AP, Jan. 25, 2003
By DAVE BRYAN, Associated Press Writer
About 70 white separatists waved flags, carried placards and chanted slogans such as “Free Speech For Whites” Saturday to show unity and protest the civil rights work of the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The demonstrators, members of at least eight white supremacist groups including Aryan Nations, the Southern Patriots Party, the American White Knights and the Creativity Movement, assembled amid tight security in front of the SPLC’s headquarters.
No counter-demonstrators or SPLC staff addressed demonstrators or spoke at the event.
“We’re all standing together because we’re all white nationalists,” said Billy Roper, chairman of a group called White Revolution.
Roper’s organization has been staging events around the country in recent months in an effort to organize white supremacist groups.
Police officers, many wearing face shields and carrying wooden billy clubs, confined demonstrators to within a street block in front of the Civil Rights Memorial at the SPLC complex. Officers outnumbered demonstrators at least 2-to-1.
The SPLC complex itself is tightly secured as the result of numerous attacks and plots to attack the organization’s property and leadership over the years. Parts of the complex in downtown Montgomery are blast proof and security guards monitor the building 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Roper’s White Revolution, a recently formed organization that seeks to act as an umbrella group for disparate factions of white supremacist groups, planned Saturday’s demonstration.
Roper said most of the demonstrators traveled from Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi and Texas, though some came from as far as Idaho and Washington.
Much of the ire of various speakers was directed at the SPLC, which monitors hate groups, and its co-founder, attorney Morris Dees. Dees’ legal work with the organization has included a number of successful prosecutions of hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan.
“These filth up here want us to race mix,” Robert Crockett, a member of White Revolution, told demonstrators while pointing up at the SPLC building. “We want to look around and see white children and white neighbors. We pledge allegiance to our white race.”
Richard Cohen, legal director for the SPLC, prosecuted 84-year-old former Aryan Nations leader Richard Butler in a civil rights lawsuit that resulted in a $6.3 million civil judgment against Butler, Aryan Nations and three security guards in September 2000.
Butler was among the protesters Saturday.
Cohen said White Revolution leader Roper began the organization after being fired from his job as recruitment chief for National Alliance in a power struggle that followed the death of the group’s founder and former leader, The Turner Diaries.”
“Roper lost out,” he said.
Cohen said Roper’s skills include an ability to link various white supremacist groups, including many with highly specific agendas, under one organization.
“Roper brought to National Alliance grassroots organizing skills,” Cohen said. “Today was a reflection of that skill that he has.”
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