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Indy officials: white nationalist group didn’t need permit to march but never notified city of plans

Members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front marched through downtown Indianapolis on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.
Brendan Bow (@pope_brendictus)
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Members of the white nationalist group Patriot Front marched through downtown Indianapolis on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022.

City officials say the white nationalist group that marched through downtown Indianapolis Saturday would not have needed a permit to do so, but the group gave no notice of its plans.

A now-viral video posted to Twitter showed some 70 members of the Patriot Front, identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a designated hate group, marching through the streets with a banner that read “Reclaim America.”

A campaign volunteer for Democratic 5th congressional district candidate Jeannine Lee Lake posted the video. Lake said seeing the march was disheartening.

“It makes me very sad to see. I thought we were past some of that stuff here in Indiana. And in America,” she said.

Lake said plans are underway for a counter-demonstration sometime next weekend.

“We need to collectively, as leaders… send them a message publicly to say don’t come here with that,” she said. “We don’t know if they are from Indiana, we don’t know if they are from Indianapolis, or if they came from outside, because these cowards put a sheet over their head and marched so they wouldn’t be recognized.”

Both Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police released statements condemning the march.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, Patriot Front is responsible for “the vast majority of white supremacist propaganda distributed in the United States.” Patriot Front is a splinter group from Vanguard America, formed in the wake of the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

In an online post, Patriot Front said its Indianapolis demonstration was “in recognition of Labor Day.” The march occurred around the same time as the Indy Laborfest, put on by the local union group AFL-CIO.

David Goldenberg is midwest regional director for the Anti-Defamation League. He said it’s common for Patriot Front to try and adopt the language of existing events to attract new members.

“Earlier this year in Chicago, they attempted to co-opt a pro-life march,” he said. “But those are things where they try and co-opt them as potential recruitment tools and opportunities.”

Goldenberg said free speech is protected in the U.S., but Patriot Front pushes messaging that is meant to incite.

“It’s clear that their speech and their actions are about inciting hate and in some cases inciting violence,” he said. “That’s not ok, and that’s something we should all be speaking out against.”

This isn’t the first time hate groups have marched around the city of Indianapolis. In 2021, the Proud Boys marched around the city on Jan. 6, coinciding with the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Goldenberg said Indiana is a state with a history of white supremacist hate groups, but that history doesn’t have to define the present or future.

“Now the question is: what do we do about it? How do we forcefully say this is not OK,” he said. “How do we forcefully make clear that if they show up again they will be met with 10 times as many protestors and against those hateful views?”

Contact WBAA/WFYI reporter Benjamin Thorp at bthorp@wfyi.org. Follow on Twitter:@sad_radio_lad.

Copyright 2022 WFYI Public Media. To see more, visit WFYI Public Media.

Benjamin Thorp