A mix of what appeared to be Donald Trump supporters, white supremacists, and Neo-Confederates converged Saturday night in Charlottesville, Virginia for a rally eerily reminiscent of previous rallies by the Klu Klux Klan. White nationalist and self proclaimed “alt-right” leader Richard Spencer was on hand, as an assembled crowd of dozens led chants of “you will not replace us,” “Russia is our friend,” and “blood and soil.”
The groups were initially protesting an April decision by the Charlottesville City Council to sell a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee standing in the park, which is not so coincidentally also named after him. A Charlottesville judge has issued an injunction preventing the city from selling the Lee statue for six months.
Much like South Carolina’s 2015 decision to remove the Confederate flag from the state capitol grounds and New Orleans’ Confederate monument removal, the move has sparked outrage among Southern Heritage groups. As it relates to Saturday’s activities in Charlottesville, it’s rather difficult to rally behind a popular Neo-Confederate slogan of “heritage not hate” when you’re literally channeling optics from Klu Klux Klan rallies by carrying torches in support of a long-ousted government with a constitution supporting the now-abolished Three-Fifths Compromise.
Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer indicated as much in a written statement shared via Facebook, saying the event was “either profoundly ignorant or was designed to instill fear in our minority populations in a way that hearkens back to the days of the KKK.”
The “Russia is our friend” chants were yet another piece of anecdotal evidence indicating various white supremacy groups support the Trump Administration. The FBI and CIA are both investigating President Trump for possible ties to Russian hacking before, during, and after the 2016 presidential election.
While Spencer was punched on camera in January for his white supremacist remarks, it appears violence was kept at a minimum Saturday. A report in Charlottesville’s Daily Progress noted that local police arrived after a brief scuffle between protesters and the crowd dispersed soon afterward.