CADILLAC, Mich. (AP) — City officials gave a certificate of appreciation to a neo-Nazi group after members — sporting T-shirts with swastikas — participated in a park cleanup two months ago.
City officials say a city employee didn’t realize who the group was when she made out a certificate to the National Socialist Movement, signed by Cadillac Mayor Ronald Blanchard. The group calls itself America’s Nazi Party.
Betsy Kellman, regional director for the Anti-Defamation League in Michigan, however, protested. “We wrote them a letter. We were very disappointed, and we told them in no uncertain terms that we thought it was a little bit outrageous,” she said.
City Manager Peter Stalker said the mistake was innocent. “We certainly do not endorse the types of things that this organization stands for,” he told the Traverse City Record-Eagle last week.
The Nazi group posted the certificate on a Web site along with pictures of its participation in the May 7 cleanup, with members wearing T-shirts with swastikas.
“I don’t understand why it’s so offensive for us to get together in a community cleanup,” said Kevin Clements, director of the Michigan chapter of the National Socialist Movement.