Neo-Nazi rally becomes standoff

  • Sat Apr 17th, 2010 10:23pm
  • News

Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — A neo-Nazi white supremacist group rallied against illegal immigration in downtown Los Angeles on Saturday as hundreds of counter-protesters gathered to shout them down in a tense stand off that included 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.

The neo-Nazis shouted, “Sieg heil,” but their words were mostly drowned out by chants of “Racists go home” and “Stop the Nazis” from the larger crowd of about 500 counter-protesters who held signs that read “Nazis: Get Out of Los Angeles” and “Racists Are Ignorant.”

City Hall was selected for the Detroit-based group’s “Reclaim The Southwest!” event because of Los Angeles’ large population of immigrants — some of whom are in the country illegally, said a regional director of the National Socialist Movement.

There was a brief flare-up of violence when a man removed his shirt revealing tattoos that featured Nazi lightning bolts.

Counter-protester James Lafferty, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild, said he saw the tattooed man punched and kicked as a plainclothes officer dragged him behind police lines. Blood could be seen at the base of his neck, Lafferty said.

He and another man were treated at a hospital for minor injuries and released, police said.

As the rally ended, counter-protesters hurled rocks, branches and other items over the police line toward the neo-Nazis.

Police said a few counter-protesters were arrested for throwing items.