Deadly violence at racist rally in Charlottesville shakes US

ANGELOS BERBERAKIS
ISTANBUL
Published
White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the ‘alt-right’ clash with counter-protesters as they enter Lee Park during the ‘Unite the Right’ rally Aug.12 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
White nationalists, neo-Nazis and members of the ‘alt-right’ clash with counter-protesters as they enter Lee Park during the ‘Unite the Right’ rally Aug.12 in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The quite college town of Charlottesville became a bloodied symbol of the nation's roiling racial and political divisions after a vehicle ramming and a helicopter crash during a racist rally left three dead and over a dozen injured

A rally organized by Alt-Right leaders in Charlottesville, Virginia last Friday went from being peaceful to minor clashes with counter-protesters. While initially the members of the "Unite the Right" rally were in the hundreds, the following day saw widespread counter-protests organized mainly by Antifa members.

The place, Lee Park, was chosen specifically because of the statue of the Confederate general, Robert E. Lee. The local government had proposed taking the monument of the general down due to its controversial legacy of the Confederacy, despite Lee's history.

After the American Civil War which was fueled by differing definitions of civil liberties and the eventual declaration that slavery was an abomination. In a historical sense, Gen. Lee resembles German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, who was respected even by his enemies despite his allegiance to Adolf Hitler.

Following a court order which was issued, giving demonstrators the right to demonstrate in the area, numerous police officers in riot gear showed up, expecting the worst due to a history of somewhat violent clashes between pro and anti-Trump protesters such as those skirmishes seen in Berkeley a few months prior.

The "Unite the Right" rally had supporters from all over the center-right to hard-right political spectrum; from the civic-nationalists of the Alt-Light to the ethno-nationalists of the Alt-Right.

Memetic "Kekistan" as well as confederate battle flags were hoisted by demonstrators; however, original participants of the rally organized by Alt-Right figurehead Richard Spence mainly held torches well into the night.

As soon as the Antifa and Black Lives Matter counter-protesters showed up, rocks and bottles started flying into the air.

Due to the violence, the Alt-Right demonstrators had to break up and go away despite the presence of many officers in riot gear. However, the counter-protests continued well into Saturday.

Things took a turn for the tragic when one of these counter-protest groups on a very narrow one-way street, packed with counter-protesters as escorted by two cars, was rammed by what appeared to be a Dodge Charger with tinted windows, a very powerful "muscle" car.

According to footage widely available online, this incident did not appear to be a mere accident. After the driver rammed his vehicle into the back of the second car, he drove off in reverse.

Police announced that not long after the ramming, both the vehicle and the driver were found. The driver is in custody with charges pending, as the police are treating this case as a criminal homicide investigation. This "attack" left one person dead and 19 injured.

The helicopter crash, which occurred later that day, so far, does not seem to be linked in any way to the political demonstrations. As of Sunday, it appears to be an unrelated accident which, however, left two people dead.

The reaction of Alt-Right figureheads such as Richard Spencer and Mike Enoch has been one of condemnation, as they do not believe that uncalled-for violence is any good for the movement. They did, however, call out Charlottesville authorities for not attempting to enforce their first amendment rights after Antifa showed up.

The online reaction from the Alt-Right has been a mixed bag. While some attempt to get attention with edgy humor, others say that such actions actually hinder the movement's progress, and only hurt it.

Despite the opinions that some members of the Unite the Right rally might hold, Antifa had no right to go in and violently disperse their ideological enemies, which is why U.S President Donald Trump condemned the actions of both sides in Charlottesville, and went a little further with that, as well.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides. It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America," Trump said.

"What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives. No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society," he added.

First Lady Melania Trump took to Twitter to condemn the violence as well, saying, "Our country encourages the freedom of speech, but let's communicate w/o [without] hate in our hearts. No good comes from violence."

Despite appearances, a big part of the Alt-Right is no longer on board the Trump train, as they do not agree with some of his interventionist foreign policies such as the strike on Syria.

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