North Dakota Health Department May Flush Neo-Nazi Out of Town
Gale Courey Toensing
The North Dakota Department of Health may flush a neo-Nazi out of a tiny village where he and a group of white supremacists have racist plans to establish an all-white enclave, the first of many across the country, they hope.
On Monday, September 23, one day after 300-plus Indians and non-Indians from all walks of life arrived in Leith, North Dakota, to rally against Craig Cobb and members of the National Socialist Movement(NSM) who invaded the village with the intention of taking over the local government, WDAY Newsreported that the state health department was planning shut down Cobb’s home because of unsanitary conditions: The home lacks running water, indoor plumbing and a sewer system.
Cobb is a nationally known white supremacist who has been living in Leith for more than a year and has purchased 13 lots, some for as little as $500, including one where he lives. He has been promoting Leith on white supremacist websites as a place where others like him could live, take over the city government and fly Nazi flags.
But the people of Leith want their town back, WDAY reported. Mayor Ryan Schock, the father of three frightened children who witnessed the rally, said events surrounding the neo-Nazi invaders of the town are “very disturbing. It ain't right. For the last few weeks, they have been monitored very closely. It is very sad what has happened to our little town. To go from a one-horse town to this; it is incredible. We have been here our whole life, and a guy can move in and can take over a whole community. Everyone is on edge. Can't blame them.”
Protesters carried signs denouncing Nazi ideology as full of hate, but one of the Nazis – Gerald McNeil – said his group was not in Leith to hate, WDAY reported. “We are here to be white, and be proud to be white.” McNeil said.
The health department apparently had notified Cobb earlier about the sanitary violations at his home, because late Monday afternoon, WDAY 6 News learned the state will issue a final letter ordering him out of his house this week because of health concerns.
Cobb says he will use the Civil Rights act to sue the city of Leith and the state of North Dakota, if he is forced from his home.
Chase Iron Eyes, founder of Last Real Indians, said his organization and UnityND, a group that formed in protest to the proposed extremist, neo-Nazi takeover, “are working together to make sure the neo-Nazis do not plant a foothold publicly in North Dakota.” The two organizations organized the caravans that brought protesters to the rally from Bismarck, North Dakota, and Standing Rock Reservation where Iron Eyes resides.
“On Sunday, we hung out there for some hours, remaining vigilant and getting into some conversations with Mr. Cobb and whoever else was there,” Iron Eyes said. Eventually, the Swat Team that was on hand to keep things under control got tired and began to disperse the crowd. “They initiated a command to clear the street so they fanned out across the street and were going to do a sweep and either beat people down or start arresting people who didn’t move out of the street. They were in formation ready to move us all out,” Iron Eyes said. But it wasn’t necessary since everyone dispersed and moved out on their own. The protesters weren’t about to let the Nazis confront the elders, children and women, Iron Eyes said, “That’s the last thing we needed. We were there as peacekeepers.”
But the women were quite actively involved in speeches and sign waving and at one point a group of Lakota grandmothers seized a Nazi flag and held it up for a photo, one woman making a V-for-victory or peace sign with her fingers. Last Real Indians posted the photo on its Facebook page, but Facebook removed it on Wednesday.
There were no instances of physical violence at the rally but it was very contentious and very heated, Iron Eyes said. “We kind of had to restrain our own tribal members. Fortunately, nothing happened. I appreciated the police being there,” Iron Eyes said. If the protesters – mostly Indians – had become entangled in a violent encounter with the neo-Nazis “that would be the tool they’d use to recruit people – ‘look at these scary dark people attacking us!’”
Right now, Last Real Indians and UnityND are monitoring the situation and plan to return at some point. Leith is only 30 miles from the Standing Rock reservation.
Standing up to the Nazis in Leith generated a wave of pride in the Lakota community. In a posting on the Last Real Indians website, John Martin repeated words that Iron Eyes had spoken at the rally, “’The warriors aren’t even here,’” Martin wrote. “Eloquent and profound words ferociously spoken by my Lakota brother Chase Iron Eyes. Wopila tanka Chase and to all the brave men and women of all races who tenaciously stood up in direct opposition to the minions of hate in Leith, North Dakota. You upheld and reaffirmed the Lakota warrior code,” Martin wrote. “The spirit of Crazy Horse lives on and will only continue to expand and grow. What I saw yesterday in Leith was a resurgence of what the Native American Community stands for. Unyielding resistance and steadfast dedication handed down by our ancestors back in the day.”