West Allis police continued to urge local businesses Friday to consider locking their doors during a rally planned by a neo-Nazi group for the Labor Day weekend.
The afternoon rally Sept. 3 at the West Allis City Hall is in reaction to black-on-white violence, such as the attacks that occurred earlier this month on the opening day of the Wisconsin State Fair, according to a local representative of the National Socialist Movement, which is organizing the event.
The representative, who lives in New Berlin and would identify herself only as Harriet P., said it is unfortunate that the "In Defense of White America Rally" has caused West Allis merchants to worry.
"It's a shame," she said. "We want to have a nice, peaceful rally."
The group's website, however, is sounding a more combative tone.
"On Sept. 3 there will be a mobilization of battle hardened White Men in the Milwaukee area, to welcome any flash mob, and stand in defense of the American way of life," a letter on the website says.
The letter is signed by "Jeff Schoep/Commander."
Reached by phone, Schoep said: "Yes. There has been some violence at some rallies. But it is never provoked by our side.
"We are coming in behalf of the white people who were attacked," he said.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups and domestic terrorists nationally, the Detroit-based National Socialist Movement "is one of the largest and most prominent neo-Nazi groups in the United States."
"Schoep's group is known for the crudeness of its propaganda, the violence it works hard to support, and the faux SS outfits that have caused many other neo-Nazis to deride NSM members as 'Hollywood Nazis,' " the law center's website says.
The local representative said she hopes that 50 to 100 members and sympathizers of her group will be present at the rally and said all participants have been told not to bring guns or any other weapons.
She said, however, that if push comes to shove, members will have no problem "returning to the good old days of duking it out."
Charles Padgett, deputy chief of the West Allis Police Department, said local businesses were being warned about the event because an NSM rally "tends to attract large volumes of people, and sometimes they are highly emotional."
He said he did not know how many NSM demonstrators and anti-demonstrators might show up. He said the West Allis police will be working with other law enforcement agencies to "maintain the constitutional rights of everyone."
"We have devised a plan to maintain control," he said.
Padgett would not elaborate on that plan or list the other agencies West Allis police are partnering with