Protest at a Conference on Race

By Eric M. Weiss
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, February 24, 2008

Fairfax County police yesterday blocked a group of protesters who sought to enter a hotel near Dulles International Airport to disrupt a conference of people who promote belief in the need for white racial preservation.

Inside the Crowne Plaza Dulles Airport Hotel in Herndon were more than 100 attendees, most of them white men, of the American Renaissance Conference. Among the seminars were "Understanding the African Mind" and "Mexico From the Inside: Who the Mexicans Are and Why They Do What They Do.'' For sale outside conference rooms were neckties decorated with Confederate emblems and books such as "Race Differences in Intelligence'' and "Zoological Subspecies of Man.''

On the sidewalk outside -- just off the Dulles Toll Road -- stood a young, racially mixed group of three dozen protesters with megaphones and drums. They carried posters decrying Nazism, racism and fascism as they tried in vain to pass a police phalanx and enter the hotel to disrupt the conference.

Police firmly but gently pushed the protesters off hotel property and into an area marked with orange cones and yellow tape in a lane of the street in front of the hotel.

The protesters were relegated to yelling across the parking lot and spitting at a person who emerged from the conference to give interviews.

The leader of the protest, Marco Del Fuego, said he was involved in a similar demonstration against an American Renaissance conference two years ago at another Dulles area hotel. He said one objective of yesterday's protest was to pressure Crowne Plaza management to avoid hosting such conferences in the future.

The conference was sponsored by the New Century Foundation, which was launched by Jared Taylor, who calls himself a "race realist." Taylor spoke with a reporter about the conference in the hotel. Taylor, who lives in the Oakton section of Fairfax County, has been described by civil rights organizations as a "white nationalist" who espouses racism.

Taylor said a theme of the conference was the intersection of immigration and race, which he said is reflected in the presidential campaign. "The country is catching up with us,'' he said.

Taylor decried the attempt to disrupt the conference.

"And they call us Nazis?" he said.

Del Fuego said the people meeting in the hotel shared philosophical ties with anti-immigrant and racist groups.

"They promote violence against people of color,'' he said. "How can I stand for that kind of speech? You cannot compromise with people like that.''

Staff writer Fredrick Kunkle contributed to this report.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company