Torch-Wielding White Supremacists Chanted ‘Russia Is Our Friend’ At A Virginia Confederate Monument Rally

Last week, New Orleans removed the second of four Confederate statues as part of a move to dismantle Civil War-era relics across the South. Naturally, this has caused outrage among white supremacist/Nazi types like Richard Spencer, who led a torch-bearing mob in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday night to “save” a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. The dude wasn’t subtle about making this look like a KKK-esque affair, for he purposely used a “torchlight” caption to broadcast his protest on Twitter.

Spencer, of course, is famous for being punched in the face and thrown out of CPAC, along with arguing that football should be abolished because it makes white people like black people. Although he reveled in the torch imagery, Jason Kessler (of the right-wing Daily Caller site) tried to paint with a subtler brush by calling this a “candlelit night march.” Nice try.

Charlottesville’s Daily Progress newspaper reported that police broke up a fight among protesters, although the overall atmosphere of the event was not violent. Instead, the group simply marched through Lee Park while spreading their message of intimidation, which included chants of “blood and soil” and (as seen in the below video from Allison Wrabel‏) “Russia is our friend.”

Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer issued a statement to condemn those who protested the statue’s removal. He didn’t comment upon the bizarre “Russia” chant, but he denounced the use of torches (which he believes were purposely meant to evoke the KKK) and the overall message of the group:

“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 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.”

In April, the Charlottesville City Council voted to remove the Lee statue and replace it with a memorial to slaves, although an injunction has put the plan on pause following a lawsuit from Virginia’s Sons of Confederate Veterans group, who accused the council of trying to “hide our own history.” This group denied all involvement in Saturday night’s march (along with an earlier one in Jackson park, which was aimed at saving the General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson statue). Over on Facebook, the Save The Robert E. Lee Statue Facebook group wants nothing to do with Spencer and friends:

It has come to our attention that several out-of-town groups associated with white supremacy and identarian beliefs conducted events and protests in both Lee and Jackson Parks today. Neither Save the Robert E. Lee Statue nor The Monument Fund were in any way involved in these events and only learned of them though media reports.

We remain committed to preserving the Robert E. Lee Monument in its park through the legal process in the courts because of its historic and artistic value. We soundly and completely reject racism, white supremacy, and any other identity based groups that preach division and hate no matter which side of the issue they happen to support.

So, Spencer isn’t even welcomed by groups who feel so strongly about keeping the statues in place that they’ve taken legal action. Nonetheless, here’s a video from another Saturday night chant: “You will not replace us.”

(Via Daily Progress, Washington Post & New York Daily News)