As reported by CNN, a rally held by members of the Ku Klux Klan (commonly referred to as the KKK) took place yesterday in Charlottesville, Virginia. The rally, which was staged by approximately 50 Klan members, sparked counter-protests by several hundred irate citizens.
Lasting for around half an hour, the rally consisted of Klan members (some wearing hooded white robes), as they continually shouted “white power” in the Justice Park area of Charlottesville. Members of the Loyal White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (based out of North Carolina) were protested by over 1,000 people, who hurled insults, along with water bottles and apple cores.
As detailed by the New York Times, the Klan members ran into some trouble when they attempted to end their protest and return to their personal vehicles. Angry counter-protesters blocked their way in an attempt to prevent them from leaving, and in turn, local law enforcement was called to the scene. After the counter-protesters refused to move aside, the police began to break up the protesters, who were deemed to be assembling unlawfully.
Unfortunately, the protesters did not disperse, and the Virginia State Police responded with releasing three canisters of tear gas after some of the protesters began to respond with violence and aggression.
As Miriam Dickler, a city spokeswoman, explained:
“…there were a number of incidents, including the use of pepper spray by the crowd.”
Throughout the day, 23 people had been arrested, with three people being taken to the hospital.
The rally, which city officials had known about before it began, was in response to the ongoing debate of how some towns in the South have decided to make peace with the controversial history of the Civil War. Specifically, some cities (Charlottesville included) had decided to remove statues and other installations of Civil War figures. The Charlottesville City Council had previously voted to remove and sell off a statue of Robert E. Lee, who commanded the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia from 1862 to 1865.
Despite the City Council voting on the issue in April, a circuit court judge issued a six-month injunction back in May, which halted the removal of the aforementioned statue. The injunction was signed as a result of a lawsuit which was filed against the city by numerous groups and individuals, including the Virginia Division of Sons of Confederate Veterans and the Monument Fund, Inc.
Yesterday’s protest was not the only one to take place; demonstrators, led by noted white supremacist Richard B. Spencer, marched in May to protest the city council’s plan to remove the statue. Ms. Dickler also confirmed that white nationalists have planned another rally, which is scheduled to take place on August 12.
[Featured Image by Chet Strange/Getty Images]