MOOSIC – Borough officials have rescinded permission for a white people's rights group to have a celebration at the borough park on Saturday, and the group is calling the action discriminatory.
Council President John Mercatili said on Wednesday that Steve Smith, a Luzerne County Republican Party committeeman-elect from Pittston, had called the borough to reserve the park pavilion some time ago and Mercatili only recently discovered through a newspaper story that Smith resides in Pittston.
Smith made headlines a few weeks after winning the Republican nod for committeeman in Pittston's 4th District when Democrats picked up on the fact that he was a former director of the Keystone State Skinheads.
But Mercatili said Smith's political affiliation is not the point of contention.
"We have a policy: It's for Moosic residents," Mercatili said of reservations for use of the pavilion. "We asked him if he's a resident of Moosic and he said yes. Then it was in the paper yesterday that he's having a rally there and he's not from Moosic."
According to whiteadvocate.com – the website of the European American Action Coalition -- the group planned to have its third annual European American Heritage Celebration on Saturday at the park, and Merlin Miller, a filmmaker and presidential candidate for the American Third Position Party, was to be the special guest speaker.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, The American Third Position is "a political party initially established by racist Southern California skinheads that aims to deport immigrants and return the United States to white rule."
A post on the coalition website states the Saturday celebration was canceled "due to the borough of Moosic shutting the event down."
The poster, identified only as "Ryan," threatened retaliation.
"The borough of Moosic has violated our freedom of speech and our right to peacefully assemble – action WILL be taken against the borough for their discriminatory acts against the EAAC. Please visit our site at whiteadvoate.com for the latest news and updates," the post states.
Mercatili insists it's not the group's connection to white supremacy that spurred the revocation of permission to hold the event, but rather the issue of residency.
"By law, we can't deny them" because of their political beliefs, Mercatili said. "But we're denying them on the fact that he lied. We take people at their word here in Moosic. But when we found out they lied about where they're from … who wants liars in the neighborhood?"
Smith, who could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, told The Times Leader on June 1 that he no longer served as director for the Keystone State Skinheads and that he currently served as director for the local chapter of the coalition, which describes itself as an advocacy group for white Americans.
Smith in June said he believed the state Democratic Party was engaging in a "political ballgame" by bringing up his past, which includes a 2003 federal conviction for ethnic intimidation and terroristic threats relating to the assault of a black man in Scranton by himself and two other members of the Keystone State Skinheads.