Rabbi Marvin Hier of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, which is dedicated to the study of the Nazi Holocaust, has charged that Nation of Islam minister Louis Farrakhan has "a growing relationship" with white supremacist Tom Metzger, a former California Ku Klux Klan leader. Metzger said the charge is "totally false."
Hier said "highly placed sources in the Los Angeles Police Department" told him that Farrakhan, who has won support from some mainstream blacks, invited Metzger to a rally Sept. 14 in Los Angeles and to Farrakhan's meeting with Nation of Islam leaders in New York City next Monday.
Metzger, who heads a group called the White American Political Association (WAPA), said in an interview that he attended Farrakhan's Los Angeles rally after being invited by a Farrakhan staff member who arranged for "reserved seating."
Metzger said he and nine other WAPA members who attended the rally gave Farrakhan a "token donation" of $100.
He said that his group shares Farrakhan's "concern about the survival of two separate and distinct races" and that "when Farrakhan attacks the big shots in Washington and the elitists, I applaud that."
Metzger said that he first contacted the Nation of Islam in 1977 "to try to head off violence that might come because of rumor" in the wake of the shooting of a black telephone repairman and that he has been in touch with the group occasionally since then.
Metzger said he has never spoken to Farrakhan and has never been invited to a meeting in New York. Metzger described Hier's statement about a "growing relationship" between Metzger and Farrakhan as "a total fabrication and a total lie."
Los Angeles police spokesman Cmdr. William Booth said the information given to Hier came from a member of the department who is a friend of the rabbi and was simply repeating what he had read in The Washington Times earlier this week.
The Times report did not mention a proposed meeting in New York.
A Jewish community activist, who asked not to be named, said the Wiesenthal center's information about the alleged New York meeting came from the same source who had told them previously that Metzger would attend the Los Angeles rally.
Hier's associate, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, said he believes that Metzger was invited to meet in New York with Nation of Islam leaders. Even if he was not, Cooper said, "The contact at the Los Angeles rally was there. The money was given. There is a relationship there."
Hier said that, by having any dealings with Metzger at a time when he is gaining support from some moderate blacks, Farrakhan "is just making a fool of the whole civil rights movement."
Hier called the Farrakhan-Metzger association "a mosaic of everything that is evil."
A Nation of Islam spokesman in Chicago declined to comment when asked whether Farrakhan has a relationship with Metzger.