Community Action

1. Introduction

Community action is the key to preventing racist and fascist attacks on people and on all our democratic rights. The following pages present case studies of successful organizing by community based groups, schools and unions in Canada. These case studies clearly demonstrate that non-violent response to hate groups do work and are the basis on which successful anti-racist can be launched. We need to learn from and extract guidelines from these studies to build successful anti-racism movement that will prevent hate group recruitment and hate crime.

The first case study examines attempts in the early 1980s to stop the Ku Klux Klan from organizing in Vancouver and Toronto. The Klan was experiencing a sudden and unexpected rebirth in the early 1980s due to the work of a number of young, articulate and dynamic leaders who tapped into the growing fear that comes with economic upheaval. Few Canadians realize that the Klan had been one of the largest hate groups in Canada during the 1920s when tens of thousands of Canadians, including mayors and other elected officials, became members. The appeal of the Klan in much of Western Canada during the 1920s lay in its anti-Catholic and anti-francophone rhetoric. But the Klan quickly lost favour due to internal disputes and scandals in both the United States and Canada. Full fledged Nazi parties filled the gap during the 1930s in Quebec, Ontario and Western Canada. The rebirth of the Canadian Klan in the 1980s was based on wide spread economic fears and opposition to immigration. The new cadre of Klan leaders sensed that fear about job loss could be used to build a renewed national Klan organization and the Klan rebounded with a vengeance. Julian Sher examines the community opposition to the Klan that stopped its growth. Sher points out that, despite the hate spewed by Klan leaders, not one was charged with a hate crime.

The second case study was written by Dick Chamney of the Provost School District in Alberta. Provost, was the scene of an Aryan Fest organized by Terry Long and Ray Bradley during the early 1990s. Long was then national leader of the violent and neo-Nazi Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations. The Aryan Fest attracted racists throughout the prairies, including Carny Nerland of Prince Albert Saskatchewan. A videotape of a confrontation at the site of the Aryan Fest in Provost shows Nerland brandishing a shotgun and saying that the shotgun is a perfect form of Native birth control - “a perfect way to customize the womb” to “prevent Native births.” Chamney examines the actions of the students, the school board and community groups in opposing Aryan Nations and extracts from this experience a number of important guidelines for working with mainstream groups against racist groups.

The third study, written by Warren Kinsella, examines how to oppose hate groups based on his personal experience. Kinsella is a well known author and lawyer who wrote the best-selling, Web of Hate, which provides one of the best descriptions of the white supremacist movement and its leaders in Canada. Kinsella was the subject of numerous death threats and racist skinheads often paraded in front of his home following his expose’ of the racist movement. Kinsella ran against Ted White of the Reform Party in the riding of Capilano-Howe Sound in British Columbia in the 1996 federal election. White was an early member of the Western Canada Concept, a group founded by Victoria lawyer Douglas Christie. The Western Canada Concept advocates the separation of the Western provinces from Canada. The WCC does not support multiculturalism but a return to “traditional” sources of immigration, i.e., white, Christian, Northern European immigrants. Christie is also a long-time supporter of racist school teachers like James Keegstra, who was fired for forcing students to believe in a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world, Malcom Ross, who was fired for anti-semitic publications, and Paul Fromm, who was fired for his continued association with white supremacists. Christie also supports Holocaust deniers like Ernst Zundel, who wrote The Hitler We Knew and Loved, and the self-admitted fascist, David Irving, who was deported from Canada in the early 1990s.

The fourth study was written by Anti-Racist Action (Toronto). ARA was formed in response to the formation of the Heritage Front, which became the largest hate group in Canada since World War II. The Heritage Front is headed by Wolfgang Droege who has a long history of violence and association with terrorist groups. In the early 1970s, Droege became a member of the racist Western Guard with long-term Nazis like Don Andrews and John Ross Taylor. In 1976, Droege attended a neo-Nazi conference organized by David Duke, then head of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, in New Orleans and was appointed as a Ku Klux Klan representative in Canada. In 1979, Droege became the head of the KKK in British Columbia and organized a cross-Canada speaking tour for David Duke. In 1981, Droege, two other Canadians and a number of US nationals were convicted in the US on charges of conspiracy for the attempted armed takeover of the island of Dominica in the Caribbean. In 1985, Droege began serving four years in the United States for possession of cocaine. In 1993, Droege was charged with the possession of a weapon, following a fight in Toronto. In 1994, Droege served three months in jail in Toronto for contempt when he refused to stop spreading hate on the Heritage Front “hotline”. In 1997, Droege was arrested for car theft.

ARA faced a formidable opponent, but has continued to make important inroads into neo-Nazi organizing in Toronto. After numerous confrontations and anti-racist demonstrations, ARA finally forced the Heritage Front out of Toronto. Unfortunately, the group is now organizing in the surrounding suburbs where there had been less opposition to the Heritage Front. In response, ARA has begun to help organize ARA chapters in smaller towns and suburbs.

The fifth study was written by Dr. Karen Mock, National Director of the League for Human Rights of B’nai Brith (Canada) and Lorne Templeman a researcher with the League. Dr. Mock is a registered clinical psychologist who has worked for many years with communities against hate. Templeman was an employee of the League who was responsible for tracking hate groups before moving to the Ontario Anti-racism Secretariat. The Secretariat has since been disbanded by the Tory government of Mike Harris. Mock and Templeman write about several community-based initiatives the League was involved in during the early 1990s that helped to significantly change the balance of forces between the racist and anti-racist forces in Ontario.

The final study was written by Dale Cornish and Jessica Black of the Canadian Anti-racism Education and Research Society-. The study examines how communities responded to an advertised meeting of US-based Tom Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance Movement (WAR) in Vancouver, BC.. WAR is one of the main North American racist groups that devotes particular attention to working with and promoting young racist skinheads. The Vancouver meeting of WAR was organized by Tony McAleer who operated a computerized racist telephone message system that promoted the views of his mentor, Tom Metzger. The study also examines in some detail the response of communities in the smaller towns of Chilliwack, Kelowna, and Yahk, B.C. to the growth of the Church of Jesus Christ Christian, Aryan Nations. The report concludes with an account of successes in exposing leaders of the Knights of Ku Klux Klan and the B.C. Chapter of the Heritage Front.