WEST HOLLYWOOD - FEBRUARY 15: Los Angeles police officers in riot gear watch over an anti-war protest on February 15, 2003 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Tensions escalated as riot police formed a line in front of a crowd of 500 gathered south of City Hall on Saturday to protest a white supremacist rally, and a counter-protest sparked a bloody exchange, according to NBC 4 in Los Angeles.
Members of the National Socialist Movement, many wearing black uniforms, attempted to stage a rally, but were largely outshouted by counterprotesters, California News Service reported.
The neo-Nazi's carried a variety of flags — American, Confederate, and Nazi — but their chants for white power were lost amidst shouts from the surrounding and much larger, crowd. In English and in Spanish, those rallying against the neo-Nazi's yelled "racists go home" and "stop the Nazis," according to the California news agency.
Police throughout Los Angeles were placed on high alert in the event that violence broke out during the neo-Nazi march. And clashes started early on.
Before the group of neo-Nazis showed up for their afternoon rally at City Hall, a few counter-protesters beat up a man who had Nazi skin tattoos. The beaten man had antagonized the crowd of 500, the affiliate reported, NBC 4 reported.
The man was moved down the street by the angry mob. They beat him with signs. He bled from his head. One blow was so hard, it broke the sign in half, The Los Angeles Times reported.
Police formed a wedge and took the man away. No arrests were made.
"It's just one group of racists protesting another group of racists," one officer told a NBC 4 reporter.
There were other groups too. Bystanders and other officers gathered on the street in front of police headquarters to the demonstrators at a safe distance away.
Earlier in the week, community activists and civil rights groups had urged the mayor of Los Angeles to revoke the white supremacist group's permit to march in front of City Hall.
Police Sgt. Lisa Turvey said the permit allowing the white supremacists to gather had been granted in March.
NBC 4 in Los Angeles, The Associated Press and California News Service contributed to this report.