Anti-Immigrant Group Identity Evropa Holds Rally In San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Identity Evropa, an organization that staged a small anti-immigrant rally at San Francisco's Pier 14 on Monday afternoon, has been described by a leading authority on hate groups in the U.S. as an offspring of the "fundamentally racist" Identitarian movement from Europe.
"They make the organization look like it's all about Socrates, Aristotle and Plato -- but they have more in common with Hitler," said Mark Potok, senior fellow at Alabama's Southern Poverty Law Center, who added that Identity Evropa does not have a record of violence.
Identitarians in Europe are driven by the idea that their continent is "under siege by Muslims coming to destroy civilization," Potok said.
"The fundamental idea is that Europe is a white civilization," he said. "It's the same idea over here."
"They're not the (Ku Klux) Klan, they don't go around burning crosses and beating people up, but they are trying to put a sort of classy face on white nationalism," Potok said.
Identityevropa.com's recruitment questionnaire states that membership is only open to individuals from the U.S.
It also asks applicants to disclose whether they are of "European, Non-Semitic Heritage."
The "Who We Are" section does not openly identify the group as racist or racially exclusive, but leader Nathan Damigo addressed race directly during his demonstration Monday at Pier 14.
"Every single person standing here is white, and we're proud," Damigo said.
Damigo's speech, which was livecast for a little over 15 minutes, largely focused on legal and illegal immigration.
He asserted that both kinds of immigrants adversely affect presumably native-born Americans. He also referenced the fatal shooting of 32-year-old Kate Steinle in July 2015 at that location, allegedly at the hands of Mexican national Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez.
Lopez-Sanchez has prior felony convictions and had been deported repeatedly but returned to the U.S. He has pleaded not guilty to murder charges and his public defender has argued that the shooting was accidental.
The case, which is still pending in court, drew national attention and sparked widespread outrage over San Francisco's sanctuary city policies, which Damigo called on local leaders to end.
He claimed Monday's demonstration was to be the first of many, and that his group is organizing rapidly across the country.
Supporters present at the rally repeatedly chanted "no sanction, no quarter, get back on your side of the border," and at one point Damigo borrowed a campaign slogan from Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, saying "let's make San Francisco great again."
A man pedaling a bicycle-taxi can be seen briefly displaying both middle fingers and a smile to the group in a YouTube video that had roughly 10,000 views as of this morning.
Damigo's supporters can be heard taunting the bicyclist, pointing out what they seemed to perceive as Aryan features and calling him a "white guy who hates himself."
"Blonde hair, blue eyes and he's calling us racist," one of the supporters said. "Hate your race buddy, hate your race."
Damigo had not responded to questions submitted by email about the group as of this morning.
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