The Canadian Jewish Congress isn't sure what to make of a skinhead concert that took place at a Scarborough restaurant June 8. The CJC doesn't want to suggest that the event, which attracted 80 to 130 youths, signals a resurgence in a white supremacist movement that has, apart from its presence on the Internet, been hardly visible in recent years. Is it just a blip?
"I don't want to go overboard here," says the CJC's Bernie Farber. "But it is the first time there's been a successful hate rock concert in the GTA in the last three or four years.
"On the other hand, it didn't attract the numbers it would have a few years ago. Still, we can't lose sight of what's going on."
Reportedly, none of the usual suspects on the far right were present or involved in the organizing.
Anti-Racist Action postered and rallied opposition at Cawthra Park. But ARA plans to crash the event never materialized, because the location was kept secret till the last minute.
The concert featured a number of bands, including Angry Aryans and Blue-Eyed Devils, and apparently took place at a restaurant in the Warden and Highway 401 area. One of the attendees located by NOW, a 19-year-old named Brad (he did not give his last name), was unwilling to divulge any specifics. He says another event will take place in Durham region later this summer and that he previously attended a similar concert in Kitchener.
"It's not really my thing," he says. "I'm more into hardcore. But the (racist) music doesn't offend me at all. I believe in free speech."
According to e-mails posted about this gig on a white supremacist Internet message board, plenty of beer was flowing and a few fights broke out . The requisite swastikas were in evidence. A song was dedicated to a Scarborough skinhead murdered six years back.
Judging by the signatures on e-mails sent to the board, attendees came from as far away as New Jersey.
Police arrived near the end of the night but weren't allowed to remain in the venue since the organizers had purchased a permit and the event was considered private.
Police apparently were stopping people as they left the premises. Detective Jim Hogan says it's unlikely any hate-related charges will be laid.