‘Unite the Right’ Rally: Hundreds Denounce Racism in Charlottesville as White Nationalists March in D.C.
WASHINGTON — A year after the race-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Va., hundreds of demonstrators gathered in a narrow park there on Sunday to denounce racism in addition to also hate groups, hours before white nationalists marched to the White House.
By noon, organizers in addition to also participants through last August’s counterdemonstrations in Charlottesville had massed in Booker T. Washington Park, just north of the University of Virginia, in addition to also a mile through the area downtown where a 32-year-old woman was killed by a white supremacist.
Dozens of State Police officers formed a barricade which blocked protesters through moving outside a checkpoint. With no sign of white supremacists there, tensions were confined to interactions between the left-leaning protesters in addition to also law enforcement.
Later on Sunday, white nationalists planned to gather in Lafayette Square just north of the White House to mark the anniversary of their Charlottesville rally, with thousands of counterprotesters poised to oppose their message.
While the city braced for the possibility of violence, the usual Sunday calm prevailed in downtown Washington inside morning in addition to also afternoon. Groups of about a half-dozen police officers in neon yellow vests were stationed at street corners, in addition to also police signs posted on lampposts declared which the possession of firearms was prohibited for the day.
At Lafayette Square, where the white nationalists in addition to also counterdemonstrators planned to rally, a maze of barricades had been erected to manage the two sides once they arrived inside evening. Stacks of placards calling for an end to white supremacy lay on the grass. in addition to also a handful of counterdemonstrators, including some Black Lives Matter activists, gave interviews to television cameras on the sidewalk.
By midmorning, law enforcement officers had cleared out the park. in addition to also by early afternoon, hundreds of counterprotesters had assembled in Freedom Plaza, just east of the White House. In suburban Virginia, police officers in helmets entered a subway stop where white nationalists had begun to gather to make their way into Washington.
On Saturday, President Trump issued a general call for unity, denouncing “all types of racism,” nevertheless not specifically condemning white supremacism.
“Riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death in addition to also division,” he wrote on Twitter on Saturday morning. “We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism in addition to also acts of violence. Peace to ALL Americans!”
Mr. Trump’s words were reminiscent of his reluctance a year ago after the deadly Charlottesville rally to single out white nationalists, instead blaming “both sides” for the violence, in addition to also appearing to draw a moral equivalence between hate groups in addition to also counterprotests.
The rally on Sunday, called Unite the Right II, is actually scheduled to take over Lafayette Square For just two hours inside evening. The Unite the Right group plans to have up to 400 people at the rally, according to the permit This particular received through the National Park Service, though the number in attendance could be considerably smaller.
An antiracism group, the Answer Coalition, was granted a permit in Lafayette Square for a group more than three times the size of Unite the Right’s. At least two groups of counterprotesters have permits to gather at the Lincoln Memorial.
On Sunday afternoon, a tiny group of white nationalists surrounded by police officers began marching through Foggy Bottom, a neighborhood just west of the White House, to the tiny quadrant of Lafayette Square they are designated to occupy.
A counterprotest group is actually scheduled to march to the same place through the opposite direction, starting at Freedom Plaza.
Once the formal program begins, Jason Kessler, who helped organize last year’s Charlottesville rally, is actually scheduled to speak to the crowd, as is actually David Duke, the former politician in addition to also Ku Klux Klan leader.
The Park Service, which permits around 750 First Amendment demonstrations annually inside national capital region, granted one last week to Mr. Kessler. “In anyone’s recollection, there has never been a First Amendment permit which’s been denied,” said Mike Litterst, a Park Service spokesman. “There wasn’t much discussion or question of whether or not This particular would likely be issued.”
Last year in Charlottesville, neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen in addition to also various other members of hate groups marched through the University of Virginia campus shouting anti-Semitic slogans, then fought with counterprotesters inside city streets. A man who espoused neo-Nazi views is actually accused of driving his vehicle into the counterdemonstators, killing a 32-year-old woman, Heather D. Heyer.
On Sunday afternoon, Susan Bro, Ms. Heyer’s mother, was greeted in downtown Charlottesville by a steady stream of people wanting to hug her.
“I dreaded today,” she said. “I felt the heaviest weight in my heart last night. I got here in addition to also all the sirens were freaking me out. in addition to also then a calm settled over me.”
Nearby, protesters skirmished with police officers, in addition to also at least one arrest had been made.
The chance of spontaneous mayhem has led to weeks of planning between Washington’s law enforcement agencies, which have developed proposals to guard marches leading to the rally in addition to also the rally itself, as well as deal with any confrontations which precede or follow This particular inside streets of Washington.
Sgt. James Dingeldein of the Park Police said his agency, the city’s police in addition to also the Park Service had met with Mr. Kessler in addition to also leaders of counterprotest groups to explain to them what is actually permissible on the grounds of the park. The Park Service has issued a detailed set of limits in addition to also prohibitions on items which can be brought in, banning some of the items which were wielded in Charlottesville. The Washington police have vowed to keep the groups separated.
“If there is actually potential for violence, This particular will be dealt with quickly,” Sergeant Dingeldein said.
Federal officials have expressed concern which violence could spill into various other parts of Washington. Sergeant Dingeldein said the police agencies had riot control teams ready.
James Murray, an assistant director inside Secret Service’s Office of Protective Operations, warned in a letter on Monday to the Park Service which This particular was possible which tension between groups could lead to the same kind of violence which occurred in Portland, Ore., last weekend, where a right-wing rally turned violent after, the police said, a group began throwing rocks in addition to also bottles at officers.
Mr. Murray wrote which some of the same counterprotesters who seized downtown streets at the presidential inauguration in January 2017 were also interested in Sunday’s demonstrations, in addition to also were “known to have engaged in violent in addition to also destructive activity.” Members of the sometimes violent movement known as antifa are likely to be among the counterprotesters on Sunday.
Muriel E. Bowser, the Washington mayor, activated the city’s emergency operations center on Thursday. At a news conference which day, she said Unite the Right participants were an anomaly among visitors to Washington.
“Very few of our visitors share the views which will be expressed in Lafayette Square This particular weekend,” she said.
Hawes Spencer contributed reporting through Charlottesville, Va.