Anti Illegal Immigration Rally

By: Mark Lindner
By: Mark Lindner

The Aryan Anarchist Skins aren't your traditional white supremacist group.

"We accept homosexuals, bisexuals, lesbians and that's why we didn't get the turnout on our side," says Debra Brownstein of the Aryan Anarchist Skins.

Only four people stood on the Skins' side of the orange fence.

"On our website we've had two, maybe three hundred people say they were coming," says Sergeant Officer Lisa Schultz.

Hundreds of people did show up, but they were banned together to protest the Skins' rally.

"I think it says a lot for our community if there's so few of them and so many of us, maybe this community is still pretty good," says Michael Wharfield, who showed up to protest the event.

"Nobody wants more hatred in the world. There's already enough going on," says Chris Duffy, who also showed up to protest the event.

The group chose Oregon as the site of its rally because of the town's size. After all, Oregon's population is only 4100.

"We were hoping in a smaller community, there would not be in the thousands like there would be in Rockford or Chicago," Schultz says.

While the event started off with speeches from the Aryans, it quickly evolved into a name calling contest between the protestors on one side and the Aryans on the other.

"Its very hard to be trying to give a speech and continue to hear people yell obscenities," says Commander Skin, the leader of the Aryan Anarchist Skins.

In spite of that, Commander Skin said she considered the event to be a success.

"I had something that needed to be said and even if they didn't like what was said, it was heard,"

The group plans on attending events in the Stateline area armed with propaganda to spread their message.

Maintaining order at today's rally forced the Ogle County Sheriff's Department to call in backup. It cost around $60,000 to bring in extra personnel and set up barriers around the courthouse.

Those who attended the rally had to go through metal detectors into a fenced off area. Over 100 officers from as far away as Polo were present to keep the protestors and the Aryans away from one another. Police say the event went as planned.

"That's why we went through all the planning we did and we have the resources here to make sure not only that everybody in Oregon and Ogle County was safe and secure but that this event took place and that everyone had an opportunity to express their constitutional rights," says Deputy Chief Greg Beitel of the Ogle County Sheriff's Department.

Police reported no arrests during today's event.

Meanwhile, the hoopla from today's rally kept many away from Oregon's scenic downtown. The area, which on a typical Saturday is bustling with tourists and shoppers, was mostly deserted.

Some store owners didn't even bother opening their doors because of parking restrictions put in place by police. Those who did open up say the rally was bad for their businesses.

"I think some people are scared, they've said they were gonna shop early and get out of town," says Debbie Hockman, manager of the Super Dollar Store.

"It seems like a lot of people don't want to come out of their homes when they've got police and too much commotion," says Robert McLean, owner of Razor Replay.

Retailers say Saturday is normally the busiest day of the week for them.


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