A mini-melee broke out near the state Capitol on Monday, with at least two officers injured and three people arrested, after Occupy Oakland protesters and others hurled objects at police and a group claiming thousands of whites have been killed by blacks in South Africa.
The protest by South Africa Project, started out relatively calmly in the day. At about noon, dozens of members walked a lap around the Capitol grounds, then took up position on the south steps for a three-hour protest of what they called "White Genocide in South Africa."
Their literature cliams that as of December 2011 more than 3,000 white farmers of European origin had been murdered in South Africa in racially motivated attacks. Since the end of Apartheid, more than 30,000 whites have been murdered, said coordinator Michael Myers, an electrician from Oakland.
At the same time, a multi-ethnic group of about 100 protesters, held back by police on horses, chanted "White is the Enemy, White Supremacy!" and "Hey, Hey. Ho, Ho. You Nazi F--ks Have Got To Go!."
The South Africa Project protesters denied the charges that they are white supremacists. "For some reason, when a white person tries to stick up for an issue based on race, the''re automatically labelled racist, Neo-Nazi Klan members," Myers said.
The group's website, however, later proclaimed the demonstration a success and chided "those of you who call yourselves White Nationalists" who didn't participate.
At the rally, another member of the group made an anti-Semitic comment. Jimmy Marr, a protester from Springfield, Ore., said he represented "white people who don't have a guilt complex and have a way of communicating outside the Jewish media."
For much of the day, the groups shouted back and forth at each other as officers kept them separated, said California Highway Patrol spokesman Sean Kennedy.
"I heard yelling from both sides," he said. "It was mutual."
The South Africa group had a permit to protest on the Capitol steps, but the counter protestors, who did not have a permit, had to stay on the sidewalk, authorities said.
At about 3 p.m., extra CHP and Sacramento police officers were called in to escort the South Africa protesters to their vehicles in a parking garage at 10th and L streets.
The officers kept the counter-protesters - including those who arrived marching under a banner that said "Occupy Oakland" on the opposite side of the street. Some wore dark bandanas over their faces.
"It's the wild, wild west m-----f---ers!" they chanted. "The system is racist, you are all disgraces."
As the groups approached the parking garage, the counter-protesters hurled bottles, rocks and paint-filled "eggs" at the officers and those they were protecting, according to Kennedy and Sacramento Police spokeswoman Officer Laura Peck.
One CHP officer, sitting on a large draft horse, rode into the crowd of counter-protesters while other officers tried to apprehend those they suspected of throwing objects. The group scattered, with police in pursuit.
One CHP bicycle officer chased down and tackled a fleeing suspect, but appeared to be injured after the man was handcuffed and taken away. Sitting on the sidewalk, the officer had blood on his chin and pointed to his knee, as if to indicate he was hurt.
Another CHP officer held his hands over his face while colleagues put their hands on his shoulders. An ambulance driver said the officer had been pepper sprayed.
Kennedy said Monday evening that at least two CHP officers suffered minor injuries and at least three counter-protesters were arrested by the CHP for resisting arrest. Another counter-protester was arrested earlier in the day, he said.
Peck said no Sacramento police officers were injured, though some were doused with paint, and they made no arrests.
The ruckus snarled traffic. It also disrupted service on light rail's Blue Line from 3-4:30 p.m., a Regional Transit spokeswoman said.
As news of the event spread, organizers of Occupy Sacramento said in a statement that they were not involved.
"Occupy Sacramento adheres to a strict non-violence policy," the statement said. "We do not fight police, even if they are the perpetrators of violence, as they have been at Occupy demonstrations."
One Occupy Sacramento protestor at the scene, who goes by the name of Faygo, said it was after the Occupy Oakland protesters arrived that things got rowdy.
"I can't really blame Oakland," he said. "They deal with a lot of police brutality, so a lot of them have a lot more animosity toward the police."
"It just takes one person to throw a stone," he said, "and you've got chaos."