Neo-Nazi Rally Security

By: Beth Shayne
By: Beth Shayne

As the Neo-Nazis roll into town, the state police rim the capitol lawn with 3,000 ft. of chain-linked fence. It will surround what they call the event zone.

Inside it, security will be tight. Everyone will go through a metal detector. A tri-county police presence will be massive.

"While we want everything to be peaceful, we want to send a clear message: If somebody breaks the law, they will be arrested," says 1st Lt. Eric Johnson, Michigan State Police Lansing Post commander.

Law enforcement will maintain four designated areas at the capitol:

Zone 1 is set aside for the Neo-Nazis, bussed in by the state police. Zone 2 will be a buffer, with zones for protestors, and Nazi supporters fenced in on either side.

The police say the fencing will provide contact, but prohibit clashing. The National Socialist Movement spokesperson says it automatically puts a negative spin on their message because of the aesthetics.

Thursday afternoon, that spokesperson, Bill White, presented an objection in court to the fence, to the metal detectors, and to the city's funding of a diversity celebration. The judge denied his motion to stop all three.

"I think from the beginning it was clear what the judge intended," White said afterwards. He and NSM intend to pursue their claim, even after the rally.

The police say their safety plan is in part for White and the Neo-Nazis. They've learned lessons from a trip to Toledo where a rally got out of hand last year. They say they approach the Mid-Michigan demonstration with a single objective: keep police safe.


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