ITWASSOOTED: neo-nazi march in ohio sparks riots

Saturday, October 15, 2005

neo-nazi march in ohio sparks riots

Ohio Mayor Blames Riots on Gang Members
Protest Against Neo-Nazi March in Ohio Turns Violent; Mayor Blames Rioting on Gang Members

TOLEDO, Ohio Oct 15, 2005 — A crowd that gathered to protest a neo-Nazi march Saturday turned violent, throwing baseball-sized rocks at police, vandalizing vehicles and stores, and setting fire to a neighborhood bar, authorities said.

Mayor Jack Ford blamed the rioting on gang members taking advantage of a volatile situation. He said he was declaring a state of emergency and setting an 8 p.m. curfew. He also ask the Highway Patrol for help.

"It's exactly what they wanted," Ford said of the group that planned the march, which was called off because of the rioting.

At least two dozen members of the National Socialist Movement, which calls itself "America's Nazi Party," had gathered at a city park just before noon and were to march under police protection. Organizers said they were demonstrating against black gangs they said were harassing white residents.

Violence broke out about one-quarter of a mile away along the planned march route.

About 150 police officers in helicopters and on horses and foot chased bands of youths throughout the afternoon. Officers wearing gas masks fired tear gas canisters and flash-bang devices designed to stun suspects, only to see the groups reappear nearby and resume throwing rocks and bottles. A group pounded on a convenience store and overturned vehicles. A fire was set in a nearby bar. At least six people were arrested.

Police Chief Mike Navarre said officers had a report of a man shot in the area, but they had not found a victim. No other injuries had been reported, Navarre said.

The mayor had appealed to residents the night before to ignore the march.

He said the city indicated it wouldn't give the Nazis a permit to march in the streets but couldn't stop them from marching on the sidewalks like other citizens.

When the rioting broke out, Ford tried negotiate with those involved, saying he would meet with them to discuss any grievances, but he said "they weren't interested in that."

He said they were mostly "gang members who had real or imagined grievances and took it as an opportunity to speak in their own way."

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