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Neo-Nazi group allowed to gather in Ky.

April 12, 2012 at 12:21 PM   |   Comments

FRANKFORT, Ky., April 12 (UPI) -- Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear upheld a neo-Nazi group's constitutional right to hold a rally at the State Capitol.

The National Socialist Movement, a Michigan-based group that is against people who are Jewish, gay or not of European descent, is set to hold its national meeting and rally April 21 on the Kentucky Capitol steps in Frankfort, The (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal reported.

"The Constitution affords the right to free speech and free assembly to all and we will respect those rights, even for this Michigan-based, hate-filled group," Beshear said in a statement Wednesday.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, said the National Socialist Movement is known for its violent anti-Jewish discourse.

"This group should know that their ideology is reprehensible to Kentuckians and that Kentucky is a tolerant, progressive and welcoming state for all people," Beshear said in a statement.

Jeff Schoep, the leader of the National Socialist Movement, said the group holds its annual national meetings in different cities throughout the country and chose Kentucky this year. Its national meeting in Trenton, N.J., last year prompted violent counterprotests.

"We have lots of support" in Kentucky, Schoep said. "It was a natural fit."

Schoep said 50 to 100 members of the organization are expected to attend the event although he didn't know how many members of the National Socialist Movement are based in Kentucky.

Topics to be addressed at meeting will be illegal immigration and white civil rights.

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