Four protesters showed up for a much-publicized white supremacist march on the White House yesterday, prompting police to disband a mobilization of nearly 1,500 officers at the last minute.
Sign-waving religious and ethnic groups preparing to rally against the march instead celebrated in the streets, banging on pots and cheering loudly.
But Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey was not pleased. He is asking the city to file suit against organizers from the American Nationalist Party, also known as the Knights of Freedom. He estimated the buildup cost was about $1 million.
"I think they owe it to the taxpayers of the city," said Chief Ramsey, who learned the neo-Nazi rally had been scrapped about a half-hour before the expected 3 p.m. start. "They ought to pay for it."
Officials expected between 150 and 300 white nationalists, Klansmen and skinheads to march from James Monroe Park near George Washington University to the White House. When officers headed 60 miles south of the District to meet the marchers, only four showed up.
Jeff Krause, executive vice president of the neo-Nazi group, blamed news reports for blowing things out of proportion, the Associated Press reported. "We did not want any of our people hurt." He also said that whoever did show up was not affiliated with his group.
The planned march inspired three counterrallies, one of which featured speeches by D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Mayor Anthony A. Williams at the Lincoln Memorial.
"Even at the close of the millennium, [supremacists] still cling to the hopeless belief that skin color gives them a mandate to attack, marginalize and exclude those who are different," Mr. Williams said.
A loud cheer resonated through the west end of the Mall when news of the aborted march reached the Lincoln Memorial demonstration.
"I'm really relieved to hear that," said Megan Contakes, 29, of Alexandria. "It takes a lot of steam out of the hate movement. …