Scott Garman awarded $5,000 grant for his work in Leith, N.D.
By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
Scott Garman of Little Falls stepped up to the plate last year and saved a small North Dakota town from being taken over by white supremacists and Nazis. His quick action and his ability to gather hundreds of people not only stopped the takeover, but helped run the ringleader out of town.
As a result of Garman’s selfless actions, he was awarded the Characters Unite Award by USA Network and Charter Communications Inc. for addressing social injustices and bridging cultural divides. Garman and his organization, UnityND, was awarded a $5,000 grant to support its projects.
It all started when Garman, who is a native of Fargo, N.D., was randomly reading news articles online.
“I saw that supremacist Craig Cobb was buying property in and round Leith, N.D.,” said Garman. “He had invited the leader of the National Socialist Movement to show solidarity with him and other supremacists for a Sept. 23, 2013, takeover of Leith’s town government.”
Garman said Cobb wanted to make Leith, with a population of 16, an all-white conclave, then move on to take over the Grant County government in Carson , N.D.
“I felt no one was doing a thing about it or supporting the townspeople,” said Garman. “I thought I should do something.”
Garman got his friends together and planned a rally on the same day as Cobb’s. Through radio shows, Garman rallied support for Leith, 70 miles southwest of Bismarck. He also raised funds to help with gas costs.
“Three hundred and fifty – 400 people showed up in Leith to support the town against those (about 15 white supremacists arrived in Leith that day) who hate,” he said. “We exposed the plan.”
He said that as the word got out, he felt that many of the supremacists and Nazis decided not to show up.
Garman said that as the rally was winding down, Ryan Schock, the mayor of Leith, shook his hand and thanked him for his effort to save the town.
“I then saw the need for an organization to promote tolerance for all,” said Garman. So UnityND was formed.
“I’m the director of the organization,” he said. “And I may have been the leader of the rally, but it was a group effort.”
UnityND continued to work with the people of Leith throughout the winter to get rid of Cobb.
“We raised money for legal costs to update ordinances to evict Cobb from the area,” said Garman. “We provided security at city council meetings as Cobb and his friends would arrive to disrupt proceedings. The members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation also helped.”
In July, Leith celebrated 105 years in existence. It also celebrated getting its friendly self back, according to the city’s website. Cobb is now gone after spending time in jail and the people of Leith were happy to see the American flags flying instead of Nazi flags.
Garman was nominated for this award by a family member who lives in Arizona. He is one of 10 recipients receiving the 2014 Characters Unite Award.
Recipients of the award were chosen for their impact to end discrimination, their influence to enlist a community to increase awareness and create unity and by their dedication, passion and determination in the face of a challenge or adversity.
Characters Unite is a public service program sponsored by USA Network. It was created to address the injustices still prevalent in society. The campaign is dedicated to support activities that combat intolerance and promote understanding and acceptance.
Garman has worked at Mid-State Education District in Little Falls for six years as a special education teacher focusing on physically disabled students. He works in the districts of Little Falls, Upsala, Royalton, Swanville, Onamia and the Paul Bunyan Cooperative in Brainerd.
An awards ceremony in Little Falls is being planned for the near future.
More information about Characters Unite may be found at www.characters