The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Illinois), June 22, 2003
WILMINGTON — Mike Holzner stood outside his small shop on Water Street in downtown Wilmington on the first day of summer and summed up the early afternoon’s events.
“All this has done has caused me to lose my beer-drinking time.”
The church is known more by its jailed leader Matt Hale, an outspoken white supremacist. Hale calls for his followers to fight for “the survival, expansion and advancement of our white race exclusively.”
Hale is currently in federal prison awaiting trial for solicitation of murder of a federal judge.
About a dozen Creativity Movement members held signs and banners in a half-block area of Wall Street at Illinois Route 53 roped off for them by state, county and village police.
“They have the right to do whatever they want as long as they keep it clean,” Holzner said shortly before the movement members arrived. “I don’t think it will be that big.”
Seated in front of a downtown shop like the 4th of July was getting ready to begin, Wilmington’s Sandy Kilbride said she just came to see what all the fuss was about.
“This is such a nice, small community, I don’t know why they picked here,” she said.
While Creativity Movement members distributed their information, teens from the Joliet Anti-Racist Action group stood near the police rope to exchanged taunts and insults.
There was never any moment when police had to separate the two competing sides. Police were also quick to keep on-lookers moving. People were not allowed to stands around the police rope.
Marty Shifflet, Will County Special Operations Group deputy chief, noted that the entire event was being videotaped.
Shifflet had a word of advice for the media following his instructions to reporters. “When it comes to these white supremacists and racists, basically they feed on attention. The only thing they survive on is media and public attention. I’ll put this as eloquently as I can. If you feed the beast, the beast will grow and become strong. If you starve the beast, the beast will wither and the beast will die.”
Wilmington Mayor Tony McGann said the event showed what a great country the United States is. “People who preach hate can come and distribute their message. We may not like what they are doing, but we allow it because that’s was the 1st Amendment is all about.”
Asked why Wilmington was selected for the demonstration, McGann said he had no idea.
“I don’t see why they came here. They could have gone anywhere. We let them come to town, because we had to,” he said.
Larry Hall, another Wilmington resident, said “All in all, I really don’t think anyone cares about what this group is doing. Most people are here just seeing what’s going on.”
In preparation of the event, the village asked downtown bars to stop selling alcohol during the demonstration. The bars will be allowed later hours for four nights in return.