A "free speech" protest was held in Phoenix Friday evening, with anti-Islam protesters gathering to demonstrate outside a mosque following a "draw Muhammad" contest.
While tense, the protest appeared to remain peaceful as participants clashed with mosque and Muslim community supporters who came out to hold a counter-demonstration.
A spokesperson for the Phoenix Police department said there were no arrests or reports of injuries.
Police divided anti-Islam protesters from counter-demonstrators. Members of both parties, however, engaged in heated shouting matches across the police line.
Many anti-Islam protesters could be seen wearing "f*** Islam" shirts and holding similar signs. Those counter-demonstrating held "peace" and "f*** ISIS not Islam" signs.
A protesters holds a town copy of the Quran as he rallies outside the Islamic Community Center on May 29, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. A protesters holds a town copy of the Quran as he rallies outside the Islamic Community Center on May 29, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
An individual with a megaphone ripped pages out of a Quran. That person could be seen throughout the night shouting insults at mosque and Muslim community supporters.
Organizers of the "free speech" protest had encouraged those who came out to exercise their Second Amendment rights, worrying some about potential for violence. Those who went armed said they were displaying caution in case they were attacked as a similar demonstration was in Garland, Texas.
The chief organizer, former U.S. Marine Jon Ritzheimer, told reporters that he planned to go into hiding following the demonstration because of alleged death threats made against him.
“I’m having to go into hiding after this because they are calling lone wolfs to come in and behead me,” he said. “That’s tyranny. That’s terrorism right here in America.”
This story has been updated to include new information.
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