Of all the institutions that had to issue a statement condemning the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, I would have never have guessed the Detroit Red Wings.
The perennial NHL powerhouse has recently fallen on hard times, sure. The team missed the playoffs this season for the first time in a quarter century. They lost one of their legendary former players, Gordie Howe, who passed away in June later year, as well as their beloved owner, Mike Illitch, who passed away this February. And yet, the Red Wings are dealt another blow. Who could have expected their logo, the iconic winged wheel, would be appropriated by Neo-Nazis?
The Detroit Red Wings, to their credit, immediately issued a statement when alerted.
The white supremacists that marched with the Red Wings logo appear to be a part of a Michigan-based far-right group that calls itself the Detroit Right Wings. I agree, pretty corny.
The group appears to be led by a Muskegon, Michigan resident, Paul Walsh, pictured below with a cigarette and a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
To fund the Detroit Right Wings’ expedition to Charlottesville, to participate in the white nationalist rally, he created a fundraiser on GoFundMe, entitled Detroit Right Road Trip. He then shared the fundraiser in Pro-Trump Facebook groups, such as The Deplorables.
Presumably to skate by GoFundMe’s hate speech policy undetected, the fundraiser makes no mention of white nationalism, nor does it refer to the Unite the Right rally by name.
Instead, Walsh refers to the rally as “a vacation and fellowship event the weekend of August 12.”
The fundraiser appears to have raised $328 out of its goal of $2,500. The description indicated approximately 40 people from the “self-organized group of young Republicans” attended the rally.”
Walsh also appears to have led another fundraiser, specifically for “one of our dear friends.” The fundraiser is not available for viewing, except in a cached form, since it has completed and reached its goal of $1,250 dollars. In the excerpts that are visible, the alt-right rally is described as a family reunion.
Here’s the full-text of the fundraiser’s mission from a cached webpage. “Brothers” appears to be a term for fellow Alt-Right activists, and the main reunion, ostensibly, refers to the Unite the Right rally.
An update indicates the beneficiary will be able “see us all,” accompanying a picture of a protest.
A final update confirms the link to the alt-right rally in Charlottesville. Walsh asks that other donors contribute to the fundraiser to help the Detroit Red Wings “get to the same place,” i.e., the Unite the Right Rally.
On Walsh’s Facebook, he identifies himself as a fan of both Lauren Southern and Richard Spencer, notable figures in the Alt-Right movement.
Additionally, he is a member of Facebook groups including “Confederate Citizens,” “Stop the Destruction of Confederate American History,” and “Round Up And Deport Every Illegal Alien In The USA.” His apparent allegiance to the Confederacy is intriguing, considering he is a resident of Michigan, a state that, as I recall, fought on the side of the Union in the Civil War.
As the rally continues to descend into violence, one hopes that the leadership of the United States and its citizens can address the proliferation of white supremacy in the aftermath of the 2016 election. With any luck, no one was harmed in the violence of Charlottesville, but it’s hard to believe that’s the case.
One thing that is certain: Gordie Howe and Mike Illitch must be rolling in their graves, as a logo that stands for excellence and sportsmanship has been defiled as a political symbol for a derelict group of Michigan Neo-Nazis who can’t afford to pay for their own hotel room in Virginia.