Riot police keep peace at L.A. rally
LOS ANGELES – A white supremacist group rallied against illegal immigration in downtown Los Angeles Saturday as hundreds of counter-protesters gathered to shout them down in a tense standoff that included several arrests, thrown rocks and police in riot gear.
Police officers stood between the white supremacists and counter-demonstrators on the south lawn of Los Angeles’ City Hall, where about 50 members of the National Socialist Movement waved American flags and swastika banners for about an hour.
Five people, all of them counter-protesters, were arrested for throwing items, police said.
The white supremacists, many of them wearing flak helmets and black military fatigue uniforms, shouted “Sieg Heil” before each of their speakers took the podium to taunt counter-protesters with racial, anti-Semitic and misogynistic epithets.
“We will meet you head on,” one of the white supremacists, whose name could not be made out over the fuzzy public address system, warned the crowd from behind several phalanxes of police in riot gear.
Members of the Detroit-based group said they picked the location for their rally because of Los Angeles’ large immigrant population. They accused immigrants of stealing jobs and committing crimes.
National Socialist Movement regional director Jeffrey Russell Hall announced that the group would begin backing political candidates who agreed with their anti-immigrant message.
There was a brief flare-up of violence before the speakers arrived. A shirtless man was seen being escorted to safety behind police lines by a plainclothes officer as counter-protesters punched and grabbed at him. Blood could be seen at the base of the man’s neck.
National Lawyers Guild executive director James Lafferty, who attended both as a legal observer and counter-protester, said he saw the man get into a fight with crowd members who saw his Nazi lightning bolt tattoos.
Police Commander David Doan said a second man who crowd members believed was sympathetic with the white supremacists was also assaulted during the rally. Both men were treated for minor injuries at a hospital and released.
© Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.