Photos by: Jenny Kerris & Jason Pomerantz: A small number of neo-Nazis held a rally in New Jersey’s capital on April 16, 2011 and met staunch opposition from many locals, including members of the New Black Panther party. The police presence proved successful in preventing violence from erupting.
On Saturday April 16 2011, The National Socialist Movement (NSM), a neo-Nazi organization, appeared for a two-day national meeting with a rally in front of the State House in Trenton, New Jersey. Despite heavy rain and cold temperatures, approximately 25 individuals from The National Socialist Movement arrived at one o’clock to protest illegal immigration, high taxes, crime and corruption. The group wore the swastikas on their clothing and carried flags that displayed the Nazi symbol as well. The rally attracted approximately two hundred counter-protesters which included the Anti-Racist Action and the Trenton chapter of the New Black Panther Party.
Security measures for the event included over 600 police officers from the Trenton Police Department, including some officers with K-9 units, the New Jersey State Police, SWAT team members as well as staff from the Mercer County Sheriff’s and Prosecutor’s offices, and the U.S. Department of Justice. Barriers surrounded the two opposing crowds keeping them at least 100 yards apart at all times and sectioning off the state house and the NSM members. There were also metal detectors set up by the public entrances to the rally.
A large crowd gathered on the streets to witness the rival factions, but no one in attendance appeared visibly intimidated or frightened.
A Mercer alumnus Eric Wiggins said of the event, “This is not a method or act of any kind of animosity or hate. Even though we know the directive in which these organizations or particular individuals choose to get together…We need to be proactive. You can’t shut someone up. This is our civil liberty. This is what our constitution was built on. This is what our forefathers did. This is way beyond just a protest. This is this. If we don’t get in tune with mother nature, we don’t get in harmony with the universe.” He then shook his head.
The NSM group included both men and women. They were dressed in black clothing with SS and swastika emblems. Upon approaching the statehouse building, the NSM members made hand salutes like those made by the Nazis in Germany during WWII. During all three of the NSM representative’s speeches the NSM members continuously chanted “Sieg Heil!”
Jason Hiecke, the NSM’s chief of staff, spoke with aggression in the tone of his voice. Hiecke began his speech by saying, “You may not agree with what we say and what we stand for, but don’t be afraid to open your mind and listen to what we have to say.” Hiecke went on to say: “We are patriots just like George Washington, fighting for our freedom, fighting for America…If George Washington were alive, he would be here with us today.”
After the NSM representatives were done speaking, the New Black Panther Party rallied through their loud speaker across the 100 yard division. The leader of the NBPP of Trenton said this when speaking to New Jersey State Policemen separated by a concrete divider: “So you just the problem like they the problem. You just the problem like some of us are the problem who commit crimes against each other. Some of you have to have murder degrees to become state policemen. This money from you being here could have gone to the youth programs.”
According to police records they had arrested three counter-protesters all on separate counts. These individuals were arrested for breaking a window at a bank, a weapons offense (the type of weapon unknown) and shooting off fireworks.
Bobby Holland a student majoring in Information Systems at Mercer County Community College said of the event, “I feel that the National Socialist Movement had every right to speak and hold their rally. As a country we seem to pride ourselves on being a democracy but when confronted by something like this rally that a vast majority will oppose [it], we seem completely horrified. I’m not going to defend their message, I can’t even comprehend it, however I would suggest the fact that this is a price of having a democratic piece of government. Anyone, regardless of opinion, is allowed to speak and demonstrate.”