Posted on February 27, 2008

Protesters Swarm Herndon Hotel Convention

Gregg MacDonald, Fairfax Times, February 27, 2008

Activists, police and convention-goers clashed last weekend when a group of protesters attempted to disrupt a convention of self-described “race realists” at a Herndon hotel.

About 50 protesters, including a pit bull named Logan, assembled in Herndon’s Chandon Park early Saturday morning to march about two blocks away to the Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport Hotel, located just south of the Town of Herndon line.

“It is my job to see that you get across the street safely,” Capt. Brad Anzengruber of the Herndon Police Department told the protesters assembled at the park. Anzengruber was accompanied by Lt. Jerry Keys, also of the Herndon Police.

The various protesters included representatives of One People’s Project, Grassroots America, Resistance and Solidarity, and Pueblo Unidos, as well as a smattering of individuals who said they were not associated with any organization or refused to identify themselves.

A group of five black-clad men wearing face-obscuring bandannas, one wielding a solid black flag, said they drove five hours from Pittsburgh, Penn. just to attend the protest.

As the march progressed toward the hotel, the sound of beating drums resounded for blocks. “We say no to racist fear! Fascists are not welcome here!” boomed Marco Del Fuego of Resistance and Solidarity, through a bull horn.

Twenty or so Fairfax County Police officers, dressed in tactical gear that included long nightsticks and tear gas guns, formed a barricade at the hotel’s entrance.

As the cacophony of the marcher’s chants slowly became audible in the hotel parking lot, one county officer said he was “getting nervous.”

Jared Taylor, the progenitor of the convention’s host organization, American Renaissance, stood outside the hotel in an immaculate gray wool suit, taking photos of the marchers as they approached.

“They accuse us of being Nazis for Heaven’s sake,” Taylor said of the protesters. “But what they are doing is attempting to disrupt and shut down our conference. That sounds more Nazi-like to me. They love to have somebody to hate.”

Taylor, who identifies himself as a “race realist” said that there are three primary components to that definition.

“First, we believe that race is a legitimate, biological phenomenon. Second, there are racial differences that go beyond mere appearance and thirdly, we have a sense of racial solidarity,” he said. “Racial diversity is a source of conflict and tension rather than being a strength.”

When protesters attempted to enter the hotel parking lot, they were physically pushed back by police, but no one was arrested and no tear gas was fired, no nightstick was ever unsheathed.

The protest’s most intense moment was when convention-goer Jaime Kelso of California came out of the convention to grant an interview to the assembled media.

Kelso was immediately stormed upon by protesters yelling profanities and spitting on him. “I support their right to try and deny us our rights,” he said as he was led away by police for his own safety.