KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — Members of the far-right Proud Boys group and counter-protesters clashed violently Saturday afternoon in western Michigan, resulting in arrests, police said.
Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley of the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety said a few people were arrested, but didn’t know exactly how many.
“A fight occurred, people were fighting, and that’s when we stepped in,” Coakley said.
Counter-protesters staged their own event in the area at the same time as the rally that the Proud Boys had planned, according to local media reports. When the Proud Boys arrived, the confrontation ensued. Some fist fights occurred before police arrived and ordered the crowds to disperse. A reporter for MLive.com, who was detained by police while recording live on Facebook, reported that some of the Proud Boys also used pepper spray on people.
The male-only Proud Boys has been called extremist by the Anti-Defamation League and described as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Proud Boys dispute those descriptions.
“The Proud Boys, they not only have hatred for Jewish people and Muslim people, but they’re also very hateful of anybody who doesn’t look like them or act like them,” said the Rev. Nathan Dannison, pastor of the First Congregational Church, which hosted a vigil by counter-protesters.