White nationalists bearing torches are marching through Charlottesville tonight on the University of Virginia Campus chanting “you will not replace us.” The “Unite the Right” gathering, planned for Saturday, aims to bring together a variety of niche groups from white supremacists to the alt-right to neo-Confederates. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe was urging those not participating in the march to steer clear and avoid the potential for violence.
“In advance of [Saturday’s] rally there have been communications from extremist groups, many of which are located outside of Virginia, who may seek to commit acts of violence against rally participants or law enforcement officials,” said Gov. McAuliffe “In the event that such violent or unlawful conduct occurs, I have instructed state public safety officials to act quickly and decisively in order to keep the public and themselves safe. I want to urge my fellow Virginians who may consider joining either in support or opposition to the planned rally to make alternative plans.”
Fortunately, students aren’t on the UVA campus yet, and don’t arrive until August 18th. Never the less, all sorts of precautions are being taken for everyone else in proximity, not only by the city, but by others as well. AirBnB has been canceling bookings associated with white supremacists, which is sure to be taken as an attack on attendees’ First Amendment rights. However, that’s only deterred a small fraction of the thousands of people expected to attend “Unite the Right.”
Initial videos of the night before the main event show strong attendance already, and reports surfacing on Twitter is that the pepper spray is already misting the campus and a brawl may have broken out.
The Mayor has weighed in tonight after seeing tonight’s first wave, and had this to say: “Everyone has a right under the First Amendment to express their opinion peaceably, so here’s mine: not only as the Mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.”
Some of the imagery from the rally is certainly striking and harkens back to some of history’s darker moments.