A sobering local news story: on Monday night, Neo-Nazis interrupted a reading circle at Red Ink Community Library in Providence. The library will hold a community safety conversation this week in response to the incident.
The library was holding a small event to celebrate “Red Books Day,” the anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto; as attendees told Liberation News (and provided photos), around fifteen to twenty masked neo-Nazis carrying a swastika flag banged on the glass window, blocked the entrance, performed repeated Nazi salutes, and shouted slurs. When one of the event hosts came to the door and told the neo-Nazis to leave, the neo-Nazis assaulted the host and gave them a bloody lip. The police, who independently learned of the event, are investigating and have made no arrests.
“Make no mistake, it was a terrifying event. It was brutal to witness and very, very difficult for all the people that were here,” David Raileanu, director of the library, told WPRI. “The knowledge that such a group exists, that when we think about whether it could or couldn’t happen in Providence, Rhode Island, in a relatively safe blue state, we’re sort of disabused of the fantasy that we are immune from such threats of violence here.”
Happily, several library neighbors came out to yell at the neo-Nazis, who left after around fifteen minutes, when police officers arrived. “It was great to hear our neighbors yelling ‘You don’t live here, we don’t want you here, get out,’ and that’s what we need,” Jordan, an attendee of the event, told Liberation News. “We need to organize with our neighborhoods so when paramilitary white supremacists—who are really agents of the ruling class, the rich, in the same way the cops are—when they show up, we can kick them out. It starts with organizing. When we’re organized and know who our enemies are, we can show our power . . . There was eight of us and maybe 20 of them, but we weren’t just us eight. The neighborhood was there.”
Mayor Jorge Elorza and Governor Dan McKee both condemned the Neo-Nazis’ actions on Twitter. “Incidents like this are happening more frequently in Rhode Island and our region. This is abhorrent,” wrote the Jewish Alliance of Rhode Island in a statement. “Our shared humanity relies on a society that does not hate or discriminate. We must respond collectively with conviction, exposing hatred to the light.”