Detroit police officers prevented violence by a neo-Nazi group that wanted to spark “Charlottesville No. 2” during a gay pride festival over the weekend, the city’s police chief said Monday.
Chief James Craig said five people among about 15 white supremacists were openly carrying firearms — which is allowed under Michigan law — while they traded barbs with 15-20 counterprotesters during the Motor City Pride festival in downtown Detroit.
One man wearing a Nazi armband was photographed straddling an Israeli flag at the event, apparently urinating on the banner. Other group members ripped a rainbow pride flag.
Officers worked to keep the neo-Nazis and counterprotesters separate after getting word that the neo-Nazi group wanted to spark violence similar to the deadly 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Craig said.
White supremacists tear apart Pride flags and appear to urinate on an Israeli flag at Motor City Pride https://t.co/RAeSnOuH7G
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) June 10, 2019
“It was their intent, at least through our intelligence sources, that they wanted Charlottesville No. 2,” he said.
Members of both groups shouted racial epithets at each other and toward police officers in an attempt to bait them into a violent response, but officers took no sides, Craig said. No shots were fired during the confrontation.
“This could’ve been a bad situation had it erupted into violence, it did not,” Craig said.
Motor City Pride chairman Dave Wait said he was pleased with the police response and that the neo-Nazis “failed at everything they tried to do.”
“It’s too bad that 10-12 people, mostly from out of town, who talk with hate came to an event to try to damper what 50,000 others are looking for: a quality time, and a true positive celebration,” Wait said.