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Torch-Wielding White Supremacists Rallied Against A Confederate Statue's Removal

The mayor of Charlottesville said the gathering "hearkens back to the days of the KKK."

Originally posted on
Updated on

Dozens of people wearing white and carrying torches gathered on Saturday night in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

According to local paper The Daily Progress, the gathering in Lee Park started around 9:00 p.m. and ended about 10 minutes later, following a police altercation.

The Charlottesville City Council's vote in April to sell the statue — which many see as an unwelcome monument to the South's Confederate past, but many conservatives and Southern heritage groups vehemently defend as part of "Virginia's heritage" — came after months of contention over what to do with it.

A Facebook page titled "Save the Robert E. Lee Statue" accumulated more than 15,000 likes.

In April, a Republican candidate for Virginia governor tweeted that "Nothing is worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don't matter." (It didn't go over well.)

Nothing is worse than a Yankee telling a Southerner that his monuments don't matter.

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White supremacist leader Richard Spencer was in attendance at Saturday's march, torch in hand.

Spencer led two rallies in Charlottesville on Saturday in defense of the statue.

“What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced,” Spencer said at the earlier rally, according to the Washington Post.

The protesters chanted things like, “You will not replace us,” “Russia is our friend” and “Blood and soil."

"Blood and soil" is a Nazi philosophy that defines ethnicity as being based on both land and race.

People nationwide are speaking out strongly against the rally.

This rally of white people with torches, led by Richard Spencer, was designed to intimidate the local Black communi… https://t.co/Gx3U0Jn2Ta

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They're chanting "Russia is our friend" and the Nazi Era phrase "Blood and Soil." How is this happening in Americ… https://t.co/SMzjUt1CII

Black ppl get shut down for mentioning slavery as it was "so long ago." Yet they can't get over the loss of the civil war. #charlottesville

These are domestic terrorists. And remember, we showed up with cell phones and got tear gassed. https://t.co/Rf8aCc2R1G

Some people online also mocked the white supremacists for taking bamboo tiki torches to the rally.

tfw you want to be intimidating but tiki torches were on sale at the Dollar Tree. https://t.co/44dvnF5Vfe

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer released a statement saying it "hearkens back to the days of the KKK."

A statement from Charlottesville Mayor @MikeSigner about tonight.

"This event involving torches at night in Lee Park 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," Signer said in a statement.

"Either way, as mayor of this City, I want everyone to know this: we reject this intimidation," he said. "We are a Welcoming City, but such intolerance is not welcome here."

Julia Reinstein is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Julia Reinstein at julia.reinstein@buzzfeed.com.

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