West Allis officials prepare to counter racist rally as former white supremacist clues community in on what to expect
the WTMJ News Team
Melissa McCrady reports.Photo: Video by tmj4.com
WEST ALLIS - Officials in West Allis have planned to come together on Friday, aiming to combat the message of a white supremacist group planning to rally on Saturday.
Their message will be to tell people in West Allis, and in general, to say no to fear, hate and racism.
At 10:00 a.m. Friday, West Allis' mayor will join anti-Nazi rally leaders in West Allis in spreading that message in preparation for the rally.
The National Socialist Movement chose West Allis' City Hall for their rally Saturday because of the mob attacks at State Fair.
The anti-Nazi group will also gather to oppose the white supremacists.
Meanwhile, one man who calls himself a reformed racist is telling people what to expect.
Arno Michaels has come a long way from his days as a white supremacist. "Smile at people, hold the door for people, and treat everyone you can with as much kindness and compassion as you can."
They're not words the self-proclaimed former racist would have thought he'd say 20 years ago when he promoted white power. It's the same message a white supremacy group wants to deliver outside West Allis City Hall this weekend.
Michaels says they're goal is clear. "They're out to capitalize on the fear that is unfortunately out in our community as a result of mob violence incidents."
Deputy Police Chief Chuck Padgett says his department has a goal of its own. "Our goal is to maintain control, and respect everyone's constitutional right to be heard."
Police say the white supremacists will just stand outside and speak. Michaels believes the best weapon against what they want is tough, but simple. "It's very difficult to acknowledge their humanity, but doing so is really the most effective means of disarming the hate that they're trying to promote."
An anti-hate rally will happen at the same time, in the same place on Saturday. Police say they are preparing for a large and loud crowd.