Dec 12, 2005

On Civil Liberties and Neo-Nazi Rallies

Left: A carload of protesters being arrested on Sylvania Avenuue; photo by historymike

(Toledo, OH) The proverbial dust has settled in Toledo in the wake of the return of the NSM. Approximately 30 anti-Nazi protesters were arrested in various parts of the city, but freedom of speech for the Nazis was protected, and order was maintained in the city.

At what cost, though?

The city successfully argued before Judge Osowik on Friday to secure a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction against anyone protesting in public. The temporary restraining order is set to expire two weeks after the event, so I could technically be arrested today if I stood on the corner of Secor and Monroe with a sign that said: "Down with Nazis!"

The net result, as even noted by Bill White of the NSM, was that the city essentially put in place undeclared martial law, at least for one day. Police were given carte blanche to arrest anyone suspected of "illegal" protesting, and it is clear that they vigorously enforced the order.

Three journalists were arrested on Saturday, and I received a rebuke in no uncertain terms from a TPD captain that I would be arrested if I did not stay on the sidewalk when I was taking pictures of arrested anti-Nazi activists who attempted to gather at the West Toledo branch library.

The scene downtown was like being in an occupied military zone. There were armored vehicles, Coast Guard units, officers from at least 13 jurisdictions, and snipers with .50 caliber rifles.

All to protect the freedom of speech of three dozen Hitler fetishists.

I witnessed people being arrested who did not appear to have committed a crime, and received reports of people arrested for sitting in cars trying to warm up outside of the protest zone.

The costs of the freedoms of Toledoans (and those coming from other areas to protest the Nazis) were startling. As repugnant as it may seem to protect the rights of the Nazis to free speech, what about everyone else?

A protester that I interviewed on Saturday at the rally put it bluntly.

“They [the NSM] walked right out the front door of our city hall to shout their hate messages,” said Danita Watkins of Toledo. “It’s just like the city rolled out the red carpet for them. They are up there acting like they own the city now.”

Should a group of people, under the banner of free speech, be allowed to hold an entire city hostage? Should average citizens be denied their right to free speech just because the city believes there might be unrest?

And what if this event had occurred in warm weather, instead of in single-digit wind chills? I would be willing to bet that there would have been four times as many protesters, both inside and outside the "official" protest zone. How many detainees would it take before people would begin to think that the costs in terms of civil liberties to the general public outweigh those of the neo-Nazis?


Anonymous said...

You are a whiny liberal faggot.

A Midwest Antifa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
A Midwest Antifa said...

"Free speech" seems to very regulated in Toledo.

Why do Neo-nazis have a right to "free speech" while those who oppose their message have some restricted form of "free speech?" I am confused as to why protesters were arrested for speaking out loudly against the message of the Nazis even in the tightly controlled designated "free speech" area.

historymike said...


Thank you for your kind words. I may have to take liberal dem's advice and turn off the anonymous comments feature, as much as I am an advocate of free speech.

I, too, struggle with finding a balance between protecting free speech of one group while denying it to others. Some of the things I witnessed were disturbing.

Saturday was an eye-opening day for me. I pray that this is an aberration.

Anonymous said...

The Nazis whine about being denied free speech, but laugh when the anti-Nazis are denied free speech.

Wake up America!

These assholes are about one thing: genocide.

elric1488 said...

Aww, listen to the anti whiner explain that the widdle cold kept his buddies away. You antis make me sick.

historymike said...


I write about that which interests me.

The "antis" of which you speak are no more ny "buddies" than you are, although I will say that they act greater respect on this board than most of the racists.

And face it: the cold and snow kept a lot of people away. I am sure that at least a few Nazi sympathizers woke up Saturday morning and said: "Screw it. It's too cold."

If I had not made a commitment to the Free Press, you can bet I wouldn't have ventured out to freeze my can for four hours.

Do said...


The whole 'incident' evokes a multitude of questions on defining free speech, free assembly and the limits of each.

Rather than hassle the antis the police should have afforded them as much police protection as the NSM. As long as either side was in good behavior mode they should have been permitted to speak their minds. That's assuming that there were minds involved.

I appreciate the efforts of the justice system, and the tremendous efforts of the police, but have to wonder why there was 100% freedom for some, and possibly 60% freedom for others.

Maybe we will find out one day...

historymike said...

As a Toledoan, I did not want a repeat of October 15. That is a given.

I was disturbed by some of what I saw, and I hope that this is a one-time aberration. Freedom os assembly and freedom of speech are supposedly cherished rights.

Some of the people arrested may indeed have crossed the line into criminal behavior, but the people I saw arrested - especially Jeff Willis - were by and large behaving themselves.

The three young men nabbed in front of the downtown library had been turned away from the rally because of metal studs on their jackets. 10 minutes later they were arrested sitting in their parked car for violating the temporary restraining order.

Now, I suppose that they could have hatched some secret plot in those 10 minutes, but my guess is that they were singled out on the basis of their clothing and followed to their car.

ajax saith said...

what a disappointment no fires no looted stores no beaten victims

oh i forgot blacks don't like the snow

historymike said...

It's only a disappointment to people who don't live in Toledo, and for whom a riot is "evidence" of their supposed racial superiority.

By the way, what is your take on the rioting white Australians? Are they, in the parlance of Messrs. Turner and White, "savage beasts?"

Or do you find a way to justify their hooliganism?

liberal_dem said...

I saw that there were arrests of the carload of Chicago antis on TV this afternoon.

What a sham! If I were those folks, I'd get a good lawyer and file a counter suit against the TPD for their Hitler-like gestapo tactics.

Since when do Nazis get better treatment than counter protestors? Pathetic.

Hooda Thunkit said...


Looking at the bigger picture:

The nazis came to town, were barely heard, and slithered away. There was no rioting, no burning, and no looting.

The "insistent" counter demonstrators came to town, saw the nazis, didn't here the nazis, and watched the nazis slither away.

Law enforcement was no-nonsense from the get-go, kept order, and watched the nazis slither away.

Did the Law enforcement possibly bend some people's civil rights?


Did anybody get measurably hurt, long-term?

Probably not.

Did the nazis get all that they wanted?


Did the Anti's get all that they wanted?


Does anybody have recourse for any remaining grievances?

Yes, they can appeal and action or decision that was made.

Will those arrested get any serious punishment out of their perceived misdeeds, real or imagined?

No, not really.

Should anybody be happy about the whole situation?

Of course not.

Looks like nobody got hurt/killed, burned, or looted and no one got what they really wanted.

I'd call that a draw...

And, while recognizing a tendency towards being heavy handed, I'd like to applaud the overall performance of a keyed-up Law enforcement contingent, faced with a difficult situation.

A Midwest Antifa said...

700 police! That is f#*king army! It was in no way a "difficult situation" for the police.

Nothing was going to happen out there. The police leadership deserves nothing but scorn for their "heavy handed" tactics.

The whole idea of protecting our "freedoms" by taking them away is absurd.

liberal_dem said...

Hooda- A draw? not exactly. The Nazis are home all snug in their beds, filled with satisfaction that they caused the whole thing, got media attention, and hel0ped suck $3000,000 from the city coffers.

Aditionally, the antis have had to post bond and will have to return to court to face charges and/or jail time and fines.

Hardly a 'draw.'

historymike said...

I am most definitely pleased that the violence of October 15 did not repeat, Hooda.

I do wonder if order could have been maintained with fewer arrests, and without some of the more aggressive police actions.

The crowd was really not big enough, for example, to have warranted the mounted police making incursions into the assembled protesters.

And the woman charged with assaulting the police horse? Looked to me more like she was trying to get out of its way.

I think - as a lesson for the future - that having the Nazis walk out the front door of One Government Center had an unintentional symbolism that angered protesters. Many people viewed that as an insult, or that it meant that the city and the Nazis were in some sort of alliance.

Hooda Thunkit said...


You may have a point...

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