Far-right groups converged on the grounds of the State Capitol in Raleigh Saturday for an anti-sharia law rally, part of a nationwide string of events hosted by the anti-Muslim organization ACT for America.
The national organizers attempted to distance the rallies from overt white supremacy. Two days earlier, ACT for America issued a statement disavowing the "March Against Sharia" in Bentonville, Arkansas, organized by neo-Nazi Billy Roper.
"There are no KKK here, there are no Nazis here," said Peter Boykin, president of Gays for Trump and the local coordinator for the Raleigh anti-sharia rally. Still, Boykin publicly thanked Identity Evropa, a group that openly espouses white supremacy, after members in matching white dress shirts punctuated speeches with chants of "Sharia-free USA" and "We will not be silenced."
Boykin's thank-you list also included the Oath Keepers militia, as well as the III Percenters and other militias, Bikers for Trump, Knights Templar, Soldiers of Odin, and Proud Boys—a group that, according to its Facebook page, is "anti-masturbation" in addition to "venerating housewives" and supporting "Western chauvinism."
Although exact counts were difficult to gauge, the fifty or so people gathered for the anti-sharia event were outnumbered by counterprotesters by a factor of five or six.
While ACT for America held its rally on the south side of the Capitol, counterprotesters gathered at Halifax Mall near the General Assembly complex for an event billed as United Against Islamophobia & Racism. Around noon, some 250 counterprotesters, including Muslims and other people of faith, anarchists, and communists, converged at the southeast corner of the Capitol grounds.
Yelling at the top of their lungs, they drowned out the anti-sharia rally.
Lane Reynolds, state coordinator for the N.C. Oath Keepers, later expressed disappointment in the relatively low turnout.
"It is a crying shame that there is not a million people here on this ground right now," he said. "When I was in the Marine Corps for twenty years, one of the things the Marine Corps made sure to teach us was to know our enemy. Guess what, people? Go read the Koran for yourself. This is not a joke. Go read the Koran. See what's in it. The Koran itself teaches hate. It's in there. So I call out anybody that sees me on video or anything else: it is evil. I'll say it and I'll say it again: radical Islam is evil, and it's here on our ground today."
This article appeared in print with the headline "+ANTI-sharia group sad no one cares."