November 24, 2017

‘Leif Erickson Day Celebration 2017’: Slim Pickings for the Boneheads

10/14/2017: Participants of the neo-Nazi 'Leif Erickson Day Celebration' in Philadelphia couldn't muster up the numbers this year.

It didn’t take long for antifa to mobilize against the latest outing by the Keystone State ‘Skinheads’ (KSS) and friends and even less time to send them packing. Props go to Philly!

PHILADELPHIA, PA – Oct. 14, 2017 – Alerted by a tip off, antifa from Philadelphia and other areas of the state were able to rout a significantly small group of neo-Nazis who came out for the “Leif Erickson Day Celebration” on Boathouse Row. Antifa were also able to for the first time converge on their after rally event at a park in South Philadelphia, which ended in an altercation that had the neo-Nazis cut their event short.

Each year for the past decade, KSS, which prefers to go by the name Keystone United, would attempt to hold a rally at the statue of the Icelandic explorer Thorfinn Karlsefni, but after 2013, when there was a massive number that turned out to oppose them, they have attempted to conceal the event from the public to avoid such opposition, even holding the rally at night. This year, they attempted to hold an afternoon event once again and were set upon by antifa before they even left their usual staging area at the gazebo in nearby Fairmont Park that overlooks the statue. This marked the first time in four years the neo-Nazis were opposed.

10/14/2017: Tim Wylie, holding the stick and wearing glasses, is followed by Mark Daniel Reardon, checking his phone, and Anthony James (AJ) Olsen, trying to take pics on the far right.

A paltry 24 persons came out to rally this year, but even with the short notice antifa managed to bring out 30 to counter protest. At a nearby pavilion in Fairmont Park, there was a memorial service for a bike messenger that recently passed away, and while no one attending the service participated in the counter demonstration, some speakers shouted out their contempt for the assembled neo-Nazis to cheers.

Those among the neo-Nazis, who came from as far as Albany, NY and Indiana with just a few of them currently living in Philadelphia, were many that have been seen in past years, but new faces included Mark Daniel Reardon, who according to Philly Antifa fled his apartment when community members learned that he had posted fliers around West Philadelphia, looking to recruit for a violent neo-Nazi group called Atomwaffen and model Bryan Christopher Sawyer, who does work for the White Supremacist podcast Red Ice and once lost his job at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts when he videotaped himself harassing a Black woman with racial slurs, posting the video on his Facebook page. KSS associate and convicted felon Tim Wylie also participated in the rally, and on Thursday, he is scheduled to appear in court on weapons charges, including one for providing false information on an application while attempting to purchase a firearm in July 2016. He has participated in a number of rallies and events with KSS in the past, including an anti-refugee rally in the Pennsylvania State House in 2015.

Anthony James (AJ) Olsen

After some time at the gazebo, the rally participants then march down to the statue with antifa in front of them chanting “No Trump, No KKK, No Fascist USA!” and antifa then blocked them from getting near the statue and began either shouting back and forth with the neo-Nazis, or loudly debated them, KSS associate Bob Gaus, who appeared to lead the rally denying that neither he nor anyone he was with was a Nazi, but instead a White Nationalist.

Although according to some information, the plan was supposed to have been to march to the Washington Monument in front of the nearby Philadelphia Art Museum, the presence of antifa might have thwarted those plans, and the assembled retreated back into Fairmont Park to return to their vehicles. It was learned however that they ended up in South Philadelphia at Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park for an after party, and antifa followed them there. At some point there was an altercation, at which time the neo-Nazis ended their event and left the park.

One week earlier three times as many antifascists came out to the same statue to claim it and the day from the neo-Nazis that annually hold their event in that location. No neo-Nazis came to oppose or attempt an event last week, although police fortified the statue, which was vandalized with red paint, with barricades and officers guarding it.

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