A Saturday rally for white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va. has resulted with the governor declaring a state of emergency, after a speeding car plowed into a group of counter-protesters, killing at least one and injuring 19 more.
The chaos in the city began on Friday night (Aug. 11), when white nationalists marched on the campus of University of Virginia to protest the planned removal of a statue Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general during the Civil War.
Another rally began about 12 hours later on Saturday morning, with torch-bearing protesters "waving Confederate flags, chanting Nazi-era slogans, wearing helmets and carrying shields," according to the New York Times. They also chanted phrases like "You will not replace us" and "Jews will not replace us." Organizers and critics have both said the rally was the "largest gathering of white nationalists in recent years."
Black Lives Matter activists and anti-fascist groups came out to counter the neo-Nazi protests. After the rally was dispersed, the aforementioned car sped into counter-protesters at the park, killing one and injuring more. The city has reportedly taken the driver into custody.
President Donald Trump, whose election campaign was criticized for tapping into white nationalism, gave a brief, timid response that criticized "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." He did not specifically criticize the white nationalist rally or the neo-Nazism themselves, and ignored reporters' questions about if he wants white nationalist support and if he would call this terrorism.
Meanwhile, David Duke, former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, said that the white supremacists and neo-Nazis were "going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump," adding that that's why he and other white nationalists voted for him.
Twitter users have pointed out the lack of militarized police presence at the rally compared to black protests against racism; how Trump badgered Obama to call out Muslim extremism by name, but wouldn't call out white racism by name; and how the Trump Administration implemented a policy change to stop the government's counter-extremism programs from focusing on white supremacists.
I personally saw Ferguson police use crushing force against protesters for much less than what the Nazis in Charlottesville are doing today.— caffe latte person (@AdamSerwer) August 12, 2017
Can you imagine Black people protesting racism with an armed militia and there not being police tanks in the street?— Bree Newsome (@BreeNewsome) August 12, 2017
Right. 🙃 https://t.co/eERBneLvWC
NOTE: Trump Administration via a policy change stopped counter extremism program frm focusing on white supremacists https://t.co/eK50kP1GoI— Symone D. Sanders (@SymoneDSanders) August 12, 2017
This could not have been a weaker statement. It is the equivalent of "thoughts and prayers" after a mass shooting. https://t.co/HKZfdHBvUS— Jennifer Hayden (@Scout_Finch) August 12, 2017