By: Alanna Fairey
The aftermath of a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned deadly on Aug.12 after a 20-year-old man allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a woman and wounding several others.
Protests first broke out in May, with white nationalists objecting to the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from what was then called Robert E. Lee Park. Mike Signer, the city’s mayor, expressed his disgust and then renamed the park Emancipation Park.
The events that have followed last Saturday’s riots sparked much debate over Neo-Nazism, racial discrimination and the fate of President Donald Trump’s presidency.
Humber News takes a closer look at the riots.
Friday, Aug. 11
On the eve of a planned Unite the Right rally, white nationalists carried tiki torches on the campus grounds of University of Virginia. The rally was staged to demand protection of the statue of Lee.
The men were chanting “white lives matter” and the Nazi-associated phrase “blood and soil.” Police arrived on campus and ordered the crowd to disperse, after declaring it an unlawful assembly.
Saturday, Aug. 12
Just before noon, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency as violence broke out between white nationalists and counter-protestors.
The violence escalated when an Ohio man, now identified as 20-year-old James Alex Fields, allegedly deliberately drove a car into a crowd of people who were protesting. Almost two hours after, Mayor Signer confirmed that one person had been killed and 19 others were injured.
— The Anon Journal (@TheAnonJournal) August 12, 2017
The victim was later confirmed to be Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old paralegal. Additionally, two Virginia State Police troopers–Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates–were killed while lending air support to respond to the deadly violence unfolding in Charlottesville. Their helicopter crashed seven miles southwest of the city.
Hours after the protest, President Trump denounced the outbreak of violence–but was quickly admonished for not denouncing white supremacy, but rather claiming the violence was found “on many sides.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Barack Obama, Trump’s predecessor, tweeted about the violence in Charlottesville, quoting Nelson Mandela in a series of three tweets. Obama’s tweet has become the most retweeted tweet in twitter history, garnering over 3 million retweets and likes.
"No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion…" pic.twitter.com/InZ58zkoAm
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) August 13, 2017
Sunday, Aug. 13
McAuliffe slammed the hatred, bigotry, and racism in a speech at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, denouncing white nationalists and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK).
“I’ll tell you this: You only made us stronger,” McAuliffe said, referring to the white nationalists.”You go home, you stay out of here, because we are a commonwealth that stays together.”
The Department of Justice also announced that they had opened a civil rights investigation on the car attack from the previous day.
Monday, Aug. 14
Fields is charged with one count of second degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run for allegedly plowing into the crowd.
Trump made another statement about the protests and the riots, after still receiving criticisms about his failure to denounce white nationalists.
“Racism is evil,” Trump said. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
Following his statement, Trump took to twitter to denounce “fake news”.
Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
Wednesday, Aug. 16
A memorial service was held for Heyer, with hundreds attending the service. Heyer’s mother, Susan Bro, received a standing ovation as she eulogized her daughter, remembering her a young woman who fought for what is right.
Bro urged mourners to honour her daughter by urging them to chanel their anger not into violence, but into “righteous action”.
Heather Heyer's mother concludes: "I'd rather have my child, but by golly, if I gotta give her up, we're gonna make it count." pic.twitter.com/Bg6aM9JzPE
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 16, 2017