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White supremacist rally in downtown L.A. prompts big LAPD response

April 17, 2010 |  8:14 am

The Los Angeles Police Department will be out in force Saturday afternoon as white supremacists square off against counter demonstrators in front of City Hall.

The police department plans a heavy presence around the Civic Center aimed at preventing clashes between the two sides, officials said.

“We are going to allow both groups to exercise their 1st Amendment rights,” Los Angeles Police Cmdr. Blake Chow. “Anyone stepping out of line will be arrested. We will have a very heavy deployment of officers.”

The National Socialist Movement obtained a 1:30 p.m. permit for up to 150 of its supporters to attend a so-called Reclaim the Southwest rally. The movement has been advertising the event for weeks on the Web. 

The LAPD is bringing in specially trained crowd-control officers and plans to create a buffer if necessary to prevent violence between the groups.

Counter-protest organizer Fred “Scorpio” Smith of Watts said he anticipated a turnout of at least a hundred demonstrating against the white supremacists, whose rallies have spurred opposition in Riverside and San Diego.

-- Richard Winton