Nazi Rally and Counter-Protest, April 18th, Los Angeles

So, there was a neo-Nazi rally in Los Angeles on April 18th. I went paparazzi style on my motorcycle, hoping to shoot some Nazis. I didn’t get many Nazis, but got lots of police and anarchists. Here are some of the photographs:

I arrived late, and this family was already leaving. I asked if I could take their picture.

Just as I got to Town Hall the Nazis were on the move, so the anarchists made a rush to the parking lot to try and cut them off.

I stayed back and shot around city hall…

… where I finally saw the Nazis.  There was a lot of space between the Nazis and the counter-protesters, a distance enforced by a police line.

I followed the Nazis toward their parking lot.

They were dressed in these terrible uniforms that made them look like extras from a Pink Floyd video.  One of them stepped out of the procession to wave a seig heil toward the public.

Here is a tighter crop. Sgt. Shultz lives!

Some of the public waved back.

I have never seen so many police ready to kick ass.  Asking around, I learned that I had missed some violence among the protesters.  A former prisoner had arrived shirtless to show of his Aryan Pride tattoos, and he was bloodied.  An atheist was also attacked when he attempted to equate Christianity with Nazism.

I ran ahead of the Nazis and caught up with the crowd that was waiting for their arrival at the parking lot.

A lot of people had really dressed up for the counter-protest.

Everyone was videotaping everyone. The counter-protesters were videotaping the police, to catch them doing something abusive. The police were videotaping the counter-protesters, for police reasons.

A lot of people covering their faces.

There weren’t many women officers on the front line, but there were a few.

The police and counter-protesters mostly looked past each other.

And then they arrived, each looking like a different racist stereotype from the movies.  Check out the beard on Santa Nazi.  At this point some of the protesters began to throw rocks and bottles toward the Nazis.  The woman rushing to the photographer is trying to push him back, out of throwing range.

Once the bottles and rocks began to fly, I was quite certain the whole show would end with tear gas, but the police line simply advanced, pushing the crowd farther from the Nazis.

Bean bag shot guns and tear gas.

I hopped up onto a wall to get a better view of the Nazis, but they were too far away.  Instead I was able to photograph the police line…

… and the crowd.

I dropped down from the wall and photographed the public from behind.  There really weren’t that many people.

Once the Nazis had left, the police lined up and marched away.  I ran into the void left by the police and photographed the crowd as it pressed forward chanting, “The Streets belong to the People!”

The counter-protest attracted a lot of different groups of people.  The anarchists really stood out (they were also the ones throwing rocks and bottles).

There were militant black youth standing guard.

And there were Jews, of this kind…

… and this kind.

There were also a lot of people that didn’t easily fit into any obvious group.  By the end of the demonstration, the whole crowd seemed quite pleased.  Protesting Nazis had really made their day.

I headed back to City Hall, where the police were returning to debrief.

They returned in lines.

Marching orderly.

Just like the protesters, the cops seemed pretty pleased with themselves.

Some final thoughts about the Nazi rally and counter-protest: The anarchists were definitely there to do violence to the Nazis. Most people were very non-confrontational with the cops (less so with the Nazis), but the anarchists were throwing bottles and rocks. I was impressed the police didn’t escalate the situation.  A number of anarchists were arrested, and at one point there was talk about storming the paddy wagons. When I was talking to the cops at the end of the day, one showed me his pant leg where he had been hit by an egg. He said that he had witnessed a lot of egg and vegetable throwing, which I missed.

The whole event felt like a very elaborate costume party where everybody got to play a role.

The Nazis got to dress like Nazis and scream hate messages at crowds of minorities, trying to bait them into fighting a ‘race war.’

The Anarchists got to run through the streets, throw rocks and bottles, and taunt police, and were in turn pushed around roughly by the cops.

There were Jews confronting Nazis.

The police got to intimidate people.

Everyone had their existential purpose validated.

6 responses to “Nazi Rally and Counter-Protest, April 18th, Los Angeles”

  1. jeremy says:

    Incredible. I moved downtown a few months ago, and I’ve been consistently amazed at how many protests march right past my front door, quite literally, many of which (like this one) I have absolutely no knowledge of. It was hard to miss the May Day pro-immigration march, though, which I also hadn’t realized was happening right on my street until I left for the day, momentarily swept up by the crowd as I walked the half block to the parking garage… Thanks for the photos, Rogan… I’ll have to pay more attention to what goes on in my neighborhood…

  2. 1. I kind of feel bad, jeremy, because I didn’t go photograph the May Day protests. They were huge and significant, but I showed up for the Nazis. I feel like such a typical American, going out of my way for the red meat.

  3. Dave says:

    This was a really interesting photo essay, Rogan. I’m glad everyone was pleased at the end of the day.

    I went to one of the two big May Day rallies in Manhattan. The one I went to was co-sponsored by a bunch of unions, apparently the first time in a long time they’d supported May Day activities. There were several thousand people there, and the march from the courthouse square over to the financial district and back was really great and gave a very different perspective on the city than you normally have just walking down the sidewalk. The police were on good behavior, and the bosses and xenophobes didn’t stage a counterprotest.

  4. LP says:

    Wow, so much police presence for a gathering of what looks like a dozen or so pinhead Nazis. It’s obviously necessary in order to prevent bloodshed, but still: what a terrible sinkhole for the city’s money.

  5. 4. That is what I thought! It was a huge public expense for a big costume party.

  6. Matt Coats says:

    Nice work, Rogan! I think this finally answers the question, “Can’t we all just get along?” ; )

    Reminded me of the annual nazi march in SLC around Labor Day. The couter-protesters always out numbered the Northern Idaho Neo-Nazis by about 10 to 1 and were a diverse group of Jews, Gays, Tongans, Samoans, and concerned BYU students (among others.)

    One of my favorite moments of all time is when we were gathered in front of City Hall chanting and carrying on while the small group of nazis stood around within a circle of police protection. Suddenly my friend, Troy, shows up with a huge sign that reads, “I love to suck black cock!”