White Nationalists Storm South Florida Racial Justice Seminar, Horrify ParticipantsEXPAND
Courtesy of Jasmen Rogers

White Nationalists Storm South Florida Racial Justice Seminar, Horrify Participants

Lutze Segu, a black civil rights advocate, thought she had chosen a safe location Saturday for her seminar on ending white supremacy. Segu, who holds similar meetings around South Florida, gathered a group of activists at the Stonewall National Museum in Wilton Manors, one of the nation's premier LGBTQ museums, in a city that's at least friendly to white cisgender gay men.

But this is still Florida, which means a group of avowed white supremacists showed up to disrupt Segu's talk on basic equality and civil rights. According to multiple activists who attended the meeting (and the white supremacists themselves), a few young members of a group called Identity Evropa showed up at the seminar, confusingly held a sign claiming they "apologize for nothing," and then left when the organizers asked them to exit the building.

"Yo, I really thought they were going to open fire on us," Lutze tweeted, using her Twitter handle @FeministGriote. "I don't wish that feeling on anyone."

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks the spread of hate groups nationally, Identity Evropa was founded recently, in March 2016, by a 30-year-old Cal State student named Nathan Damigo. He is an ex-Marine who formed the group after getting into the writings of David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. Damigo had time to sort through Duke's entire canon thanks to the five-year prison sentence he was serving for drunkenly putting a gun to the head of a cab driver and stealing $43 from him. Damigo apparently thought the driver was an Iraqi immigrant.

According to the SPLC, Identity Evropa was formed to promote "European identity and solidarity,” and only white, non-Jewish people are allowed to join the group. 

On its Facebook page (which New Times has chosen not to link to), the group brags that it showed up at the event because the seminar was sharing "anti-white" views, which is a concept as laughable as it is false. According to its event page, the session was designed to "create a society where justice, equity, and liberation are possible" and to teach how "white supremacy harms all people, including white people," and that "white supremacy robs us all of genuine human connections." The basic concept of racial equality apparently freaked some people out so badly that they had to drive all the way to Wilton Manors to bother some people who had nothing to do with them.

"Yesterday, Identity Evropa members stood in silent protest against the Segu Racial Justice Institute in Florida who promote anti-White agendas," the group wrote on its Facebook page, which has about 8,000 followers. "We regret nothing. We apologize for nothing. We owe you nothing. Our future is ours!"

The Evropa trolls showed up two days after other white supremacists — including one member of the white nationalist League of the South — showed up to bother many of the same Black Lives Matter activists in Hollywood, Florida. That day, the civil rights group gathered to ask the City of Hollywood to rename streets that honor Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee, John Hood, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, the last of whom was also the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, who also personally ordered the slaughter of 300 black Union soldiers during the Civil War.

In addition to the open white supremacists showing up to counterprotest, a group from the "patriot movement" Three Percenters, who aren't expressly racist, arrived in bulletproof vests to promote the Confederacy and pester the Black Lives Matter crew. Shevrin Jones, a black state representative, said someone in one of those groups called him "a nigger, a monkey," and told him to "go back to where [he] came from."

A joint New Times/ProPublica investigation published last week shows that hate incidents have climbed nationwide since Donald Trump took office and that dozens have been reported in Florida.

According to activists who attended Saturday's racial-justice event, some people were genuinely afraid when the white supremacists showed up. The teaching session was held in a back, private room, so some attendees said they were surprised the racist protesters were able to find a way in.

"These white nationalists just showed up and interrupted our training," local activist Jasmen Rogers, who snapped a photo of the protest, wrote online. "They came in and just stood there, saying nothing. When asked to leave, they just walked out."

Another attendee named Tracy wrote online that the experience terrified her too.

"Yesterday I attended a social justice training facilitated by the extraordinary Lutze Segu with an amazing group of folks," she said. "We were there to have a conversation about white supremacy and the cost there is to continue upholding it. During lunch, members of a white supremacist hate group came in to protest. It was terrifying and reinforced why we were doing what we were doing. Grateful that no one got hurt."

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