EAST LANSING, Mich. (TNS) — As his supporters brawled with protesters outside, Richard Spencer stood inside a Michigan State University building, blaming the violence on his skin color.
“No other group is treated with this kind of hostility,” he said during a speech that started more than a half hour late because of the fights going on outside.
The war was in full evidence Monday afternoon. It started about a half hour before Spencer — a white supremacist and self-defined leader of the so-called alt-right movement — was supposed to speak.
A group of about 20 Spencer supporters marched up Farm Lane toward the MSU Pavilion, located on the far south end of campus. Waiting for them were hundreds of protesters, who had been in place for several hours, standing on one end of a large parking lot, chanting and listening to music, while riot gear-clad police watched from the other end of the parking lot.
When the Spencer supporters appeared, the peaceful scene was shattered. Protesters rushed to block the path to the building. Both sides screamed insults and obscenities at each other.
Then fights broke out, with both Spencer supporters and protesters swinging fists and trying to stomp on those who fell on the ground. Police from multiple agencies swarmed, trying to create separation between the two groups.
A total of 24 people were arrested from both groups and charged with a variety of misdemeanors and felonies, said police.
They would be escorted by police, who formed a phalanx around them.
The protesters would swarm the police, often preceded by a few thrown water bottles and rocks, screaming at the supporters, who often screamed back. Then, a protester or two would try to break through the police to get at the supporter, who sometimes fought back. That could end with police tackling one or both and arresting them.