Neo-Nazis Picket Art Festival

Two hundred artists are exhibiting their paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, ceramics, and a myriad of high quality crafts at the internationally famous Laguna Beach Sawdust Art Festival in California - which has been held every year since 1966. The Sawdust Festival became the center of controversy on July 16th, 2005, when white supremacists held a protest at the festival’s entry gate. The Sawdust Festival was protested by followers of the xenophobic organization, Save Our State (SOS), with their aim being the denunciation of Laguna Beach’s city government for funding a day laborer center. The anti-immigration protestors alleged that profits made from the sale of admission tickets to the Sawdust Festival are funneled to the city government - which uses the money to fund the Laguna Beach Day Labor Center. Organizers of the protest contend that the U.S. is being “invaded by Mexican illegal immigrants” who are taking away good jobs from Americans, and that the day labor center helps facilitate that invasion. Such a critique easily sidesteps the question of huge U.S. corporations abandoning U.S. workers and the country in favor of setting up shop in the easily exploitable and non-union environments present in Mexico, Malaysia, and other impoverished countries. But simple minds settle for simple explanations, and “foreigners” are always an easy scapegoat for a nation’s ills.

Around fifty activists from SOS gathered at the Sawdust Art Festival entry gate and attempted to dissuade people from going inside. As if artists didn’t already have a difficult enough time, they now have to contend with protestors who would deny them a livelihood. The picketers held banners and placards that read, “Laguna Beach Arts Support Illegals”; “Your Art Ticket Pays For Mexico”; and “Deport Illegal Aliens”. While SOS has insisted it is not a racist organization, it is revealing to see exactly who joined their picket line in front of the Laguna Beach Sawdust Art Festival. Several self-avowed “White Nationalists” from the neo-Nazi National Vanguard and Storm Front organizations were spotted standing shoulder to shoulder with SOS activists. The Nazi sympathizers wore no identifying fascist symbols or paraphernalia, preferring instead to hide their ideology behind the American flags they waved. The co-mingling and cooperation between SOS and the fascist right became even more apparent when a second demonstration was held, this time in front of the Laguna Beach Day Labor Center. On July 30th, 2005, members of SOS and various neo-Nazi groups gathered at the day labor center, and to the utter astonishment of witnesses, counter-protestors and police, unfurled U.S., California, Confederate and Nazi flags. Once the swastika flags were unfurled, the police would not guarantee the safety of the so-called “patriotic” demonstrators, and the neo-Nazis were ordered to disperse.

Nazis holding their rally in Laguna Beach, California
Six million Jews and millions of other civilians perished across Europe at the hands of those who swore allegiance to that miserable banner. Nearly 300,000 U.S. soldiers died in the fight to liberate Europe from those who carried the swastika flag - and now, shamefully, it flies on the streets of Laguna Beach. Since the neo-Nazis wish to deter people from attending the Laguna Beach Sawdust Art Festival - a perfect response would be to purchase a ticket to the event for your friends and every member of your family. Don’t be intimidated, the Sawdust Festival is perfectly safe and secure. For those of you who can - please come and support your local artists. The Sawdust Art Festival runs until September 4th, 2005, and it offers superlative art, crafts, food, live entertainment, and art classes. Visit the festival’s official website to learn more: www.sawdustartfestival.org

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