On Saturday, in a scene eerily resembling a Ku Klux Klan gathering, a group of plain-clothed white nationalists carrying flame-torches marched through the streets of Charlottesville. The group, who chanted Nazi slogans as they made their way through the Virginia town, was led by the notorious white supremacist, Richard B. Spencer.
As they held their burning torches high, the angry faces of the protestors were illuminated by a pre-civil rights era glow. With shouts of “Russia is our friend” and “blood and soil” – the latter a Nazi refrain used to signify racial purity in lineage and territory.
The group also repeated an anti-Black Lives Matter refrain, “All White Lives Matter,” and “You will not replace us.” The mayor of Charlottesville, Mike Signer, issued a statement in which he expressed concern about the motives for the gathering.
“This event involving torches at night in Lee Park was either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK.”
— Cecilia Davenport (@CWDaven) May 14, 2017
— Laura Vozzella (@LVozzella) May 14, 2017
The protestors finally assembled in Lee Park surrounding a statue of the Confederate General Robert E. Lee, a white supremacist who is an important symbol for white nationalists. Charlottesville city council have voted to remove the statue later this year, sparking the outbreak of white nationalist outrage.
Jackson Park, not far from Lee Park, was the original meeting place of Richard Spencer and his mob of protestors, where they reportedly expressed their commitment to protecting their “white heritage.”
The infamous so-called creator of the Alt-Right movement – a highly controversial group of people who subscribe to far-right ideologies and reject mainstream conservatism – was the figurehead of the march. He posted a picture of himself on Twitter depicting himself proudly holding a KKK-like flame torch.
— Richard ???? Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) May 14, 2017
According to Richard Spencer, who graduated from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, the protestors were there to show a peaceful display of force and were not looking for any trouble.
“I’m here to take part in this great celebration of our heritage and to say ‘no’ to the city of Charlottesville. You’re not going to tear down our statue, and you’re not going to replace us. What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced.”
Many critics of the demonstration believe that the event was used to try to intimidate people of color, and only about 10 minutes into the evening gathering a counter-protest showed up and sparked an altercation. But police arrived moments later to disperse the scene, and no arrests were made.
— Alt Right Va (@AltRightVa) May 13, 2017
According to The Washington Post, the flagrant display of white supremacy received outright condemnation from three political candidates – two Democrats and one Republican – who are running for Governor of Virginia.
Former chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ed Gillespie, took to Twitter to voice his concern. Gillespie said that the “ugly display of divisive rhetoric and intimidation tactics in Charlottesville yesterday” did not represent him or his constituents.
Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, wrote in an email that “There is no place for hate, fear, or intimidation in Virginia.” He added that the white supremacist posturing in Charlottesville “is the last gasp of a disgusting ideology.” Northan also said that “In this Commonwealth, our doors are open, our lights are on, and we are welcome to everyone who shares a love for it, no matter who you are or where you’re from.”
Former Democratic Congressman and candidate for Governor Tom Perriello, who grew up in Charlottesville, lashed out at Richard Spencer on Twitter.
“Get your white supremacist hate out of my hometown.”
Get your white supremacist hate out of my hometown. https://t.co/KfkxHImvze
— Tom Perriello (@tomperriello) May 13, 2017
Richard Spencer replied defiantly.
“We won, you lost, little Tommy.”
We won, you lost, little Tommy. https://t.co/M7qAAJ4VGa
— Richard ???? Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) May 13, 2017
Perriello did not agree with Spencer and was quick to put the alt-right leader in his place.
“Actually, you lost. In 1865. 150 years later, you’re still not over it.”
Actually, you lost.
150 years later, you're still not over it. https://t.co/pVLyn3gAjB
— Tom Perriello (@tomperriello) May 13, 2017
Richard Spencer has not been received well in public outside of his confederate-loving strongholds. Who can forget the moment when Spencer was punched in the face on live TV? Just in case, you can watch it below.
[Featured Image by Getty Images]