‘White Power’ group cancels planned concert here

Daytona Beach News-Journal, Dec. 5, 2002

DAYTONA BEACH — Neo-Nazi skinheads are moving a concert to Jacksonville after a Daytona Beach bar owner canceled the show Wednesday, saying he was unaware of the group’s hate-riddled rhetoric.

“I’m gratified they’re not going to be coming to Daytona,” said local NAACP president Cynthia Slater, who planned to protest the event. “The sad thing is they’re going somewhere else.”

All week, law enforcement officials have been trying to determine the unannounced location of Hammerfest 2002, a concert promoted on Internet sites for Saturday and Sunday. Nine bands whose song lyrics encourage violence against minorities were scheduled to perform at the festival. Such events are notorious for moshing, drinking and recruiting.

Bootleggers Bar owner Wendell Stepp canceled the show Wednesday, saying his wife booked just one band and was kept in the dark of multiple groups with a “white power” doctrine.

“We ain’t having no bands; there’s going to be nothing here Saturday night,” said Stepp, who owns the bar at 400 E. International Speedway Blvd. “I don’t think it would be the right publicity for us.”

Employees said Bootleggers is not a racist establishment.

“Usually we have headbangers in here, modern rock or karaoke,” said bartender Katherine “Kitty” Sherrill. “We don’t refuse to serve anybody.”

A Hammerfest organizer sent e-mails Wednesday to followers saying that “due to police harassment of the business owner” the show would be moved to Jacksonville. Hammerskin members were told to be outside a Jacksonville motel Saturday to get directions to the show.

“They’re having to scramble to find a location,” said Devin Burghart, director of the Chicago-based Center for New Community, which monitors hate groups.

Watchdog groups who monitor white supremacists said they would determine exactly where the concert would be held and alert local police.

“An informed public and an aware law enforcement is our best defense against the virus of bigotry,” said Art Teitelbaum, southern director of the Anti-Defamation League. “(The location) won’t be difficult to determine.”

Members of the Hammerskin Nation, believed to be the country’s most violent and best-organized Neo-Nazi skinhead group, have been convicted of harassing and beating and killing minorities after attending shows. In December 2000, three 20-year-old members were arrested in Jacksonville and charged with beating a 44-year-old black man and threatening to kill him, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

The league also reports that in 1991, three 16-year-old members killed a black man in Arlington, Texas while he sat on the back of a truck with two white friends.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday December 5, 2002.
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