U-Haul Loving Neo-Nazis Mask Up to Trot Through Charleston

Nathan Posner/Getty Images
Nathan Posner/Getty Images

The white supremacist group Patriot Front unboxed their U-Hauls and marched through the streets of Charleston, West Virginia, on Saturday in a demonstration timed to coincide with an anti-racism 5k race.

The neo-Nazis reportedly unloaded banners and other organization propaganda before a statue of Confederate General Thomas Stonewall Jackson in the city’s downtown area. Wearing matching khakis, navy blue polos, white hats and face coverings, they chanted and paraded through Charleston’s main streets, flying a banner with the slogan “America is not for sale.” Some of them carried shields and many of them flew upside-down American flags. At least one Confederate flag could be seen in the parade.

The neo-Nazi romp happened at the same time a planned 5k race, the YWCA’s Race to End Racism, was underway on the city’s West Side. According to the organization’s website, the race was a fundraiser for “community engagement and racial equity & inclusion programming” designed to bring corporate partners, congregations, police, non-profits and community groups together.

There were no reports of violent incidents or clashes at either of the events. Amy Godwin, the Charleston mayor, said city officials “acted quickly” to keep the community safe and warned against platforming the white supremacists.

“They want us to share their propaganda - and repost their photos on social media - I will not. We cannot let voices that want to spread hate be louder than the voices of those of us who want to celebrate our community,” Godwin said in a statement.

Observers on social media quickly noted the absence of a police presence around the neo-Nazis’ flash demonstration. While some video showed police vehicles trailing the parade from a distance, that appeared to be the extent of officers’ interaction with them—a stark contrast to the heavy presence on college campuses, where university protesters and faculty have been subject to violent arrests over the past week and a half.

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The neo-Nazi march came just days after Donald Trump attempted to downplay the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, which killed a counter protester, calling it a “peanut” compared to the campus protests.

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