Attacked from across the political spectrum for exaggerating their "armed patrols" in Sanford, neo-Nazis have fired back -- with pictures of two people holding a Nazi flag in the central Florida town.
No guns. Virtually no proof to back up their claims there are "ten to 20 people" in the area. "We're here to hopefully keep violence from breaking out," says one of the people in the photo, a 33-year-old Hernando County resident who gave his name as Anthony Rushford. "We're just out here taking a stance for the white community. Of course, bearing the swastika, people confuse us with some of the other knucklehead groups that just run around acting like fools."
Sanford police issued the following statement in response to the pictures: "The photograph shows two alleged members of NSM with a possible third (taking the photograph), at night at city hall and across the street at Veterans Memorial Park. This by no means indicates a significant presence of the organization in Sanford."
The photos came to New Times from National Socialist Movement leader Jeff Schoep. Schoep continues to be hazy about how many of his Hitler-loving kinsmen have set up shop in Sanford in the wake of Trayvon Martin's shooting, but he swears the two people photographed are not the only Nazis in town.
The others "don't want to be photographed," he says; the two pictured -- Rushford and an unidentified woman -- didn't pose with their guns because they were worried about breaking Florida law.
Rushford, meanwhile, says he's in Sanford to "protect whites... We're here and we're going to continue to be here as long as people want us here."
Neo-Nazis posing in front of Sanford's Recreation Department
Miami New Times disclosed the group's presence in the area last week.
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According to Rushford and Schoep, the NSM is also passing out flyers advertising its presence in town. Apparently, the group was stung by a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed piece that denied their arrival in Sanford.
"I didn't really appreciate that Wall Street Journal article," Schoep said.