(Leith, ND) On September 22, 2013, the North Dakota-based organization UnityND, a group that believes direct action and strong opposition are needed to combat those who seek to spread injustice, hatred, and divisiveness, staged a peaceful protest against groups trying to lay claim to Leith, North Dakota, a town of 16 about 70 miles southwest of Bismarck.
Supporters of UnityND, along with various other groups from the state including a large contingent from the Standing Rock Lakota Dakota and other tribal groups, veterans of many wars including WWII vet Lew Lubka, motorcycle clubs, and families staged a peaceful protest in support of the citizens of Leith as the leadership of the National Socialist Movement traveled to Leith to visit land given to them by Missouri native and recent Leith resident Craig Cobb. Many of the citizens had expressed a sense of dismay over the lack of support from the rest of the state and they were pleasantly surprised and welcomed the estimated 300 to 400 guests to their community.
Over the past two years, Cobb has quietly purchased properties in Leith. He has reportedly encouraged fellow white supremacists to join him in North Dakota with the goal of assuming control of the town and making it a community for only like-minded individuals. Cobb, who is fleeing persecution in Canada, recently stated that he supports many of the beliefs of groups such as the National Socialist Party and the KKK and has reportedly given property to two well-known white supremacists, Alex Linder and Tom Metzger (a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan).
Commander of the National Socialist Movement Jeff Schoep, along with members of his executive staff and affiliates, visited Leith on September 22. Calling it a “fact-finding tour,” they walked through the town and held a town hall meeting that was open to the public. The group answered some questions posed by attendees.
Scott Garmen, a founder of UnityND, addressed the group first, saying “This is where we stop them. If we don’t, they will move on to the next town and the next. This is where it ends, at that little white house [Cobb’s residence] across the street.”
Pointing out that while the group had hung plenty of flags featuring swastikas and skulls in the town, Kade Ferris, another founder of UnityND said, “I want you all to note that there’s not a single American flag being flown on their properties. That’s because they don’t stand for what makes this country great: freedom, unity, and diversity.”
Chase Iron Eyes, of the group Last Real Indians said, “You’re 30 miles from our border. If you think we’re going to let you come into our territory and negatively affect our children, you’ve got another thing coming. What you see here today are only the mouthpieces — the warriors aren’t even here yet.”
UnityND, an open group of North Dakotans and their friends, oppose the beliefs of Cobb and Schoep and have pledged their support to the residents of Leith. The goal of the rally on September 22 was to have as many individuals as possible stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of Leith as a show of solidarity against those who would destroy their way of life.
ABOUT UNITYND UnityND believes that direct action and strong opposition are needed to combat those who seek to spread injustice, hatred, and divisiveness. As citizens, it is our duty not just to bear witness, but to actively work to find solutions to the problems of racism, classism, sexism, and hate. We will strive to protect our communities and citizens with all resources available to us until our mission is achieved.
Patriotism UnityND believes that true American patriotism is based on the ideals of our founding fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and our Constitution as it should be applied: All of us are created equal and are endowed with rights as citizens of this country. It is our job as patriotic Americans to ensure that we confront those who would take away these rights from our fellow citizens.
Community UnityND believes in strong communities. North Dakota is strong because our communities work together in times of need, and welcome people with a warm handshake and friendly smile. No matter who you are or where you come from, you should expect to be valued and have a place here. Those who would exclude or deny persons from our communities cannot be tolerated. We will stand up for those who are excluded and oppose those who would exclude.
Citizenship UnityND knows that citizenship is not based on color or creed, but is something that is inalienable. America was founded on an infusion of new blood into our communities, and is truly strongest when it is open to all. North Dakota is now home to persons from around the globe and they are valued citizens of our country and state. Those who seek to close our system are enemies of our values. We will work to ensure that all citizens are valued and that diversity prevails.