A small group of white supremacists staged a brief demonstration in a central Pennsylvania park over the weekend but disbanded as police arrived in force to break up the event, which was conducted without a permit.
More than a dozen members of the National Socialist Movement, some of them armed, marched through Williamsport's Brandon Park on Saturday afternoon. The group, which carried flags that were a combination of a swastika and American flag, then spoke with the aid of a bullhorn.
The 45-minute event was ending as a city bus carrying more officers arrived, and one officer told PennLive.com “We were about to break it up.” The march was originally scheduled in April but the city canceled it, citing the coronavirus pandemic. The group applied for another permit but was denied again.
Chief Damon Hagain of the city police force said participants were “well aware that the permit was denied" but came to protest anyway. No arrests were made and no property was damaged, officials said.
“Our efforts today were to ensure the safety of our citizens and to ensure that a counter-group did not form and we did not have a violent situation if one did form,” he said. “That did not happen thankfully, so we are very happy with the way things turned out.”
Local, state and federal officials said they had been planning for the protest for months. As a precaution, fences were erected around the city's two synagogues and concrete barricades were positioned to be able to block nearby streets.