I saw headline stating that there were Neo Nazis patrolling the streets in Sanford, the city in which Trayvon Martin had been shot and killed. This first appeared yesterday, but it struck me as being improbable, as Neo Nazis can’t show up anywhere without being successfully countered, and rightfully so. Also, I can’t see a white supremist group rushing to the defense of a Hispanic man. So, I let the story go, thinking that it might be a hoax. And, with more current evidence available, it appears that the original story was just that. First, let’s start by reviewing the first story.
Neo-Nazis are currently conducting heavily armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida and are “prepared” for violence in the case of a race riot. The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting last month, says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement. “We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”
OK then, they even have the alleged words of a “Commander, Jeff Schoep. ” This man does exist, and his official blog does not mention being being in Florida, nor does his Twitter feed. His Facebook page was probably banned, as the link appears broken.
So, all we have thus far is the claims of one blogger, being taken as truth all over the internet. However, Professor Jacobson, over at Legal Insurrection, has more evidence that this is a non-story.
Did anyone bother to contact the Sanford Police? I did, and the Sanford Police deny any indication of Neo-Nazi groups patrolling in Sanford. Here’s the e-mail exchange:
My initial e-mail (which included an embedded link to the Memeorandum thread):
“There are a number of reports in the media that Neo-Nazis are conducting armed patrols in Sanford. Can you confirm or deny whether this is true, and provide any information you have on the subject? If someone is able to get back to me as soon as possible (and before Monday) that would be appreciated, since such rumors are spreading.”
Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
“At this time the City of Sanford has not confirmed the presence of Neo-Nazis groups.”
My follow up:
“You say “not confirmed.” Is there any indication of such patrols that the Department is aware of?”
Further Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
“We have no indication of any such patrols at this point in Sanford. The only large gathering was the children and their parents at the Easter egg hunt.”
I can’t say this is the worst example of rumor mongering and irresponsible conduct by bloggers and the mainstream media I have ever seen, but it’s a contender.
For The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Mediaite, and The Daily News to spread such thinly-sourced claims without verification at a time when racial tensions already are high is irresponsible in the extreme.
So, the police have no information that the Nazis are there, and their commander’s website and Twitter account say nothing of this. Let’s also remember that extremist groups announce their public activities loudly, since they want the attention that goes with it. So, it is logical to assume that if they were there, they would have made a big deal out of it.
That’s mys position at this point. If more evidence come out, either way, I’ll update the post. I’d also add that it is important to go to original sources, and verify such potentially explosive content. In the end, we don’t want to contribute to a politically motivated escalation of racial tensions.