Neo-Nazis Try to Take Over Leith, ND; Hundreds Protest
By mid-afternoon on Sunday, September 22, Last Real Indians, reported on its Facebook page, “White supremacists have raised their flag over the town of Leith, ND.”
The news came as hundreds of Native Americans and others flocked to the tiny North Dakota town of Leith, population 24, to protest a group of American neo-Nazis who plan to take over the town and make it “an all-white enclave,” according to Political Blindspot.
UnityND, a group that formed in protest to the proposed extremist, neo-Nazi takeover, reported at around 2 p.m. that a caravan of protesters was on its way, including at least 25 cars, a bus and a van. “Plus more coming from the Tribes,” the site tweeted. Live streaming by Unedited Media showed what looked like several hundred people participating in the protest that began around 3 p.m.
The neo-Nazi invasion of Leith was announced in the Bismarck Tribune in a September 6 story about Craig Cobb, a white supremacist who has been living in Leith for more than a year and has purchased 13 lots, some for as little as $500, including one where he lived. He has been promoting Leith on white supremacist websites as a place where others like him could live, take over the city government and fly Nazi flags, the Tribune reported.
Cobb told the Tribune he was grateful for support from Jeff Schoep, “commander” of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), according to the group’s website. In a video on the website Schoep announces “Our trip to Leith is a gesture of goodwill as we plant the seeds of National Socialism in North Dakota.” Unidentified orchestral music plays softly in the background with the sound of boots marching loudly in the foreground. The website displays the group’s motto – "Putting Family, Race and Nation First while Fighting to Secure American Jobs, Manufacturing & Innovation" – and describes itself as "America's Premier White Civil Rights Organization – Fighting for White Civil Rights." Schoep planned to be in Leith September 22-23 on a “fact-finding tour” to protect Cobb's legal standing in the community and to hold a press conference, the Tribune said.
Around a dozen armed state troopers dressed in SWAT team gear were on hand. UnityND reported that none of the armed troopers had badge numbers displayed. The protesters gathered around Cobb’s residency where a Nazi flag flew and about a dozen neo-Nazis gathered. The neo-Nazis had strung a banner across his yard that said, “Anti-racist is code for anti-white.”
Various protest speakers took the mike and denounced the neo-Nazis peacefully, but emphatically. “We want the Nazis to know this is not a one day protest. We’ll be watching everything you do.” The protestors chanted, “No Nazis, no KKK!” A World War II Veteran said, “Let these creepy Nazi-Ku Klux people get out.” “Hey, hey! Ho ho! These Nazis have got to go!” the protesters chanted. “Our grandmothers will stand up to you! Our women will take you on!” one speaker said. “This is not your land. This is my land and you can go back home.” “On behalf of everybody here I’d like to say, go home.” “Go home, go home!” the crowd chanted. “Go back to Germany!” one protester said, but another replied that Germany would not have them. “They have laws against Nazis in Germany.” Some of the speakers eloquently rejected the hatred that Nazism represents. “I’m here to tell you we’ve evolved. We do not hate white people. You come here and think you can exploit the ignorance of our own people, you think that we’re going to react out of fear or a place in our hearts that wants to do you harm, but we won’t do that…We are evolved human beings and we think you know you people are a dying cause.”
At around 4 p.m. many of the protesters moved into Leith town hall for the neo-Nazi press conference while bagpipe music played incongruously in the background. When Cobb entered the hall the protesters booed loudly. Many of the protesters left the town hall when one of the neo-Nazis on stage began a speech. Those who remained listened politely. By posting time – three-quarters of an hour later – neo-Nazi was still speaking.