DEARBORN- An open-carry, anti-immigration, anti-refugee, anti-Muslim group was calling for a demonstration Saturday incongruously named, “Global Rally for Humanity” across the nation. It was strategized to coincide with the Million Man March, known in social media circles as #JusticeOrElse, also organized for today in Washinton, D.C.
The organizers planned with intent, to gather with weapons in front of 20+ mosques throughout the country to denounce Islam, as well as Louis Farrakhan. Some put a call out to deny all refugees from entry into the USA, fearing a number of them might be ISIS or belong to other radical Islamic groups, offering the added sentiment that “Our vets come first.” Their Facebook pages were teeming with anti-Muslim sentiments, derogatory memes and photos like that of a burning Koran, asking if anyone “…had the balls to share it.”
The Dearborn, Michigan rally was expected to be one of the largest; being that Dearborn has the greatest sized Arab population outside of the Middle East. Their local Global Rally for Humanity, Dearborn Facebook Page states, “As this invasion of Muslim colonization continues unchecked on American soil, we can only expect the same suffering now endured by EUROPE. Farrakhan’s hate and promotion of inter-ethnic strife is a wake-up call. Now is the time to act. Now is the time to save our Republic.” With hashtags #tentenfifteen #OpenCarry promoted. However; the crowds of anti-Muslim right-wing, open-carry radicals were small in numbers across the country including Dearborn, in fact at some locations the event was called off altogether.
The demonstrators were initially scheduled to rally in front of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn; but, they failed to get a permit to demonstrate outside of a Free Speech Zone and would not be able to open carry due to the approximation of the nearby schools according to Global Rally for Humanity, Michigan Facebook Page. The location changed to Dearborn City Hall, and then finally was decided it would take place at the Administration Building, 16301 Michigan Avenue, next to the Dearborn police station.
In spite of the multiple location changes, several human rights groups and citizens kept up through social media and presented in larger numbers than the demonstrators. These groups included; MECAWI: Michigan Emergency Committee Against War and Injustice, BAMN – Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action and Integration, and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality By Any Means Necessary, and Workers World, along with other supporters (though the numbers of the Dearborn community mosques were very small, as many imams asked their members not to attend the event.)
The counter-protesters gathered in front of the street holding signs and chanting slogans in support of human rights, getting the attention of many passers-by who were honking and giving ‘thumbs –up’ support. The armed, anti-Muslim demonstrators stayed far back from the street and behind barricades. Half way through the counter protest, the human rights groups pushed past the police loosely dividing the two sides and started directing their chants directly to the demonstrators. While they allowed this to carry on, the police remained in close proximity but without interference.
There was a three man contingency of human rights activists carrying their own assault rifles who joined the counter-protest in defense of the People’s Second Amendment right to bear arms as well as their First Amendment rights of expression and religion. The men denied any organizational affiliation according to one of the independent journalists though this cannot be verified.
One elderly Arab citizen of Dearborn implored Brian to understand we are all brothers and sisters and we should love and respect each other no matter what religion, national origin, or other differences we have. He insisted Brian come and shake his hand, which he did, looking about with some palpable apprehension.
Upon approaching an in-session interview with Ms. Bodary, she was remarking, “Their heads are being cut off, their churches are being burnt down, and you laugh about that like that’s funny?” Another reporter asks, “So, you’re just against Muslim immigrants?” She responded, “Well, the refugees. We don’t know who they are! They could be a Trojan horse. You are going to invite all of these unknown people that are in a land that burn the American flag and say death to America? You’re going to let them in unvetted? Two hundred thousand of ‘em? Come on! They can’t vet them, they have no papers, dear!” When she was asked if she would give her name, she asked who the reporter was. He responded he was from Reuters. She flung her head back and cackled smugly, “Why do I always get interviewed? I ended up on CNN last time.” She went on to say that though she wasn’t from Dearborn, her county (Macomb) was the largest in terms of Middle Eastern people being let in. She emphatically continued, “If you go into any of our social security offices or health offices it’s all foreigners.” She tells a journalist who inquires about her heritage that she is German. When asked when her grandparents came to America, she shrugged, “Hundreds of years. I really don’t know.” Other mainstream, local, and independent media gathered around, recording Marsha Bodary, including ABC, FOX, CBS, and WWJ.
Abayomi Azikiwe, a Detroit community organizer and the editor of the Pan-African News Wire stated, “They may point the finger at other people for being terrorists, when they themselves are the real terrorists. They are the ones that are laying waste to so many countries around the world, and at the same time laying waste to the cities here in the United States. So we are opposed to anyone who says that any religious group does not have a right to exist, or does not have the right to assemble and practice their religion. That’s our position and that is why we out here. We support the right of freedom of association, the right of freedom of religion. I thought that was what the American flag was supposed to stand for. But you got people who fly the American flag but who want to deny other people [their rights].” “We’re here to oppose these people who trying to demonize the Islamic community in the United States,” he said. “We think it serves as a cover for persecution domestically, as well as internationally.”
The counter-protesters shouted slogans like, “FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT! Religion is a human right!” and “Nazi Scum! Go home!” While the demonstrators on the other side couldn’t understand the correlation, they were heard asking, “Why do they think we are Nazis? We SUPPORT Israel.” Ms. Bodary started in at the Arab protesters in front of her, “Do you support Israel? You can’t answer that can you? So then I get to call you a fascist, don’t I? Israel is the only country over there that has any kind of democracy. So who’s the fascist now?” While the two sides faced one another, there were other neutral parties that arrived, a tall blond American male, a young female wearing a pink hijab, and another girl with her who was in jeans. The three were telling both sides that they loved them and chastised the counter-protesters, “Nobody’s scum!” Looking around, their responses to the event clearly puzzled everybody, as the hijabi crossed the barricade and shook hands with Brian, the assault rifle wielding ‘Infidel’.
In the end, the Anti-Muslim demonstrators left as the human rights activists were repeating the refrain for the group to go. The counter protesters claimed victory and the police asked everyone to start filing out and head to the parking lot, and not to allow themselves to get baited into any confrontation on the way. Individuals and organized groups retreated without confrontation, followed by the teams of media, as everyone made it uneventfully to their cars. The Global Rally group promised the counter-protesters on their Facebook Page that this was ‘only the beginning.’