FARGO, N.D. (AP) — A Fargo man planning a pro-white rally in his hometown said Friday that the demonstration won’t be violent.
Peter Tefft, who rallied with white nationalists at the Charlottesville, Virginia, march that resulted in one death and numerous injuries, is seeking a permit for a rally in downtown Fargo in mid- to late-October. He’s hoping for as many as 300 people to join him.
“I’m guaranteeing that it’s going to be a peaceful rally,” Tefft told The Associated Press. “I think North Dakota is a lot different than the states we’ve seen in recent news where they allow anarchy to take place.”
One woman, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was killed and 19 others injured at Charlottesville rally when a driver rammed a car into a crowd of counter-protesters. In the days following, Tefft drew national attention after his father, Pearce, publicly disavowed his “avowed white nationalist” son.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said he’s working with police and other city officials on a plan to keep any protests from getting out of hand, but he wasn’t specific. While it’s nearly impossible to deny a permit, he said, the city has discretion on where the demonstration is held.
In the meantime, the mayor said he has received numerous emails and phone calls from people who want Tefft and his group to stay away.
“They just don’t like it. They don’t like us portrayed as bigoted or prejudicial,” Mahoney said. “They don’t think it’s a look that Fargo should have.”
Tefft, who describes himself as a “pro-white civil rights activist,” believes the opposite.
“I mean, they are concerned. They feel it could be a blemish on Fargo’s reputation,” he said. “I think people are going to see that Fargo is a very tolerant place and that will be good for us.”
Zac Echola, a member of the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, said Tefft’s group would be outnumbered 20-to-1 by “people in opposition to his reactionary ideology because we actually stand for things that will make people’s lives materially better.”
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