Members of The Keystone Skinheads spoke to a crowd during a rally on Leif Ericson Day in 2008. (Rachel Playe / Philadelphia Daily News)
POSTED: Friday, October 18, 2013, 12:20 AM
ARE YOU A skinhead? Anarchist? Peace-loving hippie? Antifascist? Drag queen? Norse-history buff?
Well, head down to Fairmount Park, where neo-Nazis will clash tomorrow with a contingent of cross-dressing protesters as the skinheads gather for the seventh annual Leif Erikson Day rally.
The neo-Nazi shindig is organized by Keystone United, formerly Keystone State Skinheads, a white-nationalist group whose members will meet at the Thorfinn Karlsefni statue on Kelly Drive to pay homage to the 11th century Icelandic explorer and celebrate their whiteness.
“We feel it is our duty to study our past and never forget the extreme obstacles that our European ancestors fought and died for,” said Keystone United member Joseph Phy. “Leif Erikson was a great Norse explorer. His historic voyages led 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 face today.”
Daryle Lamont Jenkins of the opposing One People’s Project, said current challenges include racist skinheads holding rallies in his city.
“The numbers on both sides are going to be amplified. There is no telling what’s going to happen,” Jenkins said. “We have people coming from all over the country, and they have people coming from all over the country.”
Jenkins said the outing is being promoted by hate groups like the California-based American Freedom Party. He said Keystone United has apparently linked up with an international network of neo-Nazis, which could boost the size of tomorrow’s event.
And just to make things interesting, anarchists and drag queens may be making an appearance as well, in protest.
“Dress like a chick normally? Feel like pissing off a bunch of racist pricks with humor?” reads a flier posted on Facebook and elsewhere that urges people to “drag out the Nazis” at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at 1 Lemon Hill Drive.
Local antifascists are also expected to stop by, according to a recent blog post that told supporters to oppose the “neo-Nazi boneheads.”
“They have a long record of bloody mayhem behind them. Members have been convicted of all kinds of assaults,” Mark Potok, of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said of Keystone United. “We absolutely list them as a hate group.
“There is a general movement out there among some of these groups to try to portray themselves as some sort of civil-rights group that’s simply standing up for white people,” Potok added. “If it weren’t so ridiculous, it’d be amusing.”