July 6, 2016
It would be tough for any of us to deny that here in Park City, we live in a bubble. The police are dispatched to a call of a moose on Main Street, or that "bicyclists have, once again, "invaded" the skateboard park.
We're fretting about where and how we can walk our dogs, and whether Vail will take over the name of our town. That these are our "problems," is a good thing for those of us fortunate enough to call Park City home.
But things do happen outside the bubble, especially of late. Brexit is causing hand wringing over our 401Ks. There's the wild-and-wooly presidential election. And, of course there's the goings on in the Middle East, and its effect on home-grown terrorism.
For me, something quite remarkable happened in Sacramento, California, on Sunday, June 26th, well outside our bubble. The Traditionalist Workers Party (TWP), which is affiliated with the White Nationalist Party, armed with a permit to assemble outside the State Capital, gathered to express their views. The Southern Poverty Center has labeled these folks a hate group. They are unabashed white supremacists and Neo-Nazis.
But they were met with a counter force whose stated position is that, "Anti-Fascist Action Sacramento does not believe in allowing hate to have a platform and we are calling upon the community to shut down their rally. Fighting fascism is a moral duty, not a political one."
A young Filipino American, Yvette Felarca, was interviewed by CNN, sporting a bandage on her forehead. This brave young woman made me stand up and applaud. She told CNN, "the Nazis are dangerous, and that's why we need to take them on directly; take them on head-on."
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It makes you wonder what would have happened if the German people had stood up to the Nazi's in a like manner. They did not, and we know what ensued.
With this lesson as their guide, Yvette Felarca, and her friends came armed with sticks, and concrete bricks, and laid into the Nazi demonstrators.
Ten people were injured, two with critical stab wounds. It is worth noting that there were no firearms involved which would have caused much more death and carnage, but that's a subject for an entirely different article.
As a retired Police Officer from Miami, Florida, I was fascinated with the Police Department's efforts to handle the fracas.
I worked several riots in Miami over the years, the most destructive of which occurred in 1980. These situations were generally the mobs against the police. But here the police were largely being ignored while the two sides went at it. It's an old police axiom that when called in to break up a bar fight, let them fight a bit and get tired, after which the winners go to jail and the losers go to the hospital.
In this case no one, as of yet has been arrested. The video feeds may lead to some arrests, but we'll have to wait and see.
CNN tracked down one of the leaders of the White Nationalist Party, Matthew Heinbach, and interviewed him. His remarks were what you might expect from the head of such a group, blathering on about the European-American identity being under attack. Unfortunately for Trump supporters CNN also aired footage of Heinbach, sporting a "Make America Great Again," hat, while shoving around a young African American woman in the crowd, outside a Trump rally.
So life outside the bubble is chaotic and frankly fascinating. We can't expect anything similar to occur here unless a group of snowboarders marches on Deer Valley demanding access. And the Deer Valley host department, armed with some draft beers and a few truffle pizzas from the St. Regis, would quiet the crowd.
Ken Levine is a retired Detective Sergeant from the Miami-Dade Police Department in Miami, Fla., and has lived in Park City for 12 years.