Due to Mr. Trump’s racist rhetoric and the climate of hate that has been created under his administration, sadly, white supremacist groups seem to be flourishing. One year ago in Charlottesville, Virginia, during a “Unite the Right” rally, 32 year-old Heather Heyer was killed by truck who drove through a crowd of peaceful protesters, injuring many others as well.
However, on Sunday, which marked the anniversary of the tragic event, thousands of counterprotesters at a “Unite the Right 2” rally in Washington D.C. outnumbered a small group of white nationalists, which ended with nearly two dozen demonstrators being escorted out of Lafayette Square by police. The day was mostly peaceful although there were a few confrontations on the streets.
The 10-15 #UniteTheRight2 demonstrators have left Lafayette Park, under police escort. The thousands of #ShutitDownDC demonstrators cheered upon their exit and are still chanting. @wusa9 pic.twitter.com/sTEtMXRJM8
— Andrea McCarren (@AndreaMcCarren) August 12, 2018
According to USA Today:
‘Unite the Right 2 organizer Jason Kessler said he expected 100 to 400 far-right activists to attend. About two dozen arrived at a subway station near the White House and were escorted by police to the rally site at nearby Lafayette Square.
‘Prior to their arrival, thousands of counterprotesters were out in force all day to observe the one-year anniversary of a white nationalist rally a year ago in Charlottesville, Virginia. That event, the first Unite the Right rally, sparked chaos, violence and resulted in the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer, 32.’
As white nationalists wearing flags around their faces and as capes arrived, angry demonstrators protested while yelling expletives at them. Police escorted them in a tight square blocked by bicycles and motorcycles. The white supremacists proceeded to Lafayette Square as counterprotesters tried pushing into the group, and at least one threw stones at police and the rally-goers.
USA Today reported:
‘Some counterprotesters who had their faces covered and wore all black pushed the couple, pulled their hair and screamed, “how you like my city now?”
‘The couple were protected by a group of peace officers who held one another’s hand to keep a barrier until they got to police. It was unclear whether the couple were with the white nationalists.’
Hundreds of anti-fascists marched down a D.C. street chanting:
‘No borders! No walls! No USA at all!’
One large group screamed:
‘Punch a Nazi in the face!’
A rain spell came through that escalated tensions and counterprotesters threw water and a chemical substance on a man and woman wearing “Trump 2020” T-shirts as they walked away from Lafayette Square.
Police appeared to spray tear gas at the crowd after trash cans and signs were knocked to the ground and bottles were tossed at police.
Kessler, who was the first speaker of the rally, said that he noted the injustice of last year’s events in Charlottesville. He said:
‘That’s why I wanted to speak to President Trump at the White House. It was criminal conduct by the Charlottesville government.’
According to USA Today:
‘Those watching the speeches carried American flags and White Lives Matter signs. Speakers addressed alleged civil rights abuses, including “interracial rape of white women” and attacks on white people in South Africa. Others spoke more generally about free speech and being American, arguing any white person who loves their country counts as a white nationalist.’
One counterprotester, 43 year-old John Walsh, said that he traveled from Boston to help ensure that the counterprotesters outnumbered the white nationalists. Walsh said:
‘I’m here to drown out hate and amplify this message. As a white, middle-age man, I think I have a voice and feel a duty to use it to counter this insanity.’
Another man, Bob Baker carried the American flag in protest, saying that he was unwilling to relinquish it to the white supremacists who frequently wave it. Baker said:
‘I am a patriot. I deeply love my country, I’m deeply disturbed by what I’m seeing these days.’
Mr. Trump made a statement on Twitter condemning acts of racism and violence although given his extreme anti-immigration policies and past rhetoric, it only amounts to him spewing words that once again, further reinforce how he truly feels about the issue.
His tweet also sparked a response from the NAACP’s Sherrilyn Ifill, who tweeted back:
‘”All types.” “Both sides.” Continuing to advance a narrative of moral equivalency between racists and those opposed to racism, so as not to tick off his white supremacist supporters.’
Others tweeted back saying:
Featured image is a screenshot from YouTube