Charlottesville, Virginia: An extreme-right demonstration grew violent and reached its dangerous breaking-point as a 20 year old man plowed his car into the counter demonstrators. The car attack took the life of a 32 year old woman and injured 19 others. Two troopers of Virginia State were killed as their police helicopter crashed while responding to clashes between the protesters.
Recently, a legal battle was argued over by alt-right groups. It evolved around the attempt to replace historical confederation symbols and names, which some see as offensive since they commemorate slavery and violence towards African-Americans. The nationalist resistance did not succeed, and Virgini was forced to remove these symbols.
“Unite the Right 2017” demonstration was meant to unite all extremist-right groups, in order to show that the alt-right is still alive. Some of its organizers include David Duke, former leader of the KKK, and Richard Spencer, a Neo-Nazi activist who coined the term “alt-right,” as well as Mike Enoch.
On Friday night, August 11, hundreds marched on Virginia University grounds in Charlottesville. Protesters held fire torches and Nazi flags, resembling rallies of the KKK. They shouted “blood, soil” as the Nazi slogan, “you will not replace us” and “Jews will not replace us.”
On Saturday the central rally took place at the controversial “emancipation park”, whose name was to be changed due to the ongoing legal battle. In front, gathered few groups for counter protest. After a few clashes, Virginia’s Governor Terri McAullife declared a state of emergency and marked the gathering as illegal. Events escalated quickly as a man plowed into the counter-demonstrators’ crowd and ran over Heather Heyer to death, injuring 19 others. The youth, James Alex Fields, 20, from Kentucky was arrested.
The rally held a lot of antisemitic symbolism. First, the use of Nazi symbols in this context implied severely justifying the Holocaust. Another horrifying homage was men dressed in black with army boots and helmets, similiar to Nazis. Protesters also carried signs that say “Goyim know!” and “Jews are Satan’s children.” Furthermore, they called “Jew, Jew, Jew” every time the Jewish mayor name, Michael Signer was reminded. Signer reported receiving life threats.
The felon who ran over Hayes was described by his high-school teacher as one who always held extremist and Nazi views. A school friend mentioned that on a school field trip to the former Nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Germany Fields told a classmate he was “where the magic happened.” Other classmates described him as an angry person who spoke admiringly about the Nazis and Adolf Hitler. “He would read excerpts from Mein Kampf, and listen to Nazi propaganda music at night,” the classmate told Reuters.
Many Americans were disappointed by the President’s reaction. With the beginning of violent situation, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Let’s come together as one!” After the car attack Trump faced the cameras and called: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred bigotry and violence, on both sides.”
Trump gave tried to defend the alt-right groups, saying not all of them were white supremacists or Neo- Nazis, and cited they came to protest the replacement of the confederation symbols. He also said there are good people among the rightist group, and violent among the “alt-left.” Trump also noted that Washington and Jefferson were slave owners, yet we respect their legacies.
David Duke, who helped organizer the rally re-tweeted: “Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa.”
On the other hand, politicians unanimously condemned the riots in Charlottesville. Ivanka Trump reacted: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazis. We must all come together as Americans – and be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville.”
Sources: Forward, CNN, The Huffington Post, Twitter
Image: Getty Images
By: Roni Zedek