FARGO – The nephew of a self-described white nationalist who wants to hold a pro-white rally in Fargo said Wednesday, Aug. 16, that he hopes no such event is held. But if it is, he wants large numbers of people to stand together in peaceful opposition.
“If there’s a Nazi rally in Fargo, there will be counter demonstrations. There are too many good progressive people in Fargo for there not to be,” said Jacob Scott Wieber, 26, of Fargo.
Wieber said he was calling for a counter demonstration in the hope it will dissuade his uncle, Peter Tefft, 30, also of Fargo, from moving forward with professed plans to organize an event here.
“If he (Tefft) realizes there will be a huge opposition, maybe he’ll take it someplace else, or not have it at all. He’s a coward at heart,” Wieber said.
Tefft did not return messages seeking comment on Wednesday.
In an interview earlier this week, Tefft said a pro-white rally might happen here sometime in October.
Tefft attended a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend which turned violent. When he returned to Fargo on Sunday his father, Pearce Tefft, told him he was no longer welcome at family events.
Pearce Tefft also submitted a letter to the editor to The Forum stating his reasons for taking that step, stressing that other family members do not share his son’s beliefs regarding race in America.
Since the letter was published and began circulating online, numerous news outlets have contacted The Forum asking for help in reaching Pearce Tefft, including CNN, The Washington Post, National Public Radio, BuzzFeed, the Today Show, Time Magazine, Business Insider, the BBC and CBS News.
Pearce Tefft said in his letter to the editor and in a phone interview with The Forum on Monday that he sees his youngest child as a prodigal son who was shunned for his "vile, hateful, and racist rhetoric," but also as someone who will be welcomed back whenever he chooses to change his ways.
"I do pray that he will renounce all this stuff and come back," Pearce Tefft said.
Wieber appeared on CNN Wednesday, underscoring the national and international media attention the issue of white radicalism has garnered, especially since last weekend’s rally, during which 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed. Wieber told CNN that a sizable rally in Fargo is possible thanks to the national attention his uncle has received.
Wieber criticized the tactics employed by online white nationalist groups when trying to recruit new members, which Wieber compared to those of Islamic State militants.
"It's tearing families apart. It's torn my family apart," he said.
Wieber also said that public comments made by his uncle regarding his self-described pro-white views don't square with comments he's made in private. As an example, Peter Tefft has told Wieber that black people have inherently lower IQs and that that is a matter of genetics, Wieber said.
Peter Tefft has told The Forum he doesn't hate anyone and doesn't believe there's any objective way to compare races for superiority.
Any event that would require the closing of streets would have to be processed and approved by the Fargo Police Department, with an application submitted no later than 45 days before the event.
Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney said he’s comfortable city police would be able to handle anything that might happen.
“You don’t want hate crimes. You don’t want to have negative publicity. Throughout the country, we need to bring people together, not tear them apart,” Mahoney said.
“People have the right to freedom of speech, but I would also anticipate it would engender a large amount of discussion,” Mahoney said, adding he would expect the Fargo Human Relations Commission would likely have things to say about such an event.
Wieber stressed he would not be the organizer of any counter demonstration, but he would take part because he abhors his uncle’s beliefs.
“Please don’t do this,” Wieber said, making a direct appeal to his uncle.
“If you’re going to do this, take it somewhere else,” Wieber added.
Wieber said that although he and his uncle are close in age, Wieber being the oldest of his generation and Tefft being the youngest, the two have never been close.
“He was always kind of a bully, and now he’s found a bully’s ideology,” Wieber said.
“If he does come here (with a rally), I hope the police will protect us,” he added.