Hundreds of Ku Klux Klan members and their supporters hurled rocks, bottles and mud on Saturday to interrupt a smaller group's "anti-intimidation march" through a county that has been all white for decades.
Several of the marchers, estimated to number about 75 blacks and whites, were struck or grazed by the debris, but no serious injuries were reported. Eight members of the rock-throwing group were arrested, police said.
The Forsyth County "brotherhood anti-intimidation march" was planned in honor of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The leader, Atlanta City Councilman Hosea Williams, was an aide to the civil rights leader.
The marchers were met by a crowd estimated to number 300. Some of the hecklers wore white robes and hoods; others were dressed in fatigues. At least 70 law enforcement officers stood by as the procession passed through Forsyth County, but officials said later that more police were needed.
"We lost control of the crowd," said Bonnie M. Pike, field operations inspector with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The klan members and supporters chanted, "Go home, nigger!" and carried signs bearing slogans such as "Forsyth Stays White" and "Sickle Cell Anemia--The Great White Hope." (Sickle cell anemia is a serious, hereditary blood disorder that generally afflicts blacks.)
Near the halfway point on the route, rocks, bottles, cans and mud were tossed at the marchers, who were partly shielded by their rented bus and a van.
Georgia bureau agents and police moved in to stop the klan group from entering the highway ahead of the marchers.
The marchers boarded their bus, traveled farther along the planned route and then resumed walking, apparently without further incident, before they disbanded.