Saturday, August 12, 2017

#Charlottesville - White Supremacists Show Up To A City That Didn’t Want Them, Chant ‘Blood And Soil’

Thousands of white supremacists and armed militia groups faced off with counter-protesters during a violent and chaotic rally that raged for hours in this Virginia city on Saturday, ending the death of one person and forcing the state governor to declare a state of emergency.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) condemned the violence during a press conference Saturday evening, sending a message to the white supremacists.

“Our message is plain and simple: go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth,” he said. “Shame on you.”

“Please go home and never come back. Take your hatred, and take your bigotry,” McAuliffe added.

“You came here today to hurt people and you did hurt people,” McAuliffe said.

Charlottesville Police Chief Al Thomas said 35 people were treated for injuries by city personnel on Saturday, with injuries ranging from minor to life-threatening. Three people died Saturday, including a 32-year-old woman who was hit by a car that plowed into a group of counter demonstrators and two others who perished in a helicopter crash near the protests.

Groups in Charlottesville beat each other with flagpoles and bats, threw punches, chanted slogans and used chemical sprays on each other at a downtown park. Some reporters covering the event also were doused in raw sewage. As police were expelling demonstrators from the area about two hours later, a car mowed down a group at the rally, leaving one person dead and 19 injured, according to Charlottesville officials. Fifteen others suffered injuries related to the rally.

“There was a cloud,” said a witness, who asked not to be named. “Things were flying. Most people managed to get out of the way.”

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ACLU of Virginia ✔ @ACLUVA
Folks said counter protesters were hit by a vehicle as they turned the corner. Medics are here. #Charlottesville
1:50 PM - Aug 12, 2017

The “Unite The Right” rally was promoted by white nationalist Richard Spencer and drew several different groups, including activists from the so-called “alt right,” Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other white supremacists, some of whom dressed in militia uniforms and were openly carrying long guns. Counter-demonstrators and anti-fascist groups also attended.
Tensions were running high even before the rally officially began at noon, with members of the “alt-right” chanting the Nazi phrase “blood and soil!” and “white lives matter!” as they marched toward Emancipation Park. With Confederate flags and Nazi memorabilia on full display, they also chanted “Fuck you faggots!”
“This is the biggest racist rally in recent memory,” a 23-year-old anti-fascist from Michigan, who wouldn’t give his name, told HuffPost. “And we are all out here opposing these motherfuckers and trying to get a temperature check where the right is ― where the far right is at ― and how they’re organizing, and where we can apply radical strategies to defeat fascism.”
Meanwhile, counter-protesters took to drenching reporters on the scene in raw sewage.
McAuliffe asked on Twitter for a stop to the violence.

The acts and rhetoric in  over past 24 hours are unacceptable & must stop. A right to speech is not a right to violence.
As the groups came together, they began hitting each other with sticks and unleashing chemical irritants. Some fled the scene, others coughed and cried from the sprays. Two fences and a line of cops helped separate the groups, though police did not immediately intervene in the violence. As more fights began breaking out, police could be seen putting on riot gear. Meanwhile, hundreds more white supremacists joined in the fray, making their way under a banner hung by the city that read “Diversity makes us stronger.”
Those standing on the sidelines were baffled as to why police weren’t immediately stopping the skirmishes that took over the park.
“If this were Ferguson riot gear, tear gas, everything would have been used, there’s a different standard here in Charlottesville,” said Anthony Bennett, a pastor from Connecticut. Unidentified militia members brandishing guns also showed up at the scene. As more fights began breaking out, police could be seen putting on riot gear.
As the scheduled time for the rally got closer, hundreds more white supremacists could be seen marching under a banner hung by the city that read “Diversity makes us stronger.”
Just minutes before the noon rally was officially set to begin, police threatened arrest for “unlawful assembly.” Thousands of people began to disperse, but it wasn’t immediately clear where they were going.
Late Friday night, a white nationalist march at the University of Virginia campus painted a sobering picture of what was to come. A torch-bearing procession of hundreds that included Spencer and at least one man wearing a Nazi SS T-shirt and another carrying a bat, ended with a clash at the campus rotunda where a Thomas Jefferson statue stands. Spencer admitted on Twitter that a group surrounded counter-protesters at the statue.
Counter-protesters told HuffPost that some among their ranks were then hit with some type of irritant ― they claim it was mace, unleashed by the white supremacists. Protesters on the fringe left, who come to these events to battle the fringe right, often try to hide their identities for fear of retaliation.
Some counter-protesters threatened a HuffPost reporter with a gun when he attempted to photograph, from a distance, those recovering from the irritant.
“Don’t make me use my gun on you,” a woman said to a HuffPost reporter, grabbing a holster on her hip.
Punches and torches were thrown during the fracas, but local police eventually dispersed the crowds. President Donald Trump did little to denounce the white supremacists, instead saying that “many sides” were responsible for the violence. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides ― on many sides,” Trump said at a ceremony for the signing of a bill to reform the Veterans Affairs health care system. “It’s been going on for a long time in our country, not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama, it’s been going on for a long, long time.”
Comments from state and local officials addressed the racism more directly.
Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer spoke out against the white supremacists who gathered in his city.
“They do not agree with the rules of democracy and they are on the losing side of history,” he said during a press conference Saturday evening.
McAuliffe spoke directly to white supremacists during the press conference, reminding them that “we are a nation of immigrants.” McAuliffe said he spoke to Trump on Saturday and told the president he’d be willing to work together, despite their differences, to help prevent this kind of violence in the future. “Tthere has got to be a movement in this coutnry to bring people together,” McAuliffe said.
The rally Saturday was thinly disguised on Facebook as an event in support of the statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee downtown, which is slated for removal as the city works to respect diverse voices in its telling of American history. It’s part of a nationwide effort to remove Confederate monuments from public property.

 told HuffPost on Friday. “They don’t want the narrative changed or to tell the full story of race. I think this will have the effect of redoubling our progress. To become an honest society, I don’t think we have any choice but to tell the full story.”
The rally’s real purpose, however, shines through in the event’s advertising, which looks a lot like Nazi propaganda and reads like a poorly billed concert:
Meanwhile, Spencer’s followers claimed that that violence was coming to Charlottesville in the form of “roving mobs” of Antifa ― groups of black-clad, masked anti-fascists, anarchists and socialists. It’s a scare tactic that the white nationalists use regularly to pull crowds of people to a city in defense of it. They were able to draw hundreds to Gettysburg over the Fourth of July weekend after claiming members of Antifa were coming to desecrate graves. Antifa never came, but the Ku Klux Klan did, and the only bloodshed came when a lone patriot shot himself in the leg.
The weeks and days leading up to the rally had the city gearing up for war. Indeed, Charlottesville had seen this type of menacing before: White supremacists showed up with torches at the Lee monument in May, an act that evoked Ku Klux Klan symbolism.
Some businesses closed down Saturday to keep employees safe. Others reportedly opened their doors solely as a safe space in case of an emergency. Some locals were prepared to take drastic measures to protect their city.

“As a lifelong resident of Charlottesville and a mother of two, this is about making the world more equitable for my children,” Leslie Scott-Jones of Solidarity C’Ville wrote in a news release. “I am not naive about the urgent threat of August 12, nor do I believe the threat ends there. ... My family has been here since the 1700′s, this is my home, and I have no other choice than to protect it.”

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