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Heavily armed neo-Nazis are said to be patrolling the streets of Sanford, Florida to protect âwhite citizens in the areaâ in case of race riots.
According to a blog at the Miami New Times, the patrols were initiated by Jeff Schoep of the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement in response to the shooting of African-American teen Trayvon Martin by self-appointed neighborhood vigilante George Zimmerman.
âWe are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody,â Schoep insists, âbut we are prepared for it,. We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.â
âBecause nothing diffuses racial tension,â blogger Michael Miller comments wryly, âlike gun-toting racial separatists patrolling an already on-edge commnity.â
Schoep is described by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors extremist hate groups, as âa neo-Nazi true believer since age 10 who has managed, largely by luck, to end up heading one of the largest explicitly Hitlerite groups in America. Schoepâs group is known for the crudeness of its propaganda, the violence it works hard to provoke, and the faux SS outfits that have caused many other neo-Nazis to deride NSM members as âHollywood Nazis.ââ
Schoepâs group is best known for the rally it staged against âblack crimeâ in an inner-city neighborhood of Toledo, Ohio in 2005. NSM members had to be rescued from an angry crowd by the police, and the day ended with some local residents attacking police and 100 being arrested. The NSM considered this outcome a great success.
Schoep asserts that he and the Florida residents he has recruited are acting âtotally within the lawâ and that their patrols âwouldnât intimidate anybodyâ and are simply meant as a âshow of solidarity with the white community down there.â
He says he decided to launch the Sanford patrols following an offer by the New Black Panther Party to pay a $10,000 bounty for a citizenâs arrest of Zimmerman, which he took as proof that âthe possibility of further racial violenceâŚ is brimming over like a powder keg ready to explode into the streets.â
âWe are a white civil rights organization,â Schoep said of the National Socialist Movement, describing himself as a while equivalent of Reverend Al Sharpton. He added that he wasnât even taking sides on the shooting because Zimmerman is âhalf Hispanic or Cuban or something. He certainly doesnât look white to me.â