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Melee at Yorkville Hate Rally

May 25, 1963 - An angry crowd pelted speakers at a neo-Nazi rally with fists, eggs, and tomatoes today in the Yorkville section of Manhattan. The speakers’ platform was knocked over during the clash. A surging throng of about 4,000 spectators also felled police barricades in the melee. Men dressed in brown uniforms resembling those of storm troopers — but with a lightning bolt instead of a swastika as their symbol — wielded flat staffs like clubs in their efforts to repel jeering onlookers. The rally, at 86th St. and 1st Ave., was sponsored by a group calling itself the National Renaissance Party. It billed the outdoor affair as an “America First” demonstration. Speakers took verbal shots at Jews and Negroes. The location was the same at which the German-American Bund staged giant pro-Hitler rallies in the days before the U.S. entered World War II. More than 60 policemen broke up the melee by escorting party members from the area. John T. Tully, president of the Yorkville-MidManhattan Chamber of Commerce, had announced in advance that thousands of volunteers would demonstrate against the rally. He said: “It is a shame these hate-mongers should be allowed to preach their race hatred in our streets on this eve of Memorial Day. But we’ve won Round One. The thousands of people who came out to protest this rally were the greatest patriotic showing in Yorkville’s history. I said they would be contained, and they were.” Tully said he would call on Mayor Wagner and Police Commissioner Murphy tomorrow to inform them that if the National Renaissance group is allowed back, “I’ll call for 50,000 people to protest.”

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