Saturday nights in Charlottesville are usually pretty quiet, but this past weekend the moist night air around Lee Park was disturbed by a self-identified white nationalist group as they protested the sale of a statue of Civil War General Robert E. Lee.
Lead by Richard Spencer (seen in top image via twitter), the self-described creator of the alt-right movement which is dedicated to the supremacy of white Europeans in America, dozens of protestors stood by a famed Lee statue which is set to be removed and sold after a recent city council vote.
The group carried torches and chanted phrases like “blood and soil” which is based on an old Nazi chant which suggests land rights are owed to those who were born, worked and lived on the land that is now being “attacked.” The Nazis used it against Jews, it appears the Alt-right is now using it on land originally owned by Native Americans and worked by about as many Blacks as whites.
Spencer was famously punched in the face during Trump’s inauguration earlier this year.
In late April, Charlottesville City Council voted to sell the statue and had began the process of removing the controversial work. The city also plans to rename the park with the help of the public.
A city judge, however, granted a six month stay on the statues removal after groups sued to keep it in place. The city has been been allowed to continue removal plans, though.
The most vocal, public and politically relevant opposition to the sale has come from Republican gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart. Stewart, head of the Price William County Board of Supervisors, has used Civil War monuments as a division point from other GOP candidates ahead of the June Primary, though he has remained silent on this weekend’s protests.
The GOP frontrunner, businessman and GOP leadership member Ed Gillespie, took to twitter to condemn the protest.
Another group uniquely silent on Spencer’s actions is the Virginia Flaggers, a group of activists who “stand AGAINST those who would desecrate our Confederate Monuments and memorials, and FOR our Confederate Veterans.” The group is responsible for the Confederate Flags along inner-state 95 north and south of Richmond. The groups facebook page put up a number of posts supporting Lee, but have seemingly avoided any conversation of the Nazi-influenced protest from Saturday night.
The seriousness of the protest has been connected to the work of the Klu Klux Klan and their use of torches and fire as a way to drum up fear.
Charlottesville May Mike Singer took to twitter to call the event “profoundly ignorant” or “designed to instill fear in our minority populations in away they are harkens back to the days of the KKK.”
“Either way,” Singer said in a statement, “I want everyone to know this: we reject this intimidation. We are a Welcoming City, but such intolerance is not welcome here.”
It’s been a few years, but the KKK has reared its head in Cville before – back in 07 the group aimed to reenter the spotlight, though it seemed to have been stymied until now.
Words by BK, top image via twitter user Hadassah_Muth