People are expected to travel from across the country for dueling rallies in Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park this weekend. The Neo-Nazi group Keystone State Skinheads is reportedly planning to gather in Fairmount Park and an opposition group is planning a rally of its own.
The Keystone State Skinheads did not respond to a request for comment.
Update 10/18/13 In a written statement, a representative of the group “Keystone State Skinheads” said the group holds an annual Leif Erikson Day celebration because:
“We feel it is our duty to study our past and never forget the extreme obstacles that our European ancestors fought and died for. Leif Erikson was a great Norse explorer, his historic voyages lead him to be the first European to set foot on North American soil. We can look back on our European ancestors, relearn from them and overcome the great challenges that we are faced with today.”
Mark Potok, a Senior Fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, said this will be the group’s seventh annual celebration of, “Quote, unquote: Leif Ericson Day. Basically this relates to their idea of white people being kind of the center of the universe.”
Potok said the Keystone State Skinheads are associated with a very long history of violence. “Their members have been arrested and convicted of a whole series of assaults, typically in restaurants or bars where they see people who are not white; they’ve stabbed nearly to death a number of black victims. It’s a real Neo-Nazi group — a violent, racist skinhead group.”
A counter-rally is being organized by the group Philadelphia Residents Against Racism. Daryle Lamont Jenkins said Philadelphians need to turn out to show hate will not be tolerated in the City of Brotherly Love. “We’re going to be standing at the statue as they march down, and we’re going to be saying we do not condone the politics they want to try to maintain. They have caused a lot of damage in this nation’s history, and enough is enough. This is not going to flourish in this society.”
Mark Potok said national changes are causing changes in hate groups. “We have an African-American president, but precisely because we have an African-American president and (what) that African-American president represents in a sense the coming loose of a white majority in this country. We in fact are experiencing a huge growth in hate groups and other groups on the radical right.”