A group of torch-wielding protesters, including white nationalist Richard Spencer, gathered at a Charlottesville park on Saturday to protest the removal of a US Civil War monument.
The Charlottesville City Council had voted to remove the statues of Lee and another Confederate general, Stonewall Jackson, located in a different park. Spencer spoke at an earlier Charlottesville rally Saturday and tweeted a picture of himself holding a torch at the night protest.
According to reports, the alt-right demonstrators last weekend not only chanted "all lives matter" - as one might expect - but also "Russia is our friend", and carried torches as they marched Virginia streets to defend their "white heritage". About 10 minutes into it, an altercation between Spencer's group and counter-protesters drew police to the scene, and the crowd quickly dispersed, the Charlottesville Daily Progress reported.
Spencer, a well-known white supremacist who heads the National Policy Institute, is credited by some with coining the term "alt-right" to describe online and social media communities on the far right that include white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis, among others.
On Sunday, May 14, the day after the torch-lit event, people gathered at the same location to counter protest the previous day's rally.
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Another tweeted, "YOU are on the side of evil".
This month, a Charlottesville judge blocked the city from selling the statue for at least six months as a legal challenge against the council's action proceeds.
Like Damigo, numerous demonstrators weren't necessarily Southerners but sympathized with the fight to preserve a history which they say is increasingly under attack by Left-wing ideologues who want to tear down statues, change the names of buildings and rewrite history books to place white people in an unsympathetic and even hostile light. "You're not going to tear down our statue and you're not going to replace us". The statue has been targeted by left-wing groups who've tried to have it removed just as the city of New Orleans has recently begun to do to their confederate monuments.
The protest leader, Spencer, is an avowed white nationalist whose profile went viral after a video was released of a leftist protester punching him in the face.
After the war, Lee, who scored a series of stunning military victories against superior Union forces, was lionized as a hero of the so-called "Lost Cause" by white supremacists and supporters of segregation.
Signer voted against the statue's removal, saying among other things that he worries "about the impulse to remove, delete, and expunge that which offends us".