Hundreds gather in opposition to neo-Nazi rally

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Security was tight as roughly 40 supporters of the National Socialist Movement made their way to the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse Saturday.

On the other side of the street nearly 300 people gathered to protest in opposition of the group.

The rally sparked strong emotions on both sides.

PHOTOS: Hundreds oppose neo Nazi protest

The neo-Nazi group delivered a message against immigration.

But far more Kansas Citians had a message for them.

"We're standing up; Kansas City is standing up and we're saying no to hate groups," said Leonard Zeskind, president of the Institute for Research and Education on Human Rights.

Dozens of police officers were on hand to help keep order among the protesters on both sides.

Everyone coming into the area was searched; everything from bags to water bottles was banned.

41 Action News spoke to several people at the event, including those from the Latino Coalition, who said they came to protest the neo-Nazi group.

 "My own children are of Mexican descent, so it definitely is personal when folks say that they're less than white people," Jessica Piedra of the Latino Coalition said. "I think it's important to have a strong response to that sentiment, especially with the history of our country."

Another rally near the base of the Liberty Memorial drew hundreds more.

Amber Versola, a community organizer, said, "We're standing on higher ground in an answer to the hate down at the courthouse, and we're also asking for support for our immigrant brothers and sisters."

The overwhelming majority of Kansas Citians had a message of love, not hate.

However, a leading politician told 41 Action News that everyone has a First Amendment right to demonstrate, whatever his or her message may be.

"As repulsive as they are, they have a right to be stupid -- even in Kansas City," said Missouri's 5th District Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II. "I think the overwhelming majority of Kansas Citians are going to reject the hatred and racism that they are going to put on display."

Kansas City Police made one arrest for disorderly conduct at the rally at the courthouse.

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