“Racist bigots go home!” called out protestors outside of Toad’s Place Tuesday night.
“Ted is right!” countered a Meriden firearms trainer who showed up for a counter-protest.
Those competing messages flew outside the York Street music hall Tuesday, where dozens of protestors marched and chanted against a performance by outspoken right-wing rocker Ted Nugent.
The protest was a response to Nugent’s comments about Trayvon Martin, the black teenager whose death ignited a nationwide debate about race after he was killed by a white neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26, 2012. Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder or manslaughter for shooting Martin to death, prompting nationwide protests.
Nugent described Martin as a “dope-smoking, racist gangsta wannabe” and said that “black communities” have a “mindless tendency to violence.” Nugent also said Martin eagerly got into fights with people and “got justice” as result of his meeting with Zimmerman.
Tuesday’s protest was organized by “an ad hoc coalition” of groups, according to Chris Garaffa of Act Now To Stop War and End Racism. The coalition included Seminarians for a Democratic Society, My Brother’s Keeper, and Unidad Latina En Accion.
At 6 p.m., Garaffa mustered with other protesters at the corner of York and Grove streets. He said he was there to speak out against Toad’s Place “giving this racist bigot a platform to say his hate speech.”
“If Toad’s Place had a conscience, they would have canceled the show,” he said.
James Rawlings, president of the New Haven NAACP, had called on Toad’s Place owner Brian Phelps to cancel the planned Nugent show. In a letter CC’d to the Board of Aldermen, Phelps said that he does not agree with Nugent’s “divisive comments on the Zimmerman trial. However, Toad’s entered into a contract with Mr. Nugent for his performance before these comments were made. Toad’s now must honor its obligations to both Mr. Nugent and the ticket holders.”
“We respect his position,” said Rawlings. He said he was “pleased with Phelps’ apology letter.”
Rawlings nonetheless joined the line of demonstrators marching in front of Toad’s. “We’re not going to tolerate racism and bigotry in our community,” he said.
Barbara Fair (pictured), one of the organizers of the protest, said Toad’s should have canceled the show, given that the country is “trying to heal as a nation” after the Zimmerman case. She said she wasn’t satisfied by Phelps explanation that he couldn’t cancel the show.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” said Cheshire’s Joe Rapetski said of the protest. He was standing in line to see the show. “It’s blown out of proportion. Ted is very outspoken. He speaks the truth.” He said he agrees with Nugent’s view of the Zimmerman case, even if Nugent as “a little harsh.”
“Ted Motherfucking Nugent!” shouted John Ferko, standing nearby in line and wearing a Nugent T-shirt.
“He says what he thinks,” Chuck Taylor, another fan, said of Nugent. “People don’t like it. Tough shit.” He said he “definitely” agrees with Nugent about Martin.
Martin was in the wrong place at the wrong time, said Nancy, who declined to give her last name. “It was a terrible accident.”
E. Jonathan Hardy, a 42-year-old Meriden firearms training instructor (at right in photo) was among a group of about a dozen counter-protestors on the sidewalk. He held a sign reading “Ted Is Right.” He said Nugent is right about Martin. “Nobody wants to look at the trial,” he said. An autopsy revealed that Martin’s “liver was spotted,” he said. Martin was a drug user who was going to die sooner or later, Hardy said.
Hardy and other counter protestors edged closer to the marching protestors as the evening went on, leading to some shouting confrontations and competing chants.
At 7:30 p.m., the venue’s doors opened and Nugent fans began to file in. Many wore NRA T-shirts or shirts with Second Amendment-inspired slogans.
Shortly after 8 p.m., the protestors ceased their marching and reconvened across the street.
About 10 Yale and New Haven cops were on the scene during the protest. Lt. Jeff Hoffman said cops made no arrests.
This whole thing is very sad. What happened in Florida was a nightmare but it’s over. These people are thrusting their anger on to a local business that has been a staple in the community for over 30 years. What do they want Toads to do? A contract is a contract. And I haven’t witnessed one well behaved protesters. I have friends that work for this venue that have been harassed and threatened. As if low wadge workers make policy. Get a grip people and act like civilized humans and not like a bunch of spoiled children. Everyone is angry over a case that has ruined the lives of many people on both sides of the courtroom aisle. But the truth is, no one knows what really occurred that day. Zimmerman can be telling the complete truth, lying his ass off or somewhere between. Either way, mistakes were made by both parties and a kid paid for it with his life. But nothing is black and white and to punish Toads is just immature. What kind of angry savages have we turned in to?
posted by: TheWizard on August 6, 2013 10:05pm
where are the Seminarians for a Democratic Society when Toads puts a rapper on stage who glorifies killing cops? Why is it OK the be over the top on one side but not the other?
posted by: vc man on August 6, 2013 10:12pm
“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” - Voltaire (paraphrase).
posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on August 6, 2013 10:56pm
A handful from both extremes, on the right and on the left, showed up to protest. The real story here is that the rest of America has accepted the verdict and decided to move on.
posted by: gr8whtshrk on August 6, 2013 11:00pm
Everyone has the right to their own opinion. Nugent believes what he believes. Canceling his show punishes the people who paid for their tickets and expected a show. If you don’t like what he said, don’t go see him perform. Why is it that people are using the Zimmerman trial as a crutch? Some people are saying its a race thing, but Florida DA says the opposite. The DOJ says the opposite. The FBI says the opposite. This or any other emotionally charged incident will never heal the damage between whites and blacks because people LIKE the tension because it gives them license to act irrational. I am tired of the sense of entitlement people feel because of the way white ancestors treated black ancestors. Now I am beginning to believe its an excuse to act out negatively. Its time to work together people. Stop the madness and move on. There arent any more masters or slaves. But bitterness runs rampant. Bitterness on both sides.
posted by: just my view on August 6, 2013 11:06pm
Not a big fan of the grammar/spelling police but heck - where is the “corner of York and Goffe streets” in New Haven?
[Ed.: Oops! York and Grove. Fixed. Thanks! ]
posted by: robn on August 7, 2013 7:09am
It sounds like the protestors have a bad case of cat scratch fever, and need to get a Ted in a stranglehold. Thanks NHI for taking a journey into the center of their minds.
posted by: ebw1957 on August 7, 2013 7:17am
While a few of his songs that played on WPLR are pretty classic, I was never a Nuggent fan per se who bought his albums. That said I can assure anyone who cares—that he has been selling out colisums, stadiums and any other venue since the early 70’s and racism was never why people went to see him. Some people just like that hard guitar style.
What I observed last night was a bunch of “anti” racism groups—with a dozen socialist agendas creating and then taking advantage of a media event.
posted by: Ella O. DeAlla on August 7, 2013 7:30am
I am glad that we have become a nation where people are more interested in activism, and speaking their minds. Only when we rise up will the world change for the better.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on August 7, 2013 8:30am
While I personally did not think Toad’s should have cancelled Nugent - just as the Dixie Chicks shouldn’t have been boycotted for a much milder comment - it is important for the community to give idiot haters like Nugent feedback. His condemnation of a 17 year old boy whose parents will be grieving the rest of their lives has to be condemned. He has to be held accountable for his hate speech. What is extreme about marching peacefully with signs? Some of the people going in to see Nugent make nasty statements about Trayvon Martin and treated his death as a joke. Yes, some were laughing about it. No, it is not over, but clearly some people want it to be. I saw a lot of angry white people in the Nugent line, eager to display their own grievances, but too liquored up to speak in sentences. As for Hardy, the firearms trainer, he continuously forced his way into the picket line and stood in one spot inside the line and the police did nothing. The rules require people to keep moving on a public sidewalk and to not block others. Only the civility and discipline of the protesters prevented what could have been an angry confrontation. Later the police did make a line to keep the 2 groups separate so things did not escalate. New Haven should be proud that people of conscience were willing to confront the hatefulness of Nugent and other like him. If you still believe racism wasn’t part of letting Zimmerman kill an unarmed 17 year old boy, then you are likely white and don’t know what it’s like to live as a person of color in the US.
posted by: LadyERT on August 7, 2013 8:31am
Some people think he is right, some think he is wrong. The only REAL truth here is that none of us was there! Either way, we all have a right to feel how we want to feel. But this whole bringing up Trayvon Martin thing in every subject is getting old and played out…
posted by: Mister Jones on August 7, 2013 8:38am
This is exactly what should happen in a free society, Nugent’s hateful speech met with protests and supporters. As Justice Brandeis said in 1927: “If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
[And thanks to robn for the song references.]
posted by: robn on August 7, 2013 8:49am
what song references?
posted by: speakingthetruth on August 7, 2013 9:35am
Ted Nugent doesn’t go along with the liberal main stream media. He is a very, very intelligent man who just so happens to be a guitar virtuoso as well. He follows the constitution and speaks his mind. I was one of the thousand or so inside that show at Toads and let me tell you….he rocked that concert hall for over 90 minutes. The guy is 65 years old but due to his drug and alcohol free life-style he can still perform at an extremely high level. His band was in top form led by lead singer Derek St. Holmes. If you didn’t get a chance to see Ted play you must do so the next time he comes to Toad’s Place. He had quite a bit to say during the show in between songs. There isn’t a racist bone in the mans body. Almost all of his influences in music have been blues/soul musicians from Jimi Hendrix to BB King to Muddy Waters to James Brown. He keeps hard rock/blues/soul music alive and well. Like he said—-“I have more soul in my body than all those protesters outside combined. They are scared of me because I’m blacker than they are!!” Great Show Ted…you can come to New Haven anytime and be welcomed by thousands just like you were last night. Definitely a show for the ages.
posted by: elmcityresident on August 7, 2013 9:39am
@THEWIZARD, the rappers no a days dont rap about killing cops anymore that was Ice T and that was years ago… plus half the time when a rapper is at Toads majority attending is CAUCASIANS!!!!
posted by: gr8whtshrk on August 7, 2013 11:16am
Would someone please explain to me why the zimmerman trial has anything to do with ted nugents date at toads? Can someone tell me why race is so selective? In other words zimmerman comes from a mixed background. Part white and part hispanic. Yet people are only blaming the white half of him saying whites are racists. African American people were estatic when obama was voted in saying our first black president. He is half white and half black. Yet it is again race is selective. I think its a matter of convenience for people to pin something on a particular race to push their own opinion. Shame on us as a human race.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on August 7, 2013 11:38am
Nugent made hateful statements about the young boy. They are quoted in most news articles about this whole matter, if you care to read them. Race came up because it was a young, unarmed African American male who was murdered while walking home. Why was he stalked by Zimmerman to begin with? Because of his race. And why didn’t the police see anything wrong initially? Because of race. Zimmerman’s mixed heritage is irrelevant. It’s about a system that fails to protect young black males, that demonizes them and portrays them in the media in a way that Nugent thinks is ok for him to stereotype. It’s not. A child was killed. Some of us have big problems with that.
posted by: Dwightstreeter on August 7, 2013 11:48am
Google Ted Nugent and drugs and read about his ploy to evade the draft.
You really can fool some of the people all of the time speakingtruth.
posted by: Stephen Harris on August 7, 2013 11:52am
I read somewhere he might run for president. He would be a great fund raiser for democrats. Run Ted run!
posted by: ISR on August 7, 2013 12:36pm
I’m a free speech absolutist—both for Nugent and the protestors, but it’s a bit disingenuous for Phelps to say, Gee whiz, we had no idea. A few seconds googling and you find, for instance, thinly veiled threats to the president and anyone who voted for him. He was visited by the Secret Service who found his bluster harmless. There are many other examples. It’s fine for Phelps to hire him but ignorance can’t be more than a mealy-mouth excuse
posted by: Bill Saunders on August 7, 2013 4:34pm
I guess I have had “The Nuge” wrong for all of these years. I always thought the song ‘Wango Tango’ was Ted’s poetic anthem about being a gay.