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White supremacists stir up opposition on the Los Angeles City Hall lawn

April 17, 2010 |  2:09 pm
As hundreds of demonstrators surrounded Los Angeles City Hall and shouted "Nazis go home," about 40 white supremacists stood and waved swastika flags at a rally closely monitored by the Los Angeles Police Department.

"We are tired of you clogging up our streets," shouted one white supremacist of the National Socialist Movement. Another group member repeatedly denounced illegal aliens, saying, "If the city supports illegal aliens and criminals, that is treason."

Word of the group's rally, which was held behind a cordon of yellow police tape, attracted a variety of groups staging counter-demonstrations. At least two people were badly beaten in the ramp-up to the rally and one woman collapsed for unknown reasons.

"Why would we choose Los Angeles for a rally?" one of the socialist movement members asked. "Because it's the front line," he said."It is the belly of the beast."

About 50 feet away, police in riot gear separated neo-Nazi protesters from the hundreds of angry counter-protesters.
The latter chanted "Nazis go home,"  beat drums and thrust middle fingers in the air. Counter-protesters on the south lawn of City Hall drowned out the words of a Nazi protest leader's amplified speech.
They chanted, "Whose streets? Our streets!"
Several fights preceded the appearance of the supremacist group. One involved a man holding a sign with flames and a swastika. The man, who was carrying a bullhorn, was suddenly rushed by a mob of counter- demonstrators and beaten near the corner of Spring and 1st streets.

The man, who appeared to be in his 30s, was punched in the face and kicked for about 20 seconds by protesters, many of them wearing bandannas.

About a dozen police in riot gear rushed from near City Hall, running straight into the center of the mob.
"Police!" members of the mob screamed, running down Spring Street.

Once police broke up the mob, the man with the sign began running south on Spring Street. One man caught up with him and slugged him in the face; he collapsed and his face hit the curb. He was quickly surrounded by a mob again until police caught up and pushed the counter-protesters away with their batons.

The man was then escorted away by police as blood spilled from the back of his head.
His sign, broken into pieces, was left behind on the street. It read: "Christianity = Paganism" and had an arrow pointing to a swastika. 

It wasn't clear if the man was a white supremacist. 

"Gosh, I think he just didn't have a clear message. I don't even think he was a Nazi," said one man, looking at the broken pieces of the sign. 

-- Robert Faturechi and Richard Winton