30 Nov 2015

Republican Officials Just Got Caught Joining Neo-Nazis in Anti-Refugee Rallies

Islamophobia has been on the rise across the country since the Paris attacks on November 13th. Mainstream politicians have endorsed and attended them at a time when 47 democrats voted to close the doors on Syrian refugees, at least 54 percent of Americans want to do the same, and major Republican front-runner Donald Trump supports forcing Muslims to wear ID badges.
In fact, anti-refugee protests are popping up all over the country. In Pennsylvania, Neo-Nazis from Keystone United, Tea Party members, patriot movement members, and Republican committee members are among the organizers of these protests.
“Keystone United” was known as the “Keystone State Skinheads (KSS)” until 2009. They are one of the most active single-state skinhead groups in the US, and the SPLC has categorized them as a “racist skinhead extremist group” and elaborated on their image and actions. 
These far right groups are responding to a recent decision by Governor Tom Wolf to support the refugees. Senator Bob Casey alsospoke publicly about accepting Syrian refugees in Pennsylvania.
Two anti-refugee rallies were held in Pennsylvania, both of which were attended by Keystone United and other far right groups.
In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 40 or so people protested at the State Capitol on November 2oth. Some of their signs and bannersread “Terrorist Invasion, No Refugees” and “Aiding a Foreign Invasion is Treason.”
The main organizer for the Harrisburg rally was Christian activist Barbara Metzler. She spoke at the event and without any sources claimed that “91% of Muslims are on welfare or food stamps.” 
Dan Gray, a speaker and writer with the Patriot Militia Movement in PA went a step further and said, “Islam is based on Mohammad, and he was a murderer,” he said. “Call me a bigot or racist, I don’t care.”
John Rentschler, who is a Republican committeeman and Civil War reenactor from Berks County, PA, shared Gray’s sentiments and saidhe “imagined the chorus of voices who would denounce him as a racist, as xenophobic, Islamophobic, as a bigot.” He followed up by saying, “What matters to me is MY family, MY home, MY people, MY state, MY country,” as the crowd said “Amen” after each declaration he made. He went on to claim that “our nation is being crushed by multiculturalism, political correctness, and race-guilting.”
Right behind him, member of Keystone United Ian Mccorts stood wearing a hoodie with his organizations logo holding a “NumbersUSA” sign behind each speaker.
At the end of the rally, neo-nazis from Keystone United unfurled their banner and posed for photos. 
In Scranton, PA, a highway overpass protest was organized and attended by Keystone United members on November 21st. About 11 people joined them, and the co-founder of the Keystone State Skinheads, current director of the of the European American Action Coalition (EAAC), and committee member for the Luzerne County GOP since 2012 stood front and center.
This is not the only connection between the GOP and neo-nazis in Pennsylvania.
Republican Chairwoman (Lackawanna County) Mary Ann Benitez was also present at the overpass protest. Benitez is pictured in the NEPA Patriots Facebook page’s cover photo, and regularly attends anti-immigrant protests. 
In 2014, she claimed to not know about Steve Smith’s association with racists, but their repeated association and photos taken together suggests otherwise.
Steve Smith pleaded guilty to ethnic intimidation and assault following his 2003 arrest, which landed him in jail for only 2 months. He works closely with local Tea Party groups who have protested with him several times at anti-immigration events. In 2012, the NY Daily News claimed that Steve Smith was “no longer affiliated with the skinhead’s group,” but he was there this Saturday protesting with them against Syrian refugees.

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