Detroit police chief: Nazis wanted ‘Charlottesville II’ at Detroit LGBTQ Pride

    Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, hold a swastika burning after a rally on April 21, 2018 in Draketown, Georgia. Community members had opposed the rally in Newnan and came out to embrace racial unity in the small Georgia town. | Spencer Platt/Getty Images

    Armed Nazis who crashed Motor City Pride over the weekend hoped to spark a repeat of the violence at the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., “Unite the Right” rally, Detroit Police Chief James Craig said at a press conference Monday.

    Five of the 15 members of the National Socialist Movement were open-carrying, “two with long guns and three with handguns,” WXYZ-TV in Detroit reported. Craig said intelligence sources told police the Nazis “wanted a Charlottesville No. 2.”

    At the April 2017 Charlottesville event, white supremacists chanted, “Jews will not replace us.” One of them, James Alex Fields, Jr. plowed his car into the crowd, killing anti-Nazi protester Heather Heyer, 32. Fields was convicted in December 2018 of first-degree murder.

    At Motor City Pride, Craig said, “We kept both groups separate, we had good communication with both groups, and as it turned out, there was no violence.”

    The police response has been criticized by some on the left who accused them of protecting Nazis. Detroit Free Press liberal columnist Nancy Kaffer noted that Nazis are entitled to the freedom of assembly under the First Amendment.

    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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