Torch-carrying white nationalists protest removal of Confederate statue

Richard Spencer and a group of white nationalist followers marched through Charlottesville, Va., Saturday to protest the removal of a Confederate monument, chanting, “You will not replace us.”

Several dozen protesters with torches gathered in Lee Park on Saturday night, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress, in the second demonstration of the day.

Police arrived on the scene after about 10 minutes, follwing an altercation between protestors, the paper added. The crowd was then broken up, police said. 

Spencer, who attended the University of Virginia, and others were protesting a City Council decision to remove and sell a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, though a court has temporarily halted its removal.

Marchers carrying Confederate flags, torches and signs gathered around the statue in the college town to protest its removal, according to multiple reports and social media posts from the scene, including a Periscope video posted by Spencer.

 

 

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“What brings us together is that we are white, we are a people, we will not be replaced,” Spencer said at the earlier rally, adding that the moment was an awakening of a movement. 

“You cannot destroy us. We have awoken. We are here. We are never going away,” Spencer added.

Spencer gained prominence during Trump’s presidential campaign, leading a far-right movement calling for a white nation. 

At the second protest gathering, where Spencer did not appear to address the crowd, there were chants of “Russia is our friend,” according to a Washington Post report.

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer said in a statement that the protest 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. Either way, as mayor of this city, I want everyone to know this: we reject this intimidation. We are a welcoming city, but such intolerance is not welcome here."

The statue’s removal has become an issue for Republican Corey Stewart, a Trump ally who is running for governor in Virginia, though there is no evidence he attended the Saturday event.

He did not respond to the Post's request for comment, but three other gubernatorial contenders condemned the Saturday rallies: former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, and Democratic contenders Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former Rep. Tom Perriello.