Lansing, Michigan, wants downtown empty for white supremacist rally

Police, Capitol officers to shut streets, urge store closures to avoid clashes at group’s April 22 rally.

LANSING — If merchants, shoppers, and residents follow police instructions to close their businesses and stay away from the downtown area on Saturday afternoon, April 22, authorities hope a white supremacist rally on the steps of the Capitol will be staged in a shuttered area teeming with police officers.

Police and Capitol security officials are hoping to avoid the rioting that saw brick and rock throwers clashing with police and burning buildings during a rally by the same group in Toledo last October.

The National Socialist Movement, which Lansing police identified as the America’s Nazi Party, said it expects 200 or more supporters.

Police expect a counterprotest staged by the Lansing Coalition Against Nazis.

In a letter to downtown business owners and residents, Police Chief Mark E. Alley said major streets around and in downtown — Shiawassee, Grand, Michigan, Kalamazoo, and Pine — will be closed to traffic by barricades that will be erected at 8 a.m. April 22.

At the same time police will create an “event participation zone” by erecting a 3,000-foot chain-link fence around the Capitol.

Pedestrians will enter at three checkpoints after passing through metal detectors.

The rally is scheduled to run from 2-4 p.m.

Jerry Lawler, director of Capitol facilities, said authorities have successfully carried out this approach twice in the past for Ku Klux Klan rallies.

“We are not blocking their Constitutional rights to rally and express their freedom of speech,” Lawler said. “We are just trying to make sure no one gets hurt and that the taxpayers’ property is not damaged.”

Councilwoman Carol Wood said she feels confident the city is ready to provide for public safety at the rally.

“Having gone through this with the Klan a few years back, I know that the police learn more from each experience,” Wood said. “Between staffing and working with state police and other agencies around Lansing, they will have enough policing for this issue.”

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Source

(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Detroit News, USA
Apr. 9, 2006
Norman Sinclair
www.detnews.com

Religion News Blog posted this on Monday April 10, 2006.
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