"This is a community that has always thrived on diversity, and where so many different cultures have come together. And I just, the idea of having the neo-Nazis in town is very repugnant," Sarah Myers told KOMU TV.
In two skirmishes, police in riot gear warned they'd use pepper spray and they did. Police arrested those who took a more militant attitude toward the nazis.
An eyewitness report from the scene found on IMC reported:
Initially met with little resistance, the neo-Nazis appeared to have embarked on a march free of obstacles. After a period of no more than ten minutes, however, the environment had drastically changed.
Despite being guarded by local, county, state, and SWAT police, the Nazis encountered resistance ranging from physical harm to public embarrassment. Nazi posters displaying slogans such as “Missouri is a White State, not Brown” and “Rise Against Jew Communism” were clearly targeted.
Using excessive force, police apprehended a total of seven demonstrators during the march, consisting of six men and one woman. Despite the arrests those actively participating in the resistance, a majority of which were anarchists and communists, succeeded in driving off the Nazis in less than 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, at a nearby park, a thousand folks gathered at a peace demonstration by those who argue that it's best to just ignore the nazis, a tactic I could never quite fathom.
The following is from the Columbia, Missouri Tribune.
Spectators crowd neo-Nazis
Seven people were arrested, and police used pepper spray to separate antagonistic groups, but the scheduled march of a group of neo-Nazis took place yesterday without significant injury or damage to downtown Columbia.
About two dozen members of the Minneapolis-based National Socialist Movement marched for about 45 minutes, much shorter than the five hours allowed by a city parade permit. The neo-Nazis said they were protesting Marxism at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Police said 300 to 400 spectators watched the demonstration, mostly concentrated at the intersection of Ninth and Elm streets.
Police presence was heavy, though commanders declined to say how many officers were on hand. Officers dressed in tactical gear escorted the group on its march while other officers monitored from nearby buildings and a Missouri State Highway Patrol helicopter circled overhead.
Columbia police Capt. Zim Schwartze expressed relief that the event, which created a buzz throughout the city for more than a week, was over.
"I’m happy there were only a handful of people arrested for minor charges and no one was injured," Schwartze said. "That was our main goal: to ensure public safety."
Of seven people arrested, two are Columbia residents: Jason T. Funk, 22, and Perry J. Mace, 43, were arrested on suspicion of obstructing government operations and trespassing, respectively.
Police also arrested Christopher B. Scheets, 22, of Kirksville and Robert P. Ivers, 19, of St. Louis, each on suspicion of resisting arrest and unlawful assembly; Anna T. Ialeggio, 23, of Middlebury, Vt., on suspicion of resisting arrest and assaulting an officer; Joseph K. Black, 28, of St. Louis on suspicion of peace disturbance; and Nathan A. Tinglof, 20, of Valparaiso, Ind., on suspicion of peace disturbance and resisting arrest.
Mace was issued a summons. Black and Funk were released from the Boone County Jail after posting $500 bond each; Scheets, Ialeggio, Tinglof and Ivers were released from jail after posting $1,000 bond each.
"It appears to be an organized group that travels around to protest neo-Nazis," Schwartze said, referring to suspects from outside Columbia. "Four of those five we believe to be in that group, but that is unsubstantiated," Schwartze said.
Columbia Mayor Darwin Hindman learned of the arrests while attending a community picnic in Douglass Park. "If only seven people were arrested, I think we should be proud of ourselves," he said.
By noon, spectators were gathering along the parade route, mostly at the corner of Ninth and Elm. At about 1 p.m., chants of "white power" echoed from inside MU’s Hitt Street parking garage, and about a dozen members dressed in brown shirts with swastika armbands emerged. They were led by two men using bullhorns. Another dozen or so members were behind them carrying signs that read, "White man stand up" and "Missouri is a white state not brown."
Marchers also carried flags, including a Missouri state flag and a Nazi banner. As the march began at Watson Place and Elm, a man in a brown uniform ripped a flag of Mexico in half.
The marchers followed Elm to Hitt, turned onto University Avenue, then Ninth to Elm. The route was shorter than the group’s intended parade route.
They were escorted on either side by police officers. A pack of reporters and photographers as well as counterdemonstrators walked beside, behind and in front of them.
During the marchers’ second circuit of the route, a Columbia police officer used pepper spray during a pushing-and-shoving confrontation on Watson near Woodson Way. Those hit by the spray included a Tribune photographer.
"What we were trying to do is make sure everyone was safe because we did have quite a few people agitated and getting in close proximity to them," Schwartze said.
MU student Ryan Blake and Scott Melton, a recent MU graduate, said they were nearby when the pepper spray was used. They said people started pushing against the marchers and then law enforcement used Mace.
Schwartze said police would review the incident as a use of force.
Another volatile moment occurred after police arrested a few people along Ninth. As officers restrained them, some spectators yelled to let them go. The chants became profane, as spectators called officers "pigs."
Allison Mang, an MU senior, held her fingers in a peace sign as the marchers passed. She said she wanted to "defend humanity" from the neo-Nazi message.
"I was shocked" that the marchers picked Columbia, Mang said. "Their goal is to terrorize everyone and spread their message, but it’s not going to work because everyone here abhors their message."
Jeff Pasley of Columbia brought his 7-year-old son, Owen, to see the march. Pasley said Owen had been reading about World War II and was curious about the topic. He said Owen wanted to "stand up to Nazis in real life as well as on the playground."
Spectator Joe Johnson, 21, said he was interested in the group’s message.
"Columbia is such a liberal town, and the university is so liberal. I thought it was great somebody was going to stand up to their liberal ways," Johnson said. "But then I saw the Nazi symbol, and I thought, ‘Idiots, you don’t win sympathy wearing Nazi symbols.’ "
Robert Cone of Columbia said he attended out of curiosity. "I’ve never seen a neo-Nazi group before. I’m 50 years old. I thought, ‘What the heck, let’s go down and check them out,’ " he said.
He said he wanted to see some "action," such as people getting arrested. "There was more hype about it than actually happened."
Columbia police used mounted, motorcycle and vehicle patrols to control the crowd. The Boone County and Cole County sheriff’s departments, the highway patrol and the MU Police Department also assisted with security.
Schwartze said it was better to have more police than too few. "I don’t think we can ever overreact to any group such as this, and I’d like to say that we were prepared for various situations," she said.