Home to the University of Virginia, Charlottesville is a city of approximately 50,000 inhabitants in the heart of Virginia. The city will be the location of the “Unite the Right” rally on Saturday which will bring together various groups from the alt right and white supremacist movements in the United States. Charlottesville was chosen by “Unite the Right” organizers due to the Charlottesville city council’s vote to remove a statue of confederate war general Robert E. Lee that sits in the city’s Emancipation Park.
The statue of Robert E. Lee is still standing due to an ongoing court battle and “Unite the Right” organizers claim their motive for the protest is due to what they believe the statue’s possible removal represents. According to Al Jazeera, Jason Kessler, member of the ultra-nationalist Proud Boys group and “Unite the Right” principal organizer, sees the removal of the statue as part of a “white genocide” that he fears is underway in the United States.
“The first and foremost reason that we’re having this rally, is for that park and for that statue,” Kessler said. “It’s about white genocide. It’s about the replacement of our people, culturally and ethnically. And that statue is the focal point of everything.”
It can perhaps be argued that equating the removal of a statue with genocide is a bit of a stretch, to say the very least, but the groups that are gathering for “Unite the Right” on Saturday seem to be serious in making the connection. In fact, according to Al Jazeera, both the Jewish mayor and the African-American vice mayor of Charlottesville have been targets for harassment and have received death threats in recent months due to the town’s attempts to remove the monument and the multiple protests that have been held since the city council decision to remove the statue earlier this year.
“I’ve been told I’m going to be hung from a tree, that I’m going to be shot, that I’m going to be beat up,” Vice Mayor Wes Bellamy said. “You name it, every kind of n-word – I’ve been called it online.”
Groups expected to show up at “Unite the Right” include a smorgasbord of white nationalists and fascists, including the Traditionalist Worker Party, the League of the South, Identity Evropa, Vanguard America, and the National Socialist Movement. Neo-Nazi media outlets such as The Right Stuff and the Daily Stormer are also promoting “Unite the Right.” Former Ku Klux Klan leader and noted white supremacist David Duke has been promoting the event as well. Speakers include alt right leader Richard Spencer, right wing provocateur Baked Alaska, and Augustus Invictus, a right wing lawyer who once published a memo threatening to go to war against the United States, according to Above the Law.
Who among our Republican leaders will repudiate this so-called "Unite the Right" rally of white supremacists? https://t.co/uCMl07cck2
— Evan McMullin (@Evan_McMullin) August 11, 2017
According to It’s Going Down, the hosts of The Right Stuff podcast recently encouraged their listeners to bring guns to the “Unite the Right” rally in anticipation of confrontations with counter-protest groups opposed to “Unite the Right” and its white nationalist message. It’s not uncommon for these groups to make veiled threats of violence against anyone who opposes their message, always claiming their incitements are in the interest of “self-defense.”
The University of Virginia has encouraged its students to avoid attending the counter-protests in Charlottesville out of concern for their safety. Numerous leftist organizations such as Black Lives Matter and others are expected to show up for the counter-protests. There will be a heavy police presence in the downtown area during and after the rally.
— ADL (@ADL_National) August 11, 2017
[Featured Image by Chet Strange/Getty Images]