Monday, March 12, 2007

Mizzou, Neo-Nazis, and Facebook protests

If you didn't hear about the Neo-Nazi protest at Mizzou, you can read rather mundane accounts of it here, or, for much better coverage, you can see the photos on Facebook, or look at the student reaction.

The most interesting thing to me is that the student group PROTEST NAZI HATE MARCH at Mizzou called for no protest at all.

Apparently the Facebook group was started to organize a protest. However, Mizzou, through traditional channels, let the students know that not attending the event was the best strategy:

This weekend, Columbia will play host to the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group, that has obtained a permit to hold a march in downtown Columbia. According to Larry Brown, an assistant professor in the University of Missouri-Columbia Department of Geography and an expert in hate groups, the best plan is to ignore the group and spend time engaged in positive activity.

"These groups thrive on people who will respond emotionally," Brown said. "They will come with racial slurs, derogatory comments and the swastika. Their whole attitude will be to get folks to respond to them in a very angry way. Then they go away and let the community disintegrate.

"A good strategy is to not go to the march, because you don't know how you might emotionally respond. The other strategy is to go the alternative events happening in the community. Find some place positive to go, or stay back, and be quiet, peaceful and observant. Do not return violence for violence."

This information appears to have been disseminated to the students through multiple channels, including the Facebook group.

As you can see from the photos, it didn't stop a clash between the Neo-Nazis and the police, and there appears to have still been a small counter-protest, but things could have gone much much worse.

I'd be interested to know if the administration coordinated at all with the Facebook group creators, but I'm not that ambitious. If someone reading this has more information, let me know.

No comments: