By Hollie Silverman and Nicole Chavez, CNN
Updated: Sun, 16 Aug 2020 21:34:00 GMT
Several fights broke out in Kalamazoo, Michigan, during a rally held by the far-right group Proud Boys, police say.
Members of the group were marching in downtown Kalamazoo when they clashed with counter protesters and officers moved to disperse the crowds, CNN affiliate WXMI reported.
"Once the event turned violent, the officers responded quickly and restored order," Kalamazoo Public Safety said in a statement, adding that officers declared "a police zone and dispersed the crowds."
People were "punching, kicking and even pepper-spraying one another," CNN affiliate WOOD reported.
Authorities said multiple groups were "visibly armed with a variety of weapons, including guns" and officers confiscated a 3-foot wooden club.
"This is still an unpredictable situation and we encourage the community to remain safe," the public safety agency said.
Kalamazoo Assistant Chief Vernon Coakley told reporters that some people were arrested but couldn't discuss specifics, CNN affiliate WWMT reported.
Proud Boys, founded in 2016 in New York, is far-right extremist organization that has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The founder of the Proud Boys is suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for designating the organization a hate group.
Members describe themselves as "Western chauvinists who refuse to apologize for creating the modern world." The group's site argues its allure stems from the fact that young American men and women are "finished" with "apology culture" but disavows links to the alt-right or to white supremacists.
Facebook and Instagram have banned the Proud Boys, citing their policies against hate groups.
Update: This story has been updated to note that the Proud Boys' founder is suing the Southern Poverty Law Center for designating the organization a hate group.