by Vince Bushell
It seems as if recently Riverwesters have been channeling Germany in the late ’30s with Marxists fighting Nazis. Racism has raised its ugly head and the Wobblies are trying to chop it off. The IWW, Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) are far left, and the Creativity Movement, which claims to be a “Church” is about as racist as you can get. As you all probably know by now, some posers who claim to speak for the neighborhood distributed hate literature throughout Riverwest on July 12 and/or 13. The hate flyer claiming to speak for the neighborhood was wrapped around a magazine filled with tracts espousing racial separtion pulished by the Creativity Movement, also known as World Church of the Creator. The group has been forbidden to use that name as it is copywrighted by a legitimate church group. The screed in both the flyer and magazine is highly anti-Semitic and anti-Black. Someone complained to the media, and Riverwest became the story on TV as well as several stories in the Journal Sentinel. The IWW reacted quickly and organized an information sharing and organizational meeting on Monday, July 14, under the picnic shelter in Gordon Park. A racially mixed crowd of close to 300 turned up to talk, cheer, and share stories while television crews tripped over each other trying to get the best angle, quote, and interview. George Martin from Peace Action ably facilitated a meeting that easily could have gotten out of hand. The flyers seemed to have been widely distributed, according to people’s testimony. Several African Americans related stories of prejudicial incidences. Some folks raised concerns about street crime. Everyone seemed to join in the “No Hate” cheers. Some said, “Why us?” Many said they loved Riverwest and weren’t going anywhere and that Riverwest was a diverse nieghborhood where people got along. Someone said, “Get out and meet your neighbors.” In sum, it was a positive outpouring of feeling for Riverwest and against anyone who thinks what we really need is segregation instead of integration. Another well-attended get together and potluck was held at the Gordon Park picnic shelter on Monday, July 21. The food was as diverse as the crowd. Peace Action coordinated the the production of 500 yard signs with the positive “Diversity is our Strength” message. (You can pick them up at Peace Action at Weil and Keefe or the Riverwest Co-op at Clarke and Fratney.) You should see them all over the neighborhood by now. Merchants, politicians, and individuals pledged and donated money to pay for the sighns. A “Diversity is our Strength” Picinic/Benefit is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 14, at 6 p.m. in Gordon Park with music, signs, food, drink, a peace mosiac, etc. It is hoped that this will help raise enough money to pay for the signs, as well as show how united we are in support of our diverse neighboorhood. We have little to go on as to who disributed the hate flyers to begin with. I have only heard one report of anyone saying they saw someone handing out the material, and that information is minimal. Legally, it is not clear to me if there has been a crime committeed. No matter how distasteful, much of this material is protected by free speech law. Although tension seems to have lowered, there still may be some hot heads out there with something to prove. If there are any young white boys out there looking to pick a fight, or any young black boys likewise looking for trouble, I suggest you think a little harder. If you crank the handle on this box, the Jack that jumps out is the devil himself.
Editors Note: Last month a news brief referred to a River Neighbors town hall meeting as having “scant” attendance. Tim Vertz, neighborhood spokesperson for the group that also goes by Federation of Block Clubs and River neighborhood Association, clarified that figure, stating 3 people attended. he also pointed out that Riverwest Currents had neen notified of the meeting; however the paper was not notified of the meeing until July 3, after the July issue was printed. Riverwest Currents is an independently owned publication and not directly associated with either organization. We encourage the organizations to work together to build up the neighborhood, rather than wasting time and money on lawsuits that detract from both organizations’ purposes. Riverwest Currents – Volume 2 – Issue 8 – August 2003