Neo-nazi group plans protest of YWCA anti-racism workshopby Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio
Minneapolis — A group of neo-Nazis plan to protest an anti-racist workshop Saturday at the Midtown YWCA in Minneapolis, sparking plans for counter-protests from community members.
Forty people have registered for the workshop, titled "More Than Skin Deep: Uprooting White Privilege and White Supremacy One Cell at a Time."
The white supremacist National Socialist Movement announced the protest on its Web site. The posting said the group's local branch "plans to take action, by defending the rights of Whites not only in Minnesota but nation wide."
Anti-racist community members have organized a counter-protest at the same location.
"Our position is that to ignore them emboldens them," said counter-protest organizer Dan Gannon. "Our experience in the past is they will be back. And maybe instead of having small numbers this time, next time, if they're not shown that their message isn't welcome, they'll be able to openly recruit and come back with bigger numbers next time."
The Southern Poverty Law Center, a national civil rights group that tracks white supremacist groups, said the neo-Nazi group focuses on attracting attention through protests.
Heidi Beirich, the Center's research director, said the group has several hundred members nationwide. She anticipates that less than 25 members will attend Saturday's protest.
Still, she said, "it is without a doubt the fastest growing and most active of the neo-Nazi groups."
In a statement, the YWCA said, "While the YWCA of Minneapolis respects people's right to disagree with its views, the organization is taking steps to ensure a safe environment for everyone, including its health and fitness members, staff and workshop participants."
The YWCA declined to provide more information on the security precautions.