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Updated: December 12th, 2005 03:00 PM EDT

Police Keep The Peace At Ohio Nazi Rally

TOLEDO OH USA -- Hundreds of police officers from across northern Ohio along with state troopers mobilized to guard against another riot fueled by a neo-Nazi rally. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
TOLEDO OH USA -- Tristan Taylor from Detroit Mich., right, protests against police as the police protect a National Socialist Movement supporter during a rally in front of the Government Center Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005 in downtown Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
TOLEDO OH USA -- National Socialist Movement supporter Molly Nolan gets escorted out of the rally by police after protesters started yelling and throwing horse droppings to her in front of the Government Center, where the National Socialist Movement held a rally Saturday, Dec. 10, 2005 in downtown Toledo, Ohio. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
Cleveland Plain Dealer

TOLEDO - The neo-Nazi rally had sound and fury Saturday, but no voices could truly be heard.

Roughly 700 law enforcement officers kept the estimated 63 National Socialists and 170 counter-protesters so far apart that the two sides could barely see each other, much less exchange taunts.

Toledo Police Chief Michael Navarre said 25 adults and four juveniles were arrested, most of them counter-protesters. Two were photographers, one for the weekly Toledo Journal.

He and Fire Chief Mike Bell said there were no injuries or property damage. But one protester said he was shot with a stun gun and poked in the eye. Others were shoved to the ground while being arrested.

Most of the arrests occurred as journalists and citizens mingled across the street from the neo-Nazis, who had a permit to rally for two hours on the steps of the state-owned One Government Center, seat of many city, county and state offices.

Reporters questioned some of the arrests at a late afternoon news conference because some of those detained appeared to have done nothing. One was a man with no media affiliation who had walked into an area set aside for reporters and photographers.

Navarre said some were arrested for earlier acts, some for inciting others to riot during the rally and some for crossing police barriers. That included Journal photographer Jeff Willis, the first arrest at the rally site.

The rally started 40 minutes late, at 2:40 and ended a bit before 4 p.m.

Col. Paul McClellan, superintendent of the State Highway Patrol, said that after the rally the patrol escorted the neo-Nazis to the interstate and told them not to return to the city or they would face arrest.

Lucas County Sheriff James Telb said the display of overwhelming police power was essential to maintaining peace and avoiding the upheaval of the neo-Nazis? last public appearance in October.

The ad hoc force included mounted police ? some from as far away as Athens, Ohio ? deputies from 12 other Ohio counties and one in Michigan, and a large contingent of state troopers, because the rally was on state property.

The sheriff also rolled out a Vietnam-era M113 armored personnel carrier, but the tanklike vehicle was not used. Navarre said law enforcement had at least two snipers on the scene.

Shanta Driver of the National Women?s Rights Organizing Coalition shouted that the police presence was nothing less than a show of support for the neo-Nazis, because they were being protected while the protesters were being arrested.

?They spent half a million dollars to protect people who are murderers,? she said.

Navarre said at a Saturday morning news conference that preparations had been under way nonstop since the October riot in North Toledo, when the neo-Nazis announced their intentions to return. The FBI assisted with intelligence gathering, and three aviation units were deployed, he said.

The October march sparked a four-hour riot that ended with businesses burned and looted, and bricks thrown at police and an ambulance driver. The violence scarred the city, prompting leaders to examine race relations and efforts to combat gangs.

The neo-Nazis said then that they wanted to protest gangs and rising crime in one Toledo neighborhood. This time, they said they wanted to protest how police and the city handled the October confrontation.

Officials expected problems in October, Navarre said Saturday before the rally, ?but we don?t have those high expectations today.?

Toledo Safety Director Joe Walter said the city got a court order Friday barring the neo-Nazis from Toledo neighborhoods because the residents had been upset the demonstrations were permitted in their neighborhoods.

Navarre said community leaders told him, ?You keep ?em out of our neighborhood, you?re going to be OK.?

The chief said the judge gave officials the power to arrest anyone ? neo-Nazi or counter-protester ? who ventured outside the cordoned-off area around One Government Center.

Jeff Schoep, a neo-Nazi national leader from Minnesota, said in a telephone interview Friday that the restraining order changed nothing because his group intended only to rally in front of the government building.

Schoep said a hundred members were expected, from Florida, Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Washington state and parts of Ohio. Navarre said Ohio neo-Nazis had told him to expect up to 80 of the members.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter: [email protected], 216-999-3905

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