On Saturday morning, an untold number of white nationalists, alt-right activists, Southern nationalists, Neo-Nazis, and Klansmen descended on Emancipation Park (formerly Lee Park) for what the SPLC called the “largest hate-gathering of its kind in decades.”
Organized by white nationalist and ex-Daily Caller columnist Jason Kessler, the “Unite the Right” rally was intended to bring pro-white extremist groups — Identity Evropa, the Proud Boys, League of the South, Vanguard America, etc. — under a single umbrella in order to mobilize against the Left.
The far-right has seen modest success in the past with IRL meet-ups, from highly organized conferences by American Renaissance and NPI to smaller and more informal Daily Stormer “book clubs” and Right Stuff “pool parties.” But this was supposed to be the event that brought them together. Speakers were slated to include Richard Spencer, Mike “Enoch” Peinovich, Christopher Cantwell, Michael Hill, and several other high-profile bigots.
The rally began like every other extremist gathering this year: crowds of angry white males, with “fashy” haircuts, red MAGA caps, or cosplaying as low-rent Stormtroopers with helmets and shields. And there were the usual racist chants and stiff-armed Nazi salutes.
In a piece for Slate, Tom Perriello described the scene:
For the hundreds who rallied, many of them heavily armed, race was the defining issue. No one I talked to mentioned economic anxiety or trade policy. “You will not replace us” was the leading chant, and I was told multiple times that I was clearly a “Jew banker,” “faggot,” or “sellout to my people.” Their signs read “White Lives Matter” and said that Charlottesville’s black vice-mayor “Wes Bellamy is a Nigger.” I have met Trump voters who were not primarily motivated by race—these were not them.
There was also a sizable anti-racist contingent, made up of hardcore Antifa activists, Black Lives Matter demonstrators, and others. Usually there are a few skirmishes at these rallies, but the police more or less keep order.
But this was different. This time all hell broke loose. As noted by ProPublica, “what had started hours earlier with some shoving and a few punches had evolved into a series of wild melees as people attacked one another with fists, feet, and the improvised weapons they’d brought with them to the park. White supremacists and anti-racists began blasting each other with thick orange streams of pepper spray.”
Christopher Cantwell, the white supremacist host of The Radical Agenda, was floored after getting doused with mace. As was Richard Spencer. And Tim Gionet, the BuzzFeed writer-turned white supremacist who crowdfunded his trip to Charlottesville. Footage shows Gionet on the ground moaning while his comrades drenched his face with milk. “He got me right in the eye with bear mace,” he complained before instructing the cameraman continue the livestream.
Things only spiraled further out of control as law enforcement was either unable or unwilling to tamp down the violence.
According to that same ProPublica report, “police did little to stop the bloodshed,” and “Several times, a group of assault-rifle-toting militia members from New York State, wearing body armor and desert camo, played a more active role in breaking up fights.” White nationalists and other far-right figures are advancing the idea that cops were given a stand down order.
At around 11:45 am, Virginia police had declared the gathering to be an “unlawful assembly,” and ordered the alt-right activists and counter-protesters to immediately disperse or face arrest. Minutes later Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a state of emergency as violence spilled into the streets.
At 1:45 the carnage hit its climax as a Dodge Challenger sped into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing one — 32-year-old Heather Heyer of Charlottesville — and wounding dozens more. The driver was eventually ID’d as James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio native who was photographed brandishing a shield with Vanguard America’s logo.
One of Fields’ former teachers described the white nationalist killer’s political views as “very much along the party lines of the Neo-Nazi movement,” and recalled that he was “very infatuated with the Nazis, with Adolf Hitler.”
By now we know that he’s a registered Republican who, like many white nationalists, was energized by Donald Trump’s talk of a border wall. His Facebook page was replete with memes of Pepe the Frog and Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. He even posted a photo of Adolf Hitler as a baby.
Fields has been charged with second-degree murder for his deadly rampage — which brought the alt-right’s body count to 20 — and is being held without bond. And while people on both sides of the political spectrum have condemned the rally and the ensuing violence, the alt-right has been celebrating.
The website Alternative Right — launched by Richard Spencer in 2010 — published an article that called the rally a “big win” for the alt-right, and cheered the deaths of Heather Heyer and two police officers who perished in a helicopter crash while monitoring the event:
The goals [of the counter-protesters], as always, were (1) to physically harm nationalists and (2) provoke them into acts of self defence that could later be spun, through fake media, as “Nazi violence, oy vey!” (dead meme).
But this time, it seems the Gods were on our side, as none of our guys died, while three of the enemy died, and they weren’t even killed by Alt-Righters in acts of heroic self defence (more on that later).
The two politicised pigs flying the helicopter were killed after the helicopter spiralled out of control after buzzing and spying on protesters.
Meanwhile at The Daily Stormer, which currently bills itself as “The World’s Most Genocidal Republican Website,” Andrew Anglin was also lauding Fields’ actions. “Despite feigned outrage by the media, most people are glad she is dead, as she is the definition of uselessness,” he crowed. “A 32-year-old woman without children is a burden on society and has no value.”
In response, both GoDaddy and Google barred The Daily Stormer from their hosting services. Meanwhile, Neo-Nazi hacker and Daily Stormer contributor Andrew “weev” Auernheimer is attempting to find the location of Heyer’s funeral in an effort to torment her friends and family members. It is unclear if this bears any connection to the actions by GoDaddy or Google.
Yet despite their insistence that white nationalists prevailed on August 12, 2017, the reality is that they and their ilk elicit nothing but contempt by most of their fellow citizens. When you’re getting called out for domestic terrorism by the Left and the Right, you know you don’t have much in the way of support.
And, in a fitting end to this deranged circus, Jason Kessler’s attempt to stage a post-rally press conference ended with him being heckled and chased away by an angry mob of Charlottesville residents who were just sick and tired of him and his compatriots bringing violence and bigotry to their city. He deserved at least that much.
For more photos of the Unite the Right rally, click here.