Members of a neo-Nazi group staged a rally at City Hall on Saturday, two months after plans for an earlier march set off a four-hour riot in which a mob attacked businesses and police.
Hundreds of officers stood guard to make sure there was no repeat of the October melee as about 60 white supremacists shouted at counterdemonstrators and held placards, including one reading: “White race, stand up and take back your neighborhood.”
Nearly 200 others showed up in the freezing weather to protest against the members of the National Socialist Movement.
The counterdemonstrators, chanting slogans and carrying signs reading “Go home Nazis” and “Stop the hate now,” were kept behind barricades about 75 yards from the area where the neo-Nazis were cordoned off.
After speaking for an hour, the neo-Nazis left in a caravan of cars, escorted by several police cruisers. Authorities reported only minor arrests and no violence.
In October, the neo-Nazis gathered for a march they said was intended to protest gangs and rising crime in a Toledo neighborhood. That plan set off a riot in which businesses were burned and looted and bricks were thrown at police.
On Saturday, Police Chief Mike Navarre said about 700 officers from across northern Ohio were stationed through the downtown area. He said gang leaders and community activists had offered assurances that counterdemonstrations would be peaceful as long as the neo-Nazis were kept out of predominantly black neighborhoods — a key factor in October’s disturbance.
Police made 29 arrests, all for misdemeanor offenses that included disorderly conduct, inciting violence and carrying a concealed weapon. There were no injuries or property damage, Navarre said.
The cost of policing the small rally was expected to reach $300,000 for the city alone, not counting the cost for state troopers and sheriff’s deputies.
A judge granted the city’s request Friday to block the neo-Nazi group and counterdemonstrators from rallying beyond the grounds of the downtown government building. That kept the group about two miles from the neighborhood where the rioting broke out in October. Twelve officers were injured and 114 people had been arrested after the earlier rally.