White supremacists lit tiki torches as they gathered on Saturday night near the statue of American Civil War general Robert E Lee in Emancipation Park, Charlottesville, a focal point in recent demonstrations that turned violent.
The park was one of the scenes of the so-called Unite the Right protests on August 11 and 12, during which a white supremacist killed anti-fascist counterprotester Heather Heyer.
On Saturday, local anti-fascist counterprotesters confronted around 40 supporters of the alt-right, a loosely knit coalition of white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis.
Richard Spencer, a leading alt-right figure and head of the Virginia-based National Policy Institute think-tank, was among those who attended.
Videos and photos posted to social media show alt-right demonstrators holding short speeches in front of the statue, as anti-fascist counterprotesters challenge the white supremacists.
Police was present but did not report any incidents.
Mike Signer, the mayor of Charlottesville, took to Twitter to denounce the protest: “Another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards. You’re not welcome here! Go home! Meantime we’re looking at all our legal options. Stay tuned.”
Another despicable visit by neo-Nazi cowards. You’re not welcome here! Go home! Meantime we’re looking at all our legal options. Stay tuned.
— Mike Signer (@MikeSigner) October 8, 2017
A statement by the Charlottesville police also confirmed that legal action may be taken against the white supremacist rally participants.
After the rally in Emancipation Park, people protesting the alt-right gathered at the house of Theresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia.
The protesters called for the revocation of Spencer’s diploma, who is a graduate of the University of Virginia.
— Solidarity Cville (@SolidCville) October 8, 2017
Spencer said during his speech that they “wanted to prove they came in peace before and they come in peace now“, despite the August rally that turned violent.
During Unite the Right, the death of Heyer – who was killed by an alt-right supporter who allegedly hit her and several other people with his car – was among other clashes.
Spencer, who claimed Saturday’s protest had been planned for a long time, said people would have to get used to the alt-right.
“We’ll take a stand in Charlottesville, we’ll take a stand in Washington, DC, we’ll take a stand anywhere and everywhere. You’re gonna have to get used to us. We’re gonna come back again and again and again,” he said.
The group of torch-wielding white nationalists, who came out in much smaller numbers than during their last protest in Charlottesville, then started chanting “you will not replace us“, “the South will rise again“ and “Russia is our friend“.
Spencer called the rally “a great success” on Twitter. “We came, we triggered, we left,” he said.
On October 19, Spencer is expected to visit the University of Florida in Gainesville, despite the university preferring not to give him a platform.