In 1936, this series of articles by Arnold Sevareid became the center of a question on how to deal with Fascists. Some believed the best approach was to expose the group and educate the public through exposés published in the news media. Some believed a better approach would be to ignore the existence of Fascist groups lest public attention, even negative, facilitated a rise in membership. Others still suggested the best way to end Fascism would be to take the fight to them. This question continues to play out in on-going confrontations with Fascists, Nazis, and white supremacists.
After Sevareid published this series, he received so much hate mail and threats against his life that he sent his wife and children to live in the countryside. He and his brother armed themselves and guarded the family home.
The Silver Shirts were mostly ignored in Minnesota publications until 1938 when Silver Legion Lieutenant Roy Zachary visited Minneapolis, drawing hundreds of Minnesotans to his rallies. As attendees filed out, a group of journalists and photographers attempting to identify and interview attendees were attacked. The brawl was short and resulted only in minor injuries, but it lead to numerous articles in Minnesota's leading newspapers. Most papers, however, refused to take a stance on the Silver Legion, or even Fascism more generally, leaving a vacuum of counter activity eventually filled by the Local 544 Teamster Union, which had won national recognition for the Teamster Strike of 1934, and the Jewish Anti-Defamation Council of Minnesota, formed by Jews in the Twin Cities to monitor and counter Silver Legion activity.
In the summer of 1938, Minneapolis Union organizers traveled to Mexico to study anti-Fascist counter organization with Leon Trotsky. Trotsky proposed that these Minnesotans create a militant wing of their union, charged with defending themselves from Fascist attacks. The police could not be trusted with their defense since four years earlier, police had fired their weapons into a crowd of union strikers, injuring 67 and killing two.
According to Farrell Dobbs, the formation of the Union Defense Guard (UDG) proved successful in 1939. William Dudley Pelley himself was scheduled to hold a rally in Minneapolis. The UDG leaders received a tip that Pelley would arrive by train and head directly to the Calhoun Hall where he was scheduled to speak. Within an hour, 300 guards mobilized and marched to Calhoun Hall. The Teamsters watched as Pelley's cab slowed then sped off back to the train station. The Silver Legion was unable to hold another rally in Minneapolis due to the threat of violence represented by the UDG, though several smaller rallies occurred in St. Paul.
Meanwhile, the Jewish Anti-Defamation Council had formed its own network of anti-Fascist activists in Minnesota and beyond. Its members went undercover in the Silver Legion to gather intel that could be used to combat the rise of Fascism in the state. Charles Cooper coordinated much of these activities.
Not all agreed with the non-violent approach that the Anti-Defamation Council had taken. Separately from the Council, Jewish professionals formed a resistance group, training with bats and brass knuckles to raid Silver Shirt meetings. In the Fall of 1938, just a few months after founding, the group raided their first meeting. According to participant testimony, the Silver Shirts were unprepared when the group of masked men, each with the Star of David painted on his chest, burst through the door. The Fascists were left bloodied but alive.
No police reports exist. Different sources offer different speculations: one that a local Jewish gangster paid off the police to keep these raids out of the public; or two, that the Silver Legion members were too embarrassed having been beaten by Jews that they didn't call the police to begin with.
It's unclear what role these violent raids had in driving the Silver Legion from the state since only one primary source exists. But non-violent counter activities orchestrated by the Jewish Anti-Defamation Council measurably affected the presence of Silver Shirts in Minnesota: in 1939, the Council leaders were able to convince Federal prosecutors to file charges against the state leaders of the Silver Shirts for mail fraud. T. G. Wooster and his cronies had created a pamphlet impersonating a local Jewish organization. The pamphlet claimed a Jewish take over of the government and the end of Christianity in the state. Minnesota authorities refused to press charges when presented with the evidence.