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Nazis Set to Converge on West Allis

Counter-protest emphasizes peace and tolerance

Sep. 1, 2011
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Harriet Paletti is a wife and mom, runs a small business, tries to contribute to charitable organizations and is considering running for the New Berlin Common Council.

She's also a "sergeant" in the Wisconsin chapter of the National Socialist Movement (more commonly known as neo-Nazis), occasionally wears a swastika around town and is organizing a pro-white rally this weekend at the West Allis City Hall.

Paletti said the rally is to protest what she says is a rash of racially motivated violence in Milwaukee, most recently during the opening night of the Wisconsin State Fair. She said she was upset that hate-crime enhancers were not being added to the potential prosecutions of African Americans who attacked white fairgoers.

"Americans need to know that this was not a sporadic incident," Paletti said.

Paletti said last week that she expected 40 to 50 fellow Nazis to attend the rally, half from Wisconsin and half from the rest of the country, since the main National Socialist Movement organization, based in Michigan, is co-sponsoring the event.

To show their opposition to the Nazis and racism, a counter-protest is being organized by members of more than 30 organizations at 1 p.m., before the Nazi rally is scheduled to begin.

West Allis Deputy Police Chief Charles Padgett said that he couldn't predict how many Nazis and counter-protesters would show up on Sept. 3, but that the department wanted to protect the First Amendment rights of all who attend. He said the department would meet with business owners this week to provide guidance on how to protect themselves and their property from any potential fallout from the rally.

Whites Only

According to its website, the neo-Nazis follow Adolf Hitler's teachings and believe that the white race is "the most advanced and progress-producing race on Earth. For centuries people knew this simply by observation, before their natural thinking was distorted by revealed religion, governmental dictates, media manipulation and political opportunists."

It's the largest Nazi organization in the country, but its membership is only open to "non-Semitic heterosexual [sic] of European descent." It also sponsors a "Viking youth movement" for those under 18.

Paletti has attempted to hide her identity in news reports on the rally, although she had a lengthy and long-ranging interview with the Shepherd last week, in which she did not request to have her identity concealed. She bristled at being called a "Nazi."

"We see it as a derogatory term used by the press and the media," Paletti told the Shepherd. "Anyone who's actually read Mein Kampf will see that it's never used in that book."

She said she believes that each race should have its own "homeland," that the death toll from the Holocaust has been wildly exaggerated, and that homosexuality is wrong. Her group staged a protest at this summer's PrideFest to show their disapproval.

She said she became interested in Nazism after her husband hung a confederate flag in their home. She then began investigating white supremacy groups online and eventually found the National Socialist Movement.

Paletti said she moved to New Berlin because she can live a "separatist lifestyle."

"Anyone who's familiar with New Berlin will know what the demographics are," Paletti said. "Our demographics are majority white, about 95%-96% white. We just fit in better with our own type of people. The values are, in the majority, the same as far as what we want in our city. The political stances we take fall along the same lines to a certain extent, the way that people take care of their houses. And for my kids to grow up proud of who they are and where they come from."

Is New Berlin ready for a neo-Nazi alderman?

Paletti said she wasn't sure, but that she didn't think it would be an issue.

"It's not like I've exactly hidden my views," Paletti said. "People have seen me wearing a swastika around town now and again and I've never had any kind of altercations. People are always very nice and ask about my kids and are sociable. I think that once the media tries to slander me based on my political beliefs, I'm sure that there will be some who will not support [her candidacy] just because of the media outlook on it."


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