Neo-Nazis are conducting armed patrols in and around Sanford, Florida in preparation for any race riots that may occur over the Trayvon Martin case. The patrols are to protect “white citizens in the area who are concerned for their safety” says Commander Jeff Schoep of the National Socialist Movement.
“We are not advocating any type of violence or attacks on anybody, but we are prepared for it,” he says. “We are not the type of white people who are going to be walked all over.”
The New Black Panther Party recently offered $10,000 for a citizens’ arrest of George Zimmerman, Martin’s shooter. Schoep said the bounty is a sign that “the possibility of further racial violence is brimming over like a powder keg ready to explode into the streets.”
The patrols are comprised of between 10 and 20 locals and “volunteers” from across the state. He wouldn’t go into specifics on what kind of weapons the patrols were carrying.
“In Arizona the guys can walk around with assault weapons and that’s totally legal,” Schoep said, referring to the group’s patrols of the US-Mexico border. “What I can tell you is that any patrols that we are doing now in Florida are totally within the law.”
Asked if the patrols wouldn’t just make things worse, Schoep insisted they were simply a “show of solidarity with the white community down there” and “wouldn’t intimidate anybody.”
“Whenever there is one of these racially charged events, Al Sharpton goes wherever blacks need him,” Schoep said. “We do similar things. We are a white civil rights organization.”
Schoep said the NSM and the Black Panthers are actually alike in that they are both racial separatists, but sees a double-standard in the government’s treatment of the two groups.
“The Black Panthers have been offering bounties and all that,” he says. “But if we called for a bounty on someone’s head, I guarantee we’d be locked up as quick as I could walk out of my house.”
Schoep was also quick to clarify that he isn’t taking sides in Trayvon Martin’s controversial shooting. “That’s for the courts to decide,” he says. Besides, Schoep says, Zimmerman’s not even white.
“I think there is some confusion going on,” Schoep says. “A lot of people think that this guy who shot Trayvon was white… but he’s half Hispanic or Cuban or something. He certainly doesn’t look white to me.”
To some, armed patrols of Neo-Nazis seems like a sure way to incite, not prevent, a race riot. But Schoep doesn’t believe that is the case.
“We don’t wish for things like that,” he says. “But there have been race riots in Detroit and L.A… So we know those types of things happen.”
“You can either be prepared or you can be blindsided,” he adds. “This way, if something were to touch off a race riot, we’d already be in the area.”