True Story: We’re Preventing Neo-Nazis From Taking Over Our Town

 Neo-Nazis North DakotaNeo-Nazis North DakotaNeo-Nazis North Dakota
What would you do if Neo-Nazis moved in next door – literally? Who would you call in they were taking over your hometown? That’s exactly what happened in Leith, North Dakota. Scott Garman and UnityND were having none of it. This is their story.

Tell us a bit about yourself! 
My name is Scott Garman, I grew up in Casselton, ND. I attended NDSU where I majored in Political Science and minored in Religious Studies. I also have a degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead where I majored in Special Education.
I am the single father of my 10 year old son, Gabriel. I have worked with people with disabilities for most of my adult life. I’m very passionate about teaching and advocating for people with disabilities.
Prior to the Neo-Nazis moving into Leith, North Dakota how would you describe the socio/political there? 

North Dakota has had a long and interesting political history with swings from the left to the right, often depending on the economic climate in the state. Currently all branches of state government are controlled by the Republican party.

North Dakota has always been a welcoming place to people from all over the world. The very first mosque in the U.S. was located in Ross, ND and the people of North Dakota continue to follow this pattern today. North Dakotans have a long history of standing up for what is right. During WWII, ND had one of the highest per capita number of citizen-soldiers in the military. We also help out neighbor farmers who are sick and can’t finish harvesting their crop.

Right now, North Dakota is experiencing a huge influx of people from all over the U.S. due to the oil boom. This influx includes people of all races, creeds, and cultures which is leading to changes in the socio-political climate. For the first time in their lives, some people are interacting with others who look different than them or have different beliefs than them. Occasionally – rarely –  this can lead to confrontation.

Do you know why Neo-Nazis choose to colonize Leith – population 16? 

The Nazis chose Leith because the land is cheap. For many years North Dakota has seen its smaller communities decrease in population and with that came the depreciation of property values. The scene is set for people to buy up land for a very cheap price. Craig Cobb (the leader of this group of NeoNazis) saw an opportunity to implement his goal of an all-white enclave within the U.S.

You’ve formed an organization and worked with local politicians, citizens, and the nearby Native American tribes to get the Nazis out of Leith.  Tell us about your work. 

UnityND began in early September 2013 when I first learned about the Nazi takeover. I saw a need in Leith and I didn’t see a lot being done to help the residents of Leith in their struggle against the Nazis who were living there and more who were planning on moving there and I knew I had to do something.

I wasn’t sure what I could do so I called my three best friends: Jeremy Kelly, James McMullen-Wendt, and Kade Ferris. We all come from an activist background and a long history of confronting Nazis and hate groups. We decided to organize a rally and to protest the planned visit of Jeff Schoep leader of the National Socialist Movement party.

400 people showed up at the protest including over 150 Native-Americans from the Standing Rock Reservation whose land borders the area in which Leith is located. From that rally, we had the idea of creating an organization that would help build strong, tolerant communities in North Dakota. We need communities that are welcoming to all people regardless of their race, color, creed, etc.

What do the Nazis hope to accomplish in Leith? 
It is the stated goal of the white nationalists, separatists, Nazis (the names are interchangeable) to rid the U.S. of those who are different than them. One of the ways they accomplish this is moving as many of their peers into a given area. Then they can essentially outnumber the people who live there and take control of the local government. Then they will be able to (according to them) govern according to their views and beliefs.
Have you had any in-person, face-to-face conversations with the Nazis?
There was words exchanged between people who attended the rally in Leith back in September but I would hardly call it ‘conversation’. Mostly it was the Nazis yelling racial slurs and saying hateful things I refuse to repeat.
I find it impossible to hold a rational conversation with nearly all who hold dearly their belief in racial superiority.
What steps are you and the citizens of Leith taking to get the Nazis out? 
The legal question is best asked of the attorney who has been hired as the legal representative of Leith. However, UnityND will continue to work tirelessly to build strong, tolerant communities that will provide no quarter to any Nazi or hate group.
North Dakota is now home to people from around the globe and we deeply value them as citizens of our country and state. Nazis and others who seek to close our system are enemies of our values. We will work to ensure that all North Dakotans are valued and that diversity prevails.

If you’d like to support UnityND in their efforts, you can make a donation here. Do you guys have any questions for Scott?  Have any of you ever encountered NeoNazis in real life before?

photos originally posted here

7 Comments

Kaisa

This was yet another interesting True Stories interview. Thank you for sharing, Sarah!
The topic of neonazis is global and I guess especially touchy in Europe, so it was interesting for me to find out more about what they're up to in the U.S. I have met some neonazis in my life, but those encounters have been neutral in the sense it was hard to say if they really stand for all their beliefs or it's more of a visual statement (clothes, hair etc). We never discussed their world views.

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Rissa

I was at the rally, Scott and his friends are now my friends. I was born and raised in North Dakota, spent 20 years living in several states and served overseas for 2 of my 4 years in the USAF. UnityND is the best thing that has ever happened to my home state, and I am very proud to be associated with them. I look forward to being role models for race relations nationwide, and joining other groups worldwide.

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Rissa

I was at the rally, Scott and his friends are now my friends. I was born and raised in North Dakota, spent 20 years living in several states and served overseas for 2 of my 4 years in the USAF. UnityND is the best thing that has ever happened to my home state, and I am very proud to be associated with them. I look forward to being role models for race relations nationwide, and joining other groups worldwide.

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Anonymous

There was a neo-Nazi group near the town I lived in Florida – they used to come knock on people's doors and try to get them to join. I remember when my parents saw them coming we would all go hide in my parents room (we're Jewish) and my parents would either come hide with us or get them to leave, depending on if they knew we were home/how violent they were/etc. It was extremely scary.

THANK YOU so much for the work that you're doing. It's very difficult when you're confronted with that but even just one person holding up a sign affirming that they are 100% ok with you being who you are changes the entire situation. You guys are patriots, and you are righteous. Thank you.

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Anonymous

Thank you for bringing attention to UnityND! It still blows my mind that people still have such archaic opinions.

I've never encountered a Neo Nazi, but the KKK is still in existence here in the deep South. I'm not sure to what degree, exactly, but I do remember in 2007 a group decked out in hoods and robes stood on the county courthouse steps to protest immigration. Scary sight to see.

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Anonymous

Wow, this is an interesting story!
I'm living in Germany this year – one of the most common slogans for graffiti is "no Nazis," but the neo-Nazi party still campaigned a lot for the parliamentary elections earlier this year (where I live, they got in trouble for lining the road to a former concentration camp with anti-Roma slogans) and I got a leaflet in my mailbox talking about how Germany doesn't need foreigners. Despite this, I haven't met any actual neo-Nazis and the first thing that most Germans mention when they talk about the election is how proud they are that the neo-Nazis failed to get enough votes to sit in parliament.

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Kathleen Shannon

" If being white is your crowning achievement in life then you most likely don't have a lot to offer me in terms of 'conversation'."

BEST sentence ever on summing up why racial superiority is such bullshit.

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