Topeka — Two dozen white supremacists cut short a rally Saturday when protesters moved within about 25 feet of them. A line of police officers in riot gear stood between the groups as insults were exchanged.
The supremacists gathered in a city park near the former Monroe Elementary School, where the daughter of the lead plaintiff in the Brown v. Board of Education case was a student. The Topeka case, along with four others, resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 decision declaring segregated schools unconstitutional.
President Bush will mark the 50th anniversary of the ruling with a speech Monday at the school, which is to open as a national park site about the civil rights movement.
Police were plentiful Saturday as the supremacists congregated in one section of the park for a planned two-hour rally and about 100 people opposed to their presence gathered in a separate area.
About two dozen of the protesters moved into the area designated for the supremacist group, and for several minutes the two sides shouted insults and taunts at each other as police watched.
Billy Roper, chairman of the White Revolution group of Russellville, Ark., said the protesters’ approach wasn’t the reason his side left the site 45 minutes earlier than planned.
“We did what we came to do. Our work is over,” Roper said.
One of the protesters, Jerry Bellow of Austin, Texas, said after the rally, “You defeat fascism by showing them you’re not afraid.”