1. Are you aware that there will be a rally on Saturday, August 4 by white supremacists and neo-Nazis to protest what they claim is "black gang terrorism" and "the genocide of whites?"In general, about one-third of the respondents expressed some knowledge of the upcoming rally. Of those who knew of the rally, none of the respondents could correctly name any of the scheduled speakers at the rally, but several volunteered such answers as "the KKK" or "The Klan." Responses tended to be along the lines of "Steve" (names changed to protect anonymity):
2. What is your opinion of the rally?
3. Is black-on-white crime a serious problem in Kalamazoo?
"Well, I guess they have freedom of speech, but no one with any sense is going to listen to them," he said. "It's a shame that these idiots who don't even live here have to come and try to start trouble here."
No respondents expressed positive views of the rally, and not one person out of 33 interviewed said that black-on-white crime was a problem, despite the efforts by New Jersey white supremacist Hal Turner to exploit the issue. Answers from the respondents generally mirrored those of "Jackie," a middle-aged white woman:
"There's crime here, but criminals don't single out people based on their race," she said. "If you live in a neighborhood with higher crime, you could be a victim, whether you are black or white."
Left: Image of dowtown Kalamazoo courtesy of Wikipedia.org
Several respondents agreed that gangs were a problem in Kalamazoo, but argued that street gangs accounted for only part of the city's crime problem.
"There's gang-bangers on my street, but they pretty much keep to themselves, selling dope or just hanging out," said "Larry," an older white man. "If you don't bother them, they won't bother you. But it was a white dude who stole my car a few years back - a**holes come in all colors."
The general trend in crime in Kalamazoo has been downward over the past twenty years, although there was a slight uptick in 2006 in overall recorded offenses. Rape and larceny declined in 2006, while there were increases in arson, burglary, auto theft, assault, and robbery. The number of murders increased from three to five in Kalamazoo in 2006.
None of the people with whom I spoke planned to attend the rally.
"I think it's a good day to go fishing," explained one man. "No sense in making it harder for the police to keep a lid on things."