Washington braces for far-right rally a year after Charlottesville clashes

Larry Hoffman
August 13, 2018

As officials in the U.S. capital of Washington and in the neighboring state of Virginia brace for the first anniversary of a white nationalist rally that exploded in deadly violence, U.S. President Donald Trump Saturday issued a plea for unity.

"The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division", he wrote.

"Out of this disgusting tragedy, we've seen a community that was able to come together to say this is not who we are". 'I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence.

"Peace to ALL Americans!" he tweeted.

Trump's tweet Saturday, his first public mention of the anniversary, did not label the event as a white supremacist rally or specify that it was a white rallygoer who rammed his vehicle into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one.

Grace Aheron, an organizer for Showing Up for Racial Justice, said a "militarized police presence" doesn't make the city safer.

The spot where counter protester Heather Heyer was killed when a auto plowed down a street during the Charlottesville protest past year has become an unlikely space of refuge for her mother. A state police helicopter later crashed, killing two troopers.

The president of the University of Virginia has offered an apology to the students and community members who faced off a year ago against white supremacists during a march through campus.

The demonstrations also come at a time when the wounds from last year's clash in Charlottesville remain raw, particularly in regards to the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer, who was killed when a suspected neo-Nazi sympathizer drove a auto into a crowd.

Unite the Right 2 will take place Sunday afternoon in Lafayette Park in front of the White House and mark the one year anniversary of Charlottesville. "I'm not a neo-Nazi", Kessler said as a train his group boarded in suburban Virginia rolled towards Washington.

The march and gatherings come one year after a protester was killed when a driver rammed ta vehicle into a crowd of demonstrators. The group was chanting, addressing police officers who were accompanying them: "Will you protect us?".

And the "Rise Up Fight Back Counter-Protest" hosted by Black Lives Matter DC is due to take place between 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, a block away from the "Unite the Right 2" rally.

Anniversary events this year in Charlottesville have been largely peaceful.

The National Park Service approved Jason Kessler's permit request for Sunday in Washington, D.C.

Congressman Tom Garrett, R. -Va., on Saturday said Russian Federation is to blame for some of the hate spewed from last year's rally. Instead, the rally is planned for Sunday evening in Washington, where counterprotesters have already massed to counter the presence of white nationalists and other far-right groups. Let us be in one voice and tell them that they are wrong.

Authorities have promised an enormous police presence to keep both sides apart and avoid the street brawls that broke out past year in downtown Charlottesville.

The city says law enforcement at the access points are conducting consensual checks for objects that were banned as a security measure during the weekend anniversary of last summer's violence.

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