HENRYVILLE — Some Henryville residents are taking a stand after several members of the American Nazi Party were reported to be passing out materials in a Clark County park over the weekend.
Social media posts first appeared Saturday showing photos of two men wearing Nazi armbands at what posters have said was at Clark State Forest in Henryville that day; a woman was also there, people who visited the area said. Among the recruitment materials being passed out were brochures that said they were from the American Nazi Party and headlined with “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children.”
According to a website for the American Nazi Party, the group strives for “The union of all Aryans in North America,” an ideal which, according to the site, includes that only Aryans should be allowed to be citizens and only those who prove worthy to be so. There are separate specifically anti-Semitic statements included.
But some residents have already started working together with the goal to let the members who were promoting the group Saturday know this isn’t welcome in the community.
A Facebook group called “Henryville Against Nazis” was started over the weekend by Henryville resident Jo-Claire Ray Corcoran and others, and a “No Hate in Our Town” rally is planned for Sunday evening at Clark State Forest.
“The community really came out really to let them know we don’t want you here,” Corcoran said of the response since Saturday. She added that she had heard from a friend that they were at the park and she went to hear what they had to say, for the purpose of recording it. The three were gone when she got there, but said she saw others who were there also looking for the group.
“It’s a fine line because of course they do have the right to speak under the First Amendment,” Corcoran said. “Of course with that right can come consequences. You have the right to speak your mind but you then will also probably hear the rights of others being expressed when they tell you they don’t agree and think maybe you should find someplace else to express it.”
Corcoran said she’s not aware of previous Nazi activity in Henryville, and the Southern Poverty Law Center listed in 2019 this particular faction as having a presence in only four states, the closest of which is Ohio. There were none listed in Indiana.
The SPLC also wrote in March that far-right extremist groups may see a benefit in the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic to ramp up the recruitment process.
Corcoran said she believes the three are local Clark County residents, and although people may have some differences in the small community of Henryville, “In this, everybody came together,” she said. “...Everyone I spoke with and everything I have read since then...no one has been in defense of them or agreement with them, it has all been calling them out.”
Conservation officers with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources have jurisdiction in the park if any calls were made in regard to the group. There was no information on whether any officers responded.