Members of the National Socialist Movement and a group of counter protestors flooded the streets of downtown Knoxville on Saturday.
The N.S.M. mostly known for its historical ties to racism and spreading white supremacist beliefs said they came to Knoxville to show support for Arizona's Immigration law. They said Knoxville is their "southern stand."
Leaders said the members who marched through downtown to the front steps of the old courthouse building on main street are mostly from East Tennessee.
A larger group of counter protestors gathered behind metal barricades on the other side of the street. Counter protestors said immigration is a cover for the N.S.M.'s racist beliefs to reach mainstream America.
The protest was basically peaceful despite both groups yelling and chanting at each other from across the street.
"We don't ask for the police to come and provide us protection. The police are here to provide protection for the antis," said NSM Commander Jeff Schoap.
Main street was shut down to be used as a police boundary to separate the two groups. Significant police presence is standard protocol at demonstrations of this size approved by the City of Knoxville.
"When you have issues is when you allow the two groups to come together, and that was our main goal, to keep the two groups separated," said Darrell DeBusk of the Knoxville Police.
Hundreds of officers from Tennessee Highway Patrol, Knox County Sheriffs, City of Knoxville Police, Knoxville Fire Department, and the FBI were on the scene as well.
"I think you really see the kind of militaristic push that the City has in an event like this, although under the guise of trying to maintain order," said demonstration attendee Chris Watson.
Knoxville Police said they arrested one man who told them he was an N.S.M. supporter. He was actually with the counter-protest and caused a disturbance inthe N.S.M's area. Officers charged him with disorderly conduct.
Just before the event, T.H.P. arrested two people on weapons charges.