PHOENIX – The National Socialist Movement, the largest neo-Nazi group in the United States, has been marching and rallying against illegal immigration in front of the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Court Building in downtown Phoenix since about 12:45 p.m. Saturday. But it’s the counter-protesters who have been receiving negative attention from law enforcement.
The NSM members, carrying American flags partially covered in swastikas, were chanting nearly unintelligible rhetoric protesting the gutting of SB 1070 inside the police-protected area near the courthouse at 401 W. Washington St.
Two arrests were made. Officers said they arrested the two protesters for throwing rocks at them.
Making the neo-Nazi agenda difficult to hear were the numerous counter-protester groups assembled outside of the courthouse perimeter. Some of the protesters included clowns, anti-Neo-Nazis, workers’ groups, anarchists, anti-SB1070 groups and Code Pink Women for Peace.
Members of some of those groups blocked the road at 8th Avenue and refused to leave. That’s when law enforcement used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. At that time, there were no arrests.
The rally was scheduled to end at 3 p.m., but as of 4 p.m., more counter-protesters were gathering. The rally did wind down shortly before 5 p.m.
Law enforcement officers wearing gas masks and counter-protesters wearing bandannas covering their noses and mouths were evidence of the purple tear gas also being used during the rally by Phoenix police in riot gear who were trying to push back both protesters and anarchists.
Numerous protesters were dousing their eyes with bottles of a white solution and water to try to counteract the effect of the gas. One woman screamed that she needed to go to the hospital because she could only see out of one eye.
Angry protesters were also seen throwing rocks after the neo-Nazis insulted them.
Police formed a barricade and protesters lined up behind newspaper dispensers.
According to a NSM news release, on Nov. 7, 2009, NSM first marched and rallied at the Arizona capitol and has been holding events since then, to help increase awareness of the problems of illegal immigration in America. The organization has also conducted often simultaneous observational border patrols in California and Arizona, with the goal of documenting specific issues in the problem.