On Saturday, white supremacist leader Richard Spencer held another torch lit rally in Charlottesville, Virginia where neo-Nazis and white supremacists held the “Unite the Right” rally that turned deadly in August.
Approximately 40-50 white supremacists gathered in Emancipation Park at the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee marching with torches and chanting “You will not replace us.” Many of the attendees, like at the previous rally in August, are not residents of Charlottesville, and vowed to continue returning.
Mike Signer, mayor of Charlottesville, tweeted on Saturday during the rally “Another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards. You’re not welcome here!”
Spencer is the head of the National Policy Institute, an organization and think-tank classified as a white supremacist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Spencer is expected to speak at the University of Florida later this month, an event that has caused concern and upset from the student body.
On August 11, white supremacists marched onto the campus of the University of Virginia holding torches and chanting slogans like, “You will not replace us,” while circling peaceful counter-protesters.
On Saturday, August 12, white supremacists gathered at Emancipation Park chanting “White lives matter.” Thousands of armed white supremacists began clashing with counter-protesters hours before the rally was scheduled to being. The rally turned deadly when James Alex Fields Jr., a member of the so-called “alt-right” drove his car into a crowd of peaceful counter protesters in downtown Charlottesville. He injured 19 people and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Fields was charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and failing to stop at an accident resulting in death.
In response to the August white supremacist rally, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was forced to declare a state of emergency and call in the national guard, saying “Please go home and never come back. Take your hatred, and take your bigotry.” Leaders of the alt-right and Klu Klux Klan were in attendance in August.
While the majority of Americans were deeply disturbed by the August events in Charlottesville, President Trump‘s response was widely seen as siding with the white supremacists against the counter protesters, and exacerbating the already deep racial tension in America. Trump originally placed the blame for the violence “on many sides” and argued that he was not responsible for the rise in actions by racist hate groups. But three days after the riot, the President changed course and began vilifying the counter-protesters, referring to the anti-white supremacists as, “a group that came charging in without a permit, and they were very very violent.” He went on to say that there were “very fine people” on the side of the white nationalists. His comments were praised by a number of prominent white supremacists including former leader of the Klu Klux Klan David Duke, who thanked the President for his “honesty and courage.”
Media Resources: CNN 10/8/17; The Washington Post 10/8/17, 10/9/17; Feminist Newswire 8/14/17