A group of white nationalists sparked outrage last night on the University of Virginia campus after they marched with torches while chanting Nazi expressions.
The group marched on the campus grounds before today’s protest to oppose the removal of a statute of Confederate Robert E. Lee.
Marchers could be heard chanting “white lives matter”, “blood and soil”, and “you will not replace us”.
Pictures and videos of the rally began to spread quickly on social media, sparking outrage. The campus right now is between summer and fall semesters, where more students will be there in the coming weeks.
😮😮 #Repost @abcworldnewstonight ・・・ MASSIVE RALLY: Torch-wielding white nationalists marched Friday night through the University of Virginia, chanting “white lives matter” and “you will not replace us” ahead of today’s far-right “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. #Virginia #Friday #Charlottesville #abc #UVA #rally #unitetheright
Charlottesville’s mayor expressed outrage at the gathering of white nationalists.
“When I think of candlelight, I want to think of prayer vigils,” wrote Mayor Mike Signer in a Facebook post.
“Today, in 2017,” he continued, “we are instead seeing a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance march” in the hometown “of the architect of our Bill of Rights.”
Noting that everyone has a First Amendment right of assembly and free speech, he said, “Here’s mine: Not only as the Mayor of Charlottesville, but as a UVA faculty member and alumnus, I am beyond disgusted by this unsanctioned and despicable display of visual intimidation on a college campus.”
University of Virginia president Teresa A. Sullivan condemned the protesters in a statement issued late Friday night.
As President of the University of Virginia, I am deeply saddened and disturbed by the hateful behavior displayed by torch-bearing protestors that marched on our Grounds this evening. I strongly condemn the unprovoked assault on members of our community, including University personnel who were attempting to maintain order.
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Law enforcement continues to investigate the incident, and it is my hope that any individuals responsible for criminal acts are held accountable. The violence displayed on Grounds is intolerable and is entirely inconsistent with the University’s values.
The protest to not remove the Confederate Statute of Robert E. Lee would not gain fire. Shortly before the Saturday protest was to begin, white nationalists violently clashed with counter protestors, prompting the police to order hundreds out of the park – putting an end to the rally.
Using megaphones, police declared an unlawful assembly at about 11:40 a.m., and gave a five-minute warning to leave Emancipation Park, where hundreds of neoNazis, Ku Klux Klans members and other white nationalists had gathered to protest the removal of a Confederate statue. They were met by equal numbers of counterprotesters, including clergy, Black Lives Matter activists and Cornel West.