DC Neo-nazi march dwarfed by number of peace advocates
MORE than a thousand demonstrators gathered at Donald Trump's front door in Washington DC on Sunday in a showing that appeared to dwarf the turnout of white supremacists who had convened to mark the year anniversary of violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a neo-Nazi drove into a crowd of people leaving one dead.
Hours before the "Unite the Right 2" rally was set to kick off, counter demonstrators rallying against white supremacy began to gather while a police maze of barricades divided the two sides.
"We will be here until these fascist forces are gone, however long that takes," one counter protester said, according to the Associated Press.
Kessler and his group entering the metro system again after police put his group (and a bit of press) in a van and drove him away from the White House. pic.twitter.com/O2LFLrFOmN— Ford Fischer (@FordFischer) August 12, 2018
The whole group could fit in a van. With press. 😆— Caledonian Rose (@CaledonianRoses) August 12, 2018
Just over an hour before the rally was scheduled to begin, a police escort helped guide as many as 30 demonstrators for the white supremacist rally to the area in front of the White House planned for their event - a group that was dwarfed by the nearby counter-protestors in size and volume.
The demonstrations - a similar counter protest was seen in Charlottesville about a mile away from where 32-year-old Heather Heyer was killed last year - had pushed officials in the area to announce states of emergency, preparing for the potential that the demonstrations would once again turn violent.
But, as demonstrators gathered in Washington, the atmosphere appeared relatively relaxed as police in yellow jackets were deployed to maintain the peace.
While verbal clashes were heard - counter protesters denounced "fascists" at a Virginia metro station while nationalist demonstrators were guided onto a train - the relative calm came in contrast to the violence seen one year ago, when white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, protesting the proposed plan to remove a Confederate memorial in the city.
Those demonstrations descended into violence after the two sides - some on the right armed with firearms, and some on the left with shields and clubs - met, and several people were injured. Later, a white supremacist drove his vehicle through a group of counter protesters who had gathered peacefully on a street.
The events in Charlottesville in 2017 shocked the country, and were met with shifting responses from Mr Trump, who condemned racism and violence before also drawing a moral equivalence between white supremacist protesters and the counter demonstrators who had come to protest racist tendencies in America.
"The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence," Mr Trump said in his latest comments on the issue on Saturday. "Peace to ALL Americans!"
As Mr Trump sent out that message, though, demonstrators had once again gathered in that college town to mark the occasion - with the voices of the anti-white supremacy crowd reportedly carrying the day.
Those protesters, seeing little opposition from the white supremacists who had convened in large numbers just a year before, instead criticised the police presence there - calling out with chants and signs the presence they said targeted people of colour in the United States while also preserving a status quo that has allowed what has been seen as a resurgence of white nationalism in the US.