Neo Nazi March vs. Skokie

What Happened on March 20, 1977

Copyright © 2017 by Charles Grippo. All rights reserved.

March 20, 2017

While the ACLU was suing the Chicago Park District, alleging their requirements of a bond and public liability insurance unconstitutionally abridged Frank Collin’s rights to freedom of speech and assembly, Collin decided to try a two-pronged approach to generating the media event he craved.

In September, 1976, Collin designed a leaflet he intended to be as offensive as possible. It proclaimed “WE ARE COMING” in large letters. Across the face was a graphic of a swastika crushing an Eastern European Jew.  His followers distributed thousands of them to Chicago’s north suburbs, with their large concentrations of Jews.  He wanted at least two results from his leaflets: first, to terrify the Jews; second, as a tool to recruit more anti-Semites to the NSPA.  Hundreds of fearful Jews flooded the local office of the Jewish Anti-Defamation League with phone calls.

As Collin had hoped, he started to get publicity. In an interview with Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune, he said of the Jews: “I hope they’re terrified...We’re coming to get them again...The unfortunate thing is not that...six million Jews...died. The unfortunate thing is there were so many Jewish survivors.” 

Now Collin put the second part of his plan into action. In October, 1976, on letterhead that proudly displayed the swastika, he notified those same twelve suburbs that he wanted to put on demonstrations in their parks — white power demonstrations.

When the Skokie Park District received his application for a permit, its trustees hurriedly adopted an ordinance, similar to Chicago’s, requiring a $350,000.00 bond for each march. Their hope was that it would discourage Collin and he would just go away.

No such luck.                         

Now Collin decided to purpose his demonstration as one that was merely against the bond requirement. On March 20, 1977, he notified both Skokie Police Chief Kenneth Chamberlain and the Skokie Park District that he would hold a protest march on May 1 at 3 p.m. in front of the Village Hall. Not wishing to tip his hand yet, he told Chamberlain the marchers would number approximately two hundred.  Dripping cooperation like honey, he offered to work with Chamberlain to ensure that the marchers would obey police and use only the sidewalks in front of the Village Hall. He pledged they would not interfere with pedestrians or vehicles.

Chamberlain and the Skokie Park District immediately notified village Mayor Albert J. Smith - a Roman Catholic — and village counsel Harvey Schwartz.  This was the first they had heard of Collin’s intentions to target Skokie.

Little did Smith, Schwartz, and Chamberlain know what was to come.

NEXT MONDAY, MARCH 27, 2017: Initial Skokie Reaction

Young Jewish men who have been assigned work clearing snow stand in front of a formation of German troops, Częstochowa Ghetto in occupied Poland (circa 1939-1943).

Skokie Village Hall in the late 1980's, via:

By Charles Grippo