Unite the Right II was intended to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Charlottesville, Virginia rally, during which several people were injured and one person was killed.
Instead, about two dozen supporters showed up on Sunday in Washington D.C. After a short march to Lafayette Square with a heavy police escort, they left the event in police vans, according to The Daily Beast.
The white nationalists left Lafayette Square at 5 p.m. The Unite the Right II rally was scheduled from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., so the group left before the event was even scheduled to start.
When the group, led by Jason Kessler, arrived at a Virginia subway station to make their way into the city, they were met with protesters waiting at the subway entrance. They waited until more than 20 police officers arrived to escort them into the station.
Once they arrived in downtown D.C., the group was met by more than 1,000 protesters. More police officers joined the group when they got to their subway stop. The white nationalist group marched from the subway station to Lafayette Square with a heavy police presence, including police motorcycles and vans.
According to The Daily Beast, journalists who attempted to film the march were shoved away by police officers.
Once the white nationalists arrived at Lafayette Square, Kessler delivered remarks. He addressed the violence of the previous year’s rally, according to NBC 4 News.
“It ended up becoming a more extreme event than I intended,” said Kessler. “Nevertheless, even if some people had ideas that were offensive at that rally, the vast, vast majority of people on my side were non-violent.”
Our photojournalists are on site as anti-racist protesters and activists head into downtown Washington to counter a white supremacist rally planned for later today.
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 12, 2018
According to NBC 4 News, the white nationalist’s rally application had indicated that David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, would speak. Duke did not attend the rally.
After Kessler’s remarks, protesters attempted to block the group’s exit from the park, but they were able to make it out with their police escort. Lafayette Square had been divided up by police to keep space between the different groups, and signs were posted prohibiting firearms.
Among the protesters were activists who had protested the Charlottesville rally last year, including Bonnie Brown, who was interviewed by The Daily Beast.
“I always felt it was necessary to fight against racism, hatred, and violence,” said Brown. “I’m worried for other people about it turning violent, but for me, I think it’s necessary to face that kind of hatred, to smash white supremacy.”