By Alex Distefano
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Others rushed to the door of the meeting hall to gawk, although only a few ventured out to face the enemy. Across the street, a group of six protesters held signs saying "Nazis Out! of Elmwood Park." Six police officers looked on while both protesters and white supremacists took photos with their cell phone cameras so they could post the images online. The protesters were already well-known to the Stormfront members, who had compiled a stack of papers with the names, home addresses, and MySpace addresses of several local activists from Anti-Racist Action and One People's Project. Activist Daryle Lamont Jenkins, though not present at this protest, claimed last year that a brick had been thrown through his window in retaliation for past demonstrations at the meeting hall.
Copperhead, who had been filming everything through the open door, set down his video camera to put on his own show. He adopted what he called his "nappy-headed radio" voice and narrated a fictional scene: "We're here in New Brunswick, home of the nappy-headed 'hos! We gave them nappy-headed 'hos some hair-straightening cream, but they still 'hos!" Bystanders laughed raucously as they returned to their uncomfortable metal chairs.
Back inside, Kelso turned his figurative role as cheerleader into a literal one, suggesting that a hearty round of applause would deflate the protesters and "make it sound like we have a hundred people in here." The obliging crowd sent up a deafening whoop and applause, ending in laughter. Kelso's enthusiasm bordered on manic as he asked the crowd to repeat the cheering a few more times. After more speeches about white flight, white fear, and white power, the meeting adjourned for what Kelso described as "a white man's feast." Single file, the crowd moved down a doubtful flight of stairs into a dank basement. The perimeter of the room was crowded with discarded computers circa 1990, stacked upon a heap of unused old furniture. Two fold-out tables held the repast: hot dogs, hamburgers, slices of American cheese, tubs of pre-prepared macaroni and potato salads, iceberg lettuce, and Lay's potato chips. There was only one kind of bread available: white. Lindstrom stayed at the grill outside, flipping hamburger patties, while everyone else ate dinner inside, away from protesters' cameras.
Jim Russell, a perennial but unsuccessful Congressional candidate from Westchester, passed out anti-immigration literature during the meal. Russell has never been a popular candidate, but working the anti-immigration angle has helped some white supremacists attain national exposure that was impossible to get just a few years ago. In 2005, Kelso and fellow Stormfront member Bob Whitaker, an appointee in the Reagan administration, were interviewed on a South Carolina Fox station about their fear of the "disappearance of the white race." Last month, Paula Zahn interviewed Stormfront member and radio host James Edwards, who repeated the well-worn white supremacist line that "white Americans are in for the fight of their lives." Immigration was, he said, "happening at the expense of European Americans." That immigrants are turning the U.S. into a third world country was a common refrain during dinner. A Queens man summed it up when he spoke about his experience living in East Harlem"it was great as long as you stay inside away from the Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and bodegas."
As the dinner wound down, Kelso was winding back up. He urged people to join in the next day's field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
"It's bigger than the Louvre . . . and everything in it is made by white people like us!" he exclaimed.
Outside the Met onSunday morning, lines of NYPD officers with helmets, flak jackets, and rifles stood guard. Kelso would later boast that the police were there to protect the arriving Stormfront members, but the NYPD tells the Voice that the confluence was just coincidental; they had gathered at the landmark for an exercise.
Two hours past their scheduled 10 a.m. arrival, Kelso lumbered up the steps with a cadre of camera-carrying followers. An initial plan to filter in one by one was forgotten when the group realized there were no protesters that needed dodging. However, outside the friendly confines of the New Jersey meeting hall, the group was visibly more subdued. Two men who proudly wore Nationalist Coalition shirts during the New Jersey meeting were now in plainclothes: one sporting a Guinness T-shirt and the other in a plaid button-down.
Kelso tried to locate stragglers in the mass of crowds outside the museum, but the others appeared too awed by the sights of the city to help him. Evan Thomas and Bobby Ammon, the two young speakers from the previous day, were eagerly taking in the chaotic landscape; Copperhead, meanwhile, was treating a new handful of women to his "nappy-headed" radio comments, which he abandoned once he was within listening range of the security guard.
The group had swelled to 20, including a handful of New Yorkers who had missed the previous day's meeting. Among them were a former Brooklyn schoolteacher, an Upper East Sider who called himself Boy Howdy, and a German immigrant who now lives in Park Slope. Kelso tried, with limited success, to get everyone's attention as they gazed around the spacious lobby.