Social Marketing for NEO-NAZI RALLY

By Goltz, Jeffrey | Law & Order, December 2006 | Go to article overview

Social Marketing for NEO-NAZI RALLY


Goltz, Jeffrey, Law & Order


In early 2006, the city of Orlando, FL was informed by officials of the National Socialist Movement (NSM) that the group was organizing a march and protest in Orlando. The NSM is a neo-Nazi group that is known to take its radical white supremacy message into minority communities in hopes of creating civil unrest.

In late 2005, an NSM march in Toledo, OH fueled a riot, more than 100 people were arrested and officers were injured when counter-demonstrators clashed with police. Fearing the planned rally in Orlando would result in largescale civil unrest and violence, the Orlando Police Department quickly organized a progressive strategy to ensure that public safety was not jeopardized during the NSM visit.

Logistically, the Orlando Police Department developed a very comprehensive operations plan. Special response teams from three central Florida law enforcement organizations (Orlando Police, Orange County Sheriff's Office, Osceola County Sheriff's Office) were organized and trained together. The route of the march and rally points were clearly defined, electronic surveillance was installed, legal issues were reviewed, an onsite arrest processing center was established, and contingency plans were in place.

Although the local law enforcement community was well-prepared through its collaborative efforts, public safety at the event hinged on the communities' reaction, or inaction, to the NSM.

Undoubtedly, this event had the potential to overwhelm law enforcement resources if a large number of counterprotesters showed up to confront the NSM, so an additional component was added to the overall operations-community outreach and involvement.

Under the direction and leadership of Orlando Police Chief Michael J. McCoy, the police department used a public information and social marketing strategy to mobilize community volunteers from the targeted minority community. This strategy was so successful that it sent the NSM "home early" and has been touted as a national model by the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service.

Social Marketing Strategy

What is this strategy? In today's era of "governance," public information campaigns and social marketing strategies are used to target, change, or modify behavior in the community. This strategy works through various community networks, along several pathways to provide information, frame information, and mobilize social and institutional groups to support the desired use of the information.

When the target behavior requires joint or coordinated efforts of social groups, social support and pressure becomes very important because residents are deeply committed to their social groups, and their politics and actions are shaped by these affiliations. Most important, public information and social marketing relies on voluntary compliance rather than legal or coercive forms of influence.

In Orlando, the local minority community located just west of downtown was targeted by the NSM in hopes of causing civil unrest and violence. Historically, this community has always had a strong core of committed community leaders, including local church ministers and pastors. It was these social leaders that were contacted by McCoy and Deputy Chief Val Demings to work closely with their community and law enforcement to ensure that peace and proper community behavior prevailed through the NSM's messages of racism. …

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Social Marketing for NEO-NAZI RALLY
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