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News ::
Anarchists Confront Neo-Nazis in Framingham
16 Mar 2002
Boston based members of the Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC) confront National Alliance racists at Framingham Human Relations Commission hearing.
Anti-racists, supremacists meet at meeting

By Liz Mineo
MetroWest Daily News
Friday, March 15, 2002

FRAMINGHAM - For the fourth time since December, members of a white supremacist group showed up at the monthly meeting of the town's Human Relations Commission.

But last night they showed up in greater numbers and they met organized opposition.

Besides 11 white supremacists - until last night, only two at a time had attended commission meetings - 15 people who said they were members of a Boston anti-racist group showed up.

The opposing groups sat next to each other during the meeting. Though their clothing styles marked them apart, it was not clear to those in attendance until they spoke that they were not members of a single group.

The white supremacists wore suits and ties. The "anti-racists," who later identified themselves as communists and anarchists, wore black clothes and bandannas that they pulled up to mask their faces when the groups began photographing each other.

The two groups listened as Nanzetta Merriman, director of Minority Academic Achievement for the Framingham Public Schools, spoke about what the schools are doing to help minority students get more out of their educations.

The white supremacists said they are members of the National Alliance, a West Virginia-based group with ideology similar to that of Nazi Germany. Two members of the group have been going to the Human Relations Commission meetings to pass out pamphlets which contain vulgar and incendiary characterizations of blacks and other minority groups, as well as ludicrous allegations of Jewish conspiracies against the United States.

It was the first time anti-racist activists showed up in town. Several of them came with cameras and took pictures of the white supremacists, who did the same.

There was tension in the Public Hearing Room at Memorial Building.

Human Relations commissioners went on with their business, but were clearly nervous and puzzled by the large number of people at an event which usually draws only a handful.

By 8 p.m., an hour into the meeting, the 12 commission members, 10 audience members and the contingents from both groups had been joined by 10 Framingham police officers, some of whom waited outside, up from three at the start.

Police Chief Steven Carl arrived in civilian clothes.

A confrontation briefly flickered in the hallway around 9 when three supremacists left the meeting room. Six members of the anti-racist group followed them into the hallway and told them, "There is no reason to hate."

Both sides then returned to the meeting room.

The antagonism everyone felt was sure to come to a head surfaced when commission Chairman Ralph Woodward called for the meeting to end.

A young member of the white supremacists raised his hand at the back of the room and asked permission to ask a question. He did not identify himself, despite being asked to by Woodward.

Picking up on the theme of Merriman's presentation, he asked what the Framingham schools are doing to help white students.

Anti-racist activists shouted the man down.

They yelled "racist" and "Nazi" and a shouting match erupted.

Chief Carl cut it short by telling all that the meeting was over and to go home.

The anti-racists followed the supremacists out of the building and down Concord Street with both sides' cameras clicking the whole time and police watching.

When the supremacists got into their cars and left, the police followed the anti-racists to the Sampan restaurant.

Asked about their actions, two members of the anti-racist group - who refused to give their names - said their mission is to oppose neo-Nazi activities.

"We try to go wherever they show up to prevent them from having an open forum to spread their ideas of hatred," said one, who said he is Jewish.

"Neo-Nazis have a well-documented history of violence," he said. "The community should know they're dangerous. They're not peaceful people. They won't go away if we ignore them. We can't ignore them because they don't ignore us."

The Boston anti-racist group is made up of people of different ideologies, mostly anarchists and leftists, they said. Some identified themselves as members of the Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists.

They promised to come back to town to prevent neo-Nazis from getting their views out. "Our mission is not letting them alone to be organized," said another young man. "If they intend to come back, we'll be there and will be more."

Chief Carl said he does not believe in confronting the neo-Nazis.

"It's a tough challenge for the community," said Carl. "The best way to deal with them is ignoring them, and not listening to them. They're protected by the Constitution, but their beliefs are different from what Framingham stands for."
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Mask up to avoid fascist photographers
16 Mar 2002
A Boston anti-racist group shows up at the Human Relations Commission meeting last night. (Staff photo by Milton Amador)