LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A white supremacist rally scheduled for the state Capitol on April 22 has city, state and local law enforcement officials planning to try and keep the peace.
The National Socialist Movement expects 200 or more of its supporters to show for the Lansing rally.
It is possible that hundreds more people could show up in opposition to the neo-Nazi rally, although the city also is planning an alternative event to promote diversity at a site several blocks away from the Capitol.
Officials plan to erect a 3,000-foot chain link fence to keep supporters and opponents separated during the two-hour rally. People attending the rally for either group will have to go through metal detectors. Law enforcement agencies including the Michigan State Police plan a large presence.
Jerry Lawler, Capitol facilities director, said he is “very confident” the plan will work.
“They can exercise their constitutional rights, and opponents can exercise theirs,” Lawler said Thursday. “We want to make sure property rights are protected and people are protected.”
Jeff Schoep, a National Socialist Movement leader, said he expects party members and supporters to come from several states, but mostly from Michigan and Ohio.
The group’s planned march in Toledo last October sparked rioting with burned buildings and bricks thrown at police.
The group demonstrated in Toledo again in December with far fewer problems.
Schoep said his group is a non-violent political party and that rallies are a key way to deliver the group’s message. Members of a group called the Lansing Coalition Against Nazis have been planning a counterprotest for several weeks.
Lawler said the Toledo situation served as a “wake-up call” for Lansing officials planning security for the April rally.