Several hundred white supremacists marched across the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville on Friday night, which its Alt-Right organizers call “Unite the Right, according to CNN.
The marchers, who carried store-bought Tiki torches and plan to hold a larger rally on Saturday, shouted “Blood and Soil!” and “You Will Not Replace Us!” as they marched in a line through the campus. Law enforcement created a buffer between the marchers and the UVA students and counter-protesters who opposed and denounced them.
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) 12. август 2017.
The white nationalists marched to the Rotunda, where police declared an unlawful assembly. Protesters and opponents alike reported being affected by pepper spray.
At the feet of a statue of Thomas Jefferson, fights began breaking out and some wielding Tiki torches swung them at people. At least one person was arrested, and several people were treated at the scene for minor injuries.
City and UVA officials condemned Friday’s march.
In my 47 years of association with @UVA, this was the most nauseating thing I've ever seen. We need an exorcism on the Lawn.
— Larry Sabato (@LarrySabato) 12. август 2017.
Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer released a statement referring to Friday’s rally as a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance march down the lawns of the architect of our Bill of Rights.
Everyone has a right under the First Amendment to express their opinion peaceably, so here’s mine: not only as the Mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.
“We cannot dismiss the alt right as a joke,” said Matthew Owens, one of the counter-protesters. “We cannot ignore them away as their numbers grow and their influence expands. We cannot let their worldview normalize. We must be clear, united, and vocal in our opposition.”
Meanwhile, as the white supremacists were marching with their torches on Friday night, a multi-faith prayer service and community gathering took place nearby where community organizers, religious leaders, and others talked about the importance of countering the weekend’s message of hate and division.
The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, stated:
This is a pivotal moment in our nation. I am here to show up on the side of love. This is a time when violence, fear and radicalized hate have been given permission. It is important for people of conscience to say that love and equity is our future.
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