One type of skinhead is sure to show up at a rally on Sunday (March 21) that coincides with the International Day for the Elimination of Racism and has been the subject of much Internet chatter.
That’s Maitland Cassia and his friends. But although people with shaved heads are often associated with swastika-waving and immigrant-bashing, such is not the case for this crowd.
They style themselves Sharps—skinheads against racial prejudice. They’re part of the Anti-Racist Action group, which has been organizing to counter a planned neo-Nazi rally that they claim is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at the Braid SkyTrain Station in New Westminster and make its way down to the Vancouver Art Gallery.
“We do know for a damned fact that this group exists, that they have been operating in the Lower Mainland,” Cassia told the Georgia Straight, referring to what he tagged as the Advocates for White Civil Rights.
He explained that skinhead culture is primarily a working-class way of life, and those with a racist bent are usually referred to as “boneheads”.
Although the counter-rally will have a diverse pack, Cassia also noted “We have a sizable group of white skinheads in the Anti-Racist Action group.”
Since the Straight posted a March 8 on-line story about the supposedly planned neo-Nazi rally, there have been claims about Facebook pages and Web sites being used to promote the gathering and then later getting pulled down.
If the alleged white supremacists don’t turn up, that will not stop the ARA and other organizations from staging their own event.
“If they don’t show up, then we’ve successfully reclaimed the space, and we’re marching to celebrate multiculturalism,” Cassia said.
Harsha Walia told the Straight that her group, No One Is Illegal, and others, like the South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, will be at the Braid SkyTrain Station on Sunday.
“The responsibility of people who care about antiracism work”¦whenever you hear these kinds of things, is to respond,” Walia said in a phone interview. “It’s not a false alarm if they go underground.”
Const. Jana McGuinness, spokesperson for the Vancouver Police Department, said that the force is watching how the March 21 event unfolds.
“What we’ll do depending on what we learn from different sources is if we need to, we can dedicate resources,” McGuinness told the Straight.
She added that the VPD has no problem with two rival demonstrations winding their way into the city, as long as they’re lawful and peaceful.