashed with several members of a neo-Nazi group congregating at a Pemberton church, injuring four NSM members, Jones said.
State Police arrested two people on charges of inciting a riot in connection with the incident, he said.
Jones said there was no violence between the groups on Saturday. Some, like Dorian Thomas of Trenton, were rankled by the heavy police presence.
“Look at all of these police officers,” he said. “We’re in a recession and they send all of these guys out here for us — for a positive demonstration. That’s gotta cost millions of dollars, and for what?”
Members of the National Socialist Movement rally with a Nazi salute in front of the State House in Trenton on Saturday. Photo: Mary Iuvone