Chaos is really the only word to describe what’s happened in Charlottesville, Virginia over the past 24 hours as white supremacist and hate group protesters were met with anti-fascist and anti-hate organizers in the city’s downtown.
The original point of contention was over a Confederate statue of Robert E. Lee, which is scheduled to be removed later this year. A march called “Unite the Right” was organized by white supremacists to protest the statue’s removal.
It all began last night when racist protesters surrounded a group planning a counterprotest for today (August 12). They clashed on the campus of the University of Virginia wielding tiki torches and chanting, "You will not replace us!" and "Blood and soil!" That was met with shouts of, "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!"
Things escalated on Saturday when numerous fights broke out between protesters from both sides. White nationalists, as well as neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members, were met in opposition by all types of religious groups and other groups.
Subsequently, Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency to call in a response to the violence. He also released a statement condemning the hate groups and their message.
Governor McAuliffe has declared a state of emergency to aid state response to violence at Alt-Right rally in Charlottesville— Terry McAuliffe (@GovernorVA) August 12, 2017
“It is now clear that public safety cannot be safeguarded without additional powers, and that the mostly out-of-state protesters have come to Virginia to endanger our citizens and property," McAuliffe said in the statement. "I am disgusted by the hatred, bigotry and violence these protesters have brought to our state over the past 24 hours."
The CPD estimated that between 2,000 and 6,000 people planned to attend the "Unite the Right" rally, reports local newspaper The Daily Progress. The goal of the controversial event was to unify the far-right wing and "affirm the right of Southerners and white people to organize for their interests," according to its Facebook page.
Reaction to the events in Charlottesville has been predictably strong. See video of the protests and reaction below.
White Supremacists are chanting BLOOD & SOIL in #Charlottesville. Hillary did not misuse the word DEPLORABLE. It is the correct definition.— PROUD RESISTER 👊 (@ProudResister) August 12, 2017
The white nationalist demonstration in #Charlottesville is a reprehensible display of racism and hatred that has no place in our society.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) August 12, 2017
An unarmed black man is threatening enough to kill but a mob carrying assault weapons in military gear is just fine. #Charlottesville— Jamie Hicks (@jaymayjune) August 12, 2017
What's stopping the Federal Government from dismantling EVERY Confederate Statue in and outside of #Charlottesville? THEY LOST THE F'IN WAR!— Cyrus McQueen (@CyrusMMcQueen) August 12, 2017
As a Christian pastor, I want to say that if Jesus was here today, he would be standing on the side of the anti-racists. #Charlottesville— Rev.Khader El-Yateem (@KhaderElyateem) August 12, 2017
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)