About 300 people opposed to a rally by the National Socialist Movement stood behind barricades across the street from the Jackson County Courthouse as the rally organizers arrived Saturday afternoon.
Police kept the two sides apart by employing barricades, yellow tape and officers on foot and horseback. They prohibited people from carrying any items into the area, including sticks, strollers and water bottles, that could be used as a weapon.
Before the neo-Nazi group began its rally, police arrested one rally opponent for allegedly throwing something. The crowd booed as police took him away.
Both gatherings were planned for outside the downtown Jackson County Courthouse. Many police officers, including tactical teams, were on site by early afternoon.
A third rally, by a coalition opposed to the neo-Nazis, was planned for the Liberty Memorial.
Keying Saturday’s events was the National Socialist Movement group that planned to protest immigration reform and other issues at 3 p.m. outside the courthouse. At the same time, a collection of city officials, civil rights groups and human rights organizations planned to gather at the Liberty Memorial to denounce the Socialist group. A news release from organizers of that rally said the location was chosen to avoid any conflict.
But the Latino Coalition of Kansas City wanted to be closer. Its meeting was set for 2 p.m., also at the courthouse. On its Facebook page, the Latino group said the National Socialist Movement is going “to protest immigration reform and racial equality. Let’s let them know what Kansas City thinks about that!”
Shortly before 2 p.m., Kansas City residents Ryan Jones and Candice Moore held a large banner that said, “White flour.”
“Humor dispels hate,” Jones explained. “Making a mockery of it makes the whole thing hard to take seriously.”
The neo-Nazi gathering, which was denounced in a resolution by the Kansas City Council, comes on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night on which thousands of Jews were hauled off to concentration camps and anti-Jewish riots and murders occurred throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria.
The neo-Nazis say Nov. 9 is an anniversary of when some Nazis were killed in Germany in 1923.