Updated: 4:23 p.m. ET Oct. 15, 2005
TOLEDO, Ohio - A crowd that gathered to protest a white supremacists march Saturday turned violent, throwing baseball-sized rocks at police, vandalizing vehicles and stores, and setting fire to a neighborhood bar, authorities said.
The march was called off just before it was to begin at noon, and the mayor and a local minister tried to negotiate with the rioters. But their efforts produced little response, and police prepared to forcibly remove a crowd of several hundred mid-afternoon.
“This has a real potential for a lot of bloodshed,” Police Chief Mike Navarre warned a large group of officers, part of the 150 deployed to provide security for the march.
Police in helicopters, cruisers, bicycles and on horses 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. At least six people were arrested.
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.
At least two dozen members of the National Socialist Movement, which calls itself “America’s Nazi Party,” gathered at a city park just before noon and were to march under police protection. Organizers of the march said they were demonstrating against black gangs that they said were harassing white residents in the neighborhood.
Violence broke out about one-quarter of a mile away from the park along the planned one-mile route. By midafternoon, Navarre said he believed all the members of the Nazi group had left the city.
Thomas Frisch, 76, said a large group of men destroyed the exterior of a gas station next to his home of 30 years.
“A whole big gang started to come in here. Next thing you know, they’re jumping on the car. Then they overturned it. Then they started on the building, breaking windows, ripping the bars off,” he said.
Keith White, a black resident, criticized city officials for initially allowing the march.
“They let them come here and expect this not to happen?” said White, 29.