If Friday night was a preview of what’s to come this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, it’s going to be bad.
Ahead of a white nationalist rally on Saturday called “United the Right”, white supremacists marched through the streets of the University of Virginia’s campus Friday evening, carrying torches and yelling Nazi slogans like “blood and soil.” Reports put the number of protesters in the hundreds.
For anyone who was on the fence about the true politics of the so-called “alt-right,” Friday’s demonstration should be an eye opener. According to multiple news outlets, torch-wielding racists marched through university grounds chanting “Jews will not replace us,” and “white lives matter.”
A smaller group of counter-protesters showed up in opposition of the march, and were reportedly surrounded by white supremacists before fighting broke out.
The march came a night before the “Unite the Right” rally, an event expected to draw between 2,000 and 6,000 neo-nazis, white nationalists and other hate-mongers to Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park. The city has seen its fare share of ideological conflict since it decided to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from what was then known as Lee Park, now renamed to Emancipation Park.
Prior to the actual rally Saturday morning, the mood appeared to be tense in Charlottesville. Video footage on social media showed white nationalist moving towards the park as hordes of inter-faith counter-protesters, black lives matters activists, and anti-facists who had also gathered to oppose the rally.
Violence between counter-protesters and white nationalists is expected today.
Virginia’s Gov. Terry McAuliffe issued a statement prior to Friday’s events that said that personnel from Virginia’s National Guard have been put on standby to “respond if needed” over the weekend.
This story is developing.