On Saturday, June 8, an armed white nationalist neo-Nazi group marched in protest during Detroit’s Pride Parade. The neo-Nazi group was escorted into the event by members of the Detroit Police Department.
The group known as the National Socialist Movement (NSM) is considered to be one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the United States. During the pride event members of NSM could be seen ripping up pride flags, making Nazi salutes and one member was photographed urinating on an Israeli flag.
Many who attended the event were angered watching police protect the neo-Nazi group instead of the peaceful attendees of the event. Many people who attended the event turned to Twitter to share their rage and disgust.
“Where was Detroit Police when armed Nazis were marching with their NAZI FLAG shouting Homophobic slurs, anti-black racism, and white nationalism you ask?” one angered Twitter user tweeted. “Serving and Protecting THE NAZIS.”
A video was uploaded by another Twitter user that clearly showed police escorting NSM protesters at the event. In the video, you could hear some attendees yelling “you’re all trash” at the white nationalists, while they questioned why the police were providing the armed group wearing swastikas and carrying Nazi flags with protection.
On Monday, Detroit Police Chief James Craig claimed that the officers that escorted the neo-Nazi group was keeping an event like what took place on August 12, 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia from happening in Detroit. During that event, a car was driven into a Unite the Right rally-killing one and injuring 28 others.
“They wanted something even more substantive than Charlottesville,” Craig said following a press conference Monday at Public Safety Headquarters. “That’s according to credible intelligence we received.”
Motor City Pride chairman Dave Wait said: “It’s too bad that 10-12 people, mostly from out of town, who talk with hate came to an event to try to damper what 50,000 others are looking for: A quality time, and a true positive celebration.”
Chief Craig said Detroit officers were successfully able to keep the two groups apart, “and no one got hurt,” he said.
“When (the Nazis) arrived, five of their members were armed; two with long guns and three with handguns,” Craig said. “They were open-carrying. I’m told through our intelligence sources (the Nazis) wanted Charlottesville No. 2. We knew we wanted to be properly staffed, and we were.”
“The one group (the Nazis) was armed,” Craig said. “We didn’t want the opposing group to assault them and respond in a way that would be violent. We took no sides; we communicated with both groups, and we didn’t have an uprising,” the chief said.
Craig added that he was happy with the way his officers responded.
“I feel the police did a good job,” he said. “Their goal was to keep our festival patrons safe to make sure the two groups didn’t interact,”
Craig shares that members of the Nazi group threatened to burn a rainbow flag.
“They were told, ‘if you do, you’ll be arrested,'” Craig said. “They did tear the flag.”
“(The Nazis) had their attorney present, and they had cameras,” Craig said. “According to our intelligence, they were hoping because of open carry (laws) they were frankly trying to bait this police department and bait the other side,” Craig said.
“Everyone has a right to free speech, but you don’t have a right to engage in unlawful conduct,” Craig added. “I applaud the Detroit Police Department for keeping the peace.”
Despite verbal confrontations, no injuries were reported during the event.