Members of the National Socialist Movement clashed with counter-protesters Saturday afternoon during their march in support of Arizona’s controversial immigration law.
About two dozen neo-Nazis were confronted by more than a hundred people who opposed the group as they approached the Sandra Day O’Connor Federal Court Building in Phoenix, Arizona.
The neo-Nazis were marching to protest US District Judge Susan Bolton’s ruling that blocked key provisions of the anti-illegal immigration bill SB 1070.
Bolton’s ruling blocked sections of the bill that allowed police to arrest and detain suspected illegal immigrants without a warrant and required non-citizens to carry federal immigration documents.
During the march, police in riot gear intervened with tear gas and pepper spray when angry counter-protesters surrounded the neo-Nazi group and attempted to block their march to the federal courthouse.
“Their job is to keep the peace and allow that demonstration group to exercise their constitutional right,” former Phoenix police officer Andy Hill told FOX10. “If one side or another wants to cause a problem, wants to be violent, there’s not much you can do until they do something.”
Two people were arrested for throwing rocks at police officers and protesters. Some minor injuries were reported.
“You don’t have to like us but you can’t throw things,” said march organizer JT Ready.
That neo-Nazis support the immigration bill should not be surprising, according to the liberal blog Think Progress.
In 2006, the author of the anti-illegal immigration law, state Senator Russell Pearce, forwarded an article by a neo-Nazi group to his friends and associates. Pearce apologized for the email, saying it was a mistake and that he did not read it.
In addition, Pearce endorsed Ready, the organizer of the neo-Nazi march, when he ran for City Council in the spring of 2006. In June of 2007, the two worked alongside one another at an anti-immigration rally at the state Capitol.
“The lawyers who are credited with authoring it are employed by an organization that has reportedly accepted $1.2 million in donations from the Pioneer Fund, ‘a foundation established to promote the genes of white colonials,'” Andrea Nill of Think Progress notes.
Video of the counter-protest can be viewed below.