The nightmare in Charlottesville: White nationalist storm UVA
Your eyes are not deceiving you. Those are white nationalist unironically bearing tiki torches in order to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. Yes, this weekend, the city of Charlottesville saw its streets overrun with white nationalists and supremacist. With violent clashes and scuffles that started late Friday night and went into early Saturday afternoon.
The horrific scene ended violently on Saturday with one of the nationalist from Ohio, who has been identified as James Alex Fields Jr., 20, ramming into a group of counter protesters killing one 32-year-old-woman named Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. As of writing this article, 5 are in critical condition; 2 police officers were also killed in a helicopter accident attempting to fly over and cover the clashes, however it is not clear what exactly took the plane down.
The clashes started Friday night, with white nationalist descending upon the campus of the University of Virginia. Armed with citronella tiki torches and the inability to see how stupid they look preserving white culture holding a Polynesian symbol, violence quickly broke out between nationalist and counter-protestors.
This all resulted from a city council vote in February 2017, where the Charlottesville city council voted overwhelmingly to have a statue of Robert E. Lee removed from what was once known as Lee Park, which the council also voted to rename Emancipation Park.
The demonstrations were meant to be part of formal rally know as the “Unite the Right” Rally, although, after this weekends events, a much more fitting title might be the “Unite the Reich” rally. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, this may be the largest hate rally of its kind with estimates of up to 6,000 people in attendance. The police reportedly deployed 1,000 officers to the scene in order to maintain the peace and restore order.
After the damage had been done, many were looking to President Trump to see how he may handle the situation. Although the president has been far from shy when it comes addressing terrorism and hate of the Muslim variety, Trump has been much slower to disavow white nationalist and has even added people with ties to such groups in his White House (e.g Steve Bannon, Sebastian Gorka, etc.). During a bill signing, Trump condemned the violence and hatred “on both sides”. Trump attempted to absolve himself of responsibility by saying such events have occurred during different leadership including former President Obama.
Monday morning, after two days of intense criticism, President Trump finally called out white supremacist by name and cited the attacks as terrorism. Although many cited an interview with David Duke, in which he clearly voices support for Trump and signals that their pride came from voting for a man that would “take our country back”. Which is an odd statement to make abouta country’s origin comes from invasion by the people who are trying to “take their country back”
The alt-right and other hate groups have received a surge in activity since Trump announced his candidacy more than 2 years ago according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate crimes are up drastically since 2014 and 2015. While many on the right are condemning the actions of White Supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazis and other hate groups, many Republicans still hold some detestable views including large portion thinking the south should have won the civil war and that slavery was not a bad thing.
Unfortunately, these kinds of stories are likely to continue. While protest took place to stand in solidarity against the hate groups, there is another protest scheduled in September in Richmond by white nationalist, according to permit records.