Protestors greet white supremacists during rally in Michigan
(4/23/06 - LANSING, MI) -- A group of white supremacists demonstrating outside Michigan's Capitol was far outnumbered by 500 protesters who were screened by metal detectors and kept separate by 6-foot-high chain-link fences.
About 75 people from the Minneapolis-based National Socialist Movement were met with taunts from the protesters in what police described as a generally orderly event.
State and city police reported 16 arrests, mostly for disorderly conduct and other misdemeanors among hundreds kept at bay from the neo-Nazis. Two people were taken to a hospital for minor injuries and a third was treated at the scene following scuffling between protesters and neo-Nazi supporters, police said.
None of the members of the neo-Nazis group was arrested or injured. They were bused into the rally from an undisclosed location and returned there later with police assistance.
Police said rocks were thrown at some officers as protesters left the Michigan rally and windows of a police van were smashed, but no police injuries were reported. About 500 law enforcement officers -- some in helicopters and on horseback -- kept the peace.
Security was high after violence broke out at recent National Socialist Movement events in Ohio and Florida.
Group leaders said they picked Lansing as a rally site in part because of Michigan's sluggish economy and white supremacists' growing frustration with illegal immigration's effects on employment.
"The people want the borders closed and we will close them," group leader Jeff Schoep told reporters before the rally.
Despite the focus on illegal immigrants, several speakers from the neo-Nazi group criticized Jews and mainstream political parties.
"I don't think it's OK to preach hate," said Laura Harms of Lansing, who carried a pink sign that read "People Power."
When protesters shouted at the neo-Nazis, Schoep replied: "I will not be shouted down ... you will not stop us. You will not silence us."
Several blocks away, several hundred people attended a rally hosted by city officials at a high school to promote diversity. Police said no problems were reported.
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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