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The National Socialist Movement (NSM) held a small rally with a total of 47 members and friends in Kansas City on Saturday, November 9.  The neo-Nazis were late getting started, failed to draw any of the Klansmen its organizer was trying to attract, and their electronically amplified speeches could not otherwise be heard over the noise from anti-racist opposition. They did attract a number of Aryan Nations supporters, however.  That included Pastor Drew Bostwick from Iowa, who claims he was the last man ordained by the now-deceased Richard Butler.

In a set piece replicated at NSM rallies across the country, police lines separated the neo-Nazis from their opposition.  A crowd of 250 to 300 anti-racists passed through police lines one at a time.  The anti-racists refused to give the neo-Nazis an inch of open airtime, which meant that the NSM speakers were essentially talking to themselves. 

In addition, two miles away, a larger crowd of 400+ over at the Liberty Memorial heard speeches opposing the neo-Nazis and racism, anti-Semitism, anti-immigrant nativism and bigotry, and supporting civil and human rights.

The first voice out of the neo-Nazi sound system on Saturday was that of Bob Mathews, a National Alliance member who created a small underground guerilla force that robbed bank cars and killed people in the early 1980s.  Mathews was killed in a firefight with the authorities in December 1984, almost three decades ago; and the fact that the neo-Nazis had to reach that far back to find a hero and a voice is one indication that the NSM is currently doing little more than trying to reposition itself in the white nationalist movement.  Simply put, NSM boss Jeff Schoep is trying to move his organization into the more favorable spot once occupied by William Pierce’s National Alliance. 

Also repositioning himself in the movement was Matt Heimbach, who spoke at the rally.  Heimbach founded a relatively successful White Student Union at Towson University in Maryland and was a guest speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. area last March.  Now his organization is calling itself the Traditionalist Youth Network, and Heimbach was giving the Seig Heil stiff-armed salute just like the rest of the neo-Nazis.  He is definitely moving from the mainstream to the margins.

NSM members from the Kansas and Missouri area that did attend, and there were several, cannot have considered this a successful event.

Compared to the NSM national convention in Kansas City on the Hitler birthday weekend in April 2005, this event fared badly.  The NSM once had a thriving membership in Missouri and Kansas.  A number of these cadres have since left, however, some to join other white nationalist groups.  And while the NSM encountered no resistance in 2005, it faced resistance from every corner of the city over the weekend.

The largest gathering of NSM opponents was at the Liberty Memorial Park.  A decidedly inter-faith, multi-racial group of young and old gathered to say No to the neo-Nazis.  Speakers included: City Councilman John Sharp, Mayor Sly James, Rabbi Mark Levin, NAACP branch president Anita Russell, Jewish Community Relations Bureau board chair Dr. David Rudman, LULAC’s national vice-president for the Midwest Darryl Marin, El Centro program director Irene Caudillo and two Dreamer students, and SCLC Rev. Vernon Howard.  Leonard Zeskind from IREHR served as the moderator.  A delegation from the local Jewish War Veterans, including someone who had fought Hitler’s army in Europe, stood as an honor guard.  A butterfly exhibit created by artist Israel Garcia concluded the Liberty Memorial program.

Many thanks are due to attorney Angela Ferguson and activist Amber Versola.


Leonard Zeskind

Author Leonard Zeskind

is founder of IREHR. For almost four decades, he has been a leading authority on white nationalist political and social movements. He is the author of Blood and Politics: The History of White Nationalism from the Margins to the Mainstream, published by Farrar Straus & Giroux in May 2009. [more..]

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