Hate marches that took place across the U.S. drew violence between white supremacists and counterprotesters on Saturday, leading to several arrests.
The “March Against Sharia” took place in cities including St. Paul, Minnesota, Seattle, Washington, and New York City. The marches attracted Islamophobic hate group members, neo-Nazis and white supremacists ― all to rally against the completely nonexistent threat of Sharia law in the U.S.
The rallies were spearheaded by Act for America, described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-Muslim hate group.
In Seattle, fights broke out between hate group members and anti-fascists ― or Antifa ― supporters.
Seattle police deployed pepper spray on both parties and made several arrests.
In St. Paul, police arrested seven people after clashes occurred between anti-Muslim demonstrators and counterprotesters outside the state Capitol. No injuries were reported, but two of seven arrested face assault charges, the Minnesota State Patrol told HuffPost in a statement.
In New York City, anti-Muslim protesters were outnumbered by counterprotesters who used air horns and cowbells to drown out the other side, the New York Daily news reported.
“We’re making so much noise to drown out the fact that they are furthering hate speech,” Eric Josephson, 66, told the publication. “I do not believe they have a right to a platform. They are planning murder and mayhem.”
Lead speaker for NYC’s hate march was Gavin McInnes, founder of VICE who in the past has downplayed white terrorism and blamed women for domestic violence.
Rallies were scheduled for 28 cities in 21 states across the country.
CORRECTION: This article originally stated that neo-Nazi Billy Roper organized rallies across the country for Act For America. However, Roper organized a rally in Arkansas, and Act For America had withdrawn its affiliation from this protest after an SPLC published a report on Roper’s involvement.