Hundreds of cops keep Toledo neo-Nazi rally under control
By THOMAS J. SHEERAN
Associated Press Writer
Hundreds of police officers were stationed through the downtown area in freezing weather Saturday to keep a neo-Nazi rally under control and avoid a repeat of a riot in October.
"We're well prepared for it," Sheriff James Telb said before the afternoon rally.
Members of the National Socialist Movement planned a Saturday afternoon demonstration on the steps of City Hall. Two months ago, their planned march set off a four-hour riot in which businesses were burned and looted and bricks were thrown at police and an ambulance driver.
In October, the neo-Nazis said they wanted to protest gangs and rising crime in a Toledo neighborhood. This time, they say they want to protest how police and the city handled the October confrontation.
Anti-racist groups planned a counterdemonstration Saturday to shout down the white supremacists.
Streets for several blocks near the central government district were cordoned off Saturday by patrol cars and concrete barriers. The neo-Nazis and their opponents were being directed to fenced-off areas. Anyone attending the rally would have to go through security checkpoints.
Police Chief Mike Navarre said about 700 officers were brought in from across northern Ohio. He said gang leaders and community activists had offered assurances their counterdemonstration would be peaceful as long as the neo-Nazis were kept out of predominantly black neighborhoods--a key factor in October's disturbance.
Navarre hoped the cold, with the temperature only around 22 degrees (-5.5 Celsius) at midday, would keep crowds small on both sides.
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 would keep the rally about two miles (3 kilometers) from the racially mixed neighborhood where the original march was to take place.
Police canceled the October march because, they said, the neo-Nazis tried to change the time and route of their rally. An angry mob looted and burned a corner bar and smashed the windows of a gas station. Twelve officers were injured and 114 people were arrested.
Adding to the chaos were hundreds of people who came out of their homes to join the fray.
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