We Spoke Up

Cops and Nazis

For a long while, I’ve been questioning the intended efficacy of public protests. I often wonder if the days of marching and holding signs and the persuasive effect they used to have on those in power is long gone. Public protests still serve a purpose though, they create a sense of solidarity with other like-minded folks, walking on empty streets with thousands of other people is an interesting way to take in the city, creative sign slogans are entertaining and inspiring, and protests can sometimes turn into riots. With these things in mind, I headed Downtown this weekend for the Anti-Nazi Protest with a Bay Area friend in-tow. I wanted him to experience Los Angeles style oppositional politics, a sorta intro to “This is how we do it.”

Some crowd shots

We arrived early and the Nazis hadn’t shown up yet but the cops were there, bunches and bunches of them. Walking to the protest, a Chicana in a car yelled to me “Are you going to the protest? Be careful cause the cops have tons of plastic bracelets to arrest people.” I heard one cop talking on a walkie-talkie saying “There couldn’t be a more perfect day for this” with a big smile on his face. Oh yeah, you’re all getting paid overtime while our local libraries and parks are cutting hours and staff because the city needs the funds to pay the unwarranted massive police presence (80% of the city budget goes to fire and police). Must be nice.

“I just look illegal” – I loved this guy’s shirt. I wonder if they’re available in Arizona?

Haha, he’s sagging


I thought these guys might be some Nazi provocateurs but I think they were undercover cops.

Wins fanciest-banner-of-the-day award

Before the Nazis arrived, there were some scuffles and protesters ran from one end of the action to the other as a couple of maybe-Nazis were recipients of overzealous street justice. The cops charged into the crowd in riot line formation, very military like. After a bit, everyone dispersed and started getting antsy again waiting for the jerks to arrive. To pass the time my (White) friend made a sign to try to bring some humor to the afternoon. It read: “Dad, quit being a Nazi – you’re embarrassing me in front of my friends.” Some folks got it, some were offended, most laughed and a few folks actually believed him. One lady was so taken by the idea of a son protesting his Nazi father she made up a song and sang it to him right on the spot.

My friend’s nervous-chuckle inducing sign

The Nazis arrive. You can barely see them as there is a huge perimeter between them and us.

Soon after, a guy ran through the crowd like Paul Revere yelling  “They’re here, they’re here!” A couple of minutes later, lots of ‘boos’ could be heard and way off in the distance behind three or four lines of cops, about 20-30 Nazis marched to the south side of City Hall waving big, ridiculous Nazi flags that were an amalgamation of the stars and stripes, swastikas and some other crap symbolic to these losers. The protester crowds rushed to greet them from behind the police tape, yelling all sorts of chants – some familiar and some that hardly made sense i.e. what the hell does Haiti have to do with Nazis? It helps to focus on the issues at hand.

Why does she have her badge number covered? Hmmm…

The pasty, I mean paltry group of racists brought out a PA system and started shouting some obviously stupid things but could barely be heard above the cacophony of protesters.  One bloated skinhead looking dude tried to taunt us by waving his super-sized swastika flag back and forth in front of the crowd. How tough can you look when you got a thousand cops protecting you? After a half an hour or so standing at the frontlines, the cops were being told to turn their batons out, in a threatening stance to face the protesters. For what? To be ready to strike at our tender bellies? Uh, we’re not the ones who started World War Two! This kind of action is a good example of how upside-down our world has become. It also makes one wonder, who’s on whose side?

Big guy with the swastika flag trying to instigate.

Police being told to turn their batons to a more aggressive position

It seemed I’d gotten the gist of the protest and I wanted to leave before those plastic bracelets got put into use, so we spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around Downtown streets. Later in the day at the 5th street subway station, a punk girl on a bike told me the Nazis got pelted with rocks and bottles while trying to leave the rally. It’s nice to be able to end this account with a happy ending.

While in Downtown I spotted…

Nice bike with portable radio on handle-bars

Multi-generational edifices

Interesting video by Hood News of the Anti-Nazi Protest Rally.

14 thoughts on “We Spoke Up

  1. “It seemed I’d gotten the gist of the protest and I wanted to leave before those plastic bracelets got put into use,”

    So…that’s how you guys do it in LA, huh? j/k.

    Anyhow, when the riots happened in ’92, the police at the downtown building were using the same tactics as the cops in the pictures above. Interesting that the police would protect Nazis in the same fashion as they’d protect public property during a riot. As much as I’d like to think that the police would protect any group’s right to assemble, Nazis or otherwise, I’ve seen the police act totally different when black, Latino, or any groups considered “left wing” are assembling.

    It makes me wonder who’s on whose side as well, Chimatli.

  2. I think Officer Lovato’s badge number was covered in mourning for Good Ol’Chief Gates. I saw video of this protest on Eyewitness News and one of the guys scuffling with the Anti-Nazi crowd was described as homeless as if the reporter was trying to gain sympathy for him.

  3. So that’s the huge crowd I saw, the anti-nazi protestors. Orale.

    I enjoyed your friend’s sign. And I think the officer’s badge number is covered because last week they had the funeral of the fallen officer.

  4. What a waste of these estuped nazis. They hid like little b**chs in front of shitty hall. I would have like to see these mofos pull this off in Boyle Heights or Lincoln Heights..

    I was gonna go, but decided to go home after work and watch “Higher Learning” instead.

    Dig your friend’s sign, it would make for a good shirt.

  5. My personal favorite is the Hitler’s pretty gay sign.

    Nazis and white supremacists and racists do totally suck and while I do understand the value of a good counter protest, sometimes wonder if in places like Los Angeles (where the majority of the population is Asian, Latino, African-American, Middle Eastern, Jewish, etc, etc), that we wouldn’t be better off just ignoring dumb nazi f#cks instead of giving them attention, which brings more police protection, media coverage, and possible future supporters. I think in places like California, it’s often the subtle or institutionalized racism that hurts more people than a bunch of knucklehead white boys hiding behind cops.

  6. I think that the Nazis are ignorable, but the Tea Party isn’t. Yet, they have similar ideas. So, by raising the profile of Nazis, you also make people aware that the Tea Party is Nazi-like in some respects.

    This Nazi group is trying to recruit new members from the Tea Party scene. They are probably joining Tea Party organizations.

    Just food for thought.

  7. Che, from a blog called Phoenix New Times:

    “As far as ideology goes, the nativists and the Nazis buy the idea that the country is being “invaded” from the south by illegal immigrants from Latin America. They believe the shibboleth that “Americans” (read, “whites”) are being deprived of jobs because of new arrivals. And they each, in their own way, posit that Latino immigrants represent a threat to Anglo political hegemony.

    Also, they each promote this conspiracy theory that Mexican immigrants are out to “reconquer” the Southwest. Take out the Nazi imagery in the National Socialist Movement video above, and it could easily have been made by United for a Sovereign America.

    Here’s an exercise to make the point: Read the following, and tell me who wrote it, a nativist or a neo-Nazi:

    “No more Amnesty scams, no more lies from the Politicians, simple grass roots action, and a simple America for Americans policy.”

    Same for this excerpt:

    “Illegal Immigration is a threat to the citizens, principles and the very existence of the United States of America…Illegal Immigration is being encouraged and supported by radical leftist groups working with Global corporations and sellout politicians.”

    As you can see, the rhetorical link between the two groups is practically seamless, as is their common goal: the expulsion of millions of Hispanics from the United States. One group publicly embraces the swastika. The other can only do so furtively, knowing the taboo involved, and the consequences. So what is it that separates Nazis and nativists on immigration? Swastikas, bizarre dress and not much more.”


  8. I had been wondering when this post would be up, because I knew many of the bloggers here had attended. I went on line Monday, but only saw some very boring posts. You brought it home, Chimatli—I especially LOVED the Hood News!! Thank you.

    Like Renee, I see power in not falling into their media publicity machine. These hate groups love the spectacle and I too am questioning if the rallies are still powerful enough to be effective. Seems like LA has so many—they are starting to turn into a tourist site-seeing feature for this city. I say this because a writer came to visit me last month, we had to cross a protest march at Broadway & 5th. She was enchanted and had me take her picture against one of the bigger banners and it’s costumed protesters. That juxtaposition has had me thinking about this ever since.

    Still, part of me thinks that we would not be this heavy breathing and evolving city, if we did not have these public dialogues.

  9. LA Indymedia http://la.indymedia.org has photos and discussion. Some writers there criticized some of the things that happened.

    The Nazis are calling their project “take back the southwest”. That aligns with that new law in AZ, and with a segment of the Tea Party movement.

  10. “I thought these guys might be some Nazi provocateurs but I think they were undercover cops.”

    Good job with your racial profiling, there. Bald + white = Nazi. I’ll file that away for future reference.

    “The Nazis are calling their project “take back the southwest”.”

    Wouldn’t that be Mexico’s project to work on? Or Native Americans for that matter? I’m sure the Chumash were happy to lose their beach front view.

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