Over the last week, a lot of information has been shared from the white supremacist rally that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend. Now, in addition to horrifying photographs and videos, we have more insight in the form of a written account from journalist and former Today show host Katie Couric.
Couric spent 72 hours with counter-protesters before and during the Unite the Right rally, as part of a documentary television series focused on examining the “pivotal social, demographic, and cultural changes that are currently tearing us apart.”
In her op-ed, which was published by National Geographic, Couric, who graduated from the University of Virginia, argued that the events in Charlottesville have become “the symbol of where we are, as Americans in 2017.” While she said that what she witnessed at the rally broke her heart, she noted that it also gave her hope for the future.
Couric first described in great detail the tension that she witnessed before the rally even officially began.
‘There were scores of men…chanting “You will not replace us!”, “Jews will not replace us!” and “White lives matter!”
‘On the other side of the lawn, in front of the Rotunda, a smaller group of counter-protesters were making a human chain around the statue of Thomas Jefferson chanting “Black Lives Matter!’ Soon the “alt-right” descended down the stairs in an intimidating rush, surrounding the circle of protesters in the center. Within minutes, altercations and chaos broke out. Objects, including a fiery can from the tiki torch, were thrown in the air.’
As the day went on, what Couric referred to as the “rising battle of protest chants” only become more and more heated. At one point, she said, two of her producers were doused with a “concoction of human urine and mud” that was thrown into the air over the crowd.
Around the same time, Couric recalls a “large and violent brawl” breaking out nearby.
‘Standing on the hillside at the entrance to the park, we looked out over the sea of people struggling to take cover. We saw projectiles being thrown back and forth, including bottles and brown colored balloons (which another reporter told me were filled with feces).’
Couric also described the commotion she witnessed after 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed after being run over by a white supremacist who drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters.
After detailing the “intense hatred and bitterness” she witnessed last weekend, Couric contrasted it with the “kindness, compassion and generosity” that gave her hope.
‘During the three days I was in the city I saw intense hatred and bitterness that provoked outrage and anger. But I also saw kindness, compassion and generosity. Amid the sound and the fury, I saw Muslim, Jewish, black, and white protestors with arms linked forming a human chain.’
The op-ed ends with Couric saying that, while she knows “hate will surface again,” so will “its enemies.”
‘Hate will surface again, we know; but so will its enemies. Just as they did on that muggy Saturday in August in Charlottesville, Virginia.’
Featured image via Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic.