White supremacists, counter-rallies to organize in Palmer Squareand Oliver Effron | Jan 10, 2019
The New Jersey European Heritage Association (NJEHA), a white supremacist organization, plans to hold a demonstration at noon on Saturday, Jan. 12, in Palmer Square, drawing counter-protests from members of the University and the town at large.
Central Jersey Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and other groups have organized counter-rallies to be held on the same day.
The Princeton Police Department said that, though the NJEHA has not formally requested a permit, they are aware of several protests and counter-protests and are planning accordingly.
This is not the first time the NJEHA has planned a demonstration. On Nov. 17, 2018, six members marched in the town of Princeton holding signs reading, “It’s OK to be white.” According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), flyers promoting the group have been found around Princeton since March 2018.
According to their website, the organization “can be summed up by fourteen simple words; we must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.”
DSA plans to lead a number of local community organizations in a non-violent counter-rally scheduled for the same date at 11:30 a.m. According to a DSA Facebook statement, the organization believes that the “best way to avoid a violent confrontation will be to overwhelm them with numbers.”
“By dominating the space with sheer numbers, we believe we can show them that they are not welcome, in New Jersey or anywhere else,” the statement said.
Some campus organizations also plan to attend the counter-rally, such as the Young Democratic Socialists of Princeton.
Marc Schorin ’22, a member of the club, was distraught by the planned demonstration, which he believes is representative of the global rise of fascism in general, enabled “on the part of the centrist and even liberal establishment.”
“A stand like this is both a protest against Nazism and a positive affirmation of our community’s commitment to anti-racism in general,” he said.
Similarly, the Center for Jewish Life (CJL) is working with students, University partners, and the Department of Public Safety as events unfold.
“We want to ensure our regular Shabbat activities, services and meals, continue uninterrupted and that the community is safe,” wrote Rabbi Julie Roth, executive director of the CJL, in an email to the The Daily Princetonian.
Will Crawford ’20, president of the College Republicans said that the group seems to be “representing a pretty reprehensible ideology.”
“I don’t really know what they’re seeking to achieve by doing this. I hope people don’t support that. I certainly don’t support it,” Crawford said.
Sullivan Hughes ’21 and Shafaq Khan ’21, co-presidents of the College Democrats, said in an email to the ‘Prince’ that it wasn’t surprising the group chose to disturb the town of Princeton considering its large liberal population.
“As students, it is our duty to uphold values of inclusion, peace, and love,” Hughes and Khan said in a joint email. “Hate is not what we stand for. It is our responsibility to counter the growing radical, right-wing populist movement in this country, and Saturday is the perfect time to do so. We must make it clear that these racist ideologues are not welcome at Princeton.”
They encouraged students to attend the counter-protests and remain peaceful and nonviolent.
“Reacting violently would only give credence to this demonstration of hate,” Hughes and Khan said.
Justin Wittekind ’21 and Lena Hu ’20, outgoing co-presidents of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, said they were concerned for the safety of students and want to see action taken to prevent events such as the one planned for Saturday.
“I just think it’s constructive if people simply talk about it [...] to know actual and definitive action,” Hu said.
“This is an embodiment of a legacy in America of the denigration of people of color,” said Wittekind. “It will continue to fester and continue to be part of the problem if we just treat it as permissible or if we look at it as an isolated problem.”
Invoking the University’s motto — “In the nation’s service and the service of humanity” — Wittekind called for students and the University to continue the work of campus diversity groups and academics to advance a better understanding of the legacy of white supremacy and racism.
“Obviously, I don’t agree with their ideas and a lot of people don’t, but if they are an organization and it’s a public space, I guess they’re allowed to do what they want,” Ian Kim ’22 said.
Bojan Lazarevic ’20 said that he did not see the point of such demonstrations and believed their purpose to be to provoke students.
“I don’t think they get anything out of what they’re doing,” he said.