Just two months after the Charlottesville rally that left one African American woman dead, white nationalists have reunited for a second demonstration.
In August, a group of white nationalists, white supremacists, neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates joined together to protest the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate soldier Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park. Lee opposed racial equality in the South during and after the American Civil War, and was a symbol for white supremacy. In 2016 Charlottesville’s vice mayor Wes Bellamy called for the removal of the statue, claiming that in honouring Lee the city was accepting what he represented.
When protestors clashed with counter-protestors at the rally, physical confrontations ensued. 32-year-old African American Heather D. Heyer was killed after James Alex Fields Jr. drove a car into crowds of counter-protesters. Heyer’s death became a symbol of white hatred and ongoing racial oppression in the United States.
Now, white nationalists and supremacists have again united for another rally. Led by far-right protestor Richard Spencer, the group claimed they were representing white America’s interests and viewed Charlottesville as a symbol of the suppression of free speech.
A video live-streamed on Spencer’s Twitter shows crowds chanting “you will not erase us. We are about our heritage. Not just as Virginians. Not just as Southerners. But as white people.” Gaining in volume, the group added that “The South will rise again! Russia is our friend!”
In an interview on Saturday night, Spencer announced that the event was “a planned flash mob.” He said their message was that “our identity matters. We are not going to stand by and allow people to tear down these symbols of our history and our people.” Claiming they came in peace, he said they would continue to protest.
Mayor of Charlottesville Mike Signer posted a tweet denouncing the rally. “Another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards. You’re not welcome here! Go home! Meantime we’re looking at all our legal options. Stay tuned.”
The statue of Lee has been covered up while the decision for its removal takes place.