Seven people were hospitalized with at least two in critical condition after a stabbing spree broke out during a neo-Nazi rally Saturday at California’s state capitol building, officials said.
California Highway Patrol Officer George Granada said about 30 members of the Traditionalist Worker Party were gathering for a rally around noon Sunday when they were met by about 400 counter-protesters and a fight broke out.
Granada said no arrests had been made as of Sunday afternoon.
He added that the Capitol remained on lockdown three hours after the large fight but that things had calmed down and only about 70 “anti-fascists” remained in the area.
— WSVN 7 News (@wsvn) June 26, 2016
The fire department posted on Twitter that some of the patients had “critical trauma stab wounds.” It was unclear to which group the wounded belonged.
Videos from the melee posted on social media showed mounted police officers dispersing a group of mainly youth, some with their faces covered, while some throw stones toward a man holding a stick and being shielded by police officers in riot gear.
The victims were all present while a protest took place, said Sacramento Police spokesman Matt McPhail but he said it was still unclear whether and how they were involved.
The Traditionalist Workers Party had scheduled and received a permit to protest at noon Sunday in front of the Capitol. McPhail said a group showed up to demonstrate against them.
— Frances Wang (@FrancesWangTV) June 26, 2016
The Southern Poverty Law Center has described TWP as a group formed in 2015 as the political wing of the Traditionalist Youth Network, which aims to “indoctrinate high school and college students into white nationalism.”
Matthew Heimbach, chairman of the Traditionalist Worker Party, told the Los Angeles Times that his group and the Golden State Skinheads organized the Sunday rally. Heimbach said that in the clash, one of their marchers had been stabbed in an artery and six of the counter-protesters had also been stabbed.
Vice chairman Matt Parrott, who was not present at the Sacramento rally, blamed “leftist radicals” for instigating the violence.
A message left at a phone number for the Traditionalist Worker Party was not immediately returned to The Associated Press.
A post recently uploaded to site of the Traditionalist Youth Network said TWP members planned to march in Sacramento to protest against globalization and in defense of their right to free expression. They said they expected to be outnumbered 10-to-1 by counter-protesters.
“We concluded that it was time to use this rally to make a statement about the precarious situation our race is in,” the Traditionalist Youth Network statement said. “With our folk on the brink of becoming a disarmed, disengaged, and disenfranchised minority, the time to do something was yesterday!”
The clash Sunday follows a confrontation in March between Ku Klux Klan members and counter-protesters in Anaheim, California in which three people were stabbed.