A planned Unite the Right white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, drew nationwide attention as neo-Nazis with torches marched on the University of Virginia campus Friday night, the morning before a scheduled rally was to take place on Saturday morning. The group of nearly 100 white nationalists carried tiki torches and chanted Nazi slogans throughout the campus. Police called the protest an unlawful gathering and attempted to disburse the group. A state of emergency was declared in the area by early Saturday.
On Saturday morning, the scheduled rally began at Emancipation Park, where white nationalists wore white nationalist and Nazi paraphernalia and some individuals wore Ku Klux Klan imagery. Former KKK leader David Duke attended and spoke to the group. As events unfolded, it became clear that Unite the Right protesters wanted to air a variety of grievances, shouting racial, religious, and anti-LGBT slogans.
Counter-protesters, including church groups; and unofficial “militias” carrying weapons and dressed in camouflage assembled in protest. Counter-protesters chanted progressive slogans and sang civil rights-era songs. Both sides began to march throughout Charlottesville, despite skirmishes and the use of tear gas. As the conflict intensified, several counter-protesters were seriously injured and at least one person was declared dead when a car rammed into a peaceful crowd marching through the streets.
Why was the rally happening?
The rally was ostensibly a protest against removing a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park. From its original base of right-wing “patriot” groups, the rally started drawing a growing number of neo-Nazis — and become a flashpoint for a resurgent, outspoken white nationalism that drew strength from the campaign and presidency of Donald Trump.
What was the national reaction?
Republican and Democratic leaders from around the country swiftly began speaking publicly to condemn the horrific actions in Charlottesville while POTUS has been criticized from both sides of the aisle for his failure to condemn white supremacy and domestic terrorism.
CALL TO ACTION
Hundreds of groups around the nation have organized unity rallies in solidarity with Charlottesville for Monday, August 14th. Here is where you can go in Utah to show support:
-The Utah Republican Party and Salt Lake County Republican Party have scheduled a rally for 5:30 p.m. at the State Capitol Building in Salt Lake. Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox and U.S. Rep. Mia Love are speaking.
-The Utah League of Native American Voters plans to gather at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 451 S. State St., Salt Lake City. A dozen people are scheduled to speak at the solidarity rally, including the league’s Moroni Benally; Damon Harris, of Utah Against Police Brutality; Troy Williams, Utah Equality; and Darlene McDonald, Utah Women of Color Council.
(adapted from www.vox.com)