Cadillac has had a reputation for the past few years as a center for skinhead and neo-Nazi types interested in maintaining the area as a white homeland. A skinhead group of teens and young adults was identified in the city in 1998. In 2000, two teenagers were charged with shooting at a group of skinheads who were reportedly attacking a home in the area. The white power movement is notorious enough to prompt Direct Action to maintain a Cadillac Nazi Watch on its website.
Direct Action is apparently a group of student anarchists. Their website, www.direct-action.net, states the following: Direct Action was initiated to create a voice for people who felt that the U.S. reaction to the 9/11 attacks would create a base for more terrorism and violence. We began by opposing the USA Patriot Act and the U.S. war in Afghanistan. But instead of simply complaining about the state of the world we also want to put forward an alternative vision for a world worth living in.
The group doesnt mince words: Dont let them have this opportunity to organize and spread their racist, xenophobic and homophobic agenda! their message against the picnic stated, repeated on activist websites around the state. Show them that white supremacy and fascism are unacceptable in Michigan communities!
On July 11, approximately 20 members of the group carpooled from MSU to Kenwood Park in Cadillac. They distributed about 200 fliers on the National Socialist Movement and heckled a small group of white power picnickers across the way.
Following is a summary of the day, written by an anonymous Direct Action member:
Michigan anti-racists gathered together and headed out for Cadillac. We had a much smaller crew than hoped, but spirits were still high. We had banners, fliers and anti-nazi flags on sticks. We arrived and within 10 minutes had three cop cruisers and two police vans on us.
The police informed us that they wanted no problems and even though we had no permit to protest would let us do so anyway. We then marched over to the picnic area that the NSM were meeting at and stood across from them. We stood about 300 feet from them, kinda far away but close enough to throw a wrench into their attempt to picnic unhindered.
The nazis had about a dozen or so members. The police waited around. After a chant and a little yelling from our forces the police chief came over and told us there would be no tolerance for loud noise, chants or use of profanity. He warned us that if we did not comply then we would be dispersed.
We divided up. Some went off to flier the area and part of the town. After an hour we all left. While the day was largely uneventful we did feel our presence disrupted the NSM event and let them know we‘re organizing against them. Many people seemed supportive though some people flipped us off too.
Direct Action seems to be as controversial as the marginalized white supremacists in its own way.
A message on the leftist www.REDtv.org website claims that Direct Action and its antecedents have always been hostile to the Bill of Rights, while another writer protests that the group treads on the free speech rights of fellow Americans: You know theres this thing called freedom of speech and the right to peacefully gather. Protesting their rights as citizens of America is only validating their right to gather and speak. In fact, a protest would just cause a scene and get news coverage and probably get others to join their cause. This is exactly what they want: Publicity.