Published on Thursday, 01 November 2012 20:07 Written by Matt Comer
The National Socialist Movement announced the event in October. A picket notice submitted by a local member of the group to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department was finalized on Sept. 27. In it, the group says it will begin a picket at the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center at E. 3rd and S. Davidson Sts. at 3 p.m. and then march up S. Davidson St. for a rally at Old City Hall. The group says media “meet-and-greet” and private party for supporters will follow.
Police spokesperson Rob Tufano declined to offer any details on police planning for the protest.
“I’m not going to comment on the number of staff we’ll have available, but will say our officers will be prepared for the event,” said Tufano.
The National Socialist Movement has long been tracked by the Montgomery, Ala.-based Southern Poverty Law Center. According to the center, the National Socialist Movement has its historic roots in the original American Nazi Party, founded in 1959. Leadership changed hands in 1967 after its founder was murdered by a follower. In 1994, current leader Jeff Schoep took the reins and renamed the group. The group’s carefully-planned protests and rallies have caused riots. The group once protested in full Nazi Brownshirt uniforms but now uses black “Battle Dress Uniforms.”
The National Socialist Movement is the largest neo-Nazi hate group in the U.S. It has 57 chapters in 39 states, including a statewide chapter in North Carolina. Local leader Frederick Cook, a self-titled “S.S. Sergeant,” told qnotes on Thursday that the Charlotte rally is one of two national gatherings the group holds each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.
Schoep’s and the National Socialist Movement’s visit to Charlotte marks the second time within a month’s time that a hate group has visited the Queen City. In mid-October Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam, also named a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, held two events in the Queen City. Some of those events were attended by local elected officials, including Mecklenburg County Commission Chairman Harold Cogdell, County Commissioner Vilma Leake and the city’s first and only openly LGBT official, Charlotte Councilmember LaWana Mayfield. Each have each declined to condemn Farrakhan’s history of anti-Semitism and anti-LGBT comments, though Mayfield’s repeated refusals after saying Farrakhan was “doing God’s will” have stirred the most controversy among LGBT community members. All three politicians have yet to respond to renewed requests for comment via email this morning following news of the upcoming neo-Nazi event.
qnotes has also reached out to Schoep. A voicemail left for him on Thursday morning was not returned.