A planned protest by the Traditionalist Worker Party at the California state capitol in Sacramento turned violent today after counter-protesters showed up, officials said.
It was unclear what triggered the violence at the rally by the group, which had received a permit to hold the event, police said.
The Sacramento Fire Department first reported taking five people to local hospitals after what it described as a “mass casualty incident,” but later said two more people had been transported, for a total of seven. At least two of the people injured had life-threatening wounds, the fire department said.
Marchers from the Traditionalist Worker Party were met by counter-protesters calling them “Nazis” and “fascists,” and the confrontation quickly escalated.
“There was a large number of people carrying sticks and rushing to either get into the melee or see what was going on,” Sacramento Fire Department spokesman Chris Harvey said.
California Highway Patrol officers managed to break up the fight but some members of both groups remained in the area an hour after the melee broke out, Harvey said.
In addition to the people who were stabbed, many others suffered minor injuries such as scrapes and bruises, police said.
The Traditionalist Worker Party says on its website that it “stands for Faith, Family, and Folk. Our party members share a common struggle to transfer power and resources from the corrupt and unaccountable federal government to community and regional leaders who stand for traditional values, strong families, and revived cultures.
“Localism and secessionism are central to our mission,” it says.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the TWP was formed in January 2015 as the political wing of the Traditionalist Youth Network, a group that tries to draw high school and college students into white nationalism.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.