Beverly Hills is perhaps better known as a shopping Mecca for those seeking the ultimate in glitz and glamour, but this week it was slated for a discussion on race, that problem that still irks America in this, the second decade of a new millennium. The actual venue selected, H.O.M.E. (House of Music & Entertainment), a site normally utilized for dinner/Jazz concerts, is just a few blocks from the epicenter of Rodeo Drive, with much of the same opulence associated with that more famous address.
The headlight for this event was one Jeff Schoep, Commander of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), the largest White separatist organization in the country (featuring a membership of several hundred according to the Anti-Defamation League website). The NSM is probably most notable locally for a 2011 homicide in which one of its members was shot to death by his ten year old son in Riverside, allegedly following an extended period of physical abuse.
Accompanied by two aides, Captains Matt Bradley and Brian Culpepper, Commander Schoep presented an aura of nonchalance in a black pinstriped business suit. The only clues to his political leanings were a gold “hammer of Thor pendent (Norse mythology is popular with White supremacists) and a pair of steel-toed boots, considered de rigueur for Nazis, skin heads, and those of that ink.
This summit was not to be, however. A contingent of less then a dozen demonstrators swarmed in front of the establishment, brandishing placards with anti-Nazi and anti-racist slogans. Several of the protesters wore all black, their T-shirts embossed with the likeness of Palestinian freedom fighter/terrorist and media pin-up girl, Leila Khaled.
This contingent, although small, made enough noise to effectively disrupt the goings on inside the building.
After several minutes, the marchers got their wish, as the proprietor, a nattily attired Black man, pulled the plug on the event, citing the bad publicity being generated for this, one of the very few African American businesses in the area. Taking care not to alert the protesters of the change in venues, the group reconvened an hour later, this time at the Sheraton Hotel in Fox Hills.
Representing the Black community were Najee Ali of Project Islamic H.O.P.E., immediately recognized by several of the Beverly Hills demonstrators and heckled for his participation in the event; Jasmyne Cannick, a veteran media and government specialist from the progressive arena, and Cleo Manago, a health behavior specialist, political analysist, and founder of the Black Men’s Xchange (BMX).
As noted by the panelists, this gathering had a precedent historically, going back to 1961 and 1962, when American Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell shared the stage with Malcolm X and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in Washington, D.C. and Chicago, respectively. These summits came about because these leaders reasoned that at a primal level they had common goals, i.e. the separation of the races.
This was the ploy Schoep was apparently following, as he insisted that his group is not anti anything, and suffers from distorted images propagated by the mainstream press.