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5 arrested at neo-Nazi rally

30 supremacists, 100 police officers, 2,000 counterprotesters

Tempers flared during a neo-Nazi rally Saturday in West Allis. A group of young black men chanting "Peace" argued with other protesters (foreground) over the cause of violence outside State Fair last month. Across the street, neo-Nazis rallied behind barricades.

Tempers flared during a neo-Nazi rally Saturday in West Allis. A group of young black men chanting "Peace" argued with other protesters (foreground) over the cause of violence outside State Fair last month. Across the street, neo-Nazis rallied behind barricades. Photo By Rick Wood

Sept. 3, 2011

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.

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