Despite previous claims they would not show up in Williamsport, a group of roughly 20 neo-Nazi members arrived in Brandon Park just after 1 p.m., Saturday.
The group traveled to the city in three vehicles, presumably from Ulysses, Pa., where they claimed they would actually be holding their rally.
Heavily armed with what appeared to be semi-automatic weapons, knives and some concealed weapons the group walked around Brandon Park, chanting racist jargon and bantering back and forth with residents of homes along the edge of the park.
The group submitted a permit request to the city for a rally in Brandon Park, however it was denied due to COVID-19 concerns, according to Mayor Derek Slaughter. The group showed up anyway to protest the denial of the permit, hurling many insults at Slaughter, the city’s first African American mayor.
A heavy police presence also was in the park. Law enforcement, who had received intelligence that the group would be in the city, reported seeing the them enter the city and followed them to the park.
After exiting the vehicles, the neo-Nazi members, many fully armed, made a loop around the park, stopping at the Bandshell for a photo. The group then remained at the parking lot along Elizabeth Street for about 20 minutes yelling more racists remarks and goading the nearby residents and onlookers.
There was a tense moment as some counter protesters arrived just as the neo-Nazi group was leaving, but police were able to intercept and prevent more than just some yelling back and forth between the groups to take place.
Police again followed the NSM group’s vehicles as they exited the park and left the city, getting on the highway and leaving the area. Officers were told to remain on alert for the time being.
Blockades were preemptively put in place around the city’s two Synagogues, Ohev Sholom, on Cherry Street, and Temple Beth Ha Sholom, on Center Street. Neither location was damaged.