On this dayAug 11, 2017

White Supremacists Rally in Charlottesville, Virginia

Andrew Shurtleff/Daily Progress

On the evening of August 11, 2017, more than 200 members of white supremacist, alt-right, neo-Nazi, and pro-Confederate groups from throughout the country converged on the University of Virginia in Charlottesville for a torch-lit march through central campus shouting slogans like “Blood and soil!” “You will not replace us!” “Jews will not replace us!” and “White lives matter!” The procession was the precursor to a planned “Unite the Right” rally scheduled to take place the next day to protest the Charlottesville City Council’s recent vote to remove a Confederate monument dedicated to Robert E. Lee. As the marchers paraded through the University’s campus, counter-protests quickly emerged and tensions escalated.

The next day, the rally began to form in recently renamed Emancipation Park, where the Lee statue stood. White nationalist rally-goers, many heavily armed, filed into the park amid the outcry of a diverse gathering of counter-protesters. Those opposing the white nationalists included members of anti-fascist groups, Black Lives Matter supporters, local residents, church congregations, and civil rights leaders. In the absence of police intervention, clashes between rally-goers and counter-protesters became more volatile and eventually led law enforcement to declare the rally an unlawful assembly.

As rally-goers and counter-protesters dispersed, sporadic clashes continued. Approximately two hours after the City of Charlottesville declared a local state of emergency, a neo-Nazi named James Alex Fields Jr. drove his car directly into a crowd of counter-protesters, wounding at least 18 people and killing a 32-year-old white woman named Heather Heyer.

The events in Charlottesville, Virginia, sparked national press coverage and debate regarding race, white supremacy, and Confederate iconography.

torch lit march

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