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Ten arrested as southern US neo-Nazi rally is met with protests

Hundreds of counter-protesters demonstrate against a few dozen members of National Socialist Movement in Georgia

National Socialist Movement leader Jeff Schoep (2nd R) speaks during a white nationalist rally in Newnan, Georgia on April 21, 2018.  (AFP PHOTO / BITA HONARVAR)
National Socialist Movement leader Jeff Schoep (2nd R) speaks during a white nationalist rally in Newnan, Georgia on April 21, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / BITA HONARVAR)

WASHINGTON, United States — Ten people were arrested Saturday when a rally attended by a handful of neo-Nazis was met with hundreds of counter-protesters in a usually quiet Georgia town, local media reported.

Hundreds of police officers were deployed in Newnan, Georgia — around 65 kilometers (40 miles) southeast of Atlanta — ahead of the event organized by the National Socialist Movement, one of the US’s largest neo-Nazi groups.

There were fears the event could escalate into a repeat of the violence that stemmed from a white supremacist rally last August, in Charlottesville, Virginia.

However, only a few dozen far-right members showed up, among them the movement’s leader Jeff Schoep.

“We’re against illegal immigration. We’re standing up on a pro-white platform. And we’re trying to get our message out,” he said.

Members of the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, hold a swastika burning after a rally on April 21, 2018 in Draketown, Georgia. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

According to local media, the ten arrested at the rally, held in a downtown park, were counter-protesters.

“The Rally has ended, it was very peaceful for the most part. No injuries to any public safety or protesters. We had a handful of arrests,” the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

On Friday, locals covered the surfaces and paths of Greenville Street Park with chalk messages and drawings representing love and peace.

Messages of racial and community unity are written in chalk throughout the streets of Newnan the night before the National Socialist Movement, one of the largest neo-Nazi groups in the US, plans to hold a rally in downtown on April 20, 2018 in Newnan, (Spencer Platt/Getty Images,/AFP)

“Today we’re standing together to unite a group of people against this hate group. We’re showing them that we don’t support this. It’s not welcome here in America,” counter-protester Robert Allen said during the rally.

The event came a day after neo-Nazis in Germany, which is witnessing a revival of far-right and ultra-nationalist groups, marked Adolf Hitler’s birthday with the start of a two-day festival.

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