Police: Neo-Nazi demo and anti-fascist counter-protest in Tampere restless – Investigation opened

The neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement was met by the Tampere Without Nazis group in Tampere on Saturday, with protesters totalling some 1,000 people. Hundreds of police officers were on the scene to ensure that the two demonstrations did not cross paths. Police first called the demos peaceful, but an investigation of violent activities in the counter-protest is to be opened.

A Nordic Resistance Movement supporter photographed in 2016. Image: Jyrki Lyytikkä / Yle

About one thousand people from different parts of Finland participated in neo-Nazi and anti-fascist demonstrations in the city of Tampere on Saturday.

The protests were organised by the Nordic Resistance Movement and the opposing group, called "Tampere Without Nazis". The counter-protesters numbered some 800 people according to police, an estimated four times more than the neo-Nazi rally.

Some 200 police officers monitored the protests and kept the two groups of protesters apart from one another at a distance of some hundreds of metres. Police also reportedly screened participants for items and weaponry that may be used for bodily harm.

Neo-Nazis demonstrated in Tampere. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Counter-demonstrators detonated at least three smoke bombs during the demonstration, Yle reports. Counter-demonstrators also shortly interfered with train traffic by walking on the tracks for about half an hour. One demonstrator was taken into custody on suspicion of assault, one was detained on grounds of endangerment and two more were apprehended in order to prevent escalation. All those detained were marching in protest to the neo-Nazi gathering.

A majority of the protesters on each side had disbanded by 4 pm on Saturday, police tweeted.

The Pirkanmaa District Court has said that it will decide whether to dissolve the Neo-Nazi Nordic Resistance Movement by the end of October.

Investigation into counter-protest

Police will begin investigating the actions of people participating in the anti-fascist counter-protest as violent rioting.

Police say that counter-protesters threw minor explosives towards other demonstrators, police and nearby cars; no one is reported injured. Some people also attempted to attack members of the neo-Nazi rally.

Police horses and counter-protesters. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Edit: title and article altered to include news of police investigation.