Sanford, FL police have denied a rumor that neo-Nazis are sending armed patrols through the city to prepare for potential racial violence following the shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
The story, first published in a blog post from the Miami New Times, quotes a Detroit white supremacist group called the National Socialist Movement: "Whenever there is one of these racially charged events, Al Sharpton goes wherever blacks need him," [NSM leader Jeff] Schoep said. "We do similar things. We are a white civil rights organization."
The story, packed with implications of impending racial violence, spread through the left-wing blogosphere and eventually onto the front page of the Drudge Report. However, only William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection reached out to a source which could confirm this rumor. Jacobson emailed the Sanford Police Department and found that law enforcement had no current evidence of said patrols:
My initial e-mail (which included an embedded link to the Memeorandum thread):
There are a number of reports in the media that Neo-Nazis are conducting armed patrols in Sanford. Can you confirm or deny whether this is true, and provide any information you have on the subject? If someone is able to get back to me as soon as possible (and before Monday) that would be appreciated, since such rumors are spreading.
Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
At this time the City of Sanford has not confirmed the presence of Neo-Nazis groups.
My follow up:
You say “not confirmed.” Is there any indication of such patrols that the Department is aware of?
Further Response from Sanford Joint Information Center:
We have no indication of any such patrols at this point in Sanford. The only large gathering was the children and their parents at the Easter egg hunt.
Jacobson has reached out to several publications to amend their reports based on the New Times blog. So far, Mediaite, New York Daily News, and The Blaze have amended their stories to include the police's denial. Before the corrections at Mediaite and NYDN, Jacobson chided several publications for shoddy reporting and running with an unvetted story:
For The Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Mediaite, and The Daily News to spread such thinly-sourced claims without verification at a time when racial tensions already are high is irresponsible in the extreme.
Meanwhile, no additional local or national reporting has occurred for the "county-wide and state-wide defense training and community patrols" promised by New Black Panther Party spokesman Malik Zulu Shabazz for April 7th, this past Saturday.