5 arrested at neo-Nazi rally
30 supremacists, 100 police officers, 2,000 counterprotesters
West Allis - Five people were arrested but no one was injured Saturday at a neo-Nazi rally where participants were vastly outnumbered by counterprotesters.
Two people were arrested on weapons violation charges and three for disorderly conduct during the 90-minute rally on W. Greenfield Ave. between S. 75th and S. 76th streets in front of City Hall.
There were a few tense moments when a separate group of neo-Nazi sympathizers in the crowd were confronted by a group of angry protesters. Insults were hurled. Then someone threw a metal object, and the crowd backed off.
Police dressed in riot gear moved in quickly, surrounding the area and forming a barrier with their batons.
The rally was organized by the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group out of Detroit, to call attention to incidents of violence this summer. Those include so-called flash mobs involving groups of young African-Americans attacking white adults. One of the incidents occurred on the first night of the State Fair in West Allis, and another after the July 3 fireworks in Milwaukee's Riverwest neighborhood.
The neo-Nazis numbered 25 to 30. About 2,000 people attended a counter-rally an hour earlier, according to police. The counterprotest featured drumming, chanting and a rendition of "Kumbaya." Speakers invoked Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi and the lyrics of the Broadway classic "South Pacific" ("You've got to be taught to hate and fear.")
People strolled the rain-soaked streets with harmonicas and tambourines. One sign read: "I dislike your hate!"
Sister Charlotte Smits, 69, of Milwaukee, showed up lugging an oxygen tank.
"Nothing is going to stop me," the nun said.
She dismissed the notion that racially motivated crimes are a problem.
"These were a bunch of stupid kids with bad parents," she said.
More than 100 police officers provided security. Officers were from the West Allis, Greenfield, Milwaukee and Wauwatosa and State Fair police departments; the Milwaukee County sheriff's office; and State Patrol.
Police barricades kept the neo-Nazis and the counterprotesters more than 20 yards apart.
Chanting from the much larger crowd drowned out the neo-Nazis, who could barely be heard.
"I love being black!" Devote Richards, 18, a senior at Nathan Hale High School in West Allis, shouted into a bullhorn.
Darryl Nitsch, 49, and his wife, Laura, 42, live four blocks from where the rally was held. They said they were nervous about what might have happened and pleased that no one was injured.
"I'm pretty proud of West Allis today," Darryl Nitsch said.
The rally was originally scheduled to go until 4 p.m., but the neo-Nazis wrapped it up early, finishing their speeches about 3:30 p.m. They posed for a photograph in front of City Hall and then were ferried away in a yellow school bus.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Ending Common Core raises concerns among West Allis and West Milwaukee educators
- Meeting on Hwy. 100 widening set for West Allis
- Wastewater firm smelling trouble
- Reduced rates to replace sewer pipes in the works
- Race for West Allis-West Milwaukee School Board only local matchup
- Auditorium named after Liberace
- 2014 year in review for Greenfield, West Allis
- New job initiatives to launch at West Allis schools
- Twisted Bistro owners want business to become a top dog in West Allis
- West Allis takes stronger control of pawn shops