A Holocaust memorial in Russellville, Arkansas was interrupted by neo-Nazis carrying Nazi flags and hurling anti-Semitic slurs, including “six million more” from behind a police barricade.
The group was organized by Billy Roper and his Shield Wall Network.
The Southern Poverty Law Center recognizes Roper as “the uncensored voice of violent neo-Nazism” and the leader of the extremist group National Alliance White Revolution.
You can see Roper’s group in the video below:
The neo-Nazis picketed the memorial to support the late Dr. Michael Link, a university professor who shared anti-Semitic views.
As Roper explained:
“The rally that we held was a protest against the ADL (Anti-Defamation League), and Dr. Sarah Stein’s attempts to intimidate and blackmail Arkansas Tech University into removing Dr. Michael Link’s name from the scholarship he endowed.”
The group also interrupted a speech given by 96-year-old Beryl Wolfson, a World War II veteran who saw the liberation of the concentration camps with his own eyes.
Wolfson says he travels the United States and shares his story precisely because of groups like Roper’s:
“Never forget, because it could happen again, and I’m trying to get this out to the people so it won’t happen again in any place.”
The event has served as an example of, as Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt put it, “the hate that still exists in our communities”:
In Arkansas, a Holocaust Remembrance Day event was interrupted by neo-Nazis. In 2019. This is a disturbing example of how vicious #antiSemitism & #hate still exists in our communities. https://t.co/XKjmTzt2zh— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) May 7, 2019
Others also condemned the display.
This makes my soul ache. I’m heartbroken, horrified, and fuming. https://t.co/jDYXMfY68k— KyM (@ky_tweets) May 9, 2019
Punch a Nazi today https://t.co/qfN1tfFMxc— matthew (@thematthewshow) May 8, 2019
These American Nazi's and white supremacists are a scourge on our country and need to be flushed out!https://t.co/e3X3Po5kCo— Harry J Houck (@harryjhouck) May 9, 2019
I guess it takes some real balls to start shit at Holocaust Remembrance Day in Russellville, Arkansas. Note how all these tough guys like Billy Roper never seem to show up in places with lots of Jews? Why not try your troll shit in New York or Boston or Philadelphia?— Marcolepsy (@Zillion29) May 7, 2019
Joyce Griffis, who organized the event, who organized the Holocaust memorial, said the neo-Nazis’ appearance “made me feel terrible”:
“It made me feel terrible, it made me feel terrible for my friends. They were talking to us like we were pieces of nothing.”
She had the following to say about their presence at the memorial:
“We will accept you if you accept us. We want you to have your life, but we want our life also, and we want the truth to be known about history.”
White supremacist groups have flourished under the Trump administration, perhaps most infamously after President Donald Trump spread the blame for the violence which had erupted at the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia:
“I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people watched it, and you have…You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now. You had a group, you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”
Trump’s first official statement on the demonstration came three days after it first began.
At the time, he acknowledged that the Justice Department had opened a civil rights investigation into the death of Heather Heyer.
Heyer was killed after she was struck by a Dodge Challenger driven by James Alex Fields, who had traveled to the city from Ohio to protest at the rally with fellow white nationalists.