More than 200 people at National Socialist Party protest, counter-protest

by: Jeff Smith Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

More than 200 people showed up to protest a neo-Nazi and KKK rally Saturday afternoon in Uptown Charlotte.

An Eyewitness News reporter observed the rally -- and counter-protest -- was louder and more intense than any of the nightly protests Charlotte saw during the Democratic National Convention.

The counter-protesters banged on drums, blew on whistles and noisemakers, and screamed over the barricades to try and drown out the message of the neo-Nazis.

The National Socialist Party had a permit for the rally in old City Hall, and they used a megaphone for several speeches. Those speeches were almost completely drowned out by screams from the crowd.

Dozens of the counter protesters dressed up as clowns, in a unified effort to visually contrast with the neo-Nazi and KKK speakers at the podium.

"It doesn't belong here. I think we want to show how ridiculous it is. We want to show them that, you know, we don't take them seriously, they're not taken seriously in normal society," said protester Whitney Smith, who was dressed up as a clown.

There were some particularly intense moments between the national socialists and counter-protesters, but there were dozens of police officers on hand to prevent any disturbances.

The National Socialists and KKK speakers argued that America is a white, Christian nation only. They rallied against illegal immigration in North Carolina, and they argued that no non-whites should be in a position of power in the government.

"We stand in defense of white people all over the country," said National Socialist Party Commander Jeff Schoep. "If our message was so ineffectual and unimportant, they wouldn't be out here trying to shout over us and scream over us."

"We're not the ones shouting insults and epithets and screaming like animals," another Party member chided in.

Many Latinos, protesting behind the barricades, argued that the neo-Nazis are a relic of the past.

"We're dressed like clowns and they're the ones that look funny," said Lacey Williams, with Charlotte's Latin American Coalition.

"We're not going to to bow down to hate, hate should never go unchallenged in our city," she added.

After the rally, as the neo-Nazis marched away with a police escort, things got heated with a handful of protesters. Some KKK and National Socialist members shouted back and forth with the crowd, and violence was threatened by both sides.

Police kept the peace, and there were no arrests during the rally.