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NSM Counter-Protest

Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1

On April 19, 2008, members of the neo-Nazi National Socialist Movement, also known as NSM88, held an anti-immigration march in Washington DC. Their march route took them from 15th Street and Constitution Avenue NW near the Washington Monument to the grounds of the Capitol, primarily via Constitution Avenue. Meanwhile, my protest buddies and I were there to make sure that the Nazis’ message did NOT get across, as we were out counter-protesting them, to let them know that their racist ideals were not welcome in Washington DC. We met at the southwest corner of 14th and Constitution, and things soon got going.

This was also only the second run of “Duckie”, my new Vivitar 6200w camera, a waterproof camera that I got to replace Big Mavica after its untimely demise on March 19. This would be Duckie’s second protest, and its first march. So I would soon see how it did in a protest march, albeit in fair weather, rather than the bad weather that it was designed to handle.


I arrived at 14th and Constitution somewhat early. The appointed time was 11:30 AM, but I got there closer to 11:00. That’s fine by me. I’ve never been one to oppose the “hurry up and wait” philosophy. And it worked out. I was the second one there. Soon, however, everyone else showed up. Soon I was accompanied by, among others, Isis, Jeff, Luke, Dylan, Ramiz, Missy, a few SDS folks, and a group of people operating as Anti-Racist Action. There was even a traveling clown troupe from Massachusetts that attempted to keep the mood light, singing, and handing out pieces of green construction paper intended to symbolize green cards.

Many people were dressed in full black bloc in preparation for this demonstration. I wore all-black for this demonstration, and indeed I did carry the provisions for full black bloc with me in my bag. However, I did this demonstration “straight”. In other words, I didn’t mask up with the rest of them. I did this mainly for practical reasons. It was really hot outside for one, and secondly, with allergy season in full swing, I didn’t want something potentially trapping pollen so close to my face.


Waiting at the appointed location - 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.  Waiting at the appointed location - 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.

Waiting at the appointed location – 14th Street and Constitution Avenue NW.


At first, everyone just gathered at the appointed location. But then we got intelligence that Nazis had been spotted near the Washington Monument. All of a sudden, we were off towards the monument, shouting, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, these Nazi folks have got to go!” There was some ambiguity about what the wording was to the chant, and thus while some people said “Nazi folks”, others replaced “folks” with the “F” word.


Marching towards the Washington Monument.  Marching towards the Washington Monument.

Marching towards the Washington Monument.

Marching towards the Washington Monument.  Marching towards the Washington Monument.


Marching towards the Washington Monument, expressing our distaste for the Nazis.


All the while, the members of the clown troupe did their thing.  All the while, the members of the clown troupe did their thing.

All the while, the members of the clown troupe did their thing.

All the while, the members of the clown troupe did their thing.  All the while, the members of the clown troupe did their thing.


Nearing the monument, Park Police officers had a quick discussion with us. As it turns out, demonstrations are not permitted within the flag circle around the Washington Monument, per the Code of Federal Regulations. And it’s true – under 36 CFR 7, it states:

No permits may be issued authorizing demonstrations or special events in the following other park areas:

The Washington Monument, which means the area enclosed within the inner circle that surrounds the Monument's base, except for the official annual commemorative Washington birthday ceremony.

I’ll be darned. It also specifies similar exclusion zones at the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.


A Park Police officer explains the regulations regarding demonstrations around the Washington Monument. To his credit, this particular officer, C.R. Holmberg, was extremely polite and professional with us - nothing less than a gentleman.

A Park Police officer explains the regulations regarding demonstrations around the Washington Monument. To his credit, this particular officer, C.R. Holmberg, was extremely polite and professional with us – nothing less than a gentleman.


Waiting outside the flag circle, looking for the alleged Nazis.  Waiting outside the flag circle, looking for the alleged Nazis.

Waiting outside the flag circle, looking for the alleged Nazis.


Not long after this, we found three stray Nazis and quickly attempted to surround them, while police tried to form a barrier between them and us. Things got ugly pretty quickly, as one of our people tried to attack these stray Nazis with a banner. The banner was quickly confiscated by Park Police.


The alleged Nazis have been spotted - two big, burly guys with beards, and a third, younger guy.  The alleged Nazis have been spotted - two big, burly guys with beards, and a third, younger guy.

The alleged Nazis have been spotted – two big, burly guys with beards, and a third, younger guy.


A Park Police officer carries the confiscated banner.

A Park Police officer carries the confiscated banner.


Pursuing the alleged Nazis back down the hill, towards Constitution Avenue.  Pursuing the alleged Nazis back down the hill, towards Constitution Avenue.

Pursuing the alleged Nazis back down the hill, towards Constitution Avenue.


As we headed back towards our original location, several arrests were made, allegedly for assaulting a police officer. Quickly, cops in helmets were ready for action, forming lines, and effectively splitting our group in two – one behind the police lines, and another in front of the police lines. I was in the group in front of the police lines.


Arrests were made, and soon, the area was crawling with police, both Park and Metropolitan.  Arrests were made, and soon, the area was crawling with police, both Park and Metropolitan.

Arrests were made, and soon, the area was crawling with police, both Park and Metropolitan.

Arrests were made, and soon, the area was crawling with police, both Park and Metropolitan.  Arrests were made, and soon, the area was crawling with police, both Park and Metropolitan.

Arrests were made, and soon, the area was crawling with police, both Park and Metropolitan.  Arrests were made, and soon, the area was crawling with police, both Park and Metropolitan.


Once the arrests were made, however, we were able to regroup, and proceeded to our original meeting location.


We soon regrouped, and we were on the move!  We soon regrouped, and we were on the move!

We soon regrouped, and we were on the move!

We soon regrouped, and we were on the move!  We soon regrouped, and we were on the move!

We soon regrouped, and we were on the move!  We soon regrouped, and we were on the move!

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Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3

Part 1