White nationalists, militant anti-fascists face-off in front of White House, police prevent clashes

Counter-protesters shout slogans at white nationalists who were rallying behind a line of police on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, on Dec 3.
Counter-protesters shout slogans at white nationalists who were rallying behind a line of police on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, on Dec 3. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Rival groups of white nationalists and "antifa" (anti-fascist movement) protesters faced off in front of the White House on Sunday, shouting slogans at each other until they were escorted away by police.

Police on bikes and horseback managed to separate the groups, and no clashes broke out before the incident was defused, a reporter at the scene said.

About 25 white nationalists - including white supremacist Richard Spencer - assembled on Pennsylvania Avenue, carrying American flags, placards and chanting "build the wall", according to a pool report.

They were confronted by around 50 "antifa" protesters shouting, "Nazi scum, off our streets!" and holding signs with slogans such as "Stop Racial Scapegoating", the report added.

About two dozen police moved in and placed bike racks between the two groups, eventually escorting the white nationalists out of the area.

Earlier in the day, Mr Spencer had tweeted inviting his supporters to gather and "demand Trump build #KatesWall".

Ms Kate Steinle was a 32-year-old whose fatal shooting by an undocumented Mexican immigrant in 2015 became an anti-immigrant rallying cry, taken up by US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.

A San Francisco jury this week acquitted Jose Ines Garcia Zarate of murder, concluding the shooting was accidental - a verdict Trump denounced as "disgraceful."