Protests Planned for Controversial Convention in Herndon

Gregg MacDonald, Fairfax Times, February 19, 2008

A controversial convention scheduled to begin Friday at a Herndon hotel will go on as planned despite opposition from various groups, including a protest rally planned for Saturday morning.

David Welliver, General Manager of the Crowne Plaza hotel in Herndon, told The Times that despite extreme pressure, he has no plans to cancel the event, which will take place Feb. 22-24.

The biannual New Century Foundation/American Renaissance convention is organized by Oakton resident Jared Taylor, who calls himself a “race realist” and publishes American Renaissance magazine, which he has done for nearly 20 years.

“Taylor is a Nazi pig,” Jeff Adler, spokesman for the militant group Jewish Defense Organization, told The Times in November. Upon hearing about the convention, Adler began a campaign, called Operation Nazi-Kicker, to prompt the Crowne Plaza hotel to cancel what he called the “meeting of hate.” He also said a physical protest was not out of the question.

“If [the JDO] are looking for Nazis they are barking up the wrong tree,” Taylor said in response.

The Southern Law Poverty Center, renowned for tracking and investigating hate-groups, lists Taylor on its Web site as one of “40 to watch” but says while “Taylor projects himself as a courtly presenter of ideas that most would describe as crudely white supremacist,” one thing that separates Taylor from the pack is “his lack of anti-Semitism.”

However, an unflattering report published by Taylor’s New Century Foundation titled “Hispanics, a statistical portrait,” caught the attention of El Pueblo Unido, a Latino empowerment organization.

The organization coordinated its own phone campaign to the Herndon hotel’s management.

“The goal is to drive the supremacists from the hotel they have prepared their conference in,” said Ricardo Cabellos in an email. “Should the phone campaign not work, we will pursue an organized protest with union friends during the event.”

A post this week on the Web site of international grassroots activist network Independent Media (indymedia.org), encourages protestors to meet in Herndon’s Chandon Park on Saturday morning to stage a protest march to the hotel.

“We will then converge at the hotel to protest, confront and disrupt the racist hate spouted by the AmRen National Conference,” it says.

“So what can we expect,” wrote Taylor on the Web site VDARE about expected protests. “Perhaps a dozen shaggy, braying throwbacks to the 1960s who will divert conference-goers and passing motorists alike with quaint slogans and eccentric attire. Nothing could be more edifying than the contrast between the detritus on the sidewalk and the crisp, good manners in the conference hall.”

Police are prepared for a little bit more. Fairfax County Police 1st Lt. Andy Hill of the Reston District station said he is familiar with American Renaissance and its conventions.

“We’ve had protests of this event in the past in Fairfax County,” he said. “There has been some history of some minor disruptions but nothing of a large magnitude.”

Nonetheless, police have developed an operational plan.

“We are going to have some extra security present,” Hill said. “Just a soft deployment in the event that the hotel management needs anything from us. We are good to go with that.”

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