Over the weekend, all eyes were in Charlottesville, Virginia following the events at a white nationalists rally. A little over a month after the city was put on edge following a Ku Klux Klan rally that ended with 23 arrested and riot police deploying tear gas, Charlottesville became the center of national attention after a rally for white nationalists, called “Unite the Right,” resulted with the governor calling for a state of emergency after more than a dozen injured, one dead and several under arrest. REVOLT covered a bulk of the news, but here is an overview of all the updates.
August 11, 2017:
The raucous in the city began late Friday night (August 11), when several hundred torch-bearing white nationalists marched on the campus of University of Virginia to protest the the city’s decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general during the Civil War. According to a report by New York Times, many of these men and women were heard shouting, “You will not replace us,” and “Jew will not replace us” as they marched on the campus grounds. Student protesters resisting the rally stood also gathered, and the two sides clashed. At least one person was led away in handcuffs.
August 12, 2017:
On the heels of Friday night’s chaos, the governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, declared a state of emergency. The violence intensified on Saturday after a vehicle plowed through a group of counterprotesters, killing one and injuring at least 26, according to the Associated Press. Heather D. Heyer, 32, was identified as the victim who was killed from the attack. Officials identified the driver of the car as James Alex Fields Jr., 20, and he has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding, and hit and run after driving his 2010 Dodge Challenger into the crowd.
Fields was arrested shortly after fleeing the scene of the crash. He is being held without bail and is scheduled to be arranged Monday (August 14) in Charlottesville General District Court.
The Department of Justice and the FBI launched a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack. Attorney Jeff Sessions said that FBI’s Richmond field office and the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, Rick Mountcastle, would lead the investigation. “The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice,” Sessions said in a statement. “When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated.”
Following the acts of violence, President Donald Trump delivered a tepid response to the incidents, calling it a “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” He refused to specifically criticize the white nationalists or the neo-Nazis who had organized Saturday’s rally, instead arguing that there was blame to go around on “many sides.” After several false starts, including taking to Twitter to condemn “hate” and “violence” but not mentioning Charlottesville by name or the groups demonstrating there,” Trump later spoke the news at a ceremony for the signing of a bill to reform the Veterans Affairs health care system. “We want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville and we want to study it,” he said at the ceremony. “We want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen.”
Elsewhere, David Duke, former leader of the KKK, stated that the white supremacists were “going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump,” also adding that’s why he and other white nationalists voted for him. Later two Virginia State Police troopers, pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, 40, were killed when their police helicopter crashed and burned in Charlottesville, as they patrolled the site of the clashes. The plane crashed in a wooded area near a residence.
Several celebrities and activists took to Twitter, including former President Barack Obama, reacting to the news.
Dave Chappelle, who is performing a series of shows throughout the month August as part of a New York City residency at Radio City Music Hall, condemned Trump’s lack of response. “Tonight is different from all other nights because there’s a racist apocalypse going on in Charlottesville,” Chappelle said during his show Saturday night. “Fuck Donald Trump.” He later closed the show by stating, “Trump, you better renounce these motherfuckers by Monday.”
August 13, 2017:
On Sunday (August 13), Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe slammed the hatred, bigotry, and racism in a speech at Mt. Zion First African Baptist Church, calling the white supremacists “dividers.”
“I’ll tell you this: You only made us stronger,” McAuliffe said, referring to the white supremacists.”You go home, you stay out of here, because we are a commonwealth that stays together.”
Earlier, rally organizer Jason Kessler, blamed law enforcement officers for the violence that took place during the weekend, including the car attack. Kessler attempted to give a news conference at city hall but was chased away by counterprotesters. Locals drowned Kessler out with chants of “Shame!” as he approached the podium.
Elsewhere, several corporations have since condemned the supremacists for use of their products and logos, including Detroit Red Wings and Tiki. After protesters at the Unite the Right rally were seencarrying signs that displayed a slightly altered version of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings logo, the team issued a statement denouncing the use of their logo and even threatened legal action: “The Detroit Red Wings vehemently disagree with and are not associated in any way with the event taking place today in Charlottesville, Va. The Red Wings believe that hockey is for everyone, and we celebrate the great diversity of our fan base and our nation. We are exploring every possible legal action as it pertains to the misuse of our logo in this disturbing demonstration.”
TIKI, which is owned by Lamplight Farms Inc., issued a similar response after its brand of torches were used by white supremacists during the rally. “TIKI Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and are deeply saddened and disappointed. We do not support their message or the use of our products in this way,” the statement read. “Our products are designed to enhance backyard gatherings and to help family and friends connect with each other at home in their yard.”
August 14, 2017:
Following the weekend’s debacle, the CEO of the nation’s third largest pharmaceutical company resigned from a manufacturing advisory council to the Trump administration in an apparent protest to the president’s failure to condemn the racially-charged clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Merck & Co. CEO Kenneth Frazier said in a tweet on Monday that the country’s leaders must “honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy.” Trump, meanwhile, lashed out on Twitter, writing that the exec “will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
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