Washington (AFP) – Ten people were arrested Saturday when a rally attended by a handful of neo-Nazis was met with hundreds of counter-protesters in a usually quiet Georgia town, local media reported.
Hundreds of police officers were deployed in Newnan, Georgia — around 40 miles (65 kilometers) southeast of Atlanta — ahead of the event organized by the National Socialist Movement, one of the US’s largest neo-Nazi groups.
There were fears the event could escalate into a repeat of the violence that stemmed from a white supremacist rally last August, in Charlottesville, Virginia.
However, only a few dozen far-right members showed up, among them the movement’s leader Jeff Schoep.
“We’re against illegal immigration. We’re standing up on a pro-white platform. And we’re trying to get our message out,” he said.
According to local media, the ten arrested at the rally, held in a downtown park, were counter-protesters.
“The Rally has ended, it was very peaceful for the most part. No injuries to any public safety or protesters. We had a handful of arrests,” the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
On Friday, locals covered the surfaces and paths of Greenville Street Park with chalk messages and drawings representing love and peace.
“Today we’re standing together to unite a group of people against this hate group. We’re showing them that we don’t support this. It’s not welcome here in America,” counter-protester Robert Allen said during the rally.
The event came a day after neo-Nazis in Germany, which is witnessing a revival of far-right and ultra-nationalist groups, marked Adolf Hitler’s birthday with the start of a two-day festival.