CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — Hundreds of white nationalists and white supremacists wielding tiki torches marched through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Va. Friday night.
Thousands of demonstrators and counter-protesters are expected to rally Saturday afternoon at Emancipation Park, formerly Lee Park, where several white nationalist groups are hosting a “Unite the Right” rally.
Shouting “White Lives Matter” and “Jews will not replace us,” the white nationalists rallied under a statue of former President Thomas Jefferson, the founder of UVA. Fights broke out with counter-protesters, and a “chemical irritant” was deployed before police broke up the violence.
Police officers jumped in to break up these fights. Medical personnel and police treated several of the marchers for the effects of the reported mace attack, according to the Washington Post.
Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe placed National Guard members on standby, and urged the public to steer clear of the rally.
“Men and women from state and local agencies will be in Charlottesville [on Saturday] to keep the public safe,” McAuliffe said in a statement, “and their job will be made easier if Virginians, no matter how well-meaning, elect to stay away from the areas where this rally will take place.”
The white nationalists are in town from across the country to protest the city’s decision to remove a Robert E. Lee Statue from Emancipation Park, which was formerly known as Lee Park until the city council changed its name in June of this year. U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad sided with rally organizers to allow the event to take place.
The city of Charlottesville tried to move the rally from the park, citing safety concerns, which prompted organizers to file a lawsuit claiming the city was violating their rights under the First Amendment.
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