N.J. town official vows to stop white supremacist march
|Carl A. Williams|
MORRISTOWN, N.J. — A white supremacist group plans to march at the Morris County Courthouse on July 4 to protest affirmative action and the state's firing of former State Police Superintendent Carl A. Williams over racial remarks he made.
But local political leaders have vowed to stop the Nationalist Movement, based in Learned, Miss., from staging its “Independence from Affirmative Action Day.”
“They'll march in Morristown over my dead body,” Town Council President Timothy Jackson told The Daily Record of Parsippany. “Either we take a stand against people like this now or they will lock you up 10 years from now.”
Richard Barrett, the organization's leader, told the First Amendment Center Online that his response to Jackson's statement was the same one used by U.S. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe when the German commander demanded his surrender at the Battle of the Bulge: “NUTS!”
Despite Jackson's comments, as of yet, local government agencies have made no attempt to prevent the march.
Morristown Police Capt. Peter Demnitz says his office is preparing for the rally just as it would any other parade or march. The primary concern of the police, he says, is to maintain public safety.
Barrett says the state Department of Transportation is requiring his organization to pay liability insurance, a permit fee and the costs of providing detour cones and other materials for the march. Barrett, however, has refused to pay the fees, claiming the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such fees unconstitutional in the 1992 case Forsyth County, Georgia v. Nationalist Movement. (The Supreme Court did not outlaw all parade fees in the case. Rather, the court invalidated an ordinance that allowed an administrator to vary permit fees for marchers depending on the content of the demonstration or parade.)
Barrett has had no direct contact with the Department of Transportation, but has sent all correspondence to the city. Last week, Barrett sent Demnitz (who is acting as liaison between Barrett and the city) a letter explaining his refusal to pay the fees. Demnitz told the First Amendment Center Online that he forwarded the information supplied by Barrett to the state Department of Transportation. When contacted for this story, department officials said they had not received any information from Barrett's organization and, therefore, could not comment on the situation.
A graduate of Rutgers University, Barrett has held similar rallies in Los Angeles, Atlanta and Boston. Barrett said he began considering a rally in New Jersey after Gov. Christine Whitman fired Williams on Feb. 28, 1999. The superintendent's dismissal followed a published report of an interview in which Williams linked minority groups to drug trafficking.
Barrett said he chose Morristown for the rally because of the town's history of hosting George Washington and the Continental Army for two winters during the Revolutionary War.
“It's time to carry forward the spirit of Washington, Paul Revere and Thomas Jefferson, instead of Al Sharpton, Howard Stern and [Gov. Christine] Whitman,” Barrett said in a statement on the organization's Web site. “This day will be New Jersey's call for freedom,” he said.
Barrett says his organization has won 20 previous First Amendment court cases and will take Morris County and Morristown officials to court if they attempt to prevent the rally. But, he says, his goal is to promote the Constitution, not to sue officials.
“We don't want their money — we just want freedom,” he said.
Barrett won't disclose his group's size, saying only that it has members in 35 states. Critics have said he is a one-man operation who runs the group out of his home south of Jackson, Miss.