State police in full riot gear rushed a downtown street in this eastern Texas town Tuesday to break up a tense standoff between hundreds of black and white protesters who exchanged screams of "Black power!" and "White power!"
A skinhead carrying a Confederate flag and a shirtless white man were arrested on suspicion of disorderly conduct before the protesters separated peacefully, Paris police spokesman Lt. Danny Huff said.
The conflict began with a march through downtown by about 100 black activists who were protesting the state's handling of the case of a black man who was run over and dragged by a vehicle. The demonstrators avoided a designated "protest zone" near the courthouse and marched to the town square to chants of "Black Power!" and "No Justice, no peace!"
Once there, the crowd ballooned to about 200 black people on one side of a street. Across the street were about a dozen white supremacists, including four skinheads holding Nazi swastika flags. About 30 other white people were behind them, but it was unclear if they were protesting or watching.
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The two sides shouted at each other while a dozen or so law enforcement officers were in the street keeping them apart. After several tense minutes of screaming and the groups inching closer together, about 35 Texas state troopers wearing helmets and carrying shields marched swiftly into the crowd. No blows were exchanged.
The rally in Paris, about 90 miles northeast of Dallas, is the third courthouse protest over the death of 24-year-old Brandon McClelland, whose mangled body was found Sept. 16 on a country road outside of town after he was run over by a vehicle and dragged beneath it. A prosecutor cited a lack of evidence in dropping murder charges last month against two white men arrested in his death.