OLYMPIA—Hundreds of demonstrators sang, danced and traded insults with a small group of neo-Nazis that gathered on the Capitol steps in the third such rally this year in this liberal college town.
About 12 members of the National Socialist Movement stood in a row Monday outside the Capitol, wearing their signature brown shirts, red swastika armbands and black boots. They held aloft two swastika flags and railed against gays, Jews, non-Whites and communists over a public address system.
The group, which is based in Minneapolis and claims chapters around the country, said it hoped to draw attention and find new recruits with the rally.
"We're going to come with more storm troopers every year, and every month we're going to double in size," Seattle-area neo-Nazi Justin Boyer told the crowd.
Similar National Socialist Movement demonstrations have turned violent elsewhere in the country, but the State Patrol reported no arrests or incidents during the rally and protests, which lasted about two hours.
"We're really proud of the community and the way they handled themselves," patrol Sgt. Monica Hunter said. "We couldn't have asked for any better than we got."
The larger group of Nazi protesters was separated from the Capitol steps by a chain-link fence, heavy barricades and scores of police in riot gear spread out over a buffer of about 50 yards.
The State Patrol had about 275 troopers on hand for security, and authorities estimated the anti-Nazi crowd at more than 500 at its peak.
The protesters played drums, blew whistles, chanted and made their own speeches over another loudspeaker and bullhorns. At one point, they turned their backs on the neo-Nazis.
Among the protesters was Robert Guerrero, 42, of Tacoma, who wore a traditional Tlingit cedar headband and a cape decorated with the image of a raven as he beat an elk-hide drum. Guerrero said he was at the protest to represent indigenous people.
"These folks need to know that they are immigrants," he said, gesturing toward the neo-Nazis. "They want to get rid of immigrants? Well, go ahead."
Justin B. Wright, 37, of Tumwater, dressed in the polka-dot shirt, heart-shaped sunglasses and face paint he dons when performing as Jusby the Clown. He also brought his son, 2-year-old Orion, to the protest.
"Humor relaxes people," he said as a half-dozen other clowns marched in mock goose-steps, carrying signs that razzed the neo-Nazis. "I think showing nonsense is the sanest way to cope with it."
Experts say the National Socialist Movement, or NSM, has become the leading group of its kind in the country following the deaths and incarcerations of other top White supremacists and neo-Nazis.
The group billed the Olympia rally as a gathering of White supremacists from several western states, but drew fewer than half the people they projected in interviews last week.
After the rally, the neo-Nazis were escorted to a city bus and driven away from the Capitol while state troopers in riot gear kept a surge of protesters from getting too close.
— The Associated Press